I’ve been home for to long. To many nights sleeping in a bed is bad for the soul. The road is calling. The solitude is calling. Wind burn, sunburn, the cold, the rain…. the desire to see just one more mile of road, to see what’s around the next curve, to find that perfect spot to camp for the night…
Heading out on a bike for a few weeks isn’t a trek to the Artic Circle, but it does take some planning. Most folks plan routes. I don’t cotton to such things myself. Lest wise not most trips. I have an agenda in mind but no time line. I’m headed South. I want to hit Miami to meet up with a potential business partner, then I’ll run down to the Keys to link up with a dude from my Ranger Batt days. After that? Who fucking knows? I’ll figure it out as we go. We? Me and my Lady Pit will be on the road for 2-3 weeks.
I don’t know how many bike trips I’ve done, so this is routine for me. What will be new is taking the dog and the side car. Oh, and the bike is relatively new to me. I’ve put about 2500 miles on her. It’s an ’09 Electra Glide, 96″ motor, 6 speed transmissio, a 6 gallon tank, I bought it a few months ago just for the trip. I picked this bike because she is stock, which means less vibration, which means less mechanical problems, less fatigue and no searching for aftermarket parts in strange towns when I run into mechanical problems. I wanted an 09 or newer for a few features. 6 speed transmission for one. The 6 gallon tank extends my saddle time between fill ups, an extra concern with this trip because of the weight of the dog and side car. The 96″ motor gives good power and the extra weight hasn’t caused the power plant to struggle at highway speeds. This is also the year Harley made some changes to reduce engine heat. It breaks well, and withought the side car, handles better then my 04. I also wanted stock exhaust. Makes it easier on my doggies hearing, and noise can increase fatigue. I’m feeling my age and the little things adds up these days.
The interwebz has a lot of pre-trip checklists so I won’t speak on that much. Same thing with toolkits, but have one and do the other. Start with fresh tires, breaks and oil. Well not to fresh, but more then 200 miles on them, and hopefully most of those miles on one run. I don’t require a lot of personal gear, I’ve done coast to coast trips with a sleeping bag, tooth brush and ridding leathers. I do carry a fair amount of gear for the bike.
One of the nice things about owning a Harley is options. In this case luggage options. There are kits that will let you get the maximum use out of the limited space in your saddle bags. Use them. I carry a fairly extensive tool kit; with the right aftermarket tool bags they all fit into what would have been dead space in the saddle bags. I also have 2 one gallon fuel cans that also tuck into some not very useful space in the saddle bags. I always carry two quarts of oil, a small bottle of break fuild, Marvin’s Mysrty oil, octane boost, wd40, duct tape and a shit ton of zipties plus three different ways to repair tires along with two ways to inflate my tires. Method #1 is an electric airpump you can pick up at Napa. I have a hand full of air cartridges that you screw into the val stem, takes a couple per tire, but they can get the job done.
I’ll still have room in the saddle bags for my leathers and some water.
I… not sure what you would call them but I have a set of bags designed to sit on top of the saddle bags. I love those things. They are super easy to get on and off the bike and I can get all I need for short trips/ non camping trips into those two bags. Couple of quick releases, they come right off and are easy to carry into the hotel. Toothbrush, couple pair of socks, maybe a clean shirt, sun screen, spare glasses, gloves, long sleeve shirt… all the small things you like to have easy access to while your on the road. You can also fit rain gear in them if your a pussy and use those types of things.sisoursly though, lots of folks love rain great and it’s smart to keep it handy, I have never liked rain gear and would rather put my leathers on. This trip will be mostly camping and everything I want in the tent will be in those bags.
Lots of folks have touring packs/ trunks on their glides. I dislike them for several reasons. I go old school, a nice tall sissy bar, bags and zip ties. These days I have some luggage designed to be used/ strapped to the sissy bar. This is where all the camping stuff and a full face helmet goes.
As a rule, I hate helmets, but a full face helmet is nice to have when it rains. It’s winter time in the South, so I will for sure get rained on. Which is why my socks and what not will be in zip lock bags. Same with the box of spare ammo and mags for my XDM. I’ll also take some under armor in case it gets cold, 2 sets of gloves, hand/ foot warmers and a spare pair of boots
The main topic I wanted to address is camping gear. There is some cool camping shit out there but storage space is limited on a bike, you have the shit you would like to have with you like a towel and a bar of soap and you have shit you absolutely need like moonshine and condoms. Weight is an issue as well, and you need to pack all that shit on your bike in such a way you can get to your stuff in a hurry when you need it and in such a way as it doesn’t negatively affect your bikes balance and center of gravity. Camping in cool places is a big deal to me on this trip. I want to do a little fishing, a little drinking and a lot of sitting around the fire drinking, grilling and singing Johnny Cash songs with my dog so on top of the stuff you need like a tent and a sleeping bag, I want to bring a fishing pole, camping stool, hatchet and some cooking gear.
I’m not going to tell you what gear to buy but I am going to tell you a group of people who have successfully solved the camping gear vs size and weight problem
Backpackers have all that shit figured out. Light weight sleeping bags, light weight tents, stoves, cooking gear, dishes…. they sell all that shit and for less money then the places selling motorcycle gear.
Also I recommend a 2 man tent for the extra space and sleeping bag good to 20F with a poncho liner for extra weight. Saves you money and space and between the 3 things you’ll stay pretty warm even when it’s balls cold