The Asphalt Angel’s “Add Clothes and Go” Packing Method

For my first several motorcycle tours, packing for the trip was an event unto itself. When I began doing overnight motorcycle trips regularly, I developed a method to simplify the packing process that saves time and reduces pre-trip stress.

As I was developing the method, I nicknamed it, “Add Clothes and Go,” because attire is the only thing I don’t leave in my luggage all the time. 

It’s more than a packing strategy; it includes practices that shift some packing duties to the riding off-season and emphasizes the use of checklists and visual memory to ensure no item gets left behind.

My goal in writing this article is to help new touring enthusiasts focus on developing other aspects of their touring skillset (trip planning, stamina, etc.) by simplifying one aspect of overnight motorcycle travel. Touring newbies also can check out this blog’s Intro to Motorcycle Touring series.

Here are the five pillars of “Add Clothes and Go”:

1. You don’t need to wait to pack most items

Other than clothes, most items you take on a motorcycle trip don’t need regular care. 

Look at one of your typical trip packing lists — or sit down and make one if you don’t have one. For anything that isn’t clothes, make sure you either have one of it to set aside for your motorcycle luggage — or buy a second one. 

For example, if you usually pack the toothbrush and toothpaste you have sitting next to the bathroom sink, go to a dollar store and buy a new toothbrush and travel-size tube of toothpaste to leave in your luggage. Do this for anything that isn’t a shirt, pants, shorts or socks. 

I keep a separate toiletries bag in my motorcycle luggage, as well as two small bags for tools that don’t fit under my bike’s seat. I’ve also designated a hat or two, USB power banks and sunglasses that stay in my luggage all the time.

There are a few more expensive items that you may not want to buy a second edition of, such as a laptop or tablet. For those items, I make sure I have all the cords and accessories I may need in a bag. I have each accessory listed my packing list and visually check to make sure they’re all there as I place the bag into my luggage while packing.

When you have everything sitting in front of you on the floor, you’ll have assembled your “touring kit.” I do my best to not borrow things out of my touring kit between trips so that I don’t spend time trying to track them down while I’m packing.

2. Figure out how to best pack your touring kit

After assembling your touring kit, you’ll need to figure out the best way of packing it in your luggage. Motorcycle luggage comes in a variety of shapes and constructions, so there’s no hard-and-fast rules for how to best pack.

The key guidelines you’ll want to follow have to do with weight distribution, the dimensions of items and when you use an item on a trip.

To help a motorcycle handle well, it’s important to keep heavy items as low as possible. This helps when you need to change direction with the bike – such as when you’re riding on a twisty road. If you use saddlebags or hard side cases as part of your luggage setup, consider placing heavy items at the bottom of those bags.

If you’re using saddlebags, you’ll also need to make sure the bags are evenly loaded in terms of weight. If you put all your heavy items in one bag, your motorcycle may handle awkwardly in corners.

Some items, like a laptop, may not fit inside your saddlebags or side cases and will need to be packed in a top case or tail bag. If so, try to pack it as low in the bag as you can.

Some items you may only use while you’re out riding, while others you’ll only use once you’ve reached your destination for the day. I try to pack items I don’t use on the road (e.g. toiletries bag, drawstring bags, flip flops, etc.) and items I hope I don’t have to use (such as tools) in my side cases. 

Items I use on the road – such as my water bottle, camera and hats – I pack in my top case for easier access when I’m stopped. I save space in my tank bag for items I’ll use while seated on the bike or that I need quick access to – such as USB power banks, extra face shields and spare change.

Once you think you have your bags packed as best you can with all your non-clothes items, you’ll need to do a test ride to see how the bike handles. Even if the bike feels like it’s handling fine, try moving a few things around and go out on another ride – just to make sure your first ride really is the best arragement. 

When you have all the non-clothes items packed to your satisfaction, leave those items in your luggage. They’ll be ready whenever it’s time to hit the road. 

Also, take some time to make a checklist of the items in your kit, as well as which piece of luggage you’ve packed them in. Use that list to double check that you have every item in your touring kit before each trip.

View an example of a motorcycle packing list.

3. Adding clothes

With your bags already packed with all non-clothing items, you just need to add clothes when it’s time to get ready for a tour.

The same principles for packing non-clothes apply to clothes packing. Try to keep heavy items closer to the ground and make sure saddlebags or side cases remain balanced. I use the “pick up test,” where I pick up my side cases one at a time to check how heavy they feel. If one feels significantly heavier, I move items around until there isn’t a noticeable difference.

Since clothes aren’t (usually) something you need to access during the day, I pack as many of my clothes as I can in my side cases. I usually stuff socks and underwear into nooks and crannies between other items and layer shirts and pants on top non-clothes items. Occasionally I have to pack a pair of jeans in my top case due to running out of room in my side cases.

As clothes get worn during a tour, I use drawstring bags as laundry bags to separate dirty clothes from clean ones. Eventually, one of my side cases becomes the “dirty clothes” bag.

When I get home from a tour, I empty all the clothes (clean and dirty) out of my luggage, but leave all the non-clothes items packed and ready for the next trip.

4. Putting the riding offseason to use

I use the winter months to check, replenish and update my touring kit. Each February, I print off a copy of my checklist and go through every item in the kit. I check the condition of each item and identify anything that needs attention. 

For example, I check each box of over-the-counter medicine in my toiletries bag to make sure it won’t expire before the riding season ends. I also check items like batteries and replace any quantities I used during the previous riding season. Electronic items like my CB and weather radios and power banks are tested to make sure they’re still in working order.

I also take a moment to consider removing any items that I didn’t use during the previous year, as well as resolve any issues I had with accessing items during the previous riding season.

By doing this during the offseason, I don’t have to run to the dollar store or grocery store during the packing process to buy new items.

5. Experience makes the difference

After you’ve done a few tours with your touring kit and packing setup, you’ll start to remember what items are supposed to be in each bag. This makes packing up in the morning before hitting the road a lot faster, as you’ll start to quickly notice if something is missing.

Experience also helps you fine-tune your touring kit. Each winter, I make small revisions to my packing list based on observations I make during the previous riding season. 

I’ve added some items to my list over the years – such as a Bluetooth speaker and spare fuses – and have come up with little tweaks to my packing arrangement. I used to carry anything electronic in my top case, but moved some of the lesser-used items like my CB radio and weather radio to my side cases. The result was more room in my top case to add a water bottle, a camera and more sets of riding gloves.

Check Out This Week’s Street Scene Power Hour Podcast

This week’s edition of the Armstrong’s Street Scene Power Hour featured 2 Wheel Power Hour host Larry Ward and guests Michael Marino and Fast Freddie.

Check out the podcast by visiting https://www.buzzsprout.com/1644811/10050597-episode-27-fast-freddie-and-michael-marino.mp3?download=true.

Armstrong’s Street Scene Power Hour at The Packard Motorcycle Exhibit

Warren, Ohio’s National Packard Museum kicked off its annual motorcycle exhibit on Jan. 8, and 2 Wheel Power Hour host Larry Ward and the rest of the Street Scene Power Hour cast were on the scene for the opening gala.

This year’s exhibition is the 22nd edition of the museum’s two-wheeled rotating exhibit, and the feature marque for this year is Buell. The exhibit runs until May 21.

Check out the show by visiting https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SgFKCUhykhY&t=4s.

Check Out the First Street Scene Power Hour of 2022

Check out the first edition of Armstrong’s Street Scene Power Hour in 2022, which features guest Samantha Vallish. In addition to being the assistant parts manager at State 8 Cycles in Peninsula, Ohio, Samantha also is an avid motorcyclist who enjoys racing.

Learn Samantha’s story by visiting https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qh8QgaOZ22Y.

The Asphalt Angel’s Look Back at 2021

Story by Michael Marino

The 2021 riding season didn’t pan out the way I’d hoped, but this was year I got back on track with road riding.

Financial constraints, scheduling conflicts and, unfortunately, injuries cut into my riding time. Yet, I accomplished a bunch of goals I had outlined at the beginning of the year. I rode in my 30th different state, got to visit with friends I hadn’t seen since before COVID-19 and made progress on my Johnny Cash riding project.

I’d set a goal of logging 20,000 miles in 2021 to make up for the miles I lost to the COVID-19 shutdown in 2020 and to stay on track to have 500,000 miles by the time I’m old enough to retire. I ended the year well short of that, but the more than 11,000 miles I did get in marked a welcome return to the five figures of annual mileage. 

My riding season’s kick off was delayed due to a late start on off-season maintenance on my Yamaha FJR1300 (named “Jadzia,” after the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine character). My girlfriend took a new job in Cleveland, Ohio, in Nov. 2020, and we bought our house in Cleveland in mid-January 2021. With having to pack my tools when I would usually be starting my maintenance work — and prioritizing getting the house unpacked before I touched a box in the garage — I didn’t get out for my first motorcycle ride of 2021 until mid-April.

My first tour of the year — to MotoAmerica’s season-opener at Road Atlanta in Braselton, Ga. — got cut short because of an unusual battery failure. I left home the morning of April 30 hoping to make it most of the way to Georgia. I didn’t make it out of Ohio. I made a fuel stop in Marietta, Ohio, and when I was ready to get back on the road, the bike wouldn’t start. I tried so hard to use a downhill gradient in the gas station’s parking lot to pop-start it, but I couldn’t get it to fire. I then tried taking the battery out – no small task on an FJR – and walked about a mile to an Autozone to buy a new battery. I walked back to the bike, only to discover the battery wasn’t the correct size. 

The photo I snapped right before I discovered my FJR wouldn’t start in Marietta, Ohio, on April 30.

The bright spot in an otherwise frustrating and depressing situation was a former co-worker of mine who lives in Marietta used her lunch hour to help me. She drove me to Autozone to return the battery, and her helping me push the bike down the parking lot’s incline was enough to finally get it started. I made it back to Cleveland without stopping and purchased a new battery the next day at Rick Rousch Motorsports in Medina, Ohio. The really odd thing was I tried starting the bike after I got home — and it started up seven times in my driveway. I’m guessing one or more of the battery’s cells were on the fritz.

Other than injuries that made me miss the MotoAmerica round at Road America in June and made the ride home from visiting friends in Albany very painful, the rest of the riding season was a blast.

The FJR ran smoothly on my next tour, which took me to the MotoAmerica round at VIRginia International Raceway in mid-May. The ride to Danville, Va., allowed me to revisit one of my favorite pieces of road (U.S. Route 58 from Interstate 77 to Martinsville, Va.), as well as stop twice at one of my favorite places on earth – the Lover’s Leap scenic overlook near Meadows of Dan, Va.

Some of my other rides in the early summer months included a daytrip to visit the picture exhibit at the Pennsylvania Turnpike’s Midway South service plaza and a trek to western New York for a Johnny Cash stop (Panama, N.Y.). The latter also incorporated a visit to another favorite scenic vista – the Bemus Point rest area on the eastern shore of Lake Chautauqua.

I also tried riding a favorite loop route of mine in eastern Ohio (State Routes 164 and 212), but a road closure on SR 164 spoiled that ride. That ride also was one of the first times I tried using a GoPro (see header photo above). Though the GoPro is a very old model and the battery didn’t make it through the ride, it showed me that I’ve been missing out on a great way of capturing the motorcycling experience.

June featured a weekend tour to New Jersey and downstate New York that included three Johnny Cash stops. The riding conditions on the trip to New Jersey turned very soggy after I crossed into the Garden State. The downpours didn’t dilute the enjoyment of checking Hackensack, N.J., and Glen Rock, N.J., off my list. I made my way north the next morning and stopped in Haverstraw, N.Y., in more favorable conditions before heading back to Ohio. The trip home also included a brief stop at the curves of Hawks Nest near Port Jervis, N.Y.

The only hiccup during that trip was a retaining tab broke on my Arai Definant helmet that helps hold the face shield in place. It was a somewhat unnerving ride home, as I had to keep the face shield closed not matter what until I pulled into my driveway.

I got in two rides of significance in July. The first was an afternoon ride to Toronto, Ohio, for another Johnny Cash stop. Mid-July marked my annual ride to the Philadelphia/Allentown region to see friends I couldn’t visit in 2020. It was great grabbing coffee with fellow long-distance riding enthusiast Josh Giannini, catching up on what’s new in Limeport, Pa., with Michele Lewis-Buono and talking F1 and motorcycles with Mr. David Wadding.

I was off the bike for most of August due to prior commitments but had a great time Aug. 27-29 at the Motorcycle Sport Touring Association’s Mail Pouch Fly-By rally in Marietta, Ohio. The event was the first time in a long while that I got to ride with my good friend, fellow motojournalist and motorcycle touring mentor Roy Dyckman. Roy and I had a great time riding several of southeast Ohio’s finest motorcycling roads, including SR 26, SR 260, SR 800 and SR 255). The good times continued after Roy and I got back to the hotel Saturday evening. We had dinner with a stomach bug-stricken 2 Wheel Power Hour host Larry Ward. I also met another FJR1300 enthusiast – Jonathan Rader – while perusing the variety of motorcycles in the hotel parking lot, got a mini seminar in motorcycle GPS capabilities from MSTA VP Norm Kern and learned about my new home neighborhood from now-Columbus resident Howard Baumwell.

As I was getting ready to ride home from the Fly-By, I noticed my rear tire was down to the wear bar. That necessitated the first of two runs to Iron Pony Motorsports in a one-month span for new rubber. I got the new rear tire in time to get out on the bike on Saturday, Sunday and Monday of Labor Day weekend.

I got a lot of time in the saddle during September, thanks in large part to riding to the final two MotoAmerica rounds of 2021. I logged about 2,500 miles in those two weekends while getting to watch one of my Marino Communications clients win an AMA/MotoAmerica No. 1 plate and another fight for a title right to the last round.

After a weekend off the FJR, it was onto my first time attending the MSTA Fall Colors rally in Lewisburg, W.Va. Two weekends later was my last ride of 2021 – an about 1,100-mile tour to Albany, N.Y. to visit my good buddy and Yamaha Bolt owner John Robinson. Though my then-ongoing SI joint problems ended up cutting my riding season short, the season ended with a great time hanging out in New York’s Capital Region, as well as my first time riding in Vermont.

Even though I didn’t accomplish everything I set out to, the words of four-time AMA Superbike champion Josh Hayes I think ring true in these circumstances. I was interviewing Josh at the conclusion of a MotoAmerica event at New Jersey Motorsports Park, and somehow we ended up talking about goals. Though I don’t recall his exact quote, he said that if you accomplish every goal you set for yourself you’ve set the bar too low. And that’s how I look at my 2021 season: that I’d rather aim for the utmost and still be proud of what I did while coming up short than settle for something I know isn’t a hard-earned victory. Maybe I could’ve gotten some more miles in this year, but there’s plenty I did accomplish in 2021 that’s made it one of my favorite riding seasons so far.

The Vintage Movement’s Harley-Davidson Restoration

The 2 Wheel Power Hour’s “Fun” Bob Wentzel and his partner Ted Guthrie of The Vintage Movement have embarked on a new restoration project for a customer. Larry Ward caught up with Ted at Bob’s North Benton Motorsports Complex to learn more about the project — and found out the restoration is a gift for the customer’s father.

Check out Larry’s video interview with Ted by visiting: https://fb.watch/9-H-SETcfT.

Check Out This Week’s Street Scene Power Hour Podcast!

On this week’s edition of Armstrong’s Street Scene Power Hour, 2 Wheel Power Hour editor Larry Ward began a series on the 1978 BMW he’s getting ready for a reliability run in May 2022.

You can check out the podcast by visiting https://www.buzzsprout.com/1644811/9643585-episode-23-chris-haus-and-bill-weder.mp3?download=true.

T.J. Tennent on the Street Scene Power Hour!

What motorcyclist doesn’t have questions about tires?

One man who may have the answer to most any question about “motorcycle shoes” is retired Bridgestone engineer — and long-time friend of the 2 Wheel Power Hour — T.J. Tennent.

T.J. Spent a full hour as 2 Wheel Power Hour host Larry Ward’s guest on Armstrong’s Street Scene Power Hour.

Click here to check out the podcast today!

Check Out This Week’s Armstrong Street Scene Power Hour Podcasr

If you haven’t already, check out this past week’s episode of Armstrong’s Street Scene Power Hour podcast, which features an interview with former flat track racing star and Mahoning Valley entrepreneur Thom Duma of Thom Duma Fine Jewelers in Warren, Ohio.

To listen to the podcast visit https://www.buzzsprout.com/1644811/9483143-episode-21-diz-dean-and-thom-duma.mp3?download=true or https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BUyee3IOfO0.

Mines and Meadows

Story by Larry Ward

My tag-team partner, Roy Dyckman, and I have been itching to see what our new-to-us ATVs are capable of.

After a introductory outing with our four-wheel adventure machines at Allegheny National Forest, Roy and I decided to try out the Mines and Meadows ATV Resort in Wampum, Pa.

Located less than an hour from the Youngstown metro — and not far from the MotoAmerica venue Pittsburgh International Race Complex — the resort features a variety of trails on about 78 acres of land.

After the short drive from Canfield, Ohio, Roy and I quickly got our four-wheelers off the trailer in the spacious parking lot and got right down to riding. We decided to try the “Yellow Route,” which didn’t look too technical.

Unfortunately, trouble found us early in the ride. About 10 minutes into the ride, Roy high-sided his ATV in a terribly muddy area. Roy was fine after the crash, and the situation ended up being an opportunity for me to give my new winch a try. It worked like a charm.

The trails at Mines and Meadows seemed to be more technical that what we’d ridden in Allegheny National Forest. Parts of the route were pretty steep or rutted out with a few rocky downhill sections. Other sections were very muddy, but the experience helped me hone my ATV skills — such as how to stay out of trouble.

The Yellow Trail acts as the backbone of the trail system, with more technical sections branching off from it. It makes navigating the trail system a piece of cake — though it can take a while to get back to the trail head.

After a couple hours on the Yellow Trail, we arrived back at the staging area and made our way to the resort’s main store. Chock full of a wide range of off-road riding gear, the store also has cold drinks and snacks for famished off-road riding enthusiasts.

The staff at Mines and Meadows was courteous and very knowledgeable. I learned you can rent an side-by-side too — something I may have to try on my next visit to the resort to see if I like it more than an ATV.

Mines and Meadows is a top-flight off-road riding facility that won’t break the bank. For about $25, you can enjoy a full day of trail riding fun. It’s such a low price for being able to feel like a kid again with your buddies. Give it a try!