It’s hard to argue that hitting the open road with not much more than two wheels and a gas tank is living the dream. It’s easy to get swept away in the romantic notion that all you need is an old-fashioned map, a shorty, and your noble steed. Unfortunately, real life dictates that you should probably be better prepared.
Taking the time to gear up accordingly could make the difference between a spectacular adventure and a cautionary tale. We’ve put together a list of must-have essentials to help ensure that your next tour is one for the books.
A Great Helmet
Non-negotiable. The human skull is not designed to withstand the impact associated with taking a header at 120 km/h. Yes, it feels amazing to have the wind blow through your hair, but it just isn’t worth the risk.
There are tonnes of styles available to suit just about every rider. Long-haul trips merit helmets with face protection, not just because studies show that 45% of motorcycle helmet impact happens around the face but also due to the protection against the elements that it affords you. (And against the bugs. All of those bugs….)
The Right Jacket
Again, it’s not necessarily fun to think about suiting up when you could feel the sun shining down on your skin, but road rash is nothing to laugh at. Neither are broken bones, crushed organs, or snapped ribs. While no motorcycle jacket can guarantee ultimate protection, strategically placed padding and armour can make a world of difference.
You also need to consider the various weather situations that you’re bound to encounter while you’re out. The right jacket should have vents, properly sealed seams, and fit in a way that allows for total freedom of movement.
Think about how much work your feet do when you’re on a bike. Shifting gears, slowing down, not to mention supporting hundreds of pounds at stop signs and traffic lights. This is why you want boots that can hold their own. The right footwear can also serve as the first line of defence between you and a twisted ankle or broken bones.
Look for boots that are first and foremost comfortable. You’re going to be wearing them for long stretches of time so you need to like the way that they feel. They also need to be supportive, solidly built, and have soles that will keep you from slipping on wet pavement.
A Survival Kit
Any rider worth their salt will have a tale to tell about a tour gone awry. From torrential downpours to mechanical failures, it’s almost inevitable that you’ll encounter a hiccup at some point in your riding life.
Prepare for the unexpected by assembling a survival kit that you can take on your trip. Include things like bottled water, a compact rain suit, protein bars, a first aid, and flat repair kits.
Another crucial but commonly overlooked element? Your bike’s owners manual. You may know your motorcycle like the back of your hand, but do you really want to test that theory when a mystery light goes on in the middle of nowhere?
When it comes to motorcycles, less is more. Heavy toolboxes with every gadget known to humankind are for extended cab pickups and XL SUVs. If you’re riding a bike, you need to keep things tight.
The right multi-tool gives you the benefit of having a full arsenal of key tools at your fingertips without any bulk or weight. With needlenose pliers, regular pliers, a wire cutter, knives, saws, scissors, and drivers, the Wave+ has everything that you need, and then some. If you’ve got a free wrist and don’t need pliers, the Tread is another great option. While you always hope that you’ll never need to do a roadside repair, knowing that you’re ready if you need to be can go a long way in giving you total peace of mind.