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The Other Must-Have Items for a Bike Trip, the Cheap Edition

We know it’s Christmas soon, and your bike is asleep in your garage, clean and hooked to a trickle charger, having whatever dreams a bike can have, and waiting for the spring day you’ll come and lift the cover beaming as you two meet. That is, you’re most likely going cold turkey thinking about the trips you plan to make next year, so we thought to bring you another small piece of advice to make your journey easier and carefree.
Motorcycle touring can be a tricky business for those who can;t pack efficiently 17 photos
H4 bulbs, quite common in motorcycle headlightsLED motorcycle headlightMotorcycle fuse box and sparesCustom earplugs can be as high as $70The plugs provide a multi-champer sealCommon foam ear plugsCruiser-specific kickstand puckAluminium puckCamel Toe pucks can be attached permanently to the kickstandPrachute rope comes in stylish forms, tooFashionable parachute ropeA Leatherman Multi-ToolPower banks work for all phonesA folding fishing hat can protect you from the sun while you're waitingTwo ignition keys can save the dayPhotographers' bikes on tour
The idea came while talking to other fellow riders and discussing the importance of certain small, cheap objects in various scenarios and how big a difference they can make if you happen to have them in your luggage. The initial title was something like “$2 Items You Need on a Bike Trip” but we soon realized that it might be a bit misleading, so we went for “cheap”… even if some might not be had for beer money exactly.

Before we start the list, we definitely have to add that the order is completely random and we don’t pretend the list is perfect. Feel free to add your best guesses and make the world a better place. Make sure you read the "13 Must-Have Things for a Longer Bike Trip" too.Bulbs and fuses
Bulbs can go dead when you expect it the least and what’s really crappy about this is they don’t offer any warning. Headlight bulbs, turn signal bulbs, tail light bulbs, they can all just stop working and put you in trouble. Save for the legal aspect of this defect, a dead light bulb on your bike can really cause you a great deal of danger.

A dead headlight bulb at night needs no explanation. If you ride bikes whose headlights can be turned off while running, do try this as low speed after sundown and you’ll instantaneously understand why carrying a spare headlight bulb is a smart move.

If a tail light or turn signal bulb dies, you’ll no longer be able to tell other motorists about your intentions, whether slowing down or planning to make a turn. In certain cases, this might cause a crash with potentially severe consequences and this is definitely not the intended outcome of the ride.

LED bulbs are more enduring than incandescent ones, but if you can spare some dollars and get some backup ones, things are even nicer. As for the fuse part, most motorcycles come with spares. However, it’s been more than once that I replaced a blow fuse with one from the stash… and never replenish the stock.

Obviously, the day came when I opened the box and was flabbergasted to see there were no more spares in there. Luckily, I was in the town and was able to fix things easily. Anyway, it’s good to make sure you’re fully loaded before you hit the road. If your bike doesn’t come with a place to store spare fuses, having several units packed in a piece of cloth inside the box where you carry a bulb is also smart.Ear plugs
Now, this is a matter of personal choice. Some riders can’t even imagine what their ride would be like without ear plugs, while others are doing just fine without them. This is not a matter of right and wrong, so it’s up to each rider and passenger whether they want to hear the wind and the bike’s rumble or roar, listen to music or ride in a quieter environment.

If you’re in the latter category, carrying some spare ear plugs with you will spare you the discomfort of losing one or both. Instead of losing time searching for a store, you can place several pairs in your jacket or vest pocket. They are light and occupy minimal space, so if you value them, be ready. I cannot help reminding of a Harley rider who upgraded his bike with some “thunderpipes” and wore ear plugs. I tried to tell him this made no sense whatsoever, but to no avail…Kickstand puck
A small, cheap and easy to improvise add-on to your bike, a kickstand puck is really worth carrying around. Of course, if you plan to stick to the asphalt areas only, it is useless, but it will come in really handy when reaching other areas.

Now, the puck could prove its usefulness even feet away from the firm asphalt strip. Cruiser and off-road riders, sport and adventure motorcyclists, there is no category of riders who hasn’t experienced the kickstand burying into the ground and tipping the bike.

You can improvise a puck from pretty much anything, from flat rocks to a crushed PET water bottle, wood chip and whatnot. However, if you’re alone, finding your ad-hoc puck and placing it under the kickstand will not be easy. Or you can just carry one in your vest pocket, if permanently affixing it to the stand would not do.

The come in a gazillion shapes, sizes and colors, from several bucks to premium prices, and it’s up to you to decide how much you want to spend. Either choice you make, it will be a much better one than choosing what pen you will use to write the repairs check after you drop the bike.Plastic/ Ziploc bags
They cost pennies a dozen and they come in almost any size, but the best feature of a Ziploc bag is that it will keep your papers, gadgets and other sensitive goods dry and in working condition. Of course, you can always trust the waterproof liner of your garments when riding in the rain, but it’s hard to tell when that liner will give way. And then it’s usually too late.

This is one more dirt-cheap item which has almost no weight and whose presence will pass unnoticed in your pocket or luggage, but whose absence will be remembered each time you look at the new smartphone you had to buy, or the new passport. My passport is still showing the signs of what riding in the storm and having it in a non-waterproof pocket can do (picture below).

You can say the Ziploc bags are a fundamental layer of safety for your belongings, and trust me, it WILL work when everything else fails. Do not underestimate the power of the plastic bags!Water bottle
While being well-hydrated is a good habit itself, it is always good to keep a bottle in your luggage even if empty. If you’re on a longer trip with ample stints you may run in all sorts of troubles, and a container, even if it has a small capacity (0.5 liters or 0.13 US gal) might save the day. Carrying more water, fuel, draining oil and many more tasks can be accomplished with a bottle. You can also use folding bottles, but petrol-based products might not be a good idea.Duct tape and zip ties
Yes, it’s the “kidnapper silver tape”, used in all the movies as an almost funny cliché, and it’s a great helper in many occasions. The highly-adhesive reinforced duct tape has saved the day in much more occasions than I could speak of. From torn boots and clothing to keeping damaged fairings together and many more, duct tape can solve an immense variety of problems, at least temporarily, providing you with a solution until professional help arrives.
The same goes for zip ties. In times of need, tying several can even substitute for a weld or can serve as hook or fly points. The luggage space they need is almost zero so adding some to yours will not be a burden.Parachute rope
We mentioned a spool of wire in the first must-have guide so choosing to add a piece of parachute rope to the luggage is up to you. Just like zip ties, this rope is light, exceptionally strong and a real problem-solver. It may be not strong enough to retrieve a bike from a ravine, unless you have enough for multiple ties, but it can help you in many other ways.Multi-tool
A multi-tool may be a bit heavy, some may say. Still, considering how many things you can do with one, it is a must, especially when planning to travel in remote regions, where help is not that easy to come by. From a small saw to clippers, files and all, a multi-tool can be your best friend in certain scenarios.

A folding hat

A folding hat is yet another smart idea when traveling in the summer. If you get a flat tire or are forced to pull over and wait for whatever reason in the blistering sun, you’ll be glad you have something to cover your head with. A thin folding hat also takes almost no place in your luggage and is feather-light, too.Painkillers
If your daily hauls are going to be really long, you might do well and have some painkillers at hand in the evening. No matter how comfy your bike’s seat is, after 12-15 hours of riding, your butt will hurt. And if you’re on an off-road adventure, your legs, back and especially arms will surely remind you that you’re not sufficiently trained yet.

Some Ibuprofen or similar stuff could work miracles, but you should not mix it with booze in the evening. And as I’ve already said, if you want to be a hardcore rider, you’d better train the hardcore way.Battery packs
They might add some extra weight to your pack, and not be the 2-dollar gadget I was thinking about, but an external battery pack for your mobile will save the day if your bike doesn’t have an outlet or you can’t charge your phone for some reason.

Power banks come with generous capacities, and now you can get 16,000 mAh ones for $50 or less. They will be your phone’s power reserve when need be and you’ll be glad you carried one with you. Of course, if you’re using your phone for navigation or music, loading a waterproof case on your bars and installing a 12V or even direct USB power outlet is a very smart decision with a very lucrative outcome.Finally, the extra key
To those who have lost the ignition key of their bikes while away from home, this probably sounds very familiar. Really, it’s good to carry an extra key somewhere with you, just in case. And if you’re the kind of distracted rider who constantly loses stuff, the extra key is definitely a must. I personally know a guy who managed to lose two sidecase keys in one weekend, so yes, these things do happen.

I am positive there are still many “2-dollar” things which could find their place on this list, but there is still quite a while until the first long motorcycle journeys of the spring. This means we have plenty of time to think about the perfect luggage. Feel free to add your own ideas.

 
 
 
 
 

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