Motorcycle Tips and tricks: An evolving column of wisdom

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Tips and Tricks for Motorcyclists


A monthly column of selected favorites from our vast archive.


Rain gear on… before it rains
Today’s better smartphone apps can give us a pretty good look at the weather ahead, which can inspire us to don our rain gear in advance of an approaching storm. Keeping the hands and body dry insures you’ll stay warmer when the external water tries to rob you of heat.

Keeping Time
Most bikes sold with digital dashes have a clock built in. But there are still plenty coming to market with analog displays and riders still want to know what time it is during the ride. We’ve got options. One is to buy a simple, inexpensive wristwatch and outfit it with a Velcro strap, then wrap it around the handle bar, brake fluid reservoir or somewhere on the instrument cluster. Another option is to outfit the bike with a RAM mount and use an old cell phone or GPS to display the time.

Motorcycle camping
Motorcycle Camping. Is it for you? There’s only one way to find out—give it a try. The gear list is pretty simple. An inexpensive water-proof tent, a lightweight sleeping bag rated down to 30 degrees and an air mat long enough for your size are the basics. If you don’t already own them, you can dip your toe in the water by renting a set from a better outdoor gear shop. Nowadays, many motorcycles have the storage capacity to carry it all, and if yours doesn’t yet, most local dealers can provide you with cargo options.

Spare keys
When you buy a new motorcycle, it's typical to get two ignition keys with it. When you buy a used motorcycle two would be lucky, usually you get just one. Consider having four. One for daily use, a spare to keep in your riding jacket and two spares back at home. Keys wear over time, so one of those spares at home may become your next regular key. Or, imagine this—and we can't emphasize this enough—two sad examples of not having a spare key: #1: Good rider Gary goes to the rally, losses his key in the grass, and cannot find it. He has no spare. Bike has to be towed 200 miles to a locksmith. Locksmith charges come to $160 for making the first new key and $20 for the second key. A high price to pay for not getting a spare in the first place. #2: Superhawk Sam is all set to take a five day tour. The night before the tour he realizes he cannot find his key ... and he does not have a spare. Now he's faced with the choice of forfeiting the tour (no refunds) or missing the first day in order to have a locksmith make a key for $160 and a spare for $20.

Stretch Out
Stretching goes a long way to making us more agile when we sit down to ride the bike. And that means we can move around with less effort, positioning our bodies for the next turn, standing up for an upcoming pothole or reacting during a quick-stop. If you’re not a daily stretcher, consider doing so to get your body a little more limber and keeping it that way. Learn a few stretches that work for you in achieving this and be sure to stretch every hour or two during your ride.

Packing Light, Packing RightTips and Tricks is a monthly column created by our editors and readers alike. If you have a tip or trick you'd like to share, email it to If we use it, we'll send you a copy of The Sound RIDER! guide to Packing Light, Packing Right - FREE!



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