Top 5 Moto-Commuting Pack-alongs

Can you fit two dozen donuts in your tail bag?

Can you fit two dozen donuts in your tail bag?

After years of commuting nine months out of the year in the Boston area I have gravitated toward the following items as my “don’t leave home without ’em” list.
This article assumes you have a means of carrying several things with you on your motorcycle commute.

1. Smart Phone

It is not by accident that the smart phone is first on our list of pack-alongs for commuters. It serves as a location tracker, for when you actually want someone to be able to find you, a traffic notifier, a means to call for help, a GPS, a camera for documenting both great scenery and evidence for an insurance claim, and very importantly a flashlight.

On my daily commute back and forth to work I you the Waze app to determine which route to take. My wife uses Find Friends on a occasion to check when I might arrive home. When I stay late at the office the flashlight proves indispensable if I drop my key or ear plug.

2. Tire Puncture Kit

Perhaps I’ve been unlucky, but I’ve have experienced a punctured rear tire on each of my last three bikes. My first puncture left me mostly stranded in the absurd heat and humidity of a New England August day. Ever since I’ve carried either a tire plug kit or Slime puncture goo.

The tire plug kit I’ve owned and used is The Stop and Go Pocket Tire Plugger, and the quality of the tools included are superb. I carried this for years on my tubeless tired sport bike. Now that I’ve switched to a tubed tired SuperMoto I have two options: 1. carry tire irons and a patch kit or spare tube OR 2. carry Slime for tubed tires. As I get more accepting of solutions requiring less effort with adequate results I choose Slime.

3. Bicycle Pump

Now that you’ve filled in your puncture, either with a plug or Slime, you need a way to put air back in your tire. If near a filling station, you are set. Unless it’s broken, which many of them seem to be. CO2 cartridges are nice for a one-time partial fill. But if the tire isn’t fully plugged by your efforts you may need to refill after a period of time before you can get home or to your preferred motorcycle service station.

This is why we recommend a compact bicycle pump, like the ______. Yes, it’s going to suck when you have to use it in 90 degree sunshine, but you’ll be able to fully inflate and re-inflate your tire.

4. Multi-Tool

Like the analog version of the smart phone, a multi-tool can serve many purposes in a small package. Yes, it would be better to carry a ‘full’ tool kit, but I’ve found that carrying a multi-tool gives my most of what I could need for a roadside fix. Of the many tools included, I mostly find myself using the pliers, screwdriver, and knife.
I recommend the Leatherman Crunch for its locking pliers and hex driver features.
For longer trips I would highly recommend a tool kit and a dedicated knife like the Spyderco Sage, but for commuting a multi-tool has served me well enough to limp home or to a service station.

5. Zip-Ties

Yet another tool you hope you never have to use. I’ve used zip ties to secure my license plate, and my radiator shroud when a bolt vibrated loose. Zip-Ties can be used to secure most anything, wiring, clutch/brake levers, body panels, and nearly anything that isn’t structural.

Honorable Mentions:

Tire pressure gauge – While I carry a digital tire pressure gauge in my tail bag, I wouldn’t be at that much of a disadvantage if I left it at home. Checking regularly in the morning is sufficient for me. When repairing a flat tire, guessing at the tire pressure should be fine to get you home.

Rope/Paracord – Rope can be used to both secure larger items and tow a friend when stranded.

Earplugs – I’ve had custom earplugs, rubber earplugs, but I keep going back to the foamies. They’re cheap, comfortable, and effective. But because they have a limited life span and they are easily dirtied or lost I carry a couple extra pairs.

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