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Essential Gear for Adventure & Dual Sport Rides


Dual sport/adventure is one of the fastest growing bike segments. That's not hard to believe because these bikes are basically the best of both worlds. You get the fun of riding off-road and the thrill of speeding down the street. These bikes are light and versatile, while still being comfortable and safe with great maneuverability.

This segment of riding comes with gear requirements all of its own. Dual sport/adventure riding is all about having fun in a variety of surroundings and road conditions, and this means specific protection requirements because you never know what kind of conditions you'll encounter.

In this post, we'll talk about what you will need to make your trip a success.

Luggage with at least 1 waterproof luggage item 

You're going to need a luggage to store all the necessary tools (we go into more detail later) and anything else you may need for your adventure trip. Make sure at least one luggage item is waterproof, as you're never sure what kind of weather you'll run into. If you don't have a waterproof bag, then at least purchase a waterproof liner or storm cover for your bag.

Place everything that you don't want to get wet into the waterproof bag, like your phone, camera, and any electronic tools/accessories. Also, any clothes, because it really sucks when you have a luggage-full of damp clothes that will never get the chance to dry out.

Briefly, here are the different options you have for motorcycle luggage:

- Saddlebags: This is the classic form of motorcycle luggage. They hang over the rear seat and come down on both sides at the back wheel. Saddlebags are the most popular because of the amount of stuff they can hold and their position is low enough that it doesn't affect the bike's center of gravity.

- Tail bag: This type of bag sits behind you on the tail of the bike. You can purchase a tail bag that matches the your saddlebags for a complete, cohesive look. This is a good place to put anything that may break if the bike falls on its side.

- Sissy bar bag: This kind of storage attaches to the sissy bar or back rest, and are often vertically stacked luggage compartments. This is not popular on off-road/adv bikes so most likely, you won't be considering this option.

- Tank bag: This is a small bag that's attacked to the tank area either with straps or really strong magnets. Many come with a clear panel on top for a GPS or phone.

Luggage bags can come in either soft (nylon, cordura, PVC) or hard (aluminum, plastic) varieties. Soft bags are more versatile and lighter, which is great for off-road riding, but they may not be as durable or secure as their hard counterparts.

Giant Loop is one of our favorite luggage brands. We personally have tested and loved the Giant Loop Mojavi Saddlebag (detailed review here). This military-grade bag is reinforced with ballistic nylon, and can withstand even the clumsiest of riders. Aram from our Solomoto team has used his for four years now and it's still going strong (if you don't already know, Aram has quite the reputation for crashing and abusing both his bike and himself). This bag is incredibly sturdy and lightweight, and despite a deceivingly small size, it's roomy enough to pack all the tools you would need.

Another luggage brand we highly recommend is Wolfman. Their high quality, stylish luggage is made right in the US.

Depending on what kind of luggage you choose, you may have to buy a luggage rack.  A top rack, which can be used to hold or fasten down a tail bag or water/fuel jug, is the most popular choice. And if you choose a hard case, you'll need mounting brackets to fix the case on.

Dual Sport Mirrors

Even mirrors have a different set of requirements in the dual-sport and ADV world. A good mirror should be able to give you complete visibility, be sturdy enough that it won't break in a crash (and yes, we tend to dump our bike a lot out there), and fold out of the way when you need it to.

Our absolute favorite dual sport mirrors are Doubletake Mirrors (detailed review here). They take you from highway riding to off-road seamlessly. The height, length of mount, and angle of the mirror can be adjusted in about every direction you would need. And when riding in tough off-road situations, they can be swiveled down and locked in place, protecting them against any potential crashes.

Water and fuel containers

Keeping properly hydrated is one of the most important things to do on any motorcycle ride. You're going to have to bring (at least, some of) your water supply with you as there won't be any handy Seven-11s to stop by out in the woods or canyon.

Don't take up all your precious storage room and instead carry your water on your back with a hydration pack. You can also easily sip while riding instead of having to stop and unscrew a water bottle. Our favorites are the performance-focused hydration packs from American Kargo that come in a crazy cool assortment of styles and colors. (Of course, if it's going to be a longer ride, bring along as much water as you think you will need.)

Instead, save that storage room for a fuel container. You should always carry with you some spare fuel, because well... you probably won't see too many gas stations in the woods either. We recommend an aluminum fuel bottle. They can be found in almost all outdoorsy stores like REI.

Tubeless tires

Tubeless tires have a couple of major advantages when riding: 1) first, they don't deflate as fast when punctured, and 2) it's much easier to fix them on the go. Unlike a tubed tire, you don't have to remove the wheel and the tube. All you have to do is plug, re-inflate, and patch. In most cases, you may not even have to do a roadside fix. If it's a small object and you don't take it out, you can even get home.

We've ridden with the traditional tubed tires before and fixing a flat is a real waste of time and hassle. I gotta say that we're becoming fans of the tubeless system when riding off-road, simply because there are so many things that can puncture your tire. Tubeless tires are also less expensive, lighter, and have better fuel economy.

Handguards

Because of the nature of this type of riding, the hands often take a beating. Even if you're smart and wearing gloves, repeated slapping of branches on your hands will quickly become a nuisance. And at worst case scenario, if you ride your grips into a tree, your hands are going to be in big trouble. Basically, gloves alone will not do the trick when you're taking your bike off-road.

Whether riding through the countryside, up rocky terrain, or through the woods, installing handguards on your adventure motorcycle will protect your hands from flying debris, rocks, and brush. They are durable plastic pieces that attach to your handlebars and are designed to protect your hands and clutch levers in all types of extreme weather and road conditions.

They're easy to install and remove and come in a variety of options and colors, including: vented and spring-loaded, which will flex back in case of a crash.

Our favorite handguards manufacturers are Bark Busters and Moose Racing, both of which are known for their high-quality, durable, and sleek designs.

Skid plates

Just like handguards protect your hands and clutch levers from flying rocks, branches, and collisions, skid plates protect the delicate underbelly of your prized motorcycle. This is where all the expensive parts of your bike is located! A stray rock or branch can easily damage your casing or oil filter, causing you to not only end your day early, but also hundreds of dollars worth of damages.

Skidplates are not the cheapest, but trust us, it's a small investment to make to avoid a far, far more expensive repair job. When you wish you had one, it's already too late. We recommend a skidplate made with durable, lightweight aluminum or steel (NOT plastic), as plastic just can't stand up to constant beating of rocks.

Tool kits

And lastly, you can't go off on your adventure ride without a tool kit. At the very least, we recommend packing:

- things to fix a tire: a tire tube for the front and back tires, an electric pump, tire irons, patch kit
- for any fuel issues: extra fuel pump, extra fuel, siphoning hose
- for battery issues: jumper leads
- para cord/tie-downs: are extremely useful to carry extra things or keep pieces together
- extra brake pads for the front and rear if it's a longer trip
- valve core remover
- small tools: wrenches, screwdrivers, sockets, hexes, pocketknife
- headlamp: especially useful if you're still out into the night and need light and both your hands to fix something
- Misc: duct tape, WD-40, zip-ties

Don't forget to have your bike in top running shape by maintaining your bike and upgrading it to do what you need it to do with performance parts & accessories.

What other essential gear would you recommend for a dual sport/adventure ride?
By Daniel Relich

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