Author Topic: So you wanna go touring? What about all that luggage?  (Read 2272 times)

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Offline VinceS

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So you wanna go touring? What about all that luggage?
« Reply #1 on: 15 Jan 2006, 12:17 AM »
Of course once you've decided to go and set the bike up for touring, plus taken care of any maintenance tasks, there is the whole topic of what to put in the luggage. Eventually you find that this is best answered on a personal level, by having a really critical look at the items you took - when you get home! It is so symptomatic of the human condition that we want to be prepared for anything and we feel so much stuff is "essential". You have probably heard advice from many a seasoned tourer that goes something along the lines of laying everything out that you think is the bare essentials to go touring, halve it then halve it again - and then you will have twice what you really need to go touring. While ultimately there is some truth in this concept it is not going to be a very helpful way to approach it at the start!

I'm not about to say what I take is right so do it like that, anyway I don't have a list as each time is different and needs thinking through and / or botching up on a personal level. However, do it enough times and what you learn is the pain of lugging all of that "essential" crap around all the time is far greater than the inconvenience of not having "that special item" - which you couldn't originally determine was the "special item you are really glad you brought" since it was surrounded by 19 other "special" items that went unused. It is better to think about the situations you are likely to confront and determine how you will deal with them, rather than take things "just in case".

If you need your Sunday best since you'll be dropping in on Aunt Betty on the way back and she can't adapt to a slightly scruffy biker type then that's how it is. But more likely you need to worry about how you will deal with the actual weather you are likely to confront (not the "possible" weather, will it be similar to what it is at home or not, both on route and at the destination - be it cold, hot, wet, mild or whatever), known health vulnerabilities and particular events you are going to attend / flexibility you think you might need, then decide what you can do along the way, whether it be washing or buying stuff. This way you are likely to have those hay fever tablets when you need them on Saturday arvo after a long ride in the country when the shops have all shut and your eyes just won't stop itching, rather than that extra jumper that you were so stressed about fitting in you forgot the really important stuff!

It takes a long time to get there, but I can only say when you are finally able to leave with a bit of spare room in the luggage it is a far more pleasant thing than the original achievement of feeling that you have just managed to squeeze everything in, which is no mean feat in itself. However, the reality of it is that there is very rarely a real drama in being short the odd item, there are so many ways to deal with it while you are actually away that the joy of being able to fit in that odd item that took your fancy along the way will more than counter the nuisance that not having that third whatsimacallit just in case you fell in a creek - twice!

As a part of deciding about the whole personal luggage accoutrements thing you will especially need to have already considered what you're going to carry it in. The main choices are side panniers, top box, tank bag and a back pack. You can go touring with a backpack, many do! But its not for me. You can also strongly prefer not to stuff around sorting luggage out, just take the lot knowing it really will be easier for you in the long run, so its two panniers, top box, tank bag and jackets with big pockets just in case - many do that which works just fine for them, but its not something I relish either.

Just a quick comment re tank bags, if you can get away without one it is much nicer, but if you've just gotta have one make it the smallest one money can buy! Sure you do get used to having this object in your chest, and even a quite big one doesn't actually get in the way - even in quite tight twisty stuff. But, once you have one they are built so well it is hard to resist stuffing them to the hilt - it is when your convenient sight of the speedo is interrupted that it becomes a real pain - forever craning forward for a look, or just saying stuffit, do your best and hang the consequences. However, I prefer to have some idea of where the opinion of our fine chequered friends might vary from what I thought was reasonable in the circumstances! Fortunately most of the good ones have a zippered up base extension section, never leave home with it unzippered I say - this is your emergency carrying reserve that you really don't want to use!

For my own luggage system I have selected a Ducati top box as the main item - it is the smaller 45 litre (is it) red one as I think it looks better than the 59 litre option, and it is easier to slip through traffic with than the hard mounted more vulnerable side panniers, not to mention that panniers also reduce the cornering clearance and I particularly like playing in the zone that side panniers would otherwise occupy!

However, when it comes to bigger trips you need more carrying capacity. I have a magnetic tank bag to which I glued some very thin suede feeling rubber foam stuff from Clerk Rubber to prevent scratching the tank. However, since I discovered some soft throwover type panniers intended for a full on sports bike I think (hey, right application) the tank bag hardly ever (never?) gets a look in now. Even two up for a week away we fit easily in the rear luggage. I also stuck the rubber foam on the soft panniers to protect the side panels, plus these were obviously made for a thinner bike and the straps are at the end of their adjustment so I urethane bonded fail safe stops to them. Whether two up or solo these bags just hang there (need to distribute the weight reasonably equally) and they were less than $100, amazing value as it has turned out since I was pretty dubious when I first bought them.

However, having said all that it is surprising how many times the hair dryer accompanies us - we might joke about it but, if it keeps coming that is when you know something is really important, anyway they make very good compact ones these days! The kitchen sink, however, is much too useful in the kitchen to take touring, doesn't stop some people 'though - its all good, getting away is the most important thing. The rest is just so much noise in the end, the only thing that is really important to hear about luggage is the sound it makes while being transported up a pristine mountain road, best heard out of a pair of Ducati fitted Staintunes while cracked wide open in second!

This is one of those topics that there is no perfect answer for and everybody has a useful tip or two so let's here them. Happy packing!
Vince Sunter  ( I'm ready, how about you? ); Check out these Riding Tips: http://tinyurl.com/4x3fk43 ;   Pillioning Tips: http://tinyurl.com/3r5dbz4