There is nothing better than filling up the ol’ sissy bar bag and heading out on a moto camp adventure with a few close friends. Camping from your chopper hits differently than camping from a newer bike with bags and suspension. You see, on a chopper, you have a sissy bar and maybe the handlebars to strap everything you might need for your journey.
No side bags, H-D luggage, or tour pack to properly store your goods from falling off your bike or jamming into your rear fender; just a 5/8” rolled sissy bar and an old military surplus duffle bag and worn-out bungee cords. Here are a few tips and tricks from a guy who has definitely learned from trial and error.
First, ensure your bike is in good working order. Scratch that… should be in excellent working order. Take it from a guy who has spent many hours on the side of a highway, either fixin’ my own bike or others that were not adequately prepared. Go over your entire bike. I find that wiping the bike down allows you to put your greasy fingers on just about every nut and bolt. Tighten everything, use Loc-tite, and change the fluids if needed, or at least check the oil. The last thing I usually overlook until we are at the third or fourth gas stop is the air pressure; it’s more important than you think.
Next on the ol’ Brobeck checklist is packing the right tools and extra parts. A good rule of thumb is to keep all the tools you used for final bike prep in a separate pile, then pack those tool in your tool roll. If the tool pile gets too big, distribute them with the other chopper dudes you’re about to hit the road with. There is no need for all of you to be carrying the same exact tools. As for the parts, I will pack a spare tube for each tire along with tire spoons on longer trips. Extra throttle cable (someone’s cable always seems to break), points and condenser for the magneto, a spare primary belt, and a mixed bag of nuts and bolts. You might need different parts for whatever bike you are on, but you get the picture. The last thing to remember is extra fuel. If you ride a chopper, you most likely have a small tank and will need at least a gallon to get you to the next gas stop.
The last thing to think about before hittin’ the road is what’s in your bag and how well you strapped it down.
Now, the intelligent guy orders the Biltwell EXFIL-80 bag. Using this bag eliminates a separate tool bag and the worry about how you will strap your bag down, and it gives you lots of hooks to strap a tent and sleeping bag.
Some dum-dums like me are still using a large duffle bag. It’s true… hard to teach an old dog new tricks.
If you are using a duffle, triple-check your bungee job after it’s all strapped down. Add a few extra bungees around the bag for your jacket or other shit you forget to pack before the duffle is all locked down. Sit on the bike and lean back to make sure there is nothing in the bag that will be jabbing into your back while leaning on it. Yes, that is the best part of having a big ol’ pack on the sissy bar. It turns your uncomfortable rigid chopper into a lazy boy. Get this part right, and you can ride longer than you think.
If you and all your buds get this right, there is no need for a chase truck. But let’s be real, if you can find someone to chase… do it. Makes room for an ice chest full of cold beverages, some firewood, and some added security in case the shit hits the fan.
The moral of this story is to be prepared. Be prepared for the elements, be prepared for breakdowns, and be prepared to have a great time! See y'all on the road.