Round the world motorcyclist Andy Davidson has picked up plenty of tips and trips while on the road. Here’s his five favourites, picked up from fellow adventure riders on the road. They may be little, but they’ll save you time and money in the long run.
Never lose your pin again
Have you ever lost the tiny retainer clip that holds your brake pad pin in place? That pesky little clip loves to give us the ride around. It’s not such a big deal in the comfort of your garage. But, dropping it in sand while changing the rear tyre as the sun burns the back of your neck in Uzbekistan is not fun… trust us. Get a piece of metal wire and wrap it around the clip and connect it to the calliper. Twist the wire around itself so it’s stronger and doesn’t break free, and you’ll never lose the clip again … or have a permanent neck tan.
Did someone call for backup?
Unfortunately, things can get nicked while travelling. It’s not common, but it’s best to be prepared. Fortunately, your motorbike makes for a great hiding place. You can store emergency documents, money and cards in there. That way, if your stuff gets stolen from your hotel or you lose your wallet, you’ll have spares. We’re not suggesting that you keep rolls of hundred-dollar bills and credit cards in your bike. A few dollar bills (USDs are king currency when travelling pretty much anywhere in the world) and a prepaid card are all you need. If you don’t have a prepaid card then you could use a bank card with no money and no overdraft in there. If it comes to it, simply visit an internet cafe and transfer money to that account. As for documents, prepare a small USB with data copies of your V5, travel insurance, passport copy and keep it with the pack. Protect it all by wrapping it in a waterproof bag and concealing it on the bike. Down the exhaust pipe isn’t a good option, try somewhere like behind a fairing or under the pillion seat. Just don’t forget where you stored it!
Get a handle on your weight
Hiding goodies isn’t all the inside of your bike is good for. It’s very common for riders to load up the rear of their bike with luggage. It may make pulling wheelies easier but it can upset the weight-balance and handling. Try distributing the weight more evenly by taking heavy tools and spare parts and strapping or tying them to the inside of your front fairings. Tyre levers can get strapped to sump guards or crash bars, spare sprockets can be tied to the inside of your tank fairing and so on. You could also make a handy tool box by buying a £12 army ammo box from eBay and bolting it to your front sump-guard. Or make your own out of an old piece of gutter pipe with two screw end caps on either side.
A breath of fresh air
Dusty gravel tracks kick up a lot of dust, which your bike ends up eating. You’ll find yourself cleaning your air filter out continuously when travelling abroad in rough climates. To make it easier, replace the original part with a washable unit before you go. You could also reinforce your airbox by trying this old school off-road trick: smother a thin layer of grease inside the box. You’ll be amazed at how much debris and dust the grease catches. It’ll act as your very own spider web. You won’t need to clean the box as often, and when you do, just wipe the old grease off with a few tissues and repeat.
Clutching at cables
Clutch cables eventually break. And it’s easily done when travelling as they’ll have a harder life – especially with all the off-roading. The problem isn’t that they break, the problem is when they break. Trying to undo the old cable, yank it out and thread a new one through when freezing cold or boiling hot isn’t at the top of anyone’s fun list. Try running a spare cable through your bike before you leave for your trip. Put little plastic bags over the ends and tape them up to protect them. Tie the new cable to the old cable and tuck the ends away. That way, if the cable breaks in the middle of nowhere, all you have to do is unclip the old ends and tighten the new ones in.
Andy and Alissa Davidson have been motorcycling in far flung corners of the world for the last 10 years. But on January 1st 2018 the pair gave up their lives in the UK for an indefinite life on the road. You can follow their round-the-world adventure online at www.madornomad.com or on social media as Mad or Nomad