Top motorcycle touring essentials

Stay safe and mobile with this selection of essentials for any motorbike tour

Ducati Scrambler Desert Sled on tour

by Jim Blackstock |

Ask a dozen riders what they consider motorcycle touring essentials and you will likely get a dozen different answers.

People tend to like to take different things, depending on their destination, their bike and of course, their previous experience. However, there are certain things that any riders can take with them on any long trip that can make things a little better.

Some of the things here are to look after your bike; some are to look after you as a rider and some to look after your kit.

After all, all three of those components need to be maintained and managed to make sure that your trip is as smooth and painless as possible.

Related: Top motorcycle puncture repair kits

We’ve put together a list of what motorcycle touring essentials we would take with us on a long trip – a multi-day epic where a degree of self-reliance might be necessary.

We’ve taken items such as sat navs and clothing as read – this is a list of essentials that will get you out of a spot if you find yourself in one.

Some are larger than others and some heavier. We’re working on the basis that if you are on a big trip, you have a good amount of luggage space to take your clothing and so on and have room for a few of these motorcycle touring essentials. So have fun and ride safe.

Wraptie Sport straps
Tested by Simon Weir for 2,380 miles
Quality 5/5, Value 4/5

Wraptie Sport straps

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I’ve just used these straps to secure my rollbag on a two-wheeled tour to Switzerland. They were great: really fast to secure the bag each day, rock solid and tidy, with no flapping ends. The Wraptie is a single-ended strap of elasticated webbing with large strips of Velcro at regular intervals. They are soft on one side and have hooks on the other, meaning your plastics and bodywork is protected.

Wrap it around something like a grabrail, pass it through its tough securing loop, then stretch it over your bag with ease. Passing it round the other side of the grabrail and twisting means the Velcro hooks can be paired with the soft patches, securing the bag in place.

These obviously work better on bikes with plenty of anchor points, such as grabrails. Using the Velcro to secure fairly hefty bags in place for all manner of riding was a little nerve-wracking at first, but they kept everything in place really well. I was amazed: sticking three patches together fastened the strap so securely I could push the bike around by the bag – which didn’t move an inch. During 12 long days in the saddle and much loading and unloading they stayed in place.

It’s a simple, surprising and very effective system. Not to mention well-priced too!

Rechargeable Compressor

SKEY Rechargeable Compressor
Amazon

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Whether you have an actual puncture or simply need to top up your pressures as you go about your tour and don't happen to be in a service area or garage forecourt, this useful rechargeable compressor can help.

This gets great reviews on Amamzon, with the manufacturer quoting a four-minute inflation time for a motorcycle tyre (though it doesn’t specify what size). You can pre-set your desired pressure – it has a digital gauge – and there’s also a torch built-in.

Pros:

Top-up tyre pressure anywhere

Pressure gauge built in

Inflate bike tyre in 4 mins

Cons:

Battery is only 2400mAh

MCN's guide to motorcycle wheel and tyre accessories and tools

Puncture Repair Kit

Gear gremlin puncture repair kit

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This kit from Gear Gremlin contains everything you need to make a temporary repair to a tubeless tyre in order to get you to the nearest tyre shop for a proper, professional repair or replacement.

You get a reamer to make the hole larger, a worm inserting tool as well as five worms (meaning potentially, five punctures can be repaired). You also get the necessary glue, a blade to trim the worm and three gas canisters and an adapter to reinflate the tyre, though this might only get you to half the necessary pressure. A puncture repair kit has to feature in any motorcycle touring essentials list, as it could be the difference between being stuck at the roadside all night or reaching your destination.

Pros:

Repair tubeless tyres

Relatively easy to do

Tyre can usually be repaired professionally after

Cons:

Can be hard work

MCN's guide to motorcycle puncture and repair kits

Leatherman Wave Plus

Leatherman Wave Plus
Amazon

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I was bought one of these as a present years ago and I don't go anywhere without it. I get teased mercilessly but there literally isn't a day in the seven or eight years I've owned it when I don't use it.

It’s no replacement for a proper toolkit (which may or may not come with your bike) but with its combination of cutting blades, scissors, saw, file, pliers and flat/crosshead screwdriver bits, it is too useful not to have with you.

Pros:

So many tools

Compact and light

One-hand operable

Cons:

No substitute for a proper toolkit

MCN's guide to the best multi-tools for motorcycle repairs

Shift-It Helmet Care Pack

Shift-It Helmet Care Pack

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Looking after your helmet when you're away is key; if it's filthy and you can't see properly, then clearly, things are less than ideal. This kit from Shift-It will keep your lid clean and fresh.

It contains two visor-cleaning wipes along with an insect-removing sponge and a bottle of helmet and visor cleaner. There is also a bottle of anti-fog treatment for visors or glasses, one of helmet refresh to eliminate smells and you also get three polishing cloths and a handy travel pouch.

Pros:

Everything to clean grubby helmet

Housed in handy travel pouch

Proven products

Cons:

Need separate rain repellent

First Aid Kit

First Aid Kit
Amazon

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Arguably, all riders should carry a first aid kit with them though practically, this may not always be possible. But on a tour, one is essential and this is Amazon's Best Seller, for good reason. It's great value and has the essentials for many minor injuries; cold packs, plasters, bandages, dressings, wipes, gloves and scissors.

It also has an eyewash and tweezers and comes in a handy travel pouch. Add in essential medication, such as painkillers, anti-histamines and perhaps a can of sting relief and you’re good to go.

Pros:

The basics for first aid

Stored in travel pouch

Look after minor injuries

Cons:

Need supplemental products

Bungee Straps

Bungee Straps

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Many people like cargo nets and they can be useful for securing loose items to the bike, though their strength can be limited. Others like traditional bungee straps with metal hooks on the ends but they can mark bikes and come off.

We prefer these Rok straps – they are elasticated with strong and secure quick-release clips and loops to fit around various parts of the bike to strap kit on. They are inexpensive, available in three sizes and have never let us down. Essential for strapping bags or kit to the bike.

Pros:

Three sizes to fit all kit

Won’t mark bike

More secure than metal hooks

Cons:

Need to get the right size

Jump Pack

Jump Pack
Amazon

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There is likely nothing more frustrating on a tour than getting packed up and hitting the starter button, to be greeted by the sound of a flat battery. While you could bump-start the bike, it is much easier to have a portable jump pack on board to boost the battery to get the motor running.

This tiny rechargeable jump pack will start the bike as well as charge phones, watches and other essential kit as well. Simply plug it in to charge as you ride and then, it’s ready in case your bike lets you down.

Pros:

Small and portable

Jump start bike

Charge phones and devices

Cons:

Won’t work on completely dead batteries

MCN's guide to motorcycle jump packs

Spare Visor and Pinlock

Spare Visor

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Just like it's essential to keep your helmet, and in particular the visor, clean for optimum vision when you're riding, you might also want to take a spare visor or Pinlock insert with you too, in case the ones on your helmet get scratched or marked.

You might choose a replacement clear visor or a tinted version, although the darker tints tend not to be legal for the roads. But whatever you chose, fit it before you go away to make sure it’s the right one.

Pros:

Back-up in case main visor damaged

Can be useful to have tinted visor

Spare Pinlock always useful

Cons:

Can take up space in luggage

Drybags

Drybags
Amazon

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While freezer or sandwich bags may be useful to keep smaller items dry in case of rain, such as phones or wallets, sometimes you need larger items guaranteed to be kept dry and these drybags from Lomo will do the job.

Like the rest of the company’s kit – much of which we have tested and always been impressed with – the seams are taped and roll-top closures keep water out. This three-pack comes with a three-litre, six-litre and eight-litre bag.

Pros:

Keep all sorts of kit dry

Three useful sizes

From proven manufacturer

Cons:

None

Oxford Monster Lock and Chain

Oxford Monster Lock and Chain

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If a lock and chain are essential if you're commuting or popping to the shops, then imagine how important they are when you're away touring. This 14mm link chain from Oxford comes in three lengths, 1.2m, 1.5m and 2.0m, and is paired with the company's Monster lock with a double-locking mechanism and protective cover.

It’s not light – the 2m chain and lock weigh 8.5kg – but if you’re on a big tour, it’s a weight-price worth paying.

MCN's guide to the best locks, chains and disc locks

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