How to Set Up Your Adventure Motorcycle

Discover How To Prepare Your Dual Sports Motorcycle Without Spending a Fortune on Costly Mistakes

I‘ve put together some information here that touches on the bike and associated accessories.  For information on what you need as a rider take a look at the ‘Related  Articles’ index below.

Spares and Tools

This one can be made as big as you like, so the following list is a suggestion only.  Given space and weight are prime concerns it does come down to what is essential. Things do break out on the road, but a lot of anguish can be avoided by making sure that the bike is well prepared prior to departure.  If the bike has known weak points, then address them during the preparation phase.  By giving the bike a major service and replacing items such as brake and clutch cables if the bike is not new,  adding crash bars and bash plates and so on.

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Must Takes

  • Spare keys
  • A repair manual for the bike
  • Tool kit provided by the manufacturer – often there a specialized tools and without them a minor fix can turn into a major issue.
  • Puncture repair kit
  • Spare tires – depending on where you’re going they may need to be a different type to those you have on the bike.
  • Consumables – air filter, fuel filter, fuses and bulbs, length of electrical wire and pliers.
  • Tools – sufficient hardware to change/remove a tire, tension chains, remove seats, fuel tanks and anything external to allow you to get at all parts of the bike.
  • Duct tape, zip-lock cable ties (different sizes) and short roll of stiff wire – it is amazing what can be held in place with these items.   I had a bolt snap on a pannier bracket and ran the risk of losing the whole thing.  Called into a garage out in the middle of nowhere in Africa and this guy used the biggest cable tie I’ve ever seen in my life to secure it.  Never had a problem all the way to Capetown, where it was replaced.  Convert from that day onwards.

Other Items

People who are experienced adventure motorcyclists will have their own list of items. It will depend on previous experiences and the make and model of the bike they ride. The best approach is to now grab some good reference books and read up on what others out there are saying.

I personally recommend you start with “Adventure Motorcycling” by Robert Wicks (Haynes).  This is a very good, comprehensive book on all things related to adventure motorcycling. It’s not the only one of its type out there, but I own a copy and it’s well laid out and easy to read.

Aftermarket Accessories

There is always something that either can, or should be done to the motorcycle to make life on the road more practical and enjoyable.  The bike is you. There are numerous accessories that can be fitted to the bike.  In fact it’s almost a study in itself.

Accessories and after market accessories cover:

  • Luggage (panniers, top boxes, tank bags)
  • Bike Protection (crash bars, bash plates,radiator protectors)
  • Rider Comfort (handle bars, seat, foot pegs, windshields/spoilers, hand protectors, heated grips, levers)
  • Fuel tanks
  • Tires and Rims
  • Exhausts
  • Suspension

A book that delves into a great deal of detail on setting up your bike with aftermarket accessories and is pretty much the essential guide to preparing a dual sports bike for an adventure motorcycle tour is “Building the Ultimate Adventure Motorcycle” by Robert Wicks (Haynes).  It has a section on the variety of adventure touring bikes that you can choose from.  I also own a copy and thoroughly recommend it.

Navigation and Electronics

Here is what I take with me

  • Global Positioning System – make sure it is purpose built for motorcycles; weather proof, anti-glare screen.
  • Maps
  • Small Binoculars
  • Cell Phone – a lot of cell phones are ‘locked’ by the telco you buy them from. This stops you from using the phone with another telco’s SIM card.  Make sure your phone is unlocked.  It is getting more difficult, but you can still just buy a SIM card in a country and use that.
  • Satellite Phone – these are becoming very cost effective. Provided you have a clear view to the heavens, they’ll work pretty much everywhere. The call charges can be expensive, but if you use it sensibly they are very good.
  • Laptop/Notebook – if you can afford one, get a unit with the solid state drive.  Lessens the risk of disk drives being damaged.  An essential tool for keeping your blog up to date, emailing friends/family and managing your photos and video footage.

 Cameras

I take a handycam style of video camera that shoots in HD (1920 x 1080).  Nothing too big or bulky.  I don’t take a top end DSLR camera these days, as I can take stills off the video editing software timeline. I’ve got some incredible photos using this approach.

I am currently using a helmet mounted GoPro HD.  They’re universal these days, but at higher speeds the camera drags on the helmet, pulling my head back.  I’m going back to the ‘lipstick’ style cameras soon, as they offer full HD and remote control but have the lower profile.

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Cheers
Keith Signature