In December 2016, I received an amazing Christmas present from Iñigo– my very own ‘big’ bike. A few weeks before, he had found the bike and sent me various photos to see whether I liked it aesthetically. We then went to see it together in person but having not sat my A2 licence yet, it was up to him to test ride it and get a feel for how it rode. Instead, I got on and off the bike, made sure I could touch the floor and looked at it dreamily, wishing the next two months to go past swiftly so that I could have a turn riding it up and down the street.
When we told everyone that I now had a Honda CBF500 and licence to go touring around the world, everyone just looked and laughed. However, I was determined to make this an adventure ready bike! I took the bike to our friend John from JD Bikes who added all the accessories listed. I am writing this blog post to prove to you that if you prepare your bike correctly, you, like me, can tour roughly 10,000 miles in a year, comfortably, practically and safely.
If you want to become an adventure motorbike rider this is key. It is a dream come true and I cannot recommend it enough! Easy, simple, clean and quick, this device saves you time and worry. The Scottoiler works on the basis of continuous lubrication, preventing you from having to clean and re-lube your chain after every 300 miles (that’s often one ride for me and Iñigo) and thus means I can ride along without having to worry about stopping and re-preparing the chain. Instead, all I have to do is make sure the oil reservoir underneath my seat has enough oil – easy! Once filled, the oil is siphoned from the reservoir by gravity. The dial at the top of the reservoir allows you to adjust the flow rate, this is especially important in the summer months when it gets warmer- you don’t want oil to go everywhere. The process is so hassle-free, clean and I always get the perfectly lubricated transmission I require.
For my first big trip to the South-West of England, we bought the SW-Motech Blaze Panniers with the 1 metre Luggage Cable Lock. These nylon panniers are utterly brilliant. They have excellent capacity, are terribly easy to put on the bike, are secure and don’t move (even when covering over 200miles in a day), are fully waterproof (thanks to the waterproof bags you place your clothes in) and are wonderfully simple to carry up to your hotel, in one hand, once you have arrived at your destination. A full review of these panniers will be written shortly with precise details.
As someone who now suffers from Raynauds, these are essential. The R&G Racing Heated Grips have allowed me to ride throughout the winter, something that otherwise would have been impossible. They are discreet and work perfectly. They heat up remarkably quickly and by the time I have put my helmet and gloves on, they are ready to go. There is one simple controller which is easily accessible and controls the temperature you want. There are 5 levels and the level you set is remembered when you turn them back on after a break.
No-one wants to think about it, but there is a slight chance that your bike might be ‘kindly placed on the floor’ at some point. It is for this reason, especially as it was my first big bike, that we got the SW- Motech crash bars installed. Considering that they now have a few scratches on them, it is safe to say that they have worked brilliantly. On one particular trip, it is possible that the crash bars got tested on both sides of my bike… Although both times the bike was placed on the floor lightly from a stationary position, they took the weight of the bike completely and did not dent. They have protected the engine and exhaust. These are certainly worth the cost as you have peace of mind that should anything happen, at least the engine will be protected.
I was lucky that this top box actually came with the bike. Originally, we thought about replacing it for larger a Givi top box but honestly, the Kappa Monolock Top Box does the trick for me. To give you an idea of the capacity, if I head to the supermarket after a ride, it fits a whole chicken, bag of potatoes, a pint of milk and a small bag of veg. In other words, if we stop for a tea break on a ride, it fits my helmet, gloves, a jumper and various other things like sunglasses around the edges. It is secure, big and remains water-tight.
Mobile Phone Holder
Although Iñigo serves as my GPS when we go touring, I have always liked the security that, should anything happen, I can put My-Route App Navigation on my phone and guide the way. I have used the Arkon Bicycle Active Holder on several occasions now for quick journeys and it works a treat. It sits right in the centre of my handlebar and I can see my screen fully and clearly. It has withheld in torrential rain without any problems and thus appears to be fully waterproof. It also has a pocket at the bottom for you to pass a charging cable up to the phone. The only thing I would mention is that sometimes the plastic steams up and the corners of your screen may be hard to see.
Necessary for charging my mobile, this has been placed at the front of my bike and is easily accessible.
The final thing I put on my ‘classic’ / ‘naked’ bike was a screen. Perhaps this was murder in many people’s eyes, however it shields me from the wind considerably and considering we live in England with wind and rain featuring heavily on our rides, I am thankful.
Overall, these small adaptations to the bike have made it a lovely and comfortable ride when going touring. I can ride in the winter with warm hands, don’t have to worry about oiling my chain and can carry enough clothes for a 2.5 week trip – what more could I want!?
Let us know how you have adapted your bikes to make them touring friendly below!