You have a motorcycle. You want to go somewhere but have no idea where to start. I got you.
Touring with a motorcycle is a dream. All the time in the world, nowhere to be and everything you need is on your bike. A motorcycle will take you places that you never thought to go. Yes sitting for that long can be hard but here are some things that really helped me get ready for my trips.
Preface: I had never done this before until I just tried it. You might be in the same boat.
I chose to go from Utah to Banff by myself and wanted to camp along the way. Most riders choose to stay in hotels but I was short on cash so with camping, I had to bring way more things than I normally would have.
Hammock (incase I didn't want to set up a tent)
Rain gear (all I had was a rain jacket)
Clothes: 2 pairs of jeans, 3 shirts, leggings, lotsa layers, leather jacket, neck warmer...
WHAT I DID
I looked for open spaces and started strapping things to my bike. I wanted to lean against something so I threw my duffle back on the back. A sissy bar would have been nice for this but it's not necessary as long as it's tie down. Bring a gas can, you never know when you will be stuck on the side of the road, I usually attached it to my bike but it also fits well in saddle bags. I attached my tent to my head light however I have had to put it on the back of my bike before. Here is a trip I took 2 years ago from Utah to CA, I did not have these fabulous saddle bags at the time so I just had to make everything work, notice the red gas can on the side:
Your head light is an effective place to pack things. A tool roll fits great, a sleeping bag or even just a blanket. If you have a front fender you cant rest it on that and attach somewhere underneath the handle bars. I made a leather blanket roll that attached to my forks and held a blanket with my tent.
One thing that was a MUST that I mentioned earlier was to have a USB battery charger. It connected to my battery then I was able to charge anything I needed to. Phone, bluetooth earphones and an extra battery pack. It can charge when the bike is not running but I was worried about my battery dying so I always made sure I was charging when I was riding. You can see the white cord that connected to my tank bag.
I use bungee cords for all of my trips but I met Steve in the Tetons and he showed me a few tips. He was a touring master and recommended Rok Straps. He had the nice waterproof cases for his BMW. Goals.
Let's talk about rain gear. There are full blown outfits you can get that protect you from getting wet. Steve have waterproof pants he put over is his jeans as well as a jacket. I was short handed in this department. All I had was a Patagonia waterproof jacket. Everything was great until I had a full day of rain ahead of me. I threw on my jacket and hoped for the best. This was the aftermath:
Yes I made it but it was kinda the worst. I went from laughing about it to 4 hours of my teeth chattering. Will I buy rain gear? Honestly still probably not. To me it seemed like a hassle to lug around when I was already tight on space. If I am still doing this when I am older, then maybe I will invest in the luxury.
I loved having a hammock with me. Sometimes setting up a tent is just too much work and other times campsites are full and they only offer trees to tie to. It was way faster to set up a hammock and it's nice to wake up to looking at mountains and trees.
Tank bags are a dream. I wanted to try and make one out of leather but this is something that is just better bought. Keep anything in here that you want easy access to: glasses, gloves, hat, snacks, ear plugs, maps and any extra layers. It is also nice to lean on these when you get tired after hours of riding. My gas tank sits a little lower but on my old bike, this would have worked great.
I always kept a saddle bag of food. It was annoying to always have to stop to get food and since I like to go as cheap as possible, I tended to go to grocery stores more than restaurants. Also I have to eat pretty healthy so I couldn't just stop at a drive through. I always make sure to have apples or almonds or even just almond butter and honey sandwiches on me at all times. This was really nice when I decided to adventure somewhere off the path and found myself far from anything good to eat.
SMALL THINGS THAT MIGHT HELP
Bag locks - for when you leave your bike and you don't want anything stolen
Hot water bottle - riding early in the morning is SO COLD, I put this under my jacket and it made it bearable
Ear plugs - it's so loud on the highway, "save your hearing" all the old bikers say
Phone holder - tank bags usually have a pocket for this but it is nicer to be able to thumb through things when you are riding. EX: directions and music
Crampbuster - they also call it a poor mans cruise control, this helped my wrist so much
Scarf/neck warmer - I found when I didn't wear this, wind was blowing up into my helmet
All in all, there is no RIGHT way to do it. As long as everything is sturdy and doesn't fall off then you are good to go. Hopefully this helps you out in planning your next trip, message me if you have ANY questions, I live to plan this stuff for people.
WHAT I LEARNED
Highways pegs might be a really good investment so my knees don't hurt after long days
When your gear is heavy, your back tire wears out faster
People stare hard when they see a girl riding a motorcycle