Packing for a year long trip around Australia on a motorcycle


DSC_2676Time has come for my big adventure to start.

An adventure of this proportions requires some serious packing abilities, which I do have for a certain extent, but that have never been pushed to these limits before….obviously.

The hard part of packing for a trip like this, is to think ahead of all the things that you believe you’ll need in a year long on the road, regardless of the fact that YOU basically do not know exactly WHAT TO EXPECT and that you never done something like this before in your life.
So the process of packing becomes an introspecting assessment of what you think are your technical skills and your tolerance levels in terms of temperatures and adaptation to fatigue.

The second aspect that you mostly have to consider is that Motorcycles are not meant to carry anything.
Ok, let me explain you my point.
If you are a purist, you know that a steed has to be mounted only by its knight, to really make the riding experience enjoyable to its fullest, but let’s skip the romanticism for a second and let’s get to the practical stuff.
Where do we start from, if we don’t have so much room to carry our equipment?
It starts from getting the best BAGS available, so our motorcycle can take the burden of the extra weight with a smile, and we can be sure that carrying our gears with us, will not be a problem for the whole duration of our trip.

For this adventure I used a fantastic set of GIANT LOOP bags:
1 ZigZag Handlebar bag
1 Fandango Tank Bag pro
1 Tillamook 60l Dry bag
1 Siskiyou Panniers (35l each).

All exclusively WATERPROOF.
This stuff is made in Oregon, USA so quality is guaranteed.

Looking at the pictures you will see that i still have the hard panniers on, but I chose to start my trip with these ones, for testing purposes.
These KTM hard panniers are good but they are too heavy and they are not going to be the best choice for my Off-Road adventures.
Although, they do have a lock and it does provide more safety for my equipment, when i stop and park my bike somewhere. Issue is that the locking mechanism are sometimes hard to operate and it’s becoming harder and harder to use them.
I will tell you more about this, once the testing will be completed and once i swap those with the Siskiyou Panniers from Giant Loop.

So, for this particular trip, I divided my equipment in 4 big sections:
– Camping Gear
– Motorcycle Tools
– Clothing Items
– Electronics Devices

CAMPING:
At this point i do have to unfold a big secret of mine: I never camped before.
Except one time when i was 15 year old and me and my friends drove our 50cc motorcycles 140km north along Como’s Lake in Italy and stayed in a camping site for the night; I ended up sleeping in a 2 man igloo tent with no sleeping mat or bag with my childhood buddy.
We had a jar of olives for dinner. Yep, OLIVES.
Very mediterranean vibe, i have to say, but being 15 years old and cashless, that was all we came up with. Awful experience that climaxed with the “unexpected” pouring of the leftover olive cordial in somebody’s shoes and a couple of police fines, given to us by some angry cop, disturbed by our inexplicably “noisy mufflers”……anyway, GOOD FUN, but never to be repeated again!

I know, I know, that doesn’t almost count as camping experience, but you have to give me credit at least for trying again to conquer this unknown “mountain” of mine.
Matter of fact, I’m leaving for a year on a motorcycle, relying on mostly camping, but I believe that the best way to learn how to camp properly….is to GO CAMPING!
So, lets start, shall we??
I kind of improvised on this one, reading on forums, websites, asking people around and watching videos on youtube.

So far this is the only equipment I take with me:
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A 3 people Tent in a waterproof sleeve, sleeping Bag, sleeping linen, Exped sleeping mat (the best quality-price mat i could find, really; all the other we $150-$300. DAMN!), Helinox chair (highly recommended by professionals for resting after a day long ride), a cup (you never know when you feel like having a tea, LOL), clothing line (useful also in case i want to hang myself after the first day of camping), multi purpose knife-pliers, a head lamp, Watertight passport/wallet sleeve, little emergency stove, a lighter and a 3×2 meters camping tarp.
I also have a dirty clothes cotton bag and a hard 1l water bottle.
Planning to buy one of those 2-3 litres camel pack units for water. I’ve been test riding for a couple of days in 30 degrees C heat and, it can get pretty hot and thirsty out there.

All this fits in one 42l pannier of mine.

MOTORCYCLE:
In regards of this, you never have enough spare parts. So for this trip, I have several KTM tools that were included in the bike, but I decided to bring some extra stuff, screwdrivers, allan keys, cable ties, tape, just in case I have to improvise myself as the Australian-Italian Mac Gyver and start fixing my Bronte in the middle of nowhere.
I did buy one of those self repairing kits, with the slime to be injected into the tyre for emergency puncture repair.41HUr2mardL._SY355_ In this package was included also a small compressor. This works with any 12V battery, so I can use my motorcycle to inflate my own tyres. Pretty cool!
This is also pretty handy to adjust my tyres pressure in case of off-road riding.
There are also other puncture repair kits for tubeless tyres that work really well, but I think I’ll be ok with this one. I’m mostly on bitumen for the duration of my trip so this should do.
I did bring some Castrol Chain lube to lubricate my chain after every ride and some chain degreaser; this is a necessary step that has to be taken for a long lasting performance of your motorcycle. NO MATTER WHAT, lube your chain guys and keep it clean!
I brought also a spare 12V battery (cigarette lighter) adapter that connects straight to the battery, in case the one on my motorcycle dashboard breaks down.
All this fits easily in half a 32l pannier.

I also decided to take with me a 5Litres gas tank (that you can see strapped at the back); it’s one of those cheap ones that you can buy at any hardware store.
I believe It may come handy in case i have to do long stretches or ride through desolated areas with no gas stations for miles.

CLOTHING:
About this matter, I have to say that luckily I don’t have to prepare myself for 4 seasons. Australia has roughly 2 seasons, and I’m also chasing the warmth, all the way around it.
So potentially the coldest climatic condition that I will encounter will be maybe 6-7 degrees Celsius and the hottest I hope it’s not going to be more than 36.

I packed 4 t-shirts, 1 pair of jeans, 1 pair of shorts, 1 jumper, 5 pair of socks, 5 pair of undies.
My swimwear collection is although more vibrant, since i brought my Surf Lifesaving shirt, shorts and cap. I’m in fact very keen in patrolling whenever is possible around this marvellous continent. I brought also a short sleeved rash vest, swimming goggles and fins; you never know where you are going to swim (as far as you do it between the Flags!). Obviously these last few items are unnecessary if you are not planning to swim every day in sharks infested waters.
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In regards of footwear, I’ll be riding on Formula Adventure boots, that I have to say are becoming comfier and comfier the more i ride. I also took with me 1 pair of running shoes (not really necessary but…) and 1 pair of flip-flops (or thongs, for Aussies).

For thought days, I have my rain suit, that is a set of super waterproof-waxed wintery jacket and its “wear on the top” pants.
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It’s probably the best waterproof suit I’ve seen and I’ve been using it in Italy for years and it still holds its game beautifully.

All this fits in 3/4 of my 60l Giant Loop Waterproof duffle bag at the back. Perfect !

ELECTRONICS:
Being an IT guy and a passionate photographer, I couldn’t renounce to the possibility to make this trip the most technologically advanced possible. Aside from my beautiful Bronte (my motorcycle) that is one of the most technologically advanced bikes on the planet (ABS, MTC, Electronic Suspensions, Ride by Wire throttle control, etc), there are SO MANY GADGETS you can buy nowadays for adventure travellers and for your motorcycle that I don’t even know where to start from.
This is what i brought with me:

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15″ Laptop (too heavy, but the only one I have so…), my Nikon D800E with 70-200mm and 14-24mm lenses (veeeeery heavy), a manfrotto BeFree tripod (relatively light), a TomTom GPS with waterproof and handlebar mount, GoPro Hero3+ with different harnesses and telescopic stick (all in waterproof case), power pack (that little fellow that gives extra juice to your cellphone), 2 1TB drives for backups, a Kodak FullHD flip camera (i don’y know why i actually brought this), Spot 3 Tracker (very useful for emergencies other than for tracking) and a Goalzero solar panel charger (really cool sh*t, i have to say).

All this fits comfortably in my special backpack.

Although, I love technology and I mostly rely on it for my every day “survival”, I never expect a machine NOT TO FAIL; for this reason i’m carrying also some NRMA State Maps and the famous Australia motorcycle Atlas, written by the great Peter ‘The Bear” Thoeming, that has 200 great rides that you may not want to miss in a trip like this.

The burden of taking so much electronics with you is certainly compensated by the incredible versatility that gives to your trip in terms of documentation and reporting.
For this particular adventure, I preferred to go a bit heavier than usual and carry “extra” technology.

That’s it! This was so far my “Motorcycle Adventure Traveller” starter kit.
I will let you know what stuff I’m going to leave along the way and what instead I’m going to add to the list.

What do you think?!?!
Did I forget anything?!

Paolo

To the next episode, with the first part of the trip!

Enjoy

It sounds about right


Hello,
sorry for the long absence. I promise that from a couple of weeks on, you’ll be tired of seeing me popping up on your screen with some new pictures and stories, but for now I’m still dealing with my last weeks of work and the time to put some of the small updates up on my blog is really limited.

So, about the trip…..It’s starting soon, that’s right!
If my calculations are correct, I should be departing from Sydney on the 15th of February, so I basically have one week without work, to prepare everything, pack, say goodbye to everybody and hit the road, riding toward the unknown, like a nomad.
Matter of fact, I am literally homeless, since i gave up my apartment lease and all my belonging to my adored flatmate.
I believe I won’t need much more that just few things once my adventure has started.

In the meaning while, there are few upgrades that have been applied to my trustworthy Bronte (my motorbike), in the meaning while, such as the KTM Skid Plate and a beautiful and ultra light Wings Silencer, that makes my steed sound so good !

I know what you are thinking….why changing the muffler, when the stock one is perfectly fine?!!
Well, let me correct you on this one, since the stock silencer (that you can see in the picture here) KTM 1190 stock mufflerweights around 6kg by itself, while the new WINGS silencer, it’s only 2.1kg.WINGS Silencer
Saving 4kg in one go, it’s a lot, if you think about that i may have to carry 50-60kg worth of equipment, during my trip!

Anyway, the fitting of the new parts happened seamlessly except for the KTM skid plate, that required some extra labour from the mechanic.
There’s one side of the mounting set, that has to be fitted on the bottom part of the motorbike chassis…that unfortunately comes WITH NO THREAD for the screw to go in.
Very smart indeed, from KTM to prepare the bike this way. I think they assumed that nobody would go for the skid plate…..ever…..but anyway.
Just be careful, if you are thinking about doing the job by yourself, because you will void KTM warranty, if you mess it up.

No problems whatsoever instead for the fitting of my new muffler.
WINGS was an unknown brand for me but apparently it had some discreet success here in Australia and worldwide.
I have to say that I couldn’t be happier with my purchase.

Here’s some pictures of the magnificent WINGS muffler that I got from MOTOTOYS, a Newcastle based company that distributes WINGS and other KTM parts on the australian market.
I dealt with a very nice man, named Rod Janzen, that really helped me out with my choice and with my order. The whole process was very quick and efficient so I highly recommend it if you are looking for some parts for your bike.

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and obviously, not only it looks terrific, but it also sounds like it.
I’m very happy with my new exhaust and I hope it will make my Bronte fly along the wide Australian roads.

Here’s some audio sample of the new muffler!

Two more weeks and I’ll be on the road !!
Excited!

Have a great week everybody!