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Preparing for bike touring

Discussion in 'Roads, Touring, Journeys, and Travel' started by conspiracytheorist, Jun 8, 2009.

  1. Heya.

    Planning to do some longer trips away on the bike and camping along the way. Having never done this (or ever camped by myself) before I thought I'd ask you guys for some advice/suggestions. I'm aiming to go right the whole way around aus, but I'm going to build up to it with some shorter trip/s first. Not too far, at the moment I'm just thinking to head west to SA via parkes, broken hill, adelaide, then return back to sydney via the coast - very basic route;

    Will be asking for suggestions on which roads are the best to detour though with that vague general route later on, but at the moment I'm wondering about preparation, what I need to take, how to prepare, etc.

    My list so far;

    Bike stuff
    extra tools; spanner, wrench, hammer
    chain lube
    soft panniers
    tank bag
    ventura rack

    cigarette power adapter
    suspension; adjust for comfort
    bars; risers
    sheepskin seat
    return bike to stock; standard exhaust + air filter + pc3 zero map
    return to standard gearing (currently -1 front)

    under tent tarp
    tarp for cooking, sitting + gear, etc.
    sleeping bag
    Cooking Trangia + fuel
    toilet paper + collapseable spade
    torch + small lantern ( wind rechargeable )
    chargers; gps, phone, camera
    memory cards
    garbage bags
    mosquito spray
    camelback (larger one?)
    water (how much to carry?)

    Not sure if a jerry can is necessary? I have an 18L tank and currently get ~230kms before reserve when commuting/very mild fanging (at which point 3L is left; ~6.5L/100). And probably something like 260 when on the freeway before reserve. After returning to stock gearing and stock fuel map I hope to get close to 5-5.5L/100 on the straight bits so 270-300 before reserve. Will probably test that on trip down to canberra to see friends before the trip so I get a better idea.

    As for how long the trip will take, I'm guestimating maybe 600-800kms a day? Maybe it would be 7 days return with a day or two based in melbourne checking out melbournian twisties and saying hello at a coffee meet or something.

    Thoughts, advice, comments, etc. appreciated as my knowledge of touring is non existant! :grin:
    • Like Like x 1
  2. Still wonder what the fascination is with swags. You got no room, the canvas ones weigh a ton when wet. Small dome tent with decent vestibules allows you somewhere to cook and sit/read if the weather turns foul and keep boots dry whilst sitting out of the weather.

    IMHO too many tarps - space is at a premium, and while nice to have one "under tent", don't know where you're going to put it all.

    Ya got no mattress. Have gone off "the Self inflating" one, so you can try mine if you want. Am using the lilo style pump up ones, packs up much smaller and more comfortable, plus rallys Im going to someone always has a pump I can borrow :wink:

    Panniers and Ventura leak, so allow for a heap of plastic bags to keep your stuff dry. Get some "drawer liner" from $2 shop, and some hot glue to put under your tank bag to stop scratches

    You got a pretty sporty bike now, might need more than just the sheepskin, Airhawk expensive, but well worth it.

    If ya riding alone, maybe look at some MX Body Armour.

    Don't know the roads west of the Hume, but you should be right for fuel.

    Small Camelback should be fine, say 1.5 litre, you don't want to be carrying too much weight on your back as you can fill up every time you do the bike :cool:

    Don't know how much you can fit in the Ventura bags, but use the Large waterproof sacks you can get from Whitworths, and you can pack up your bike panniers the night before, then just stuff everything else in there in the morning, and go....another thing I like to do is get away early. Stuffing around waiting for tent to dry and cook breaky - half the day's gone, rather than on the road by 7am and hot food at first fuel stop (cause ya filled up night before) around 9am :grin:

    Radio - see what's happening in the world. iPod for the highway trips. And a chair - whilst stool probably all you'll fit, love a chair and got a nice light one from Kellys Camping at Dee Why.

    Cam buckle straps aren't 100% on a bike due to bouncing up and down, so need to use a bit of tape, but this is a rather large load :p So normally use the Andy Strapz.....but Duc "sports tourer" has no tie down spots :evil:

    • Agree Agree x 1
  3. Puncture repair etc
    Gaffa and Duct tape
    $2 shop Stanley knife
    Syphon hose - you might not need it, but you'll get a friend for life :cool:

    Oh and you got heated grips? Best investment so far out of the thousands of $$'s spent on bikes
  4. Alex I know you were in the Home Loan business, but that ST looks like you're taking 'home' with you :LOL:.

    Seriously, that sounds like good advice. When I do long trips I just package up the stuff I know I'm going to need and courier it to the place I'm going to be staying; lazy, eh???
  5. Never been a fan of camping, and especially leery of carrying camping gear on a bike. If you've done a 500+km day then you need a good sleep to set you up for the next day.

    I've been motorcycle touring since 1981 and it has always been my practice to stay in country hotels, where you can nearly always get a room without having to book in advance. The advantages are too numerous to even try to count.

    1. A warm, dry, clean bed.
    2. A proper bathroom with a clean towel and fresh soap.
    3. In every case in recent memory, secure parking for the bike.
    4. Every hotel I've stayed in for years has had a good bistro/restaurant where you can get a freshly-cooked, well-priced meal.
    5. I've never paid more than $50 per night for a room and it's usually around $35-$40

    I could go on, but I think the point is made. By the time you add up the cost of buying the camping gear, the inconvenience of packing and unpacking it every night (often in the rain) and the performance penalties that carrying all that unnecessary crud imposes on your bike, it's a no-brainer.

    Take the minimum stuff and have a good night's sleep every night at a good, clean, country hotel.

    My 2 cent's worth from many years of enjoying the freedom of the road.
    • Agree Agree x 6
    • Like Like x 3
    • Informative Informative x 1
  6. Thanks Alex, appreciate the reply :) I think I keep thinking of swags simply for the weight issue, wanting to pack as light as possible. But very ignorant with camping gear, I'll try to find an ultra light weight dome tent as it would be alot more comfy.

    Yeah I'm probably being a bit ambitious with some of the stuff I'm taking, I've never had panniers and not sure how much I'll actually get in them. Forgot a bunch of things you've mentioned so added them to the list, I've got a good and compact camping inflatable mattress so thats cool.

    For packing I was going to pack everything inside the panniers/bag in garbage bags to keep them try, and possibly another over the top if it really starts to come down.

    Comfort wise the blade is fairly uncomfortable in comparison to bikes set up for it, a ride of a blackbird on saturday made me realise how much comfort is sacrificed for handlings sake, currently set up for aggressive road riding and some track work, very stiff. So will get it loosened up to hopefully be plush enough. I've done 600km day rides with the stock seat no problems, its fairly hard which doesn't make for a comfortable ride when you first jump on but it provides pretty good support for a sportbike. With a sheepskin it should be enough, especially as the trip will be at as low cost as possible.

    Good point about the armour, will look into some under leather armour. Cool I've already got a 1.5 or 2L camelback so thats sorted.

    Ahk thats a really good idea about the sacks, gives the ability to take all the gear out without taking off the pannier. I'll definitely be rising with the sun for an early set off to avoid any possibility of travelling after sunset.

    I like those tri legged mini stool things so I'll grab one of those, should be nice and compact. Mmm some andy strapz will be essential as well I think. With the ventura rack setup, I can have one bag facing the back of the bike, then another on the pilion set facing the other way that might be good as they zip together and hold quite alot.

    rc36 thanks for the input, I do intend on staying in hotels for some of the nights but I really want to camp out for a night or two or three.

    Thanks again guys!
  7. +1 to puncture repair kit for tubeless tyres.

    I know on my ride from Brisbane to Wollongong via the twisty roads, there were lots of places where I'd get no phone or UHF radio signal out... So being able to fix a puncture in 15-30 minutes rather than waiting five or six years for help to arrive is a good thing!

    Some kits come with three or so disposable CO2 cylinders for roadside reinflation, but i've heard on the interwebs that three of those is really only enough to half-inflate the tyre... enough to limp to a service station and reinflate there, really.

    Since my Tiger has a 12V socket, I've actually got a little 12V air compressor from Supercheapauto. Very compact, though it probably weighs about 1kg. It takes about 2-3 minutes to fill the tyre completely, but hey - unlimited compressed air so long as you have fuel to drive the bike's alternator. ;)
  8. Thanks spots, any idea how much I should be paying for a good kit?
  9. satellite phone perhaps? while expensive will solve the no reception problem.
  10. It was something like $25-30 for my tubeless repair kit without any CO2 cylinders, and something like $40-50 for one with CO2 cylinders.

    It was $50-60 for the 12V air compressor, but there are possibly cheaper ones.

    The most common style is probably the gummy worm style, which includes:
    * Tube of rubber cement.
    * A handful of gummy rubber rope thingies for plugging holes with.
    * Routing tool for cleaning up the puncture hole before plugging it.
    * Tool for pushing the gummy rubber rope thingy into the hole to plug it.

    They work for tubeless bike and car tyres alike, so you can buy 'em at any automotive shop.
  11. Excellent, thanks mate.
  12. I'd be keeping extra things down to a minimum.. e.g. extra tarps etc you really don't need. Get a tent with an annex bit to stuff your boots/gear etc. Look for double purpose things.

    In terms of tools:
    pocket knife - for cutting meat/veg/opening tins etc Get a decent one, it'll last you a lifetime. Careful with it in the tent however.

    For bike tools: consider what you are realistically going to use and how much weight. You can't do a full engine breakdown, so consider that before you pack feeler guages and the like :) Minimum is whatever it takes to get your faring off and wheels off: so the two spanners for rear chain adjustment/big socket/front sprocket/a ratchet spanner to drive the front and rear (test that you can undo them and tighten them to the same sort of torque). If some dickhead mechanic has used a rattle gun to do them up, now's the time to find out, not back of Bourke somewhere.
    NRMA cover bikes now, I'd say just see what their coverage is and go with that and minimise tools to maintenance and "some stuff". A small multimeter would be useful to tell you if your battery is dead or else something else..
    Some spare fuses and a bulb for your headlight might be useful.

    Puncture repair kit and a pump. Throw the CO2 canisters away as you might stuff up the repair and then what do you do once you've wasted the rather heavy and bulky canisters? a little hand pump can help you top up your tyres as well as revive a flat tyre. I got a cool little one that has high/low compression settings.. So from flat you use the "big gulps of air" option, then as it gets too hard, flick it over and it takes smaller gulps. Like gears for a tyre pump..
    Can vouch for the tyre repair kits: one that used soft rubber inserts got me 1100km at low to freeway speeds with load and still looked strong.

    Both Gaffa tape and electrical tape are musts (for stopping stuff rubbing, repairs).
    Take a can of chain spray and take care of your chain every 300km or so.

    Couple of bunji straps, although I'd work out luggage that avoids the need for these (or else do your packing/unpacking with helmet on and visor down to save your eyesight). Andystrapz might be an option, can't vouch for them, but they look like a neat idea.
    I did panniers+ ventura rack to eliminate that problem. Big thick garbage bags to wrap stuff in (why aren't all bike bags waterproof eh?)

    Wind up lantern, and a little windup head one. Probably one or the other is fine. Avoid anything that relies on batteries.

    For shelter:
    I used a coleman x3 avior tent.. Light and compresses down well. It's a 3 man tent, but what that means is comfortable 1 man with a tonne of shit spread out or two guys with room for reasonable amount of gear. If I was going to do it again I might try the x2 version to save a bit more space.


    It's light, compact but not ridiculous in price (not super cheap though).
    Can vouch for it in european rain/snow etc.. Can open up venting a bit to let breeze through.

    Stop in at motels or proper camp sites to wash stuff and/or dry things out. The occasional luxury of a hot shower is worth it.

    I used my n95 as phone and GPS. The poor thing put up with rain/fog/everything like a trooper. I had a RAM mount that goes through the steering head hole. For australia it's less of an issue because we know about sensible road signs. Always have a paper map as backup though as a faulty battery connection proved to me.

    I got a set of cooking pots: the MSR duralite set, MSR whisperlite international. Reason behind this choice was I could fill it up with unleaded and that would then double as spare fuel (though I wouldn't cook toast over unleaded by the looks of the soot).

    Couple of cigarette lighters, don't bother with flints/matches/rubbing sticks..

    I brought some plastic plates: didn't end up using them and they cracked while packing. Use a lid of something if you can or just eat from the plastic container. Don't do that with metal cutlery on non stick surfaces and BE CAREFUL to have dish cloths between anything scratchy and non stick surfaces.
    Take some spices/curry powder etc to jazz stuff up a bit, but sort out some smaller containers before you leave home.

    A spare set of keys around your neck on a string. I managed to roll the normal ones up in the tent a few times by accident.

    Sleeping bag, liner and self inflating mattress. Don't torture yourself on bare ground, life's too short and your bike will make you stiff enough.

    I took a couple of light Europe/morocco are dodgier than Australia, so I wouldn't really stress about having your bike nicked. But if you're paranoid.. If it was me: I probably wouldn't bother in Oz if you're not going to be parking on the street in cities, and even then: that's what insurance is for and you aren't really that stranded if it goes missing (taxi to airport, flight home etc).

    Hand sanitiser doubles up as visor cleaner (works well on bugs), but a compact way to save wasting your water on washing hands. Alcohol wipes are pretty popular with some people as an emergency shower option (e.g. under arms, groin and you're fresh as a daisy haha) I dunno how well that option works cos I was fighting cold not heat on my touring..
    Toothbrush/toothpaste. Little bottles of shampoo or shaving cream if you are going to fight the touring beard. Toilet paper is a must, if you can re-wrap it without the toilet roll in it you save yourself a bit of volume. Volume's probably the biggest thing you'll struggle with.

    Don't set yourself a 1000km a day schedule, plan on one or two days that you're just going to stay in the tent or bum around town.

    Books are fine except for the volume they take up, as you're in an English speaking country maybe you can just get the paper or a magazine every now and then.
    A furry mascot with you might keep you "sane" (as in crazy sane rather than crazy crazy) with someone to talk to on your trip.


    Other stuff: might be useful getting YHA membership? They have cabins all over the place I believe.

    Hope that helps.
    • Like Like x 1
  13. Get a telstra prepaid sim if you're worries about reception out in the bush. They cover Australia pretty well. I think satellite would be a very expensive overkill..
    • Like Like x 1
  14. http://www.advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=203720

    this guy packs as much as he needs have a read and let us know what you think, have fun jared, im expecting lotsa pics and a real good ride report, ADVrider is a good site, have a surf and there is plenty of info in it, you should learn alot there about long touring

    GL HF
  15. Wow thankyou so much nath for taking the time to share all of that, its been immensely insightful as I'd overlooked alot of what you mentioned.

    Extremely good point about the puncture kit, I'll avoid the CO2 and just get a pump, will get one with 'gears' as you say.

    I'll definitely sort out some sort of NRMA roadside assist type thing, the one I've heard of covers you very well if you get stranded and pays accomodation and travel expenses etc, reasonably cheap annual fee too from what I remember about it.

    After talking to dad about the trip it seems he might be interested in getting a bike and joining me, good timing since he'll likely be retiring in a few weeks.

    Didn't even think about using a telstra prepaid sim card, that really does provide more coverage out in the bush? I'm currently with virgin, no idea what network they go through.

    Going over to advrider now, cheers :) Will definitely be documenting the trips with lots of pics and likely some video too.

  16. Something to leave behind; the Phizog factor :LOL:.
  17. My cautious nature will never be gone, but the fireblade certainly does its best to keep it under restraints :wink:

  18. Hey Jared,

    An ex and his brother rode around Australia a couple years ago. Dave blogged about it here: http://www.chasinghorizons.net/. They mostly camped. I thought he had a list of the things he took but can't seem to find it on the site.

    There's also a link from Chasing Horizons to a motorcycle touring checklist here: http://micapeak.com/checklists/mclist.html

    PM if you'd like me to send you Dave's e-mail address. I'm sure he'd be more than happy to give you some advice on stuff you need.

  19. A decent quality small dome tent 2 man for compactness (rays outdoors have some on special at the moment) and a good self inflating mat (thermarest are hard to beat) combined with a good quality sleeping bag (-5 is a good balance between size and ability to withstand cooler nights).

    The Trangia you mentioned is good but there are more compact options if saving space and weight is a priority. Throw on a small 3 leg stool to sit on if you like.

    The key is not to carry to much or you waste time setting up and pulling down and the weight hurts your bike.

    My tent weighs 2.5kg, my sleeping bag about 1kg and my roll matt less than half a kg. My cooking gear all together is about 1kg.

    Spare clothes are heavy but if you pick carefully it can be done. I wear T-Shirts and thermals then it's only in the coldest weather you need a jumper under your jacker.

    Consider lashing out on some heated handgrips for your bike, they will really help on those colder days.

    Don't carry food, buy it at your destination or eat out (food is bulky and heavy).

    Mix up your where you stay, some campgrounds, some caravan parks and throw in the occasional country pub (nice on those cold miserable wet nights).

    Try and avoid big cities, smaller towns are cheaper and generally add more character and interest to your trip.

    Remember... when bike touring... less gear is better.

    If you think you might not need it then don't carry it :)
  20. Kathmandu have three for $70 - last year bought two tops and one pants - brilliant bits of gear :cool: