Our bikes carry an incredible amount of luggage; for a trip of this duration we essentially need to bring a much-reduced version of our home with us on the road. In preparing for a trip like this the hunt is on for lightweight and compact gear but you need to take care that this does not reduce comfort and durability to an unacceptable level. So let me show you around our new homes…
Accommodation, Shelter & Bedding
We started this trip with an old tent, sleeping bags and air-mats but abandoned these before reaching Asia as we simply hadn’t used them on the run through Europe and figured we would realistically next need camping gear in Australia. They were occupying a lot of room on the bikes so we sent them home. Accommodation in Asia has been mostly cheap hotels, guesthouses and B&Bs with the odd luxury splurge now and again.
On arrival in Darwin there was no more cheap accommodation so we visited ‘Anaconda’ the giant Australian outdoor chain and fitted out with some budget self inflating mats and sleeping bags by ‘360’, which behave superbly and lasted all the way home. We also bought a cheap dome tent for $70, with a mesh inner – superb in hot weather, but utterly useless in the rain. This lasted all the way to Melbourne with a couple of good soakings. The other weakness was the fibreglass poles, which soon distorted and bent out of shape after a few windy nights so we took the tent to Anaconda in Melbourne and they replaced it with a slightly better model. It was clear once we started using the new tent in New Zealand that it was as durable / waterproof as the previous version but we had the great luck to meet Emily and Emma from Nottingham who donated us their Vango Pulsar 300, a superb tent which lasted the rest of the trip.
One of the greatest comforts on a trip of any duration is the ability to prepare and cook your own food. Don’t get me wrong, we both love dining out and sampling the local fare but this can be expensive and also tedious if you are stuck in one place for any length of time.
Our cooker is the dinky little MSR Dragonfly, a wonderful lightweight, compact cooker with a variable flame adjuster that runs on unleaded fuel straight from the bike! We found an excellent Made-In-China Teflon-coated aluminium pots & pans set that all folds into the largest pot and comes complete with some egg-poachers! Again, this is all kit tried and tested on the Pan-American.
Even if you are not camping, having the ability to cook your own food, even just a cuppa or a bold egg, is a big bonus and we put our kitchen to good use in apartments, flats & some hotel rooms.
We augmented the standard tool kit with each bike, with a few extra spanners, a set of mole grips, a ratchet driver and a small good quality (Teng Red Devil) socket set to enable us to perform most routine maintenance and servicing on the bikes. For spares we carry:
- One set of spare levers
- One set of cables
- Spark Plugs
- Oil Filters
- Duck Tape
- An assortment of useful nuts, bolts & washers
- Spare light bulb kit & fuses
- Brake pads
- Mirror mounting bolts (these shear if the bike has a minor spill & it’s useful to carry one or 2 spares)
- ‘Slime’ electric pump – small & compact and runs off the electrical accessory socket on the bike.
Rather than carry a service manual we simply refer to the Technical Pages on www.F650.com.
Photography & The Office
- Canon EOS 6D with a 24 – 110mm zoom Canon lens – workhorse for most of our photography needs.
- Panasonic Lumix 14 mp compact waterproof camera – fits in the pocket and is unobtrusive to use in crowded areas.
- Pentax Optio – 6mp compact waterproof camera