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Tips and Tricks for Motorcyclists

A monthly column of selected favorites from our vast archive.

Eating light

A rigorous 300-500 a day motorcycle tour is not the place to be gorging. Expect less energy when you’re packing down the calories, which you probably don’t plan to be burning off with 60 minutes of cardio that night or in the morning. Eating lighter will keep your mind in a better place on the road and throughout the day. Lean towards eating more whole foods and less processed foods. Whole foods include items like nuts, dried fruits, unprocessed meats, eggs, whole grain breads and rice, whole veggies and fresh fruits which will fill you up more and last longer through the day. Incidentally, this works pretty well at home too.

Low and to the inside packing is for back packers, not motorcyclists

Let’s get real. Unless you’re hauling a trailer, your entire gear load is probably 40 pounds or under. While we don’t advocate packing all your lightweight items on the bottom, we do believe you can relax and not get caught up in the minutia backpackers do when it comes to putting what where. Instead pack sensibly, placing items you’ll want to get at any time during the riding day in easy to access areas. Overnight items are best stowed near the bottom of top cases and saddle bags, which coincidentally, are typically the heavier items anyway. Regulars like rain gear, sunglasses, sunscreen, water and snacks are best stowed near the opening of compartments.

Mountain pass mentality

Have you ever noticed when you're navigating your way up and over a mountain pass, how everything changes once you've ascended and start riding down the other side? Gravity has a way of doing that. No longer are you using mostly throttle to work your way up into the pass, but now you're more focused on using compression and braking to work your way downward. If this is uncomfortable for you to make such an abrupt adjustment, consider stopping at the top of the pass for a breather, take in the view, fill your tank, enjoy a cup of joe, read a roadside interpretive sign or whatever. The break from the road makes it easier for you to reset your riding awareness and comfort level.

Cleaning hydration systems

Hydration systems such as bladders and their tubes, have a way of getting funky over time. Simply running them through the dish washer now and then won’t clean out the nooks and crannies of bladders, or the interior channel of the delivery tube. Hand washing is what’s really needed here. For bladders use a brush small enough to get inside and incorporate a little dish soap along with some baking soda to clean and neutralize the interior ‘flavor’. Scrub out every corner. For tubes, use a small pipe cleaner strand, attaching it to a long length of fishing line to pull it through longer tube configurations. Be sure to always store your bladder and tubes open, then rise out just prior to the next use.

Try it at home first

Would a cell phone charger that attaches to the battery of your bike, drain your battery below cranking level overnight while charging your phone? You never know until you try, but while you’re on the road isn’t the best place to find out. Try charging your phone on the bike overnight while it’s in your garage so you have access to what you need to turn the bike over should the charging draw too much needed power for later.

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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