As many riders know or soon quickly realize when out on the road, the devil is in the details. Particularly when you need that one item you forgot to pack on your trip. It will happen. So in lieu of all the things we know we need, quality helmet and apparel for example, I want to touch on some of the lesser items that come up only on an “as needed” basis.
The right tool makes life easier, especially if you’re in a pinch.
Keep a small collection of versatile hex wrenches. There are some great modular, multi-tool kits available that give you extended tool options.
Include hand or baby wipes, duct tape, razor blades, zip ties, an extra spark plug, extra chain master links, and tire gauge in addition to your mechanical tools. Customize you tool selection for your specific make and model. Riding a metric machine probably means you won’t need American standard wrenches for example.
Things move while you move. Sometimes they fall off of the bike.
Cargo netting and/or extra snaps come in handy when things start to shake and shimmy. Cinch down that loose bag or pack to keep your luggage or camping gear secure.
It’s the middle of the night in the backcountry and you are 20 miles out before your next stop. Over the last few miles you’ve picked up on a nearly imperceptible rattle in the back end of your bike. Not sure what it is you stop to check it out, only to realize you don’t have a light source. Its scenarios like this that makes an additional light source invaluable. And no, I’m not talking about using your phone or a Bic lighter.
A flashlight or even better, a headlamp, is ideal in these situations. Find a product that allows you to keep your hands free and takes up little space. Use products that use a LED light source as these tend to be very powerful, energy efficient, and small. You want a powerful beam in a compact size.
Have you ever got really drenched during a ride? It sucks. There’s no other way to describe it. I’ve had to pull over at times because the lack of visibility and sheer pounding from rainfall were just too much. Plus it can be dangerous as hell. The last thing you want to happen during your ride is to experience water rolling down your bike as you try to maintain your line in the watery haze.
There are always areas you can scrimp on with your riding gear. Rain protection shouldn’t be one of these. Taking a set of cheap rain gear off the shelf at Walmart so you have something “just in case” is a recipe for a bad attitude. You’ll be miserable in spite of the cost savings.
Go for quality when it comes to rain gear.
Power Bank For Devices
Unless you’re adept at reading maps and using a compass, most of us rely on technology to fill the gap. GPS is great, but the device needs to work when you need it most. You remember the charger and have the USB input to plug into your bike, but as a backup keep a lithium power bank handy in case of an emergency, like getting stranded in the middle of nowhere.
First Aid Kit
This should be a no-brainer. When you get a boo-boo that doesn’t require major surgery, reach for a band aid and everything will be alright.
Tent and Sleep Gear
Test before hitting the road. The last thing you want is a sleeping bag not rated high enough for colder temps or a tent that leaks. Camping in the elements can be a drag to begin with. Don’t make it worse for yourself with substandard camping gear. Trust name brands, but always, always verify.
UV rays pass through clouds and reflect off of the snow. Keep yourself protected. You can even double down and make sure your helmet shield offers UV protection. Many helmet manufacturers include some level of UV protection in their shield design.
Back in the day I broke off a key in the door lock of my circa ’90 Honda Accord. It was great. You could use a screwdriver to open the door. Sometimes we’re not so lucky though.
Consider breaking or losing your key on the road. This is why a spare is essential.
Keep the spare set safe and secure and don’t include it on the same ring as your other keys. I recommend keeping it on your person, not in your luggage or storage that can be removed from the bike.
Dehydration can cause dizziness and fatigue, two things you don’t need when riding.
Avoid sweeteners and juices in the hydration pack’s bladder. Anything other than water can leave a residue and encourage bacteria buildup in the bladder. And they’re nearly impossible to clean.
This little piece of fabric can make a big difference. Areas near the neck line and near the base of the helmet provide openings for wind and weather. Look for a lightweight synthetic or nylon. Many brands use high-tech fabrics like GORE-TEX that provide good wind and water protection while allowing moisture to escape from your body. The combination keeps you both protected and comfortable at the same time. Look for similar language such as “wicking” as this type of breathable fabric technology has been copied by other manufacturers.
Stay flexible and sensitive to your need for accessories for each ride you take. Some rides require less or more of some things. Creating a checklist of items before each ride is a helpful practice.