Motorcycle packing has been called an art by some riders, getting everything you want and need into two or three bags that will never leave you stranded whether it be hot/ cold/ wet/ dry etc…but what if you break down or wear something out a lot quicker than expected.
Clothes are easy to find everywhere in any location or country, they might not be what you would normally wear but they will cover you for as long as you need until you get ‘that item’ you need.
Now, motorcycle packing of specific consumables can be an oversite for some riders, let’s say you are heading from North America to Ushuaia, Argentina.
Did you change all your consumables or at least check them before you left the comfort of your garage or are you saying what they are? Brake pads, brake fluid, chain, sprockets, chain links, wheel bearings, neck bearing, inner tubes, tires, oil filters, air filters etc.
Most will have a very good lifespan, but if they fail or break they could cost you double, five or even twenty times as much in a foreign country…if they are available at all.
So think ahead pack front and rear brake pads, bearings, maybe a front sprocket if you plan on doing a little offroad and want lower gearing, also front sprockets can wear a lot quicker than rears in certain conditions. The rest is generally easy to find or should last for a very long time, bearings and brake pads not so much
Speaking specifically, brake pads and wheel bearings, you could go through a few sets in one week in (un)perfect conditions. Multiple river crossing in Siberia or Mongolia would be hell on your wheel bearings. Days in dusty conditions in the Atacama desert as you head to Ushuaia or deep mud in Southern Colombia will wear a brand new set of pads out in a few hours or a day. All I am saying is have spares, these are not trip ending situations but they are enough to make you stranded for a few days or a week or more.
Also, keep in mind, that set of worn out pads might be $20 for new ones in California, and only $30 in Peru, but most likely they aren’t in stock and have to be ordered and shipped, now that $20-$30 price is still the same but now add on breakfast, lunch, dinner and hotel room for X amount of days until they arrive, the cost could skyrocket into the hundreds.
****Before you leave on your big trip here’s a good thing to do, create a reference document to make a note of all part numbers of all of your consumables, do a little research while you have great wifi, see if there is a cross reference number for other makes/ models/ brands who use the same part
To give you a few examples –
The rear brake pads from my Yamaha 2009 XT660Z fit 165 different makes and models of bikes, good information to have if a shop has no way to cross reference part numbers.
If you aren’t sure of your brake pads part number a good reference site is EBC Brakes make a note of the part number then do a google search for fitment of your part number i.e FA208R fitment, a good place for reference is Parts Unlimited and most likely they will be close to the top of the search, in their listing click the ‘fitment’ tab, copy and paste that list to ‘your reference page’
The neck bearings in my DR650 fit in some tractors, amongst other machines! Their part number is engraved on them or research it, again do a search/ cross reference, make a note of that number, also the race that it fits into, they are usually sold as a pair
The rear wheel bearings on my KTM fit in loads of different cars as well as a big number of bikes, but for wheel bearings, another good thing to note is the dimension – ID, OD, and width, make sure you don’t get ‘S’ and ‘5’ mixed up as a few brands they look very similar!
Sprockets cross over from bike to bike a lot as well, a great place for reference is JT Sprockets another example, I have a 2008 WR250R, the rear sprocket fitment on that bike fits another 65 makes and models, yes it might not be the right number of teeth I want but it could get me to the next big city that can get what I need off a shelf or in a day or two instead of being stranded in a tiny town that gets deliveries weekly or monthly!
Brake fluid – Glycol-ether (DOT 3, 4, and 5.1) brake fluids are hygroscopic (water absorbing), which means they absorb moisture from the atmosphere under normal humidity levels. Normal lifespan is around 2 years under non-racing conditions if you’ve never flushed your brake (and clutch) fluid do it before you leave and you’ll most likely be good for the whole trip.
Tires, yes they available everywhere but can be ridiculously expensive in some countries, leave with new ones but as you mount them, make a note of the tread depth 5-15mm is normal on a rear tire. After a 1000 miles and again 2500 miles make a note of the remaining tread depth, this will give you a good base to know how the tire is wearing with your conditions and riding style and to let you know the remaining lifespan, so you can plan ahead for your next ones. This will give you time to research and find the best choice and with your new found knowledge you might have enough ‘meat’ left to get you across a border where tires are cheaper
Another overlooked consumable is the chain roller or slider, sliders are really hard to find but are a lot cheaper than a new swingarm!
Have you considered stainless steel reusable oil filters? If they are applicable for your bike they are lot stronger in case of a failure internally to protect your bike
My motor was saved by this stainless filter, where a paper filter would have torn and I’d be out thousands, instead just $30!
Air filter, get one that is washable, or maybe carry a spare pre-oiled in a ziplock bag if you are heading out to ride dusty conditions
You can pull out of your driveway happy and content you shouldn’t have t touch anything for quite a while, you have a few spares with you now and your cheat sheet has some good info on it, it maybe took you a few hours to create but it’ll be a great help if you are in that country where you don’t speak the language and can just point at a piece of paper or a screen on your phone and get parts in minutes not weeks.