Part 1: Travel Info
Part 2: Travel Info cont...
Part 3: Money Checklist
Part 4: The Perfect Packing List
Here are some special tips from our friends at Motorcycle Cruiser. They have some great stuff so stop by and take a look. Motorcycle Cruiser
It isn't just what you take on that motorcycle road trip, it's how you pack it.
From the April 1999 issue of Motorcycle Cruiser magazine.
By Art Friedman
Here are some money tips for the traveler from our friends atThe Weather Channel
The Perfect Packing List (and other travel information)
Every time we decide to take a little road trip on our bikes, we are burdened with different problems than the guy who loads up the car and takes off. Its a huge benefit to listen to the tried and true advice from the guys that have done it more than a few times! At the end of the page is a packing list from one of my favorite travelers, that will allow you to print out the list, highlight the items you want to pack, and retain it till you get home....to make sure your stuff makes it back, as well.
Making room: When you are traveling two-up, a luggage rack is almost essential. On bikes with hard saddlebags, top racks for the bags may be another option, particularly if—as on the Nomad—the closure is on the side of the bags.
Don't block airflow to the engine: I am amazed by people who bungee a sleeping bag to their front fender or hang a large fork bag under the headlight. The engine relies on cooling air that comes across the top of the fender and down past the headlight. This is especially true on bikes with fat front tires and fenders. That sleeping bag may keep your engine even warmer than it keeps you.
Remember mass-centralization: Mass centralization simply means that keeping the mass as close to the motorcycle's center of gravity (CG) as possible. The CG is usually somewhere near the top of the transmission case. When you start placing weight far from that point, you will feel repercussions in the handling response of the bike. A heavy tool bag strapped atop a sissy bar will screw things up. A light sleeping bag, though it may be bulkier, will have a lesser effect. The ideal places to put heavy items so that their weight doesn't degrade handling are on top of the fuel tank or in a saddlebag (preferably low and toward the front). The next best location is on the seat close behind you. Racks, trunks and the area up by the headlight are best reserved for lighter items, though a light but bulky object like a sleeping bag can make a good windbreak up front. Tank bags are not really suitable for cruisers with tank-top instruments. Even if you are riding with people you trust and don't need to consult your speedometer, you still need to see the warning lights. Limit your tank-top luggage on such bikes to mini tank bags or a tank-divider strip with a pocket.
Observe load limits: You will find many load limits for your bike and gear. These reflect the concern of motorcycle and luggage makers about the potential dangers of overloading or incorrect load placement. Your owner's manual and the VIN plate both list GVWR (gross vehicle weight rating), the maximum total weight of bike, fluids, riders and luggage that the manufacturer recommends. There is also a GAWR (the A stands for axle) for front and rear wheels. Our spec charts can help you determine if you are close to these. We list total vehicle wet weight and the percent of that figure that rests on the rear wheel. Although anything you add will fall on both axles, more will rest on the axle it is closer to. A passenger sitting well back on the seat will be carried almost entirely by the rear suspension. A tank bag will be split pretty evenly.
Will your bike self-destruct if you overload it? No, but braking distances will increase, handling will become awkward, suspension and wheels will be overworked and may wear, and tires will get hot—which at the least means greater wear and at the worst could cause a blowout. Tires also have maximum load ratings. Most saddle, tail and tank bags (standard or aftermarket) list a maximum load. Yes, these figures are probably created with a lot of consideration for liability. But if you never exceed them, you'll probably never suffer consequences that will make think about liability.
Increase tire pressure to compensate: It's the air in the tire, not the tire itself, that supports the weight of the bike and its cargo. As a result, you need to increase air pressure to the upper limit when you put a lot of load on the bike. Pressures should be checked when the tires are stone cold, even if you have to ride somewhere to add air. Riding with an under-inflated tire causes it to heat up rapidly, which can cause the tire to come apart, especially when it is overloaded.
Add-on saddlebags might require bag guards: I have seen plenty of saddlebags that arrived at their destinations with tire burns even though they seemed to hang well clear of the tire. Wind pressure, forces applied by the rider or passenger, or shifting during the ride can move bags against or into the wheel. The latter can be disastrous.
Almost every cruiser on the market can be fitted with accessory bag guards—thin loops of (usually chromed) tubing that drop down below the rear fender to keep the bags from swinging into the tire. These also provide additional mounting points to help anchor your bags. Unless your bags ride high right next to the saddle, these guards are a good investment.
Avoid exhaust pipes and chains: During one comparison test I was involved in a number of years ago, a manufacturer-installed accessory hard saddlebag on one of the bikes caught fire because it was installed too close to the muffler. One rider lost all his clean clothing and some other possessions as well. This is more likely to be a problem with soft saddlebags. Soft bags often shift or sag and touch the pipe even though they seem to be safely above the pipe when they are originally installed. Besides the fire danger, it will destroy the bag and—if you are using synthetic bags— leave an almost impervious blob of melted plastic on the pipe. Even with leather bags, you might set the contents on fire. On cruisers with the exhaust system on one side, you may have to hang the bags unevenly to keep the right one out of harm's way.
Drive chains are another possible danger point. Remember that the bag comes closer to a chain or belt as the suspension compresses. Be sure there's still some space between the bag and the chain, even with the rear suspension fully compressed. If there are straps or fringe on your bags, make sure they can't possibly get into the chain or belt, which could cause a very sudden and unexpected stop when the bag gets pulled into the works.
Part 2: Travel info cont...
Part 3: Money Checklist
Part 4: The Perfect Packing List
Happy traveling and be safe out there!!