24 July 2012

Things That Worked and Things That Didn't

During our trip to Lake Tahoe we found a few things that worked well, and others that didn't work out so well.

For all of you who are interested, here's the list.

Things that worked well:
  1. The bikes were excellent. Both are in good shape, ride well, and are good for 350 to 400 miles a day (if need be) on back roads and small highways. 
  2. The CamelBak backpack I had bought last year is great. Andrea used this one with a 3L water reservoir, not completely full, but probably with one to two liters most of the time. It worked well for her. No fiddling around with bottles, no opening tank bags or top case to find the water bottle, just flip up the helmet, grab the tube, and get some water. The water also stayed surprisingly cool at least in my backpack, it was only the first drops that where in the hose that had warmed up. We refilled along the way with fresh water we bought at gas stations.
  3. Having some food with us helped. We packed some high energy fruit bars, fresh fruit, some bread with cheese. It was good to have as the restaurant where I actually wanted to have lunch was closed. We just had our snack shortly after. Worked out well.
  4. The Touratech tank bag I bought while in Germany was a good thing to have. It worked out nicely, it has the right size, not too small, not too big, a large map pocket, big enough for spare helmet visors, cameras, second set of gloves, wallet and some other items. The quick disconnect with velcro and two clips works well enough. 
  5. The bright yellow BMW rain suit we bought for Andrea did an excellent job. She had it with her. Therefore it didn't rain. Forecast was for rain and even thunderstorms around Lake Tahoe but we didn't see anything. Would have poured down if we hadn't stopped at BMW San Jose and picked up the rain suit.
  6. Stopping often enough for photos, breaks, food, drinking. Just stretching and generally taking a break is good.
  7. We used three small liner bags I still had from my Micatech luggage for our clothes. They fit nicely in my top case and we just grabbed them and took them with us to the hotel room along with Andrea's small top case and my tank bag. Easy and quick. Case liners rock. 
  8. All our other clothes worked out fine. We generally wear long underwear under the motorcycle gear as it is easier to wash than the gear, and it keeps us dry in the heat and warm in the chilly air in the mountains. Worked out great again.
  9. Having centerstands rocks as it makes it super quick and easy to check and lube the chains after a day's ride. Would be better to not have chains at all, but okay, we have them, we deal with them.
  10. Having a map in the tank bag wasn't strictly necessary, but handy to know where we were all the time.
Things that need improvement / replacement:
  1. We both had trouble with the seats on our bikes after the long days. Andrea's F650GS has a super hard seat, mine is firm, feels hard after a while (but I'm a sissy anyways, it's just rare that Andrea complains). We will look into sheepskin and / or Airhawk pads and / or replacement seats. What made this even worse was that in my infinite wisdom I had briefs for the second day with me that were exactly the same as the ones I was wearing the first day. Seams at the same spots didn't make the day easier ... seamless underwear is in order. Or at least underwear that is cut differently for the next day.
  2. Top cases are handy storage for items you use over the day, but put load too far back and too high. It does affect handling. Not bad as we didn't take all too much with us, but for me definitely noticeable.  For weekend trips lockable side cases would be super nice to have as we wouldn't have anything outside of locked cases. Could leave the bike unattended for a while without worrying too much. Of course, cases only keep honest people honest, but that's at least something. So, looking into this topic again. Grmbl.
  3. Some small storage space would also be nice. Just to stow away rain gear and not have it in the top case with our dry stuff if we get caught. Maybe something like this would work.
  4. As Andrea used my CamelBak I was using my normal North Face backpack with a 3L water reservoir. It worked, but was uncomfortable and I'm certain it contributed to the shoulder and neck pain I had after the first day and still deal with. Another small and light hydration pack will be added. Either a CamelBak or a Kriega, or ... 
  5. I need hand guards and need to install my heated grips. Barkbusters are ordered and heated grips "only" need to be installed. Maybe something for the coming weekend.
  6. Andrea needs a tank bag for a small camera and other small items used during the day.
  7. Cramp busters or throttle lock would help with long highway parts. I guess we'll start with cramp busters and see whether we can get used to them.
I might update this post for a while, but will try to highlight new items when I do so.


  1. It sounds as though you learned a lot on the trip.

    After our 450 mile ride home on Monday I am inclined to agree about undies with different seams on different days and softer seats. My Gladius seat felt like a 2x4 by the end of the day.

    1. A few things were clear from the beginning and we knew about them. Some were new (that my backpack did hurt me after a while for example), some others just need more emphasis. Always good to do slightly longer trips before going on a real road trip, especially with a companion (new for me) or a new bike (my Tiger) or being not experienced at all with long distance motorcycle riding (Andrea).

    2. Riding with a partner, new to riding, especially with the spouse is a whole new ball game. Roland and I had built up from day to weekend trips before we went on our six-day-ride. And we did ride his speed and comfort zone, not mine. But I guess he liked it. He is already planning another journey.

    3. We are doing pretty much the same. Andrea started out with short, easy rides. Then the day trips got longer. Then we did the really long ride to Lake Tahoe. Now we are also planning the next weekend ride.

      Good times! Nothing is better than sharing a hobby like this!

    4. Interesting, what you found out during this trip. I guess it is always good to recap and reflect what can be done better next time.

      I for myself rather get off the bike for a drink, I don't like the Camelbak as I find that the water has some plastic aftertaste.

      I also agree with the snacks like energy bars and trail mix. They usually don't suffer in the heat too much.

      But no matter how well you plan and prepare yourself and the bike a little inconvenience will always remain. Isn't that part of the charm that motorcycling is about?

    5. Absolutely! Regarding the CamelBak - that's true, nevertheless it helps us staying hydrated properly and we tend to drink a lot more with them than with having bottles stowed away somewhere.

  2. PS: Re. Underwear, I have a couple of undies from www.ldcomfort.com
    Nothing gets in the way, no sitting on seams.

    1. Thanks for the hint! Will look into getting one for testing ...