What to Bring on Your Motorcycle Adventure

Often people ask me what to take on a trip around the world. The longer the trip the more likely you’ll need everything from mosquito repellent for tropical places all the way to a down-jacket for the mountains. Taking the right stuff with you is as much a challenge as it is an art. The challenge is to have the right things when you have to get out of a difficult situation on your own. And it’s art to find a way to pack all that onto your bike.


In Gabon, Africa for example we could choose between three different routes to Cameroon. Though all of them were dirt roads through the jungle. We opted for the least bad one of course. But it wasn’t easy to ride on the red, slippery mud and come out the other end in one piece. The many truck wrecks on the side of the road gave us the chills. Every time a trucker struggled going up a hill we watched him from a distance. We wouldn’t want him slide backwards into our direction.


During those kind of adventures you come to feel the weight of your bike and luggage. Sometimes it determines whether you make it or wether you have to turn around. Less* is more. (*luggage)

When it comes to carrying tools and spare parts for the bike, I have come up with the following rule for myself; I’m only carrying what I need to get back to civilisation in case I break down. Here are a couple of examples:

– I should be able to fix a couple of flat tyres. I don’t have punctures often, but when I do I usually have several. It makes sense to practice this beforehand. It’s good to know e.g. whether this new pump fits between the valve and the wheel-hub. Or when you run tubeless tyres, you’ll need compressed air cartridges in order to get the tire back onto the rim… and so on.

– It’s useful if you know your bike. I only take the tools for those nuts and bolts that are actually used on my bike. And I don’t take those size sockets of bolts that I wouldn’t touch in the bush anyways (gear box, crankshaft…)

– If I have a file and a pair of pincers on my multitool (Leatherman) then I’m not taking an extra tool for that.

– I’m not taking torque wrenches! Too heavy, too big. Sure, I want my cylinder heads tightened the right amount. That’s important to me. But when I break down in the bush “tight” is good enough. Better tools you’ll always be able to borrow in the capitals of almost all countries.

– If I can’t resist to take Loctite, WD40 or something like that, I make sure I only take a little bit in a small and light container.

– I’d never take a repair manual, ever! I’d scan it and put a PDF version on my smartphone.

– I don’t take special tools. Sometimes you’ll need it, but you can improvise. I have seen trained BMW mechanics who can’t be bothered to use the special tool and just use e.g. a pair of pliers. Rely on your imagination and improvise. We’re travellers not pit-stop workers.

– Cable ties and duct tape can be helpful of course.