You will have different needs for a short trip and a longer trip.
SHORT TRIPS (Day trip, weekend, long weekend)
For something like this you can get away with very little gear and you can avoid chores, like washing your clothes.
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The first thing is a lightweight rain suit. You can buy these from bike shops all over the place, and just about every importer and distributor offers one. They cost $100 or so, despite the price a lightweight suit is worth having. You want to enjoy your ride and being comfortable is part of that enjoyment. Who wants to go riding and be wet? A pair of waterproof boots that provide protection is next. You can get a good pair of waterproof boots that are just as comfortable as, and no hotter than, ordinary touring boots and they keep your feet dry in the rain. Waterproof gloves are an option as well, but these are hotter and therefore often less comfortable than lighter road gloves. It is nice if your body stays dry in that unexpected downpour.
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In your tank bag carry your Mobile phone; road atlas; a small notebook with a pen; some postcards; a Swiss Army knife; a paperback book; and don’t forget your musician’s earplugs.
Some riders set up their phone so they can answer calls while they’re riding others prefer to peace and quite of their ride.
The road map means that you are never quite as lost as you thought. If you are visiting a particular area, you will probably carry a detailed map of that location as well. These will normally be available from the local Tourist Visitor Centre.
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The notebook is pretty self-explanatory. It is amazing just how often you see something and try to remember it. This way you can make notes as you go. Keep the book and pen as handy as possible; say in an outside pocket of the tank bag, unless it looks like rain. Take a spare pen as well, because they always run out at the wrong time.
The postcards might seem a bit weird, but it’s nice to be able to drop the kids or other family members a line from the road. Carry them with stamps already on them, and write them while you’re waiting for your coffee or lunch. This gives you something to do and it’s a nice touch for the loved ones. If you don’t have any loves ones you can always write to your enemies and make them madly jealous.
The Swiss Army knife is one of the middle-sized ones, with the tine tweezers (very useful), a couple of screwdrivers (good for getting at the fuses without unpacking the tool kit) and, of course, the most vital tool of all – the corkscrew!
Why a book? Well, there are inevitably times that drag when you’re travelling. An evening alone in a motel room or beside the road depending on where you have stopped for the night; guard duty at the Laundromat while your clothes dry; the wait for the tow truck to pick up your bike with its imploded gearbox… Trust me, you’ll find time to read.
Now on the subject of earplugs – if you don’t have any, get some. Musician’s earplugs are moulded to the shape of your ears, and can be fitted with filters to cut out varying amounts of noise. If you have spent many years riding without them, you will be paying for it now. What? What did you say? I’m a bit def, you see … and you will not be the only one. If you are new to bike riding, there is no reason for you to suffer the same thing. Go see an audiologist and get a par made. They’ll cost $150 or so but they will work beautifully, and fit even better.
Another item you might like to consider for your tank bag is a disposable camera. It is cheap and easy, instantly replaceable, and yet with the potential to capture some wonderful moments and sights. Get one with a built-in flash and the light, or lack thereof, will not matter. If you are into photography you will obviously want your own “good” camera, but a disposable will do the job in most instances.
Carry a bag or stick of barley sugars in your tank bag. It doesn’t actually matter what kind of lollies you carry, but do carry some – they are an excellent source of instant energy hits, invaluable when you’re falling asleep in the afternoon of a long day’s ride or if you have missed a meal. Also loose is a roll-on container of sunscreen. And while we’re on the subject of the sun, carry a pair of sunglasses. In an external pocket, if there is one. I carry a small handful of change. That’s useful for a replacement packet of barley sugars, a cold drink, ice-cream or whatever. This can be extra useful if you are wearing your rain suit! If there’s no outside pocket in the tank bag put the change into another small Ziploc bag.
If you are going camping for the weekend have a look at our related pages of what else to pack.
LONGER TRIPS (Crikey, who knows how long? It could be a week or it could be a year – You may have to wash some clothes though for a longer trip).
For longer trips you may have a few more things to put into the tankbag. The first is your thermos. Full of hot coffee in winter or cold water in summer, this is a welcome source of fluid by the side of the road. And at least you know you can get decent coffee!
Remember though make sure the tank bag is not too heavy to carry around comfortably.
For more information about bags have a look here www.crikey-adventure-tours.com/motorcycle-bags.html
The next thing is a small torch, useful for all sorts of things, and not only at night. You can use it to peer into nooks, crannies and petrol tanks.
Finally, there’s a spare pair of spectacles; you never know when you might need those. If you wear glasses you will no what I mean by saying to take a spare pair. If your sunnies have prescription lenses, they could double for this.
Even with all this extra stuff in it, the tank bag is not too heavy to carry around comfortably when sightseeing or wandering into a restaurant for lunch.