By Paul Strubell of Dirt Orcas – 3/31/17

If you are anything like me you typically spend the winter months planning epic rides for when the weather starts to cooperate with motorcycling a bit more. Many times I pushed that a little too hard; Starting a big ride just a bit to early in the season. I am always optimistically thinking… “as long as we head South it will get warmer”, painfully neglecting the idea that you have to ride North to get back home.  You can read about a fun early season trip I took down to ride the Tail of the Dragon, that I called The Soggy Throttle 2000, here.

Still one thing is clear, RIDING SEASON IS FINALLY HERE. This means several things. You are thinking about places to go and putting pieces in place to make your ride comfortable and fun. You’re going over google maps and GPS routes, picking out campsites or towns you want to visit. You fine tune your luggage and gear, getting your bike in order for your trip.

The first thing I think about for any long trip is my route. Where am I going? What kind of roads will I be travelling on? Is this a tour on twisty scenic roads or is this an off road adventure ride with a lot of dirt and rocks in my future?

For me the answer is typically both. Living in the Midwest means that I am often in a position where the first 12 hours of riding means nothing but fast highway miles to get to some more interesting country. Once I get there, I may be heading off road for a week. This means tires are one of the most important selections I make for my ride. I find the prices and selection at online stores like http://www.bikebandit.com/ to be a great place to get tires and a lot of other parts for my BMW F800gs. The fast shipping and large selection also means that if you are in the middle of a trip and you need to replace a tire and the local motorcycle shop in whatever town you are stuck in doesn’t offer the kind of tire you ride, it is easy to jump online and order the same tire you were running and have it expressed shipped right over to you.

Next you want to think about your gear. Fortunately, most of us riders have gear that we use year after year. Still, with new technology, comfort and safety upgrades are added to riding suits each year. Maybe you noticed that your current gear isn’t as good as it once was. Maybe it isn’t as waterproof as you’d like and you want to add a rain suit for this trip. You are certainly not alone. Having a quality rain kit will save you a lot of grief and keep you on the road. Having your trip delayed by a little rain is no fun.

Once you are confident in your gear and your tires, you may want to think about troubleshooting. What parts are known to break on your specific bike model? Is it easy enough to carry a spare? While adventure motorcycling reliability has improved greatly in the last 30 years, things still go wrong. However, I find that carrying spares is like praying for bad things to happen. Don’t worry be happy and take things as the come. Solve the problems that are presented to you, not the ones you may or may not have. Like today’s bike reliability, shipping methods have also improved greatly. You can have parts overnight-ed basically anywhere. While it is still important to be self reliant, you shouldn’t try to be omniscient. Carrying a spare tire tube and patch kits might be just about all that I would consider bringing. For replacement parts, there are places all around the web have what you need. You can find quality parts for BMW, Honda, Yamaha, Suzuki, KTM, and many more manufactures just about anywhere. Even you Kawasaki KLR riders can get parts if you run out of duct tape and zip ties. Bikebandit.com is a good place to start your search as they carry a wide variety of brands. Even in the more remote places I have traveled, you are never too away that a helpful face wont come along. Plus, if you are an adventure rider you are already carrying a tent and food. You’ll be fine.

You are now ready to head out on your trip. Like any great adventure you have some preparations to make before you go, but once you leave, your priorities are only to have fun, stay safe, make new friends, eat good food, take good pictures and live a life rich in experiences. Enjoy.

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