THE 10 ESSENTAILS EVERY RIDER SHOULD CARRY
by Tom Mehren
In the world of back packing, hikers are taught to carry the 10 essentials such as a compass, fire-starter, flashlight and so on. While not the same items for motorcyclists, it’s not a bad idea to carry some essentials as well. I’m one of those guys who grabs a large bag or two, affixing it to the bike, before I head out on a ride. I might be the guy you’d want along on your next ride, knowing I probably have the antidote on board to fix you up and get you back on the road when the least expected strikes. Like a flat, broken body work, blown fuse or otherwise. That doesn’t make me the end-all MacGyver, simply a boy scout who is always prepared on two wheels.
That being said, I’m not going with you on your next ride and you’re probably not packing like I do. To those of you who like to travel light, let’s consider the 10 essentials every rider should have on board, whether you’re running an errand in the neighborhood, or taking a multi-day ride.
- Tool Kit– A lot of new bikes don’t come with tool kits, so why would you need one anyway? Well, if your bike has a chain, you’ll need to adjust it every 500 miles or so. You don’t want to pay a shop to do that each time do you? A tool kit should have all the tools you need to do any sort of level one service. You can often order one through your dealer, or craft one up yourself.
- Tire stuff – For starters, motorcycles need routine air checks to be sure they are inflated to the manufacturers recommended pressures each time you ride. A gauge is small and easy to carry, but you really need to be carrying an inflation device as well, particularly if you go on and off-road. Tow truck companies profit well each year from un-prepared riders who flat and don’t have the tools or a tire repair kit to fix it. A decent tire repair kit costs under $50. A tow into town can run well into the hundreds of dollars. Not worth it. Carry a kit that does both tube and tubeless because you never know when an unprepared friend may need assistance. If your bike uses tubes, a spare tube for the front and rear helps out as well. Automotive inflatogoo, will not likely seal your leak. It works with thick treads like car tires, but typically not with motorcycle tires. Instead, you can carry a small tube of Slime Powersports formula.
- Spares fuses – Begin with spare fuses for each fuse on your bike. You should have one or two spares on board for each type. If you’re using accessories like heated gear, a spare fuse for those wires is applicable as well.
- Spare bulbs – Now, grow that arsenal to include a spare headlight bulb as well as spare brake and turn signal bulbs. Some are harder to find than others at the run-of-the-mill auto parts store, so be prepared in advance. Store them in plastic bags so they don’t rub together and put then where they won’t get smashed.
- Spare key(s) – Like the tow truck operators profiting on unprepared riders, locksmiths make their profits on riders as well, each year making new keys for those who have lost them, or had one break off in the lock. You can go to your dealer and easily access spare keys for a fraction of what you’ll pay a locksmith. Be sure to get spares for any other locks on the bike such as the fuel tank, if it’s different and luggage boxes. Carry them in your jacket pocket, don’t store them in your locked luggage. Removing a broken key can be tricky and expensive if again, performed by a locksmith. There are broken key removal tools available that don’t cost much and don’t take up much space. Consider adding one to your collection.
- Multi-lens touring eyewear– Some riders like to carry multiple lenses for their face shields. What a pain in the storage but! You can simplify life by carrying a set of eyewear that includes smoke, yellow and driver lenses. Use the smoke lenses for full sun, the driver lenses for partly cloudy days and the yellow lenses to increase your seeing ability in fog or rain situations.
- Paperwork – If you own multiple bikes, it may just be that you forgot to register one recently. Be certain all your registrations are current. On the bike you should be carrying your registration and insurance cards. In your wallet be sure you have your license showing your endorsement and that all is current. It doesn’t hurt to photograph all three and have access to them on your smart phone just in case. You can store these documents in a specialized waterproof case.
- Smartphone – Speaking of smart phones, all riders should have one. There is so much you can do with one nowadays. Now, we know you young kids know how to use a weather app, take pictures, get a flashlight app, figure out where you are with a GPS app, locate the nearest dealer and text emergency information if need be.
- Spare Cash & Credit Card– Have you ever left home without your wallet? It’s a real pain if you do. How would you get out of that jam when it comes time to put gas into the tank? Somewhere like your jacket pocket, you can store a $20, $50 or $100 bill and a spare credit card just in case you forget or lose your wallet. Be sure to keep your credit card current by checking the expiration date annually
- Medical Information – Regardless of who you are, how old you are or otherwise, EMT’s need to access your medical information a.s.a.p. in the event you have a medical issue on your ride. Begin with placing a simple medical information card into your wallet behind your driver’s license. If you have more information they may need, you can expand that to include a medical USB card, on which you can also store PDF’s of important documents such as entire contact information for next of kin, power-of-attorney and otherwise.
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Be prepared! Ride Safe! Burn Rubber Not Your Soul!