Always ride prepared.
Whether for a quick trip to the store or a day long excursion along backcountry roads you never know what can happen. Therefore, even if just to avoid a delaying inconvenience, motorcyclists often carry along a set of supplies in a tank bag, tail bag or other piece of luggage that securely fastens to the bike.
You may never open your supply bag but with all the cars on the road how often do you see a driver fixing a flat tire on the shoulder? Yet most cars come equipped with a spare tire. For that reason, you need to carry some type of travel bag filled with the essentials, to get you home, just in case.
Ask a number of riders and you won't get the exact same answer of what you need. Some take more, others take less and you won't find the same filled bag on any one motorcycle. However, you will find common items across the board. So, we attempted to find the gear and supplies carried by most to help get you started or if you already have a kit to double check and perhaps make some adjustments.
1. Ear Plugs
If you ride without ear plugs then don't expect to have much hearing left as the years go by. Additionally, reducing the noise and drag on your ears prevents fatigue. Ear plugs don't cost all that much and if you have a habit of losing them, buy a bag of the foam kind so you always have a supply.
2. Towel for cleaning
Without much of a windshield to fend off the elements, expect to encounter a smattering of bugs and/or develop a layer of dirt on your helmet's face shield. A towel quickly wipes your field of view clean and you can wipe off any debris on the headlight that affects the bulb's brightness.
3. Tool kit
A small, compact tool kit contains screwdrivers, pliers, sockets and a number of other tools that can help replace any broken parts you encounter along the way and help get you out of any number of jams.
4. Cell (Smart) phone
A cell phone acts as a camera in the event of an accident and, if using a smart phone, works as a GPS or navigation device. In addition to a cell phone, some riders now use a GoPro or other type of helmet camera that records their ride and acts as a witness in case of accident.
5. Tire Gauge
Tire look a bit low? We recommend checking the tire pressure before heading out anyway so carrying one, especially for longer duration rides, helps you keep the tires at optimum pressure. Remember to check when cold right before heading out.
Fuses go out, just because. But, mostly to make your life miserable since the results of a blown fuse seem catastrophic until you realize it's just a blown fuse. Fuses affect all the electrical currents including starting the engine. A blown fuse can prevent your bike from starting leaving you stranded or impact the lighting system.
A car at least has two headlights so if one burns out the other works for night driving though a driver can expect a fix-it ticket if stopped. A motorcycle however has one headlight for night riding and once burned out you cannot ride. Having backup bulbs keeps you legal but more importantly
8. First Aid Kit
Anyone who rides knows the dangers that come with it. We don't expect to crash but preparing for one includes carrying a first aid kit. Even a small spill can leave you with injuries requiring medical attention. A first aid kit helps you address minor wounds until help arrives.
9. Tire Repair Kit
A tire repair kit easily fits in a luggage compartment or your backpack without taking too much room. In the event of a flat tire, you can plug your own tire and inflate it to get you back on your way until you can replace the tire or get a professional repair.
10. Spare Shield
You need visual acuity when riding so bring a spare shield for night riding (you don't want the "smoke" or tinted version when the sun goes down) or to replace your current shield if it breaks.
Obviously, you can take more or less depending on the available room and how much you wish to carry during a ride. You might switch some items out for others based on circumstances you encounter or advice from fellow riders. A backpack or tank bag holds these items best on a sport bike while any type of saddle bag or sissy bar bag has more than enough room on a Cruiser or Touring motorcycle. Hopefully, if you don't have a riding bag we have given you a start to help keep your ride safe and smooth.