Babes Ride Out

How to Pack a Motorcycle

Rain or Shine We Ride | Tips and Tricks on Riding in the Rain from Bitwell

SponsorsAshmore Ellis

Rain or shine, we RIDE! The weather in the Catskills is a little unpredictable. If it says it's going to rain, it may or it may not.  If you do see a little rain coming, time your ride around radar (its 2017 and technology is rad, use it!) The good news is that we've got a huge barn where you'll be entertained, hang out, and crack a cold one all while staying dry. Our advice is be resourceful, pull over & have a coffee while you wait it out if needed, and always have a few trash bags on you to create makeshift rain gear or cover your camping equipment/clothes (hopefully you took our advice on the waterproof compression sacks) if you get caught in a down pour. This is motorcycling and "weather" you like it or not, you will eventually need to face the rain. <--- see what I did there!? Seriously.. a dad joke and a metaphor? I am on FIRE!  Anywho, we asked Mike Ellis of Biltwell his top tricks & tricks on staying dry when crap weather rolls in. Read on and remember, weather changes hourly so stay up to date using accuweather. 

There’s not much worse than being out on your freedom machine during an epic adventure and getting your ass handed to you by mother nature. Here’s a handful of tips to help you prepare for the rain you are bound to hit if you are on an extended 2 wheel trip.

Image by Geoff Kowalchuk

Image by Geoff Kowalchuk

Plan Ahead

You don’t always need rain and/or cold weather gear, but there’s only a handful of trips we’ve been on that having either wouldn’t of helped. However, it can be a hassle to load up that extra bit of gear that you may not need. The best way to make a good decision either way is to check the weather on a site like www.accuweather.com for the days you will be passing through various destinations. If there’s a slight chance of rain anywhere you are going, you are bound to find it on the bike. Remember, the more ground you cover in a day, the more the weather is likely to change on you.

For me, the things that are most important to keep dry and warm are my hands. I almost always travel with a separate set of gloves to help me out on the rough days. My feet would have to be the next priority, so I always waterproof my boots and now I’ve even stepped up to traveling with a set of booties when I have enough space in my gear bag.

Improvise

So you decided to pack a 12 pack of Coors Light instead of the rain gear? No worries. Here’s a few tricks to help you out when you see the rain coming.

Once you start getting rained on, find shelter and check the weather. With any luck, it will pass soon and you will be able to wait it out. Anyone who has been rained on while riding can tell you it does not take long before you are completely soaked. Best to try and avoid it if you can.

Make due with whatever you can. Trash bags, rubber gloves and duct tape are your friends. You can find them at almost any rest stop or grocery store. Go nuts and do what it takes to keep from getting soaked. 

Pro tip: Don’t forget about your luggage. You’ll be bummed when you get to your destination and want to change into something dry and discover all your shit is wet. Trash bags are cheap, wrap your gear up, too.

Setting Up Camp

Speed is of the essence here, so try and team up with someone else to get your tent up as fast as possible. Once you are done with your camp, make sure to help them as well. When bad weather hits, it’s usually windy which can make pitching a tent a struggle.

Once your camps are set up, pay attention to where you park your bike. Under shelter is obviously the best case. 

If you can’t get your bike under shelter, at least make sure it is parked on a hard surface (asphalt or concrete being ideal). If you can’t find a hard surface, park it on some grass. Parking your bike on dirt during the rain can make it a bitch to get out because you might wake up to a mud puddle or it laying on the ground.

Pro Tip: Pay attention to how your helmet is sitting. Don’t turn it into a rain catcher by hanging it upside down on the bars. Also, cover your air cleaner and seat with plastic bags if they are exposed. A wet air cleaner might not allow your bike to start and a wet seat will keep your butt cold all day and may never dry out depending on the weather for the rest of your trip.

Cover your air cleaner and seat with plastic bags if they are exposed. A wet air cleaner might not allow your bike to start.&nbsp;

Cover your air cleaner and seat with plastic bags if they are exposed. A wet air cleaner might not allow your bike to start. 

In any case, try to enjoy the experience and embrace the suffering if need be. You are lucky to be out on two wheels and on an adventure. Sometimes you have to work for it - Mike Ellis 

We've rented out this pavilion to ensure you have a proper place to hang out and stay dry during Babes Ride Out East Coast 2.

We've rented out this pavilion to ensure you have a proper place to hang out and stay dry during Babes Ride Out East Coast 2.

 

 

How to (Safely) Pack for a Motorcycle Trip | Expert Advice from Bill Bryant of Biltwell

DIY Tips, SponsorsAshmore Ellis

We asked the most efficient person we know on two wheels, Bill Bryant from Biltwell, the safest way to pack your junk down for a multiple day camp trip. He gave us some amazing tips and tricks that will make your next moto trip much more enjoyable. Take a read and share with your road dawgs, this is a good one! 

The primary goal when packing for a multi day riding trip is to not be killed by all the bullshit you strap to your motorcycle. I’ve dodged more than my share of tools, water bottles and other dangerous debris riding behind friends over the years and lost a few bits of my own along the way. Here’s a couple tips that might make things safer and more convenient for you and the people following behind you.

In the military, people who can’t keep their shit together get nicknamed “Yard Sale” or “Soup Sandwich”. To avoid ending up with one of these embarrassing monikers, one has to learn to bring only what’s needed and not be in a hurry to pack it.

1. Safety

If your gear feels loose, it is. You should be able to grab anything strapped to your bike and give it a decent tug. If it easily moves around, that’s what it’s going to do once you hit the road. Use high quality straps, and avoid bungees for anything major or heavy. There’s nothing wrong with deploying more straps than you need. They may come in handy later anyway. Think of the amount of air pushing on all that gear as you blast down the highway for hours at a time. Make sure all zippers and closures are tight, and face them away from the wind if possible. Recheck your load at every stop. Tighten down straps, look for loose ends dangling near the tire, etc. Your wheels and chain are hungry. More than one chopper hero has gone down when their shit got caught in the back sprocket. I’ve seen a single pair of surf trunks bring a bike to an immediate halt in the middle of a Mexican highway (Marco, you out there?) Likewise, a sloppy jacket hastily bungeed on a sissy bar jammed up in the rear wheel so hard once that we had to remove the wheel to get it out (remember that one, Eddie?). Make sure any loose ends on straps are tied up tight and can not rub against any of the spinning bits. Use the buddy system and always keep an eye on your riding partner’s gear, and make sure they are watching yours. If you see something getting loose or close to the wheel, lopsided, etc, wave ‘em over so they can fix it. That small hassle is way better than a big one if the offending gear gets wrapped around your chain at 80mph. Distribute the load as low and evenly as possible. Keep the heavy stuff like tools down low as possible to avoid changing the dynamic of the bike. Heavy stuff up high always tries to work it’s downward or off to one side, so pack it low and symmetrical. If you put all the weight on one side, it’ll all be hanging off in an hour. Put some stuff up on the bars/risers where you can see it, but not too much or it’ll affect the way the bike handles. Don’t put so much up there that you have a hard time seeing over/around it. That may sound dumb, but I’ve done it myself, so I know it’s possible. Doh! Reduce your kit. One of the best pre­flight measures you can take is to spread out all your gear on the floor or workbench before loading it. Then put about half of it back where you got it. The less you bring, the better your chances of keeping it all together. Share the load with your buddies if you are riding with friends. Chances are a group of four riders doesn’t need four individual stoves, so divvy up stuff like that instead of bringing more than the group needs.

2. Levels of Storage

Being able to access what you need with the least amount of hassle on the road is a skill that takes a little forethought. Dividing it all up into levels of storage reduces the chance of losing something or digging to the bottom of an otherwise nicely packed bag. Here’s the way I do it:

A) Immediate : This is the stuff I can grab without opening anything. It’s what I keep clipped on the outside of my bag or on my person: wallet, registration paperwork, multi­tool, pocket knife, sunscreen, phone, flash light, sun glasses and clears, shop rag or bandana, smokes, lighter. I usually wear a vest on a trip, not so much for fashion (I’m helpless in that department anyway) but so I can have all this crap on me and not sitting on any of it. No one wants to wait on you to get your credit card out of the bottom of a giant duffel at every gas stop and every time you dig into that gear there is a chance you’ll hurry through it and leave something undone.

B) Ready: You need to get at stuff like tools, oil, spare gas, and a water bottle with very little effort. So this stuff goes in outside pockets or top layers of your bag. I usually include a towel, trunks and flip flops in this category when weather looks nice. If there’s half a chance of rain or drastic weather changes, I’ll have rain gear and extra layers ready to go and easy to get to in a hurry. Likewise, if you start out early in the morning and need to shed layers in a couple hours, think ahead about where that stuff is going to go. I like to roll up a flannel or jacket and clip it to the front of my Exfil­7 bag on the handlebars so I can open two buckles and unroll what I need.

C) Buried: You really only need your tent, sleeping bag, food, cooking kit or change of clothes at the end of the day. This stuff can be buried a little deeper and harder to get to since you shouldn’t need it in an emergency or on the side of the road.

3. Adapt your Bike for Carrying Stuff

Build or buy a strong sissy bar and strap an appropriate amount of stuff to it. I’ve witnessed dudes putting a heavy gas can on a sissy built out of 1/2 rod and end up wearing it all a few hundred miles later when the thing gives out. Buy some decent throw over saddlebags and make sure they have mounts that keep ‘em out of the rear wheel. If you have a stock­ish bike, there are usually lots of aftermarket racks available. You need to carry at least basic tools so buy a decent tool bag that won’t give out from the weight. Don’t strap to things that get hot or have sharp edges. The best way to sort your kit is to go on the longest multi-
day trip you can afford and camp along the way. By the morning of about day four you will be donating junk you didn’t really need and you will have figured out what things belong in each level of storage. Don’t be afraid to watch some weathered road dog pack their kit in the morning, you might learn a trick or two. Remember, the tighter your gear is, the more time you have to enjoy the trip. Being thoughtful about how you pack not only keeps you safe, it keeps you from earning the “Yard Sale” nickname. 

More reading on the subject from my friend Kuda, who has logged way more miles than I ever will:

Chop Cult : Pack on the Road with Kuda

- Bill Bryant - Biltwell Inc. 

Gas can down low. Some junk on the bars helps break up the wind. Easy access to tool bag on bars, and trunks and flip flops hung on carabiners are handy in case we find a good swimmin’ hole.

Gas can down low. Some junk on the bars helps break up the wind. Easy access to tool bag on bars, and trunks and flip flops hung on carabiners are handy in case we find a good swimmin’ hole.

Exfil­7:&nbsp;Shameless product plug. Straps on front are convenient for rolled up air mattress, layers of clothing or other junk. Bag holds tools and “Ready” gear (you can click this image to pick one up - Ashmore)

Exfil­7: Shameless product plug. Straps on front are convenient for rolled up air mattress, layers of clothing or other junk. Bag holds tools and “Ready” gear (you can click this image to pick one up - Ashmore)

Anya has a tight kit on a custom rack that keeps everything compact and secure. Take note of loose straps, this is where the buddy system comes in place.

Anya has a tight kit on a custom rack that keeps everything compact and secure. Take note of loose straps, this is where the buddy system comes in place.

Like many chopper riders, Otto enjoys making a backrest out of his pile of gear

Like many chopper riders, Otto enjoys making a backrest out of his pile of gear

Make room for a pillow. Or just roll up your jacket. I prefer the washable Pillow PetTM as a trusty travel companion.

Make room for a pillow. Or just roll up your jacket. I prefer the washable Pillow PetTM as a trusty travel companion.

Timmy practices the “all my shit in one bag” method with as many straps and bungees as possible. Not the most convenient, but tidy.

Timmy practices the “all my shit in one bag” method with as many straps and bungees as possible. Not the most convenient, but tidy.