Thursday, September 25, 2008

Off-Road Motorcycle Touring: Dave's Packing Tips

From the Giant Loop! -hoc

Tools, lubricants and spare parts

• Stock KTM tool kit - most importantly, the correct axle tool
• at least one tube (front)
• tire irons
• pump and CO2
• patch kit
• tools - go over your entire bike with the stock tool kit and add to it anything you need - ie. small Vise Grips, etc.
• spare fasteners - gotta stay on all that plastic, 6mm 8mm 10mm bolts, plus any make/model specific fasteners
• bailing wire
• duct and electrical tape
• Locktite
• correct master link for your chain
• correct spoke tool
• Dumontech or TriFlow chain lubricant. Don't know if it really makes a difference with O or X ring chains but it can't hurt and my bike thinks I'm being 'nice' to it.
• 12 foot tow rope - Learn how to tow a bike before you employ this 'last resort' effort.
• Small (500ml) fuel bottle full of 20-50 motor oil. All 4-stroke motors are designed to burn a small amount of oil plus, ever had a countershaft seal start leaking in the middle of nowhere?

Most of the above stuff (with the exception of the pump, tires irons, lubricants and vise grips) is easily fitted into 2 quart oil bottles that have the tops cut off right where they begin to taper to the pouring spout. One bottle 'nests' into the other one. This will keep your tools from rubbing or wearing holes in your kit, provides you with a container to transfer fuel from one machine to another and makes it real easy to extract the kit from inside the bag. My tire irons are slipped into a bicycle inner tube that is zip-tied closed on one end. Also to prevent the metal rubbing it's way through the saddle bag and to give me some extra rubber to slice into any thing we might need - gaskets, mini 'bungies', rubber bands, etc.

• spare clutch cable zip tied to your existing - in case of failure, the replacement is sitting there ready to install or in my case, a small amount of mineral oil for the hydraulic Brembo unit.
• Zip ties - a good variety of sizes
• lighter AND waterproof matches
• space blanket - unfortunately I know that they actually work and can totally save your butt
• compass - look at it often, just to keep your bearings in the forest or if you are up in the clouds on a mountain
• GPS - if you are so inclined
•maps - I really study these before we head out to familiarize myself with the major peaks amongst the ranges. Google earth is another resource that I study to try and memorize topography

• Water filtration device - we usually take 2 of these pumps as one might plug up or fail
• spare socks - 3 pair
• extra gloves
• Spare goggles
• something to cover your face like a neoprene mask, unless you have an Arai-type DS helmet with face shield
• fully charged phone and a AAA card
• rubber gloves - for working on your machine and they also are very helpful keeping your hands warmer worn under regular moto gloves. Dishwashing gloves DO NOT work unless they're way too big for your hands. Even then, they cut the circulation - on my hands anyway.

• Sunglasses
• Small Nikon binoculars - those things have been more help than any GPS info
• Camera (Canon G-6 with a fully charged battery will last me a week or more)
• Sunscreen and lip balm (even though you have a helmet on, your lips are taking a beating and I've burnt the crap out of my neck in the past)
• Cash - some rural fuel stops do not take credit cards

Cold weather riding:
• Thor waterproof ventilated jacket and pants
• FrogToggs rain gear - inexpensive, totally works (unfortunately I know too well) light weight and straps right on next to my tent on the outside of the saddlebag
• MSR 'elephant ears' hand guard shields - try-em out. You don't need heated grips and in a driving rain, they keep you hands very dry. When not in use, they lay flat in my small day pack.
• Silk long underwear - top and bottoms - squashes into nothing, really works, dries quickly
• Fleece vest
• - If it gets really cold I put the FrogToggs on over everything and that is amazingly comforting. Try the stuff on before you buy it, I'm only 6' tall but bought the XL to comfortably fit over my riding gear
• A jersey and poly t-shirt - easy to wash, dries quick

• FLY (brand) articulated knee pads
• Ballistic jersey
• Bell Moto 8 (extremely well ventilated)
• Alpinstar Vector boots

• Big Agnes™ insulated, inflatable sleeping pad. I've tried'em all and this is the best by far, fits inside the saddlebag
• The North Face™ down mummy sleeping bag. I've been rained on, snowed on and had that icy north wind ripping across the mountain tops at camp and a bag rated to 0 degrees can be a real solace after a long hard day of riding. When it's hot, I just lay on top of it like a feather bed. (You will NOT be able to stuff a big, synthetic sleeping bag into this saddlebag but you can get a lightweight, summer synthetic bag to squeeze in).
• Head lamp
• Gaz (brand) butane collapsable cook stove and a 4-cup Cup - I'm liking the Jetboil though and have used one which also fits nicely into the saddlebag.
• The North Face™ solo, one man tent. 2.5 pound single wall unit. Pretty small but I'm not hanging out in it and it's better than a bivouac sack IMHO.
• a cheap plastic spoon
• toothbrush
• toilet paper and baby wipes
• sharp multi-tool
• a couple decent quality trash bags. I put my helmet and boots in a bag and leave them outside the tent for a little more room inside and to prevent any vermin from moving into or chewing on my stinky gear. Also, it you are going to be riding for days on end through torrential rain (that isn't very fun IMHO) you can stuff your sleeping bag into the plastic bags as you fit into the saddlebag.

• I actually like the mountain house freeze dried food offerings (with the exception of ANY of the mexican 'flavored' meals, I don't like burping the seasoning all night). Since the freeze-dried stuff is kind of bulky yet very light weight, I put it in my day pack.
• Tortillas - flour, I like to extend teh freeze-dried stuff by making little burritos, sometimes even a spare for lunch the next day
• Tapatillo or your favorite hot sauce
• Oatmeal
• Tea
• Snacks - energy bars, etc.
• You will need to find fuel almost every day and I've grabbed a can of chili to fire cook and make burritos. Most of the little towns we visit (now more than ever) really need our support. Buying stuff, even as simple as candy is greatly appreciated and will hopefully help keep them in the gasoline business. We've already lost Wagontire and even Plush, OR was not pumping fuel for a period of time so we try to spend a little extra (OK, we always buy some beer at our last stop before camp or if it's gonna be another 75 miles to camp, a bottle of tequila or something like that).

The key to this system is thoughtful packing. There are probably several tricks we haven't thought of yet but I start by pulling my sleeping bag through the saddlebag so that half of it is hanging out one side and the same on the opposite side. Next, I load the stove, oil, tube(s), tire irons on one side down low (where it should be!). My Sleeping pad is kind heavy so it goes down low on the opposite side. Follow with clothing, socks, hat, etc.. Stuff your sleeping bag starting with the center of the saddlebag (center of rear fender). You will see that a down bag will compress quite small and will leave you with space to slip your tool kit in last. If you need to make repairs in the field, you'll be glad that it's easily accessible. Snug down the compression straps to hold your tent, rain gear on the back behind your seat and the 2 one either side to hold your load right where you want it. NOTE - we intentionally left the straps a bit long. They can be trimmed to your tastes but no matter what - DO NOT LEAVE THEM FLAPPING AROUND LOOSE! When the bike is being ridden on a day loop from camp, simply stuff the extra length inside the bag and zip it closed.

If you have a tank bag, there's just that much more space to stash things like your camera, maps, etc.. We have a prototype bag that will be in production soon!

If it doesn't fit into this kit, you probably don't need it. We approach this whole concept as a moto inspired adventure that allows the bike to perform as close to optimum as possible and take us to out-of-the-way hot springs, mountain tops, desert mesas, alpine glades - the places you would never drive your truck to camp. Ever ridden over a ridge and said to yourself, "I'd really like to see the sun come here"? This is the answer to that question - YES!


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