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Old 30 Apr 2006
Gold Member
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Join Date: Jul 2005
Location: Changchun, Jilin, PR China
Posts: 73
How to pack the bike

I seem to remember a posting about what people carry in their tank bags but have been unable to find it. Planning has been fun but now I'm having trouble trying to fit everything in and I have a side car! It seems to me that there must be a strategy based on usage, i.e., things needed during the day, needed once a day (mattresses, tent, kitchen, etc), seldom needed (spare parts, tools, etc.) but not having a ridden this long (14-16 months) I find myself at a bit of a loss.

I would appreciate any help, suggestions, etc. that anyone can provide. FYI - I have a Chang Jiang sidecar rig with saddle bags, tank paniers and tank bag. Also know that I am carrying two large Therm-A-Rest mattresses and a six man tent (at 64, my wife and I do need a few extra things take along).

Thanx for the help.
On the road,

Jack & Janet
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Old 30 Apr 2006
Wheelie's Avatar
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Join Date: Oct 2005
Location: Oslo, Norway
Posts: 457
I've just started another thread about storing tools, which can be found here (I will not double post, so I provide the link): http://www.horizonsunlimited.com/hub...279#post100378

In general, distributing your stuff on the bike is often a compromise between the bike's handling properties and your personal convenience. Handling wise, all your heavy items should go as low and close to the centre of the bike as possible (your centre stand being as close to the optimal location you can get), convenience wise, the most used stuff should go on top for easy access (with the tank bag being the most convenient location). Fortunately, much of this works itself out pretty well as for instance your spares and tools weigh the most, and your clothes the least. Then again, in terms of tools, read the thread I posted above. In the end, this is about personal prefernace.

In short, my reccomendations are:
  • Use your tank bag as your day pack, with all the most frequently used items you use during your ride which you cannot fit in your pockets (or choose not to). Some of these tank bags even double as backpacks.
  • Spare fuel and water is heavy and should go down low, and preferably between the axles, as with all heavy items.
  • Things that go together should stay together (if weight distribution allows).
  • Things that must not be contaminated should stay away from things that contaminate. This means clothes away from fumes and liquids, food away from petrol products, electronics away from liquids, etc.
  • Store separate categories of luggage in sub compartments such as plastic bags, pouches, and tupperware boxes. This makes it easy to find things, as well as making it easy to pack and unpack only the things you need. In adition, it prevents enthropy (chaos) from occuring, i.e. by having all your spare nuts and bolts all over tha place). Lastly, it prevents contamination of one item onto another.
  • All your luggage will sustain serious bumping arround. Don't think that a "secure" tupperware lid will stay in its place, it won't. Sooner or later you will experience a lid coming off, and you better hope that the contents are easily cleaned up. You can ofcourse prevent this by using straps or tape.
  • Your bike should be evenly balanced left and right, with both side panniers weighing about the same. Weigh your gear and test your setup before you leave.
  • Each storage compartment has three dimensions relative to your bikes centre of gravity: front/rear, inside/outside, top/bottom. When you have chosen what goes into the different storage areas, you should also pack each storage compartment correctly to aid weight distribution further.
  • Bring only what you will need and leave everything you can deal without... if we were ever so forsighted to know what this would entail. Still though, take a second and third look at what you are bringing and determine what you can leave behind. Consider what can be acquired along the way if you should desperatly need it, or which luxuries you can do without.
  • An overloaded or poorly loaded bike will not only hamper performance and handling, but this can also ultimately lead to poorer bike reliability, higher fuel consumption and reduced range, increased risk of getting into accidents, more straineous riding and discomfort, greater conscerns for your earthly possessions, more clutter and inconvenience, etc. The things you brought to aid you in your adventure may very well turn out to be working against you.
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Old 1 May 2006
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Join Date: Jul 2002
Location: Sydney, NSW, Australia
Posts: 1,366
Originally Posted by flashy_cj
not having a ridden this long (14-16 months) I find myself at a bit of a loss.

Once you are away for longer than a week I find that extending the time is not a problem - except for the souvenirs (you just post them home when they get too large).

The exception to this is weather - way cold to way hot is hard to handle. But you are usually in one (or the other) for some time - so just buy the stuff for that and send the other home. As you go in and out of the extremes - adjust what you have and carry .. don't keep it all.

Hope that helps .. think the 6 man tent might be a bit much … 3/4 man with a large tarp?
Regards Frank Warner
motorcycles BMW R80 G/S 1981, BMW K11LT 1993, BMW K75 G/S
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Old 1 May 2006
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Join Date: Feb 2004
Location: Edinburgh, Lothian, Scotland
Posts: 1,351
Just a wee note. I have fıtted two small ındıan army canvas shoulder bags to the sıdes of my bıke. They are for thıngs I use durıng the day that have no ıntrınsıc value, lıke my lunch etc. They have proved really useful and can be plonked almost anywhere on the bıke and are (largely) proof to raın.


*Disclaimer* - I am not saying my bike is better than your bike. I am not saying my way is better than your way. I am not mocking your religion/politics/other belief system. When reading my post imagine me sitting behind a frothing pint of ale, smiling and offering you a bag of peanuts. This is the sentiment in which my post is made. Please accept it as such!
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Old 2 May 2006
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Location: Travelling in Australia
Posts: 186

what I found useful was to have my 'bedroom' all in one place. It's bulky stuff, but all light - sleeping bag & tent (and waterproofs shoved in the most accessible end). I shoved it all together into an Ortlieb stuff sack - waterproof and survives being thrown around, and make a good back rest. It also frees up loads of room in the panniers.

The tank bag was brilliant (as the others said) for all the things you need to access daily... and good for storing 'padkos' - a few snacks for the road

A small waterproof drawstring bag prooved an excellent 'kitchen' too.

Just get the packing order right, and remember it for the next time and you'll be sweet (lesson learnt the hard way meant having to pack, unpack, and repack. fun! But by the end of the first week, I was a speed packer!)
If you don't have bugs in your teeth, you haven't been grinning enough!
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Old 2 May 2006
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Join Date: Jul 2005
Location: Changchun, Jilin, PR China
Posts: 73
Red face Thanx

All advice taken to heart. This afternoon I made a dry run and I can see we still have a few things to iron our but am closer than I thought. Tomorrow we will ride out to a park here in Changchun and set everything up and spend the night just to get a bit of a taste of the real world.

We only have ten weeks before we head off with out first real experience coming for about 30 days in Mongolia. By then, we should be experts !

Again, thanx
On the road,

Jack & Janet
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Old 18 May 2006
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Just the thread i was looking for. thanks.
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