Here are some things to consider when packing your motorcycle for a trip - whether short day trip or a long haul.
Load height: When packing your motorcycle, you really want to consider where you want your center of gravity to be. The higher the center of gravity, the less stable your motorcycle. Manufacturers have realized this, and some are even placing the gas tank as low as possible instead of the most commonly used front top gas tank.
Load weight: Ensure that you are not exceeding the motorcycle’s carrying capacity. Also, take a close look at your racks and carrying bags as they usually have their own carrying capacity limits as well. Don't cheap out on carrying equipment - it can be costly and cause serious accidents.
Location, location, location: Your motorcycle manufacturer spent several thousand dollars designing the way your motorcycle operates in relation to the wind (aerodynamics). The motorcycle is designed to send the wind to certain places in order to cool your bike. Placing a large bag (or sleeping bag) on the front of the motorcycle will diffuse the wind to all the wrong places; this not only will lower your motorcycle’s gas mileage, but might cause your bike to overheat.
Smart Packing: I have been on several trips where people pack their motorcycles as if they were flying into a five star hotel. The worst part is the fact that they only end up using one eighth of the items they packed!
Rain Gear: When touring in Canada, as we often do here at OtoMoto, and especially in the West Coast, you will encounter some rain. Be sure to pack rain gear in a place that allows for easy access. We recommend GorTex as the best material that allows both breathability and waterproofing. Dealing with the rain when you are on a motorcycle is one of the most crucial parts of the trip. Make sure to pack a bottle of Rain X or a similar water repellent product. Apply this product onto your helmet and windshield on a non rainy day, and allow for it to dry. Follow the directions on the bottle and ensure you only put it on materials that can handle the chemical.
Layers: The best way of dealing with body temperature is to layer up. If you are feeling cold, put on a layer of clothing, and vice versa if you feel hot. This requires tactical planning. You do not want to be packing and unpacking your motorcycle every time you require an extra layer.
Extra Key: The last thing you want is to have lost a bike’s key while you’re in ‘the middle of nowhere.' This could be extremely expensive in both cash and precious daylight. Find a hiding place on your motorcycle and use a zip tie to attach your extra bike key to it.
Documents and insurance: Pack your motorcycle documents and insurance as deep down and inaccessible as possible. Although this sounds counterintuitive, unpacking all your personals in front of that officer will allow for him to get to know you on a more personal level. Who knows, this might even help you get away with a little more than you should!
Emergency number and next of kin: Always carry an emergency number in your back pocket. This will help speed up the process that it takes to notify your family in an even of a motorcycle accident or other emergency.
You Fix it, You Ride it: Unless you know how to fix most small issues on your motorcycle, you should not be going on long hauls. Ensure that you pack a small tool kit with the tools that fit on your bike. Also, you should carry some CO2 tubes and puncture repair kits.
Extra gas: Invest a little bit of money in a flat gas tank. This will help you pack it up cleaner and more conveniently.
Plan, Plan, Plan: While you are in the planning process for that Trans Canada trip, you should start slowly packing at least a month in advance. Similarly, you should start a routine workout to improve stamina and strength (consult a professional for this!).
We hope that you found some good tips in this article to make your ride safer and more comfortable. So where do you think you will be heading to next?