Preparing your bike for overland travel

If you travel by bike, all you really need is money and your documents.  The rest are luxuries. The less weight you carry, the better your motorcycle will handle and the less chance you have of falling and damaging yourself and your bike.

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To prepare for a biking expedition, you would prepare more or less like you would for a multi-day hiking trip. Go and look what hikers use for camping, cooking and clothing when not on the bike. You need to drastically cut down on the weight of your equipment.

Extra fittings to your bike

 Fuel tank

You should seriously consider fitting a long range fuel tank. If you have a range of 400 km, you will be able to cover most distances between fuel stops. If you need to carry extra fuel, a bladder system is better than extra fuel containers, because it can be easily stored when not in use.

Safety features

Fit hand guards and a bash plate to protect the sump.


Fit a dual battery system with two external power outlets for your GPS and other electronic equipment. Most modern bikes have electronic starters; therefore it is best to protect the main battery from possible drainage.

Luggage carrier

The carriage system that you choose should be dust and water proof, and packed as low as possible. Using dry-bags is a better option than rigid boxes. If you fall, a rigid box can get damaged so badly that you cannot use it for the rest of your trip.

The best option is to strap waterproof dry-bags onto the carrier. It is crucial that once your luggage is strapped on and secure, there should be no loose straps hanging off that can be caught in the chain or wheels.


If you know that you are going to ride a lot of gravel roads you should rather fit off-road tyres. If your itinerary consists of mostly tar and good gravel roads, a dual purpose tyre will be adequate. Get specialist advice on tubeless tyres.

Tools and spares

The basic equipment for every bike includes a toolset with the right sizes specific to your bike. A tyre repair kit includes spare tubes, tyre levers, tube patches, valve spanner and, of course, an air pump.

Spares include an assortment of nuts and bolts, a sparkplug, spare clutch and brake cables, epoxy glue and a chain breaker.

Camping equipment

For camping you will need to take a good lightweight and waterproof tent, small but warm sleeping bag, thin inflatable mattress and a groundsheet that can double as an emergency blanket.

For cooking, you need a basic pot and pan set, a small gas stove and basic cutlery.

Personal items

You only have space for the bare minimum when it comes to toiletries. You should invest in good protective riding and rain gear. Take one set of riding gear and one set of clothes to wear in the evening.

Water and hydration backpack

You must always carry at least three litres of water and a hydration pack in your backpack. The best way to carry water is in a plastic bladder in your backpack.

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