Thursday, March 6, 2014

Preparing For A Road Trip

Prepping For A Road Trip

Is Your Bike Ready?

We are getting ready to take the Wing on a multi-day road trip from Dallas to Las Vegas, and perhaps on to Lake Tahoe. We could be gone for two weeks or longer, so we want to make sure the bike is ready for the long journey.

Plan Ahead - I always start prepping my bike at least a week before the upcoming trip. Prepping for a long road trip is fun and builds anticipation for the upcoming journey.

Bike Cover - When traveling it is a good idea to cover your bike when it is parked outside, or even if you park in a hotel garage. We use a half-cover when we travel. It does a great job of keeping the sun and rain off the bike and it packs easily in one of the saddlebags.

Trailer Tips - If you pull a trailer behind your bike, it makes life a lot easier, especially if you are traveling with a passenger. However, if you do pull a trailer, make sure that the tires are in good condition before the trip and that they are inflated properly. If your trailer has a swivel joint at the hitch, now is a good time to apply grease to the joint.

You can pack a ton of stuff in a trailer

Tires - Nothing is more important to your safety, and the safety of your passenger, than the condition of your tires. Whether or not you should replace your tires before a trip depends on the length of your trip and the life remaining in your tires. I would always prefer to be on the safe side. So, if I am planning a 3,500 miles trip and have more than 6,000 miles on my tires, I will probably go ahead and put new rubber on before the trip. Besides, new tires will make your bike ride smoother and will make the entire trip more comfortable. And of course, always check your tire's PSI before a trip. In my Goldwing, I run 41/41 because I have found it offers a good ride quality and better tire wear.

Fluids - Always check your oil level before a trip, and if your oil has 3,000 - 4500 miles on it, go ahead and change it before the trip. I like to change my oil every 3500 - 4000 miles, but I realize that some of you go 8000 between changes. You should never start off a road trip without a topped off gas tank, so don't forget to fill 'er up!

Lights - Goldwings have a nasty habit of burning out headlight bulbs, so make sure all four of yours are working before leaving. I always pack a pair of replacement bulbs just in case one or two burn out on a trip. I have had it happen more than once. Check your tail/brake lights and turn signals as well.

Brakes - Along with your tire condition, your brakes are crucial to your safety. If your pads are near the end of their life, they should be replaced before the trip (see my DVDs for information on how to replace your brake pads). Also, if you plan on pulling a trailer remember that this will put additional strain on your brakes and cause increased wear on your brake pads. You may think you can get an extra 3,000 miles out of a set of brake pads, but when it comes to safety, don't go cheap!

Check the wear indicators on your brake pads

Rain Gear - You WILL need it most likely on any long journey. We use Frogg Toggs, but any good quality rain gear should easily pack in your saddlebag, or on your luggage rack.

Tools - There are a few tools that you should have with you in case of an emergency. Here is what I carry on my bike.
  • Small crescent wrench
  • 8mm, 10mm, 12mm open-end wrench
  • 8mm, 10mm, 11mm, 12mm, 13mm socket
  • #4, #5, #6 hex/Allen sockets
  • Small ratchet
  • Mini screwdrivers (flathead and Phillips)
  • Silicone repair tape/electrical tape
  • Small can WD40
  • Tire plug kit
  • Tire pressure gauge
  • Extra fuses (2, 3, 5, 10, 15, 25 amp)
Credit cards - I always carry 2 credit cards with me on a trip. If one card is declined or lost, I have a backup. I have had cards declined at gas pumps on road trips because the card company is concerned about fraud. It is always a good idea to notify your credit card company that you will be traveling, and to what locations, to prevent this from happening. However, it does not always prevent it.

Cell Phone - I don't personally carry a cell phone with me on a daily basis, but I always take one on a road trip just for safety. Most people today are tethered to a cell phone so it is probably not an issue for most. Don't forget to pack your charger. If you want to keep your cell phone charged on the bike, install a USB power port in your glove box. My DVDs will show you how to do it!

Weapon - If you carry a weapon for protection when you travel, you need to be familiar with the laws regarding concealed weapons in every state in which you will be riding.

Medications/Supplements - Don't forget to pack any prescription drugs, medications and/or supplements for your journey. We use small, plastic zip bags to store ours in and prepare an individual bag for each day. You can buy these small bags on eBay and they are cheap!

Use plastic zip bags for medications/supplements

Maps - Remember to pack your map(s), unless of course, you use a GPS.

Chargers - Don't forget to pack the chargers for cell phones, computers, cameras, etc.

Water - When we are pulling a trailer, we have an ice chest and always have a few bottles of water. If no trailer, we have a small collapsable ice chest that is large enough for four bottles of water and will fit in the trunk. Don't forget to stay hydrated when riding, especially in dry and/or warm climates.

Camera - Don't forget to take your camera. There are several pocket-style cameras that will fit easily around your neck (or your passenger's neck) so that you can take photos during your ride. Of course, you should never attempt this while riding as it is dangerous. We use a Panasonic LUMIX ZS30. There are also many other models that are waterproof, shockproof and dust proof that are excellent for use on a ride.

A few other things I forgot to mention (thanks 05nwl for reminding me!)

  • A small air compressor, in case you need to fix a flat
  • Cable ties, duct tape, and some 3M double-stick tape
  • A portable flashlight (I use an LED flashlight)
  • A plastic ground cloth in case you have to lay down in the dirt/mud.
  • GoJo portable hand-leaning wipes.
  • Paper maps of the areas you are riding, just in case the GPS craps out on you.



  1. Two comments;
    (1) When taking prescription medications with you make sure you carry the prescription bottle. If you get stopped for any reason and drugs are found without the bottle it can get sticky.
    (2) Maps:
    A GPS can fail in the middle of a trip. (I know that by experience) Carry a map book as a backup.

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. Academy sells real nice long sleeve fishing shirts that are made for hot sunny days. They are UV rated to about 50. That shirt and a Butlers cup saved my trip last summer in 105 degree weather. Prepare for hot weather and rain.

  4. I always make sure that I have a spare key taped or hidden in a spot on the bike that can be gotten to if needed. If you get sick or have to be taken to the hospital, you can call a friend and have them pick up your bike. if your co-rider happens to have a problem and you thick your safe with them having a key you are in the same boat'

  5. A GPS is a grand device until it breaks always carry maps of the areas you will be riding. Also place Emergency Contact info on the bike, trailer and in you and your partners riding gear.

  6. This is a great post - it's so important to be prepared!

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  8. Nice post!!Surviving on long road trips is definitely a challenge especially when you travel with kids. Every time I tried something new to make it enjoyable and fun. I always hunt for new ideas and love to read others experience.Cheers!

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  10. Nice post and very well explained with points.planning in advance always help you to stay calm plus also make you travelling enjoyable. I do leave a note in my car explaining how long we will be out and date of return.