Motorcycle Gear & Luggage – Packing it the right way
Hope for the best but prepare for the worst. This saying cannot stand true more than ever while you are packing for this ride of epic proportions. It is no easy feat to traverse through those mighty Himalayan passes, braving the elements, traffic, animals and terrain alike on a motorcycle. More so to do it like a pro, that too with style, requires meticulous motorcycle gear & luggage – packing & preparation.
Balance is crucial, you cannot over pack but you cannot leave essentials behind either. In the rest of the podcast we will talk about ways to optimise space, secure the luggage and yourself by using the right kind of riding gear. So leave all the misadventures behind to enjoy the ride hassle free.
- Use of proper protective clothing, aka the riding gear, is most important. Correct fitting protective gear will keep you safe and warm in the harsh climate of Ladakh. In peak summers compared to plains, night temperatures can easily dip below 5 degree Celsius. List of necessary / basic essential protective gear is as follows.
- DOT or ISI certified helmet.
- Balaclava / soft neck scarf.
- Touring gloves with liner.
- Riding jacket with liner and protective armour.
- Riding jeans or denim jeans with knee guards.
- Waterproof motorcycle riding boots.
- Yes, just as important as the rest.
- There are plenty of ways to secure your luggage on the motorcycle, each with its pros and cons. Panniers or Ladakh carrier is on the one end of this spectrum and soft luggage like saddle & tank bags are on the other end with bungee cords somewhere in the middle. My personal preference is soft luggage simply because they will not break apart on the bad roads like their metal friends.
- Whichever luggage system you use Waterproofing it is essential. You do not want your clothes, motorcycle papers, and electronics to be wet or damp after a day’s ride. Investing in a good luggage system now would save a lot of hassle later. A good luggage system would allow you to ride safely as it will be tied properly and balanced adequately. Thus ensuring the motorcycle does not convert into a hazardous projectile. Products I trust and have used are Dirtsack, Rynox and Cramster. They are either waterproof or made with highly water repellent material and come with their own rain jacket.
- After Rohtang pass the mobile network is scarce and connectivity is rare. Once in Ladakh only post paid connections will work of Airtel, Vodafone and BSNL. Best connectivity is that of BSNL post paid sims. Only BSNL prepaid sim cards issued to local J & K residents will work in the valley. No other out station pre-paid connections will work in the valley. Army camps and remote villages have satellite phones called DSPT.
- Make sure you carry proper tools as prescribed by your motorcycle manufacturer. When riding in a group, divide and disperse the responsibility of tools to save space and weight. However few items like spare front and rear tubes, clutch and brake levers, cables should be carried by everyone individually.
Generally an essential tool/spare bag should include the following items.
- Puncture Kit.
- Spares like spark plugs, clutch cable accelerator cable etc.
- Front and rear tubes.
- Air pump.
- A tool kit.
- The last fuel station on the Leh-Manali highway is at Tandi, after which the next fuel station is only 50 kms before you reach Leh. That is a distance of over 400 kms without any detour. Most motorcycles need a spare 10 litres of fuel to make the journey. Make adequate space in your luggage system to carry fuel cans. I use two 5 litres fuel can empochers from Trek n Ride. You can also use Rotopax 5L clip-ons.
- So many electrical gadgets these days you are bound to exhaust all your juice even with a battery pack. I suggest using good quality USB chargers, to keep go-pros, mobile phones, cameras all powered up throughout the ride.
(Right click and download the packing list below to stay organised and never miss a thing in your future rides.)