When most people think of motorcycle camping gear they think of the obvious, such as a sleeping bag and tent, but there are some not so obvious things that can prove invaluable. We are going to take a look at a few things you may not have thought of that are great to bring when you are traveling any type of long distance on a motorcycle. These are just a few convenience and repair items that can really make things easier on a rider when they are on a trip.
Stock Your Bar
Most of the time I like to keep my handlebars clear for a nice, clean look, but on long trips I always have a couple of extra accessories on my bars. The first thing I always make sure to bring is a charger for my phone. There are chargers available online that will connect directly to your battery with an inline fuse or connect to your bikes accessory power. Personally, I prefer to use the kind that connects to the battery. This keeps your accessory power free if you need it for something else.
The downside here is that you will have to install a quick connect if you want to remove it when you don’t need it. You can just disconnect it from the battery, but depending on your bike this may be way more trouble than it’s worth. On my Iron you have to remove the seat and a side panel to get to the battery box, then one of the terminals is covered by the wiring harness. Definitely not worth taking apart every time I want to swap it. If you wire in a quick connect, however, you can just tuck the wiring out of the way and disconnect it when you don’t need it. This will greatly simplify the process.
If you choose to use one of these try to find one that has a 12V outlet as well as a 5V USB for charging your phone and anything else you may need. Be careful not to leave anything plugged up if your wires right to the battery. Because there is no shutoff if you leave anything plugged in it will keep draining the battery. Keep in mind these batteries are not like car batteries. These are made solely to start the bike, not power any accessories like a radio or lights for any length of time, so you can drain your battery completely faster than you realize. I don’t know about you, but being stuck in the middle of nowhere on a bike with a dead battery does not sound fun to me, so be careful.
The next thing I always take on long trips is a motorcycle phone mount. I am not advocating using your cell phone while riding, though I won’t lie and say I haven’t done it, but these are great for using your phones GPS while you are riding. Yeah, you could just listen to it and that is what I do most of the time in the car, but in the car you can look at it if you need it, not the case on a bike. This is where a cell phone holder comes in to play. You strap your phone in and you can plug up your headphones and keep you GPS up on your phone. I will admit I was very nervous the first time I used mine. I was so afraid my phone would fly out and be destroyed, but it has held up perfectly.
Keeping Your Tires Aired Up
It’s generally accepted that you should never plug a motorcycle tire. I can personally tell you no one will want to plug a bike tire. You may find a small shop in the middle of nowhere that will, but most big shops will refuse. The idea here is that the integrity of the tire has been compromised. Because of the dangerous nature of motorcycles it becomes a liability for them should anything happen. That being said, stuff happens. You can be riding down the road, thousands of miles from home and run over a nail. Now you are in the middle of nowhere with nothing around, no cell phone coverage, and you haven’t seen a car for hours. What are you going to do?
Well, hopefully you are going to get out a motorcycle tire repair kit. Every rule has an exception. While I would not advocate riding on a plugged tire for long, it will get you to a shop where you can get it changed. While I don’t recommend it, I have ridden thousands of miles on a plugged tire. I ran over a screw in Dallas and had to get to Birmingham, but didn’t have the money for a new tire. So, I did what anyone would do, I plugged the tire with the kit I always keep in my tool bag and aired it up with my little bargain basement air pump. It got me home in one piece and hasn’t let me down yet. I will admit I was a bit nervous on the ride home because everyone was so against it, but we quickly realized it was holding up well and were riding 80+mph again. Again, I am not advocating riding on a patched or plugged tire, but you should keep a kit in your bag in case of emergencies.
Hopefully this has given some of you an idea of a few extra things to bring along next time you go for a long distance ride. I know I would have been lost without these. Imagine riding cross country with no way to charge your phone. Also, never being able to look at a map while you are riding will make things more difficult for some riders. Always be safe and plan ahead. Make sure you have everything you could need while out riding.
Aaron is one of the writers for www.TheRevver.com, a website dedicated to providing all sorts of motorcycle related information. He has owned more vehicles than most, and loves getting his hands dirty. Aaron is our number one gearhead, and all techy questions get answered by him.
Tire plugs do work but should be used only in extreme emergencies! Like when out in the middle of nowhere and you need to get to safety.