Go Back   Horizons Unlimited - The HUBB > Technical, Bike forums > BMW Tech

BMW Tech BMW Tech Forum - For Questions specific and of interest to BMW riders only. Questions comparing which bike is best etc go in the "Which Bike" forum.
Contact Overland Solutions for all your custom modifications and setup for overland travel.

7 Litre Camel Tank Lets You Explore More, Click to Find out More!

LinkBack Thread Tools Display Modes
Old 29 Jun 2007
Registered Users
HUBB regular
Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: Cambridgeshire, England
Posts: 45
2-up camping on R1200GS ?

Hi all,

Has anyone done a 2-up camping trip of reasonable length abroad on a 1200GS ? Am I being too optimistic considering doing it ? Looking at my checklist, fitting everything on the bike feels ambitious to me. I can imagine 1-up and camping gear being OK or 2-up and no camping gear but is both too ambitious ? Any experiences appreciated. Thanks in advance.
Reply With Quote
Old 29 Jun 2007
Tim Cullis's Avatar
Veteran HUBBer
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Putney, SW London
Posts: 1,351
You could mount stuff on the top of the panniers.

Another way to get extra storage is tank panniers, see
Touratech UK Webshop
"For sheer delight there is nothing like altitude; it gives one the thrill of adventure
and enlarges the world in which you live,"
Irving Mather (1892-1966)

Access the Morocco Knowledgebase
Reply With Quote
Old 29 Jun 2007
Registered Users
HUBB regular
Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: Cambridgeshire, England
Posts: 45
Hi. Yea - I have been assuming using a tankbag+panniers and then either topbox or probably a large waterproof bag in place of the topbox. Yes - I can attach some things to the top (or maybe bottom) of the panniers. My question really is whether anyone has managed to pack 2 people, clothes for 2, tent, sleeping bags, spares, tools, 1st aid kit, stove etc. all onto a 1200GS and manage to ride it OK!?
Reply With Quote
Old 29 Jun 2007
Sagarmatha1000's Avatar
Contributing Member
HUBB regular
Join Date: Mar 2007
Location: Hampshire, UK
Posts: 52
You think that's bad. I'm facing the same question for a TDM850! It's where to put the camping kit that's leaving me stumped. Tent, stove, pots etc.

I keep telling her she's gotta learn to ride.

Alternatively, has anyone overlanded by bike pulling a trailer?
Reply With Quote
Old 29 Jun 2007
Registered Users
HUBB regular
Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: Bournemouth
Posts: 89
Hi I don’t have a 1200 I have an R100GS but a bikes a bike
We camp all the time and have done 3 and 4 week trips
You don’t need that much more gear for a few weeks than you would need for a weekend
Infact we sometimes take more gear for a weekend if we are not going very far that we do for a full 2 week trip
I find the big bag across the rear rack works very well but it can put a lot of weight right at the rear which is not so good at the moment we are using panniers and a top box with the tent and sleeping bags on top of the panniers and only light things like food in the top box I have ended up with things on top of the top box its ok as long as its light stuff
I think the secret is to be very harsh at the packing stage and try and get your gear down as light as you can the important things are good tent sleeping mats and sleeping bags if that’s sorted the rest is just stuff

Top Tip your gear will expand or at least my gear seems to so if every thing is full when you leave after a week you wont be able to fit it all in I don’t know how this happens but it does

Mind you when we first set off you some times wonder it the bike will go round the first corner as we wobble off up the road but by the time you get to the Alps you will be dragging the panniers on the floor round the bends


Reply With Quote
Old 29 Jun 2007
Registered Users
Veteran HUBBer
Join Date: Mar 2007
Location: UK
Posts: 3,373
Amen to the pair of panniers and a large "ortlieb" type flexible bag on the back with a tank bag at the front for easy accessibility on the road - my mate does it all the time for two up camping on his 1200GS.

For the theory of it doesn't all fit in on the road, in my case this is because I get more and more sloppy about packing - each camping pitch I don't get things back in there in quite the same way; a kind of laziness! More slap dash each day with the compression straps on the sleeping bag and that type of thing.

Reply With Quote
Old 2 Jul 2007
Registered Users
HUBB regular
Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: Cambridgeshire, England
Posts: 45
Thanks for the feedback everyone
Reply With Quote
Old 2 Jul 2007
Registered Users
HUBB regular
Join Date: Oct 2004
Location: Cambridge, Cambs, UK
Posts: 52
Mine's an 1150 but the principle is always the same. Here's my personal suggestions.

1) "do I really need a...?" keep packing to a minimum. Only take what you KNOW you will use. The only exeption to this rule is first aid and tools.

2) Clothing, use a layer system to regulate temperature. Three thin layers are better than one thick jumper.

3) be disciplined about what is kept in which pannier. My personal system is:

'my pannier' = kitchen (cooker, cutlery, crockery), my clothes (waterproofs on top) and first aid.

'pillion pannier' = pillion clothes, washkit, one sleeping bag.

'top box' = empty (just keep helmet and gloves in it, a handful of cable ties and some energy snacks. There's also a cargo net and some spare straps).

The tent straps to my pannier and the sleeping mats and second sleeping bag strap to pillion pannier (in ortlieb bags).

Documents and cash are always with me, not the bike. Water is in a hydration system on my back. Pillion also carries hydration system.

The thinking behind this is that you always know where everything is. The tent can be set up before you unpack anything - so there's always somewhere dry to unpack the panniers in (I use Metal Mule, so they are very easy to take off the bike and take into the tent)

You'll notice no tank bag as I don't get on with them.

With this system I have travelled for thousands of miles over several weeks and could go on travelling pretty much indefinitely.

You do get used to the weight after a few days and it's only ever a problem when taking the bike on/off the stand on an incline, but that's when you get your pillion to help push.

Other tips:
Allow plenty of extra braking distance...

If you have no intercom system, agree some basic communication with your pillion. Mine were as basic as "I'd like to stop at some point soon" (usually used for a streching of legs or toilet break) and "I need to stop now!" (usually for unexpectedly urgent toilet breaks, wasps flying into clothing etc)

Be considerate of your pillion's needs. Remember that if you're getting tired, they may be fighting off sleep (especially on long motorway stretches). Don't accellerate or brake hard.

It goes on and on, but go for it, find what works for YOU and adapt and tweak and improve it every time.

The bike is more than capable, and this type of travelling is very enjoyable.

Hope that helps
Reply With Quote
Old 4 Jul 2007
Registered Users
HUBB regular
Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: Cambridgeshire, England
Posts: 45
Thanks schiannini !

What size metal mules do you have ? How do you rate them ?

I see you are in Cambridge also

Last edited by flyerblade; 4 Jul 2007 at 16:09.
Reply With Quote
Old 5 Jul 2007
Registered Users
Veteran HUBBer
Join Date: Apr 2005
Location: Oxford UK
Posts: 1,012
if every thing is full when you leave after a week you wont be able to fit it all in.

Strangely enough I have always found the opposite and that if I don't buy loads of stuff I tend to gain space. I'd always taken this so much as a given that it surprised me to read the above.

Thinking about it I supposed it was because I got better at packing and used previously wasted space, but it might be because I just got used to the amount of junk on the bike and what seemed grosely overloaded when we left seemed a well balanced and conservative load a week later.
Reply With Quote
Old 5 Jul 2007
Dean de St Croix's Avatar
Registered Users
HUBB regular
Join Date: Sep 2006
Location: Southern Ontario
Posts: 33
two up camping...

Hey, I have ridden two up on a single trip 4,000km on an 1150 GS and also put in a few trips on my new 1200GS two up. I have Jesse bags so that helps tremendously as they hold quite a lot. I do not have a top box - just the two side cases and a tank bag. Here is how I do it.
Left pannier - (hot side) also slightly smaller - clothing, shoes etc for two.
Right pannier - cooking utensils, food, one sleep mat if room, extra clothing on top for rain etc. quick changes.
Top of both panniers - sleeping bags in waterproof bags attached to top - I used to use bungies for this but it is awkward and hard to manage so - I went to a sailing store and purchesed 8 plastic (400lb weight) low profile screw in loops that they use for hiking out and hooking feet under with nylon straps - and the appropriate stainless hardware - and attached them to the sides of the lid 4 each pannier. Then got some nylon strapping and buckles from a camping store - two each side - total about $40 - and about one hour of mounting - the sleeping bags cinch down tightly and cleanly and I can open the lids without removing the bags - awesome.
I then mount a tent bag across the back perpendicularly to the bike with sleep mats and strap that down with two other nylon straps I made with adjustable buckles - they just loop around existing frame loops. I have a mesh net to put over the tent etc. to hold anything that gets wet like towels. My passenger sits between the sleeping bags and has a convenient back rest with the sleep mats and tent rolled up behind her.
In the tank bag I keep camera - hat - gloves etc. for quick stops and snacks etc. maps.
I have ridden a long way with much more gear on it with just myself but the above works well for two up and I suspect more gear could be added - I keep the heavy things down low and the tent sleep mats actually look big but only add about 18lbs up high. The best thing is the straps as they hold tightly - do not move around or stretch and are clean and look good - they also allow the panniers to be opened without worrying about removing anything - the sleeping bag just rotates down with the lid. Hope that helps - I will go out and take some pics for you if you want.

Reply With Quote
Old 6 Jul 2007
Registered Users
Veteran HUBBer
Join Date: Oct 2004
Location: Worthington Mn USA
Posts: 173
camping 2 up

I think Dean discribed it very well. The key is getting the right kind of straps. I have used nets, bunjie straps, rope, and straps. I have had great luck with Helen Two wheels straps until I broke one of the plastic d rings that tighten them up. I almost had a fatal accident when the d ring broke and the strap swung over and wrapped around the chain sprocket and jerked the bike down to the bottom of the shock and snapped the strap. With the right straps to tie stuff on easily you can take a lot of gear. Camping is always a problem to take it all on a bike but it can be done. I now take the camping stuff but forget the cooking gear and just eat out. I like fresh fruit and rolls and that really saves a lot of carrying stuff. Larry
Larry Davis
Reply With Quote
Old 6 Jul 2007
quastdog's Avatar
Contributing Member
Veteran HUBBer
Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: Chiangmai, Thailand
Posts: 510
Weigh yourselves

Have you got a place you can ride to and weigh you and your bike? If so, then take the wife, both of you in full riding gear, with empty bags on the bike. So what's your total weight, without any other gear? And how close are you to Max GVW?

That ought to give you an idea of what's possible.

You should really keep GVW in mind, in my opinion. Otherwise, stopping distances increase, you overload the shocks, you put to much stress on the frame/subframe attachment points, and they can lead to bad things happening.

Just my opinion - and BMW's.
Chiang Mai, Thailand
Reply With Quote
Old 7 Jul 2007
Gold Member
HUBB regular
Join Date: Aug 2004
Location: Amsterdam, Netherlands
Posts: 40
2 up on a 1100GS - change the rearshock


It is doable. It did 2 up in Mongolia and India. I agree with the advice stated in the other posts. Pack less and even less. My subframe broke in Mongolia, but it was easily welded. My shock broke too, and that was a real issue. You have to get an aftermarket shock when you will travelling 2 up and luggage.

Next time, I'll listen to my own advice, you live and learn

Amsterdam - Mongolia - India - Amsterdam 2005

Reply With Quote
Old 10 Jul 2007
Registered Users
Veteran HUBBer
Join Date: May 2002
Location: Back in Asia
Posts: 342
2 up on a 1200GS

I have done several trips with my wife, 1 around Australia. As well as all over northern Oman
We can fit our clothes into 1 pannier with washbag, sandles etc. Pannier 2 has cooking gear for two plus food for 2 days. But for sleeping I roll 2 x sleepbags, sleepsheets, 2 x ait mattress, mosquito net, 2 x airline pillows into a canvas swag. This rolls to about 30 cm diameter and ties on the back with the tent. It can be used for sleeping outside if you don't want to put the tent up as well. It also gives my wife something to lean on when we're riding as well.

I do have a tank bag as my map is there. Oh another thing you should invest in is a Quart pot. Great for making tea, coffee, or use as a cup if required. (ask the aussie bushies what it is)

Good luck
Reply With Quote

Currently Active Users Viewing This Thread: 1 (0 Registered Users and/or Members and 1 guests)
Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are On
Pingbacks are On
Refbacks are On

Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Africa, All or Multiple City Thread RalEva Bike Friendly, Africa 3 17 Jan 2008 09:14
Camping gear for SOUTH AMERICA gravityfreak South America 12 5 Aug 2007 02:25
Camping in South America greynomads South America 3 4 May 2007 13:30
Camping in Central Asia 'Stans davidmc Northern Asia 9 15 Aug 2005 14:48
Camping in Mauritania? rama Sahara Travel Forum 6 18 Jul 2003 17:54


NEW! HU 2015 Motorcycle Adventure Travel Calendar is now available! Get your copy now for some terrific travel inspiration!

HUGE, 11.5 x 16.5 inches, beautifully printed in Germany on top quality stock! Photos are the winning images from over 600 entries in the 9th Annual HU Photo Contest!

Horizons Unlimited 2015 Motorcycle Adventure Travel Calendar.

"The calendar is magnificent!"

"I just wanted to say how much I'm loving the new, larger calendar!"

We share the profit with the winning photographers. YOU could be in the HU Calendar too - enter here!

HU DVD Autumn Special!

Take 40% off Road Heroes Part 1 until October 31 only!

Road Heroes features tales of adventure, joy and sheer terror by veteran travellers Peter and Kay Forwood (193 countries two-up on a Harley); Dr. Greg Frazier (5 times RTW); Tiffany Coates (RTW solo female); and Rene Cormier (University of Gravel Roads).

The first in an exciting new series, Road Heroes features tales of adventure, joy and sheer terror by veteran travellers."Inspiring and hilarious!"

"I loved watching this DVD!"

"Lots of amazing stories and even more amazing photographs, it's great fun and very inspirational."

"Wonderful entertainment!"

Check it out at the HU Store! Remember to use Coupon Code 'HEROES' on your order when you checkout.

Scottoiler automatic chain oilers. The most important accessory for your next motorcycle adventure!

Renedian Adventures

Renedian Adventures

What others say about HU...

"I just wanted to say thanks for doing this and sharing so much with the rest of us." Dave, USA

"Your website is a mecca of valuable information and the DVD series is informative, entertaining, and inspiring! The new look of the website is very impressive, updated and catchy. Thank you so very much!" Jennifer, Canada

"...Great site. Keep up the good work." Murray and Carmen, Australia

"We just finished a 7 month 22,000+ mile scouting trip from Alaska to the bottom of Chile and I can't tell you how many times we referred to your site for help. From how to adjust your valves, to where to stay in the back country of Peru. Horizons Unlimited was a key player in our success. Motorcycle enthusiasts from around the world are in debt to your services." Alaska Riders

contest pic

10th Annual HU Travellers Photo Contest is on now! This is an opportunity for YOU to show us your best photos and win prizes!

NEW! HU 2014 Adventure Travel T-shirts! are now available in several colors! Be the first kid on your block to have them! New lower prices on synths!

HU 2014 T-shirts now in!

Check out the new Gildan Performance cotton-feel t-shirt - 100% poly, feels like soft cotton!

What turns you on to motorcycle travel?

Global Rescue, WORLDwide evacuation services for EVERYONE

Global Rescue is the premier provider of medical, security and evacuation services worldwide and is the only company that will come to you, wherever you are, and evacuate you to your home hospital of choice. Additionally, Global Rescue places no restrictions on country of citizenship - all nationalities are eligible to sign-up!

New to Horizons Unlimited?

New to motorcycle travelling? New to the HU site? Confused? Too many options? It's really very simple - just 4 easy steps!

Horizons Unlimited was founded in 1997 by Grant and Susan Johnson following their journey around the world on a BMW R80 G/S motorcycle.

Susan and Grant Johnson Read more about Grant & Susan's story

Membership - help keep us going!

Horizons Unlimited is not a big multi-national company, just two people who love motorcycle travel and have grown what started as a hobby in 1997 into a full time job (usually 8-10 hours per day and 7 days a week) and a labour of love. To keep it going and a roof over our heads, we run events (22 this year!); we sell inspirational and informative DVDs; we have a few selected advertisers; and we make a small amount from memberships.

You don't have to be a Member to come to an HU meeting, access the website, the HUBB or to receive the e-zine. What you get for your membership contribution is our sincere gratitude, good karma and knowing that you're helping to keep the motorcycle travel dream alive. Contributing Members and Gold Members do get additional features on the HUBB. Here's a list of all the Member benefits on the HUBB.

Books & DVDs


All the best travel books and videos listed and often reviewed on HU's famous Books page. Check it out and get great travel books from all over the world.

Motorcycle Express for shipping and insurance!

Motorcycle Express

MC Air Shipping, (uncrated) USA / Canada / Europe and other areas. Be sure to say "Horizons Unlimited" to get your $25 discount on Shipping!
Insurance - see: For foreigners traveling in US and Canada and for Americans and Canadians traveling in other countries, then mail it to MC Express and get your HU $15 discount!

All times are GMT +1. The time now is 21:14.