First things first: There are no rules, only guidelines. There is no "right" way to do things, only personal preference. And experience is the best teacher. But with a little practice and the proper attitude, packing can become an exciting time of anticipation rather than a tedious chore.
Many people feel packing a motorcycle is more about what you leave behind than what you take. One technique is to put everything you would like to bring into a big pile on the floor. Remove the least-essential items first. Eliminate items one by one until the pile becomes manageable – and packable. (And don't forget to check your owner's manual for the cargo weight limits of your bike.
We’ve provided a list of packable items, consider this list a starting point – a "virtual" pile on the floor.
TRAVEL TIPS FROM EXPERIENCED TOUR RIDERS
- Lightweight synthetic clothing – such as T-shirts and underwear – can be washed in a hotel sink and dried overnight (cotton fabrics take too long to dry in this manner)
- Zipper-lock plastic bags of various sizes can be extremely useful for organizing items in saddlebags and duffle bags. They can make it easier to find and retrieve particular items without unpacking your entire motorcycle. Use the one-gallon size to pack one day's worth of clothes – jeans, undergarments, and shirt. This makes it easier to unpack just what you need.
- Don't fold your clothes – roll them. They take up less space that way.
- Pack items that have more than one use. A multi-tool is handier than a basic pocket knife.
- When traveling with other riders, conserve space by comparing packing lists and eliminating duplicate items.
- When traveling (two-up) with a spouse or "significant other", ask yourself questions such as: "Can we share a tube of toothpaste?" or "Can I get by using her shampoo for a week?"
- On long trips, consider bringing your rattiest underwear (or other clothing), then just throw it away when you're done with it!
- Check the cargo weight limits of your bike - as wells as the bags and racks - and adjust tire pressure and suspension accordingly.
- Few things are as easy to pack as money or credit cards. If you're struggling with whether or not to bring a particular item, consider simply buying it on the road if you need it.
- If you watch the ounces, the pounds will take care of themselves. When possible, lighter is better.
- When loading your bike, keep as much weight as possible close to the bike's center of gravity. That means low and toward the tank, distributed evenly from side to side.
- A day or two before you leave, do a dry run. Pack the bike and go for a short ride, then adjust the load as needed.
- If you're camping, set up your tent once or twice before you leave (and don't forget to waterproof it). Practice setting it up in the dark.
- With your bike fully loaded for your road trip, check your headlamp to make sure it’s properly aimed.
- Pack all your cold weather and rain gear no matter what time of year it is.
- Plastic bags make great boot liners if you forgot your gaiters. If you forgot your rain gloves, rubber dishwashing gloves make great, inexpensive substitutes.
- A small towel can be wrapped around your neck during a rainstorm to keep water from running down your back – and doubles as a shop rag.