Some Useful Tips On Machine Preparation For Touring Types
Those of you with inordinately long memories may recall an article on preparing racing machinery some three years ago in Megaphone. From the same author and at great expense the editor now presents some advice (?) on touring.
Starting with the machine first it will be immediately realised that touring is not quite like racing unless your name is Phil that is. Speed is not of such importance and the emphasis is more on a smooth ride without all the stop go of racing. Therefore you should abandon normal brakes - this way you should keep an even speed. "Ah!" you say, "What if I want to stop and admire the view?" Well since you will be stopping for some time you can resort to an anchor. About 60lb weight and 100ft of rope should be sufficient though more weight will be needed for Japanese and some Italian bikes.
Some means of carrying kit should be considered although the best answer here is to send everything on ahead by train, preferably in duplicate since the railway has been known to lose things. If you must insist on carrying your own kit a passenger with a haversack is the best bet since he/she can carry your luggage direct to the hotel room or tent saving wasteful unpacking etc.
Fuel capacity should also be considered and a useful new item from BMW is their ten gallon panniers which with the normal fuel tank on Jap bikes (and most others these days) should see you from one motorway service to the next. Since mileage covered on a touring holiday can be considerable the ardent tourer will use solid tyres with the tread going right through to the wheel rim. This gives a greater tyre life and reduced the chance of trapping the tube when mending punctures.
Lights may be completely dispensed with since it's pointless touring at night as you can't see anything. Gearing on the bike should be lowered until the bike can be started in top thus giving one gear performance and making riding much more effortless. Note here that top should be used and not bottom gear (used by raising the gearing) since as the handbook tells you, continual use of bottom gear can cause the engine to overheat.
Well that about sums up machine preparation except to remind you not to bother checking the oil level as this can cause unnecessary worry which will only spoil your holiday. If it is going to seize you might as well let it get on with it. You'll only hasten the process by checking the oil since removing the oil cap allows the oil to evaporate.
Having got the bike into trim what can be done to prepare the touring type. Maps should be left at home for several reasons. Firstly they will only make you think you are lost. Second you'll probably lose them anyway. Third people seeing you studying maps will know you are a tourist and treat you accordingly, ad infinitum (and probably ad nauseum)
Advice on clothing is always most difficult to give but dirty preferably waxed kit is best since although not waterproof it generally makes others stand well clear giving you a great advantage in "local" type pubs.
Footwear? Yes I'd definitely advise you to wear your feet even when sunbathing on holiday.
Head gear? Well HM Queen has decreed via her loyal govt. that you must wear crash helmets so the choice here is limited. A 360° wrap round visor is a good idea as it gives all round vision ensuring that you miss as little as possible of the available scenery.
Where do you go for the most successful touring holiday? Well I think I'll get out of here before someone tells me where to go.