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Tips and Tricks for Motorcyclists

A monthly column of selected favorites from our vast archive.

Ratchet Up!

There are a lot of tight spots when you're working on the bike. Consider replacing your current set of closed and open ended wrenches with in a nice set of open end/closed ratchet wrenches. These are really nice to have when working in tight spots where you're otherwise required to continually remove and reset the wrench’s position. If the ratchets are floating on the handle, all the better!

Concentrated Liquid Laundry Soap

If you plan to be out on the road for some time, you can save a lot of space by packing some liquid concentrated laundry soap. Not only will you save space, but you’ll save the hassle of having to carry powdered soap or purchase soap on the road. A lot of us don’t like scented detergents, so this is also your chance to see to it you have the brand you like along with you.

Get fluid on fluids

Most motorcycles use a number of fluids to keep them running smooth. Anti-freeze, oil, brake fluid, chain lubes and more make up a collective of liquids your bike can’t live without. But just what sort of anti-freeze are we talking about here? Full strength or 50/50 mix? What blend of oil is recommended and why? What DOT rating is recommended for your brake fluid? Don’t know? Join the legions of thousands who don’t. For those of us who own multiple bikes, it’s a given that most of us can’t recall which numbers, for which fluids apply across the various steeds in our stables. Once you figure it out, head over to your dealer or the auto supply store and stock your work space with the correct rated fluids.

Create your own packing lists and modify as needed

The nice thing about computers is we can create a list and modify it as we go. Create a list of the essentials you want to carry for a day ride, then extend it to include overnight items and camping gear if you plan to do so. Browse the internet and call up others lists, snag ideas from the back packing and hiking communities and continue to modify. Your list will never be finished.

Leave the cotton at home

Cotton is a limited fabric when it comes to riding. It won't insulate as well as a synthetic, it doesn't wick excess heat very well and it takes a long time to dry out. Consider having all your inner layers made of synthetics and you'll be a lot happier on both hot and cold days. For those with aversions to synthetics, ultra-light wool layers are a good option.

Packing Light, Packing RightTips and Tricks is a monthly column created by our editors and readers alike. If you have a tip or trick you'd like to share, email it to If we use it we'll send you a copy of The Sound RIDER! guide to Packing Light, Packing Right - FREE!



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