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The Burning Question #1

3 things

This may be exposing my OCD side but, hey, what’s one more flaw amongst so many?

Anyway, Burning Question #1 is this: What are those things that you never leave behind when taking a motorcycle trip? I’m not talking about the obvious …your motorcycle, credit card, pants, etc. ...but, rather, those things that while not essential for the preservation of live and limb are necessary for you to remain calm and focused on the important stuff? Put another way, what are those things that, were you to leave one behind, would cause you to return home and get it?



For me, these are the things I can’t live without, in order of importance.

  1. Nikon “Coolpix” AW100 camera
  2. Leatherman “Charge” or “Surge” multi-tool
  3. Fisher “Trekker” Space Pen

Actually, with one exception, I never leave home --motorcycle trip or not-- without these three items. The exception is if I’m flying somewhere. Homeland Security refuses to acknowledge the Leatherman as the adult equivalent of a teddy bear. This is not a new fetish as I’ve been welded to these items for at least a couple of decades. While the brand and model of each has changed, the basic item has not.

A Camera

I think I have myself convinced that were I to leave my camera at home, I would certainly come across the landing of little green men and be unable to document it, thus losing out on a gazillion bucks from the tabloid press. Yes, I have my cell phone camera, but by the time I tap my way thru to it, the LGM will have tired of posing and flown off.

This camera thing started for me in earnest back in the mid-‘80s when I began dipping my interest into the moto-journalism pool. Given that it didn’t happen unless I had pictures, the camera became an invaluable sidekick. Film was still all the rage then, and the cameras were big and heavy. Over the years I’ve worked my way through way too many expensive, cheap, large, small, film and digital picture-takers. The great thing about the evolution of cameras is that they are getting smarter all the time. This means that a “shooter” of average talent …uh, that’d be me… can take a pretty decent picture without really knowing how.

The first great small digital camera that I used was the Canon G9. From that I worked my way through the G11 and G12. I loved the pictures they took, but after two broken LED screens, and one refusal to ever turn on again, I looked around for something smaller, and more rugged. This hunt brought me to the Nikon AW100, which I’ve had for a couple of years. I’ve dropped it a couple of times, dented it, and left it sitting in the rain while camping, and, in a steal from Timex, “It takes a licking, and keeps on ticking.” It is waterproof, freezeproof, and shockproof; LGM beware, I’m ready for you!

I do have fancier cameras, but only drag them out when I think I ought to look more professional.

A Multi-tool

There are dozens of multi-tools on the market, and I’ve tried several of them, but have always come back to the Leatherman brand as they’ve proven to be very rugged, and have the right combination of tools. The “Charge” model is my favorite for everyday use. (And yes, I seem to find a use for it every day.) For my motorcycle trips, I pack along the “Surge” as it is a bit more on the heavy-duty size, but you pay a price in weight.

A Pen

The Fisher “Trekker” Space Pen was surely designed just for me. I’m what you might call a non-linear thinker or, more crassly put, my thought processing usually runs amuck, akin to a 9 Ball break on a domed table. This makes me keep a pen close at hand, to catch that occasional thought that might have merit, which comes in handy when I’m trying to put an article together. I also lose things.

I discovered the “Space Pen” more than 30 years ago. It’s claim to fame is that it can write on wet or greasy paper, is unaffected by temperature, and can write being held at any angle. All these features were made for motorcycle journalist. I’ve also lost several of these great pens, so when the “Trekker” with its attached lanyard was introduced several years ago, it instantly became my best buddy.

OK, those are my absolutely-must-have, never-leave-home-without-them items. What are yours?



# Sharon 2013-04-30 21:07
Otterbox encased iPod (to hook up to my bullet speakers), Cell Phone, and I keep a St. Christoper's medal that belonged to my late Mother attached to the underside of my seat. I have a different seat when I drag race, so the medal must be with me at all times.
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# Reg Kittrelle 2013-04-30 21:37
Several years ago I headed up a ride in NorCal. One of the participants gave me a St. Christopher's medal which I attached to my bike just behind the windshield, out of sight. I'd forgotten all about it until you mentioned yours.
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# Charlotte 2013-05-01 10:41
Road ID... as suggested by my ICE contacts... who are also avid bicyclists...
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# Reg Kittrelle 2013-05-01 11:14
Let's hope you never have to use it.
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# Ron Hilliard 2013-05-01 11:32
Unfortunately.. .. my smart phone. Not just for calls but because it is the equivalent of a digital multi-tool. And my reading glasses, because my eyes are, much like the rest of me, no longer young. :-)
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# Reg Kittrelle 2013-05-01 11:44
A "smart phone" is probably the most-carried of all motorcycle accessories. There is a very famous (nameless he shall remain) moto-journalist who refuses to carry a phone. We've had a few discussions re this, but he remains unconvinced of a phone's worth. The fact that pay phones are disappearing may cause this Luddite to change his ways.
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# mike moon 2013-05-01 13:56
tire patch kit and plug in air pump. Have had to use it once.
Maps of the area and route - smart phones don't always work.
Water, power bar, rain gear, straps (to stow and to be towed or tied down).
...and a schematic when I ride the old airhead.
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# Reg Kittrelle 2013-05-01 14:06
Good point re maps. I use a GPS (Garmin Zumo 220) and carry a smart phone. Even with them both working I often refer to the paper map me the big picture as to why I'm so lost.
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# Jeff Giese 2013-05-01 15:29
Love my Fisher pen. I carry the litle bullet shaped one in my pocket amongst the loose change. I cannot be without a writing/drawing instrument.
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# Reg Kittrelle 2013-05-01 15:57
I too like the "bullet" version, but it's too easy for me to lose.
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# Just Jimmy 2013-05-01 19:22
Tool kit, including can of Fix-a-Flat, no matter if it's putt across town or a roadtrip. Always in the saddle bag. Also some cigars, and RedMan leaf in case the cigars run out, or I'm in an "unfriendly to smoking" environment. If I plan on riding anywhere near Utah, a bottle of Pendleton. And, most recently, my GoPro camera.
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# Reg Kittrelle 2013-05-05 20:55
Had to think about the Pendleton and Utah mentions a bit.
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# Sandi Long 2013-05-08 11:16
When i was riding a shovel, I carried every size wretch, a ratchet set, and every small part I had to change on the bike, points, plugs, two cans of oil, a replacement chain, etc. But now that I'm riding a newer bike, I'm like you, can't go without my camera, a cell phone, warm clothes, since I leave in cold country, even in summer I have warm clothes and a rain suit with me, but my tool chest has reduced to fuses of every size I might need, one can of oil (can't break that habit), a few select wrenches and a small ratchet set. It's about 1/4 of what I used to carry, and I also go no where without jumper cables, used those lots to start other bikes, not mine, knock on wood. And of course most of the time I have my most important tool with me, my partner in crime, Will. He carries more tools than I do, so between the two of us we have almost everything.And I try to have my head in the ride, have thought where the hell are my brains, not an option to stop, so I try and shake that off.
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# Reg Kittrelle 2013-05-08 11:45
OK everyone. The newest "tool" you should carry is a route map of just where Sandy and Will are located. Between the two they carry everything you might need.
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# Eddie Frowiss 2013-05-08 11:49
I forgot maps. Real, fold up, paper maps.
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# Reg Kittrelle 2013-05-08 11:58
Yep. What maps do that a small GPS screen can't is two-fold. First, they give you the big picture ...put your location in context with places near and far. Secondly, they really are the first step in route planning.
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# Steve Slaughter 2013-05-08 14:10
I might also add Rite-in-the-Rai n notepads. I take them on long rides, hikes and use them on scuba trips. Great when you GOTTA write when all wet. They also make a TRUE underwater writing pad that is actually USABLE underwater.
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# Reg Kittrelle 2013-05-08 15:46
You're right, Steve, but I can't stand the feel of writing on that paper.
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# Reg Kittrelle 2013-05-08 16:11
...and how often do you need to write underwater when you're riding?
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# Steve Slaughter 2013-05-09 07:18
Writing in the rain HAS happened more than once. Underwater just a few times a year... but not on the bike!

...and the Rite-in-the-Rai n paper IS coarse.
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# Reg Kittrelle 2013-05-09 07:34
"...but not on the bike!"
Whew... you had me worried there, Steve.
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