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    So now you have planned a trip, figured your team mates.. 

    Now it is time to look at the most important member of your team, your motorcycle.  Many a well planned trip can unravel in no time if your steed decides to fuck you over. Most well kept, trusted ones will NEVER do it to you, that is my belief. But then the operative word here is “well kept”

    So let us start with preparing your iron horse for a really long trip. I am specifically talking about bullets here. But at a broad level it applies to most bikes .. the jap people can actually afford to be a little careless. But hey, being careful is better isnt it? Carrying the right spares and tools and knowing how to use them can save you from being stranded in a tiny village for days. Even if you dont know how to use them, it can save you the pain of waiting for spares/tools that are not available with a local mechanic. Let us start ground up
    The weels, brakes and Chain

    Things to buy-

    1. A spare tube : For that rare occasion when u cant find a puncture guy, you need your spare tube that sint punctured yet.
    2. A footpump: The absolute essential tool in the bike tourer’s kit, I dont need to tell you why.
    3. Tyre pries: To pull out the punctured tyre offthe rim
    4. The right sized spanners, for pulling out the wheels (Royal Enfield Standard tool kit does not provide a wheel spanner ..so you buy it separate)
    5. Chain lock (There are diff kinds of chains used in Royal Enfields the thunderbirds have an O Ring, so those locks are different, the older models like electra has a different lock. Keep one handy)

    Things to check-replace-

    1. The tyre and tube: Look for tread wear. A good grip on the road is absolutely essential if you are going to face wet weather or unpredictable terrain. A well gripping tyre can save your life from falling off a cliff etc. Or getting s few stitches when you least expect it or need it . So check replace and run it for at least 100 km. Same with tubes. Fresh tubes have lesser chance of puncture, or like some unlucky souls, can develop a puncture right when u installed it.
    2. The Secondary Chain and Sprocket Assembly : Check for wear and tear on the sprocket. If you find cut teeth, time to replace. Same with the chain. If the chain tightener has reached the end of its active life. Do NOT cut the chain. Always replace. Always. The assembly should be replaced 15000 km ideally. And I thnk it is a smart thing to do as the investment is of about Rs 1000  or so.
    3. The brake shoes: Get your brake shoes replaced/scratched. If replacing, make sure you run them in before you head out for the big trip. Disc brakes especially need attention. So check them too. They have a habit of stopping work, just like that. No warnings given
    4. Brake fluid in case of disc brakes.
    5. The brake lamp switches (the guy behind you knowing that you are about to stop is important if you don’t want him to stop on you instead of behind you )

    Things to learn
    1. How to remove the wheel assembly (front and rear) . Removing the brake assembly from the disc is tricky and extra care should be taken to make sure that you DO NOT press the disc brake lever while the disc is out. You are in for a very bad day then. Th disc pads will lock up and you wont be able to pull them apart to replace the tyre. Draining brake fluid etc can also drain your energy.. so just don’t do it!
    2. How to fix a chain lock
    3. How to adjust chain tension – Bullets need a touch up every 500 km or so slacky chains can rattle, and also damage the sprocket
    4. How to pull the tyre out (okay this is something which I don’t want anyone to go through, but learning can save you.. ) to replace the tube and how to put it back
    5. How to operate a footpump.. Duh!

    The cables
    Things to buy (make sure to belongs to your bike and model – very important)
    1. Clutch cable
    2. Accelerator cable
    3. Front brake cable for drum types
    4. Speedo cable (not an essential item, but good to have as speedo cables misbehave a lot)

    Things to check-replace
    All of the above . I’d say replace all and carry the old ones as spare

    Things to learn
    How to replace all of the above. Not too tough, in fact fun to do. Much needed in case of a cable snap. Does not happen a lot on the japs, but for an RE, the clutch cable can snap anytime, anywhere .. no telling. So learn! And the 5 speeds have a completely different way of locking the cable. 

    Things to buy (make sure that these  belong to your bike and model )
    1. Spare fuses - a lot of them (make sure you have checked for rating )
    2. All bulbs – Your headlamp, tail lamp, indicator lamps
    3. Spark plug
    4. Spare insulated cables a meter or so
    5. Insulation tape
    6. Wire stripper/knife
    7. Vaseline

    Things to check-replace
    1. Your spark plug – For End of life signs ..
    2. Battery – If it is reaching the end of its life, replace it, do not doubt.
    3. Your switchgear- Especially the engine kill/run switches and the ignition. These are little things that can throw your plans off track by just coming off a solder joint/refusing to make contact etc. The better prepared you are. The better your chances of a successful completion

    Things to learn
    1. The how to-s of repalcing fuses
    2. Cleaning and replacing a spark plug
    3. Checking a battery
    4. Replacing critical light bulbs

    Now the most important.. as much as the earlier points
    1. Clutch Plates : For a bullet rider, the clutch plates are unforgiving. They can completely get glazed out if you hold that lever half down through traffic/climbs.  And they are not available in remote places that easily. So carry a spare set ( of your bikes’ make) so that a local mechanic can fix it for you
    2. Your Ignition coils: Though it kinda is in remote territory – It is good to know what kind of ignition system is used by your bike – TCI/CDI whatever.. figure it out for yourself and carry common coils among a number of guys if needed
    3. Carb setting : The CV carbs of new age bikes (and bullets ) dont need much of care. But if you have a manual, learn how to lean it / bring it back to rich. In high altitudes, when the air thins out, you need to know how to lean your carb for your bike to develop any power
    4. Check/Replace the Air and oil filters. Your bikes performance depends on how well the lubrication and breathing system works.
    And that my friends, kind of covers most things.
    I know that this almost sounds like a bike overhaul list. (which it kinda is) but for the serious tourer, knowing what to do and when can make all the difference between being the one who made it in time and being the one who just could not. So be prepared like a mad man.
    A great performing bike is all you need on any long trip you undertake. Keep your steed in top condition, and the rest the machine will take care of. And if anything that should not happen, happens.. you will be better off dealing with it, when you have the equipment and knowledge to deal with it.
    Happy Riding..also plan to add images here and make this post a little more informative.. Will update
    Next – Gear to carry

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