I had a little experience with packing for a long road trip, having ridden from here in Alexandria, Virginia, down through the southeast to New Orleans, and then across Florida, before turning back north to make my way home. 3,400 miles, give or take a couple hundred, as I recall. This was the ride back in 2010 that gave this blog it's name...Southern Comfort.
Before I left for that run, I got a lot of good advice about packing, I looked at a ton of websites, and I picked the brains of peeps who have gone on similar rides on similar bikes. I rode a 2008 Softail Custom on that ride, without a ton of extra storage, so space was limited.
As it turned out, I didn't need much of anything in the way of tools or spare parts on that ride, which is a testament to how well new Harley Davidsons are built. They're a far cry from either of my old rigid frame Panhead choppers, I'll tell you that!
But for the upcoming Sturgis ride, I was going further, and riding a slightly older 1999 Road King that I'd bought just for the trip. I had a lot of confidence in the bike, given the level of maintenance and care taken by its previous owner, but a bike is a bike and anything can happen, right?
I was not just stopping at Sturgis, either. I had some half-baked plans to ride into Wyoming and Colorado afterwards, into areas where getting gas wasn't going to be easy, much less spare Harley parts. So I wanted some assurance that I could at least get to the next town if something broke.
So what did I take with me?
I started by setting a limit that every bike-maintenance-related thing had to fit in one saddlebag. First, I bought a Reda gas container and a Saddlemen luggage bag that's made specifically to fit with the Reda container. I figured the comfort of knowing I had extra gas was worth losing the small amount of space the 1-gallon container took up. (Click that highlighted text, above, for more info on those products)
Ebay is a good source for the container. You'll spend about 40 bucks, plus tax, for the pair from Eastern Performance Cycles, which is where I got mine. The container never leaked a drop, nor was there an issue with fumes, and it had a spout so no need to carry a funnel.
* On SD44, pretty early in that long stretch, I do remember seeing a gas pump near some outbuildings in a Lakota settlement I went through, and I had the passing thought of asking them if they'd sell me some gas, but decided to hit the next regular gas station instead. There wasn't one. The image of that pump I passed up tortured me for the last 10-20 miles of this lonely stretch of road!
- Snap ring pliers, small enough to help replace the clutch and brake lever. I broke a brake lever on the New Orleans ride, so I definitely wanted something to help with a similar event. But without the oversize Mississippi gal to help out.
- A set of craftsman combination SAE wrenches....1/4" to 3/4"
- Medium size straight screwdriver
- Medium size Phillips screwdriver
- 6" and 8" crescent wrenches
- Small Channelock pliers
- Needlenose pliers
- Small vise grips
- Allen wrenches...a foldable set. Turns out I did have to buy a regular Allen set to tighten up my fairing. The foldable set didn't fit into the area I was working in...needed a regular length wrench to do the job.
- Small ballpeen hammer
- 1/4 drive socket set
- Spark plug socket and a 3/8 drive ratchet to fit it
- Flashlight and spare batteries
- Rubber/latex gloves
- Work gloves from the local 7-11, for reinstalling hot exhaust pipes. I think I packed these because of vivid and painful memories of putting the pipes back on my 55 Panhead. Many times. Using my shirt. And still burning the living shit outa my hands.
- A couple small handfuls of smaller nuts, bolts and washers. Like some 1/4"or 5/16" stuff that would hold something together.
- Tube of 242 Loctite
- 5 or 6 fuzes
- Headlight bulb
- Mechanic's wire (didn't want to ignore Danny's advice!)
- A little spool of 16 gauge electrical wire
- Wire ties
- Electrical tape
- Racer's tape
- StopNGo Tire repair kit with compressor. That's a nice little kit, by the way. Click the name for info
- A string tire repair kit for rips instead of punctures.
- Clutch and brake levers
- JB Weld
- A couple extra exhaust clamps that were laying around the shop
- A short length of rubber fuel line, and two hose clamps to fit it
- A new set of spark plugs
- A few extra tie downs and bungee cords
- Owners Manual for the bike