Motorbike Touring Planning

Planning & PrepBike & ClothingEquipment & Docs



Take a general purpose antibiotic in powder or tablet form. Keep it cool. Your friendly pharmacist will oblige without prescription when you tell him your plans to leave the beaten track. If you take it in powder form you will need to add distilled or boiled water when needed. An antibacterial disinfectant soap should also be used to keep infections at bay.

Diarrhoea is always a problem when changing environments. A large supply of an anti diarrhea drug - at least four doses per person in your party. Also take natural charcoal tablets. They are great as they absorb toxins in your system but are not drugs as they do not enter the bloodstream.

Bee stings.

Included in the first aid kit should be an anti-histamine lotion and/or tablets. The African bee is not a fellow to be taken lightly and a few stings around the vulnerable neck area can be very serious.

Treatment is simple i.e. stop, take the tablets, scrape off the stings with a blade, apply the cream, drink lots of water, and try not to ride for at least an hour to allow your heart to get over the trauma of the poison.

First Aid Kits. The travel clinic has a very nice general purpose first aid kit (with a general purpose antibiotic) for R300-00 ($40). They also have a sterile equipment kit (needles, syringes, drip etc) for R200-00 ($27) This type of equipment can be scarce in remote parts of Africa and having your own is a good idea!! Both are small, light and come in a nifty, waterproof plastic boxes. You can arrange to have these kits waiting for you at one of the international airports if you fly into South Africa.

Storage on a Motorbike

1) Secure Storage.

This is a major issue when touring on a motorcycle, particularly in Africa. You need at least one hard lock up pannier. Also a moon bag and a money belt are important. Money, travellers cheques and credit cards should be broken into groups and hidden in more than one place.

A cable lock (approx. 2 meter in length) is also useful for items like your helmet and jacket. By threading the cable through the arms and helmet visor you can lock them to your bike and take a walk or do some shopping. Note that in Africa it is customary to appoint a ’car guard’ (an eager local volunteer) to look after your stuff while you shopping etc. I determine the value of the tip to be the cost of a loaf of bread in that particular country for services rendered under one hour.

Experienced bike tourers suggest a dummy wallet while the bulk of your valuables are somewhere else. The dummy wallet has expired credit cards and a few bank notes.

At African border posts your passport need not be readily available! - rather secure than convenient. Keep your bike documents and licence in the same place. If you are stopped on the road, take your helmet off and strike up a friendly chat with the officers while you get out your documents. Even if communication is scantly, this goes a long way to smoothing your travels through remote Africa

2) Convenient Storage.
Money for that day, maps, compass, GPS, camera, liquids and rain gear must be readily available in a waterproof bag or container like a tank bag. Ensure that any magnets in the tank bag will not damage the stuff you in it e.g. keep your credit card well away!

3) Cool Storage.

You should also have a special ’cool’ section for items like medication, batteries, camera film and or spare camera memory cards

4) Protective Storage.

Motorcycles vibrate even on excellent roads - now add a poor surface like gravel, add dust, add rain and viola! You have a killer environment for your camera, video camera etc Too much dust and/or vibration and you may just find your equipment jamming/failing in the middle of a once in a lifetime tour. Special protective equipment bags are available that offer moisture, vibration and dust protection.

If your tour requires a laptop computer, the "Pelican 1490" laptop computer case is waterproof, dust proof and dent proof.

5) Bulk Storage.

Your solution here will probably be a soft bag with items like clothing, mattress, bike spares and a mosquito proof tent. Whatever you choose, find something that is waterproof. Useful are those models that come with various compression techniques e.g. straps, air valves etc. Note that a soft bag must be attached to a hard, anchored rack of some sort on the back of the bike else it will move around no matter how well you secure it. The bag will also sag on the sides and obscure your flicker (indicator) lights without the support of a rack. Do not use elastic cords to secure your bag but nylon tie-downs or ropes.