The month of April is here and it’s time for some touring, around Malaysia, but usually to Thailand. Yes, it’s time for the Phuket Bike Week and Songkran (the Thai new year).
It’s during March and this month that the winds and tides hitting the Thai west coast are still benign, as the monsoon season starts in mid-May, which brings heavy rain and higher surfs (and lots of debris) to the beaches.
Also, as the holy month of Ramadhan is in May this year, you can expect many more Malaysian riders rushing north during this month.
But long-distance touring shouldn’t be carried out without proper planning – you can’t just hop on your bike and ride to Thailand like how you ride to Karak for nasi lemak. For one, you need the necessary documentation if you ride into Thailand, and you should bring along these items when you tour.
1. Cable Ties (Zip Ties)
The cable tie is probably the most universally useful item you should never ride without. It serves almost any purpose during emergency roadside repairs. Brake pedal dropping out? Cable tie it. Bodywork came loose because the fastener had gone down the rabbit hole? Cable tie. Number plate screws fell out? Cable tie. Snapped your shoes laces? Cable tie. Etc., etc., etc.? You got it – cable tie!
2. Duct Tape
Along with the cable tie, duct tape is indispensable. It’s especially useful as a temporary repair for tears. We’ve used it on a riding boot which mimicked a “crocodile’s mouth” (the sole split open). Sealing pants legs to prevent water getting in. As a bandage by wrapping it around a piece of cloth placed on a wound.
3. Bungee Cords and Cargo Nets
Always ride with at least one bungee cord under the seat and use it to tie down extra luggage.
4. Tool Kit
Depending on your bike’s manufacturer, what’s supplied may not be enough. There are plenty of tool “packs” offered to bikers these days. Get a set that includes wrenches and Allen keys for the majority of fasteners on your bike.
5. Tyre Repair Kit
Never, ever tour without a tyre repair kit. Along with a mechanical breakdown, a tyre puncture destroys your hopes of a wonderful holiday in no time err… flat. Get a kit with CO2 inflation canisters.
6. First Aid Kit
Almost no rider carries one, for some reason. GIVI offers a set the size of a thick wallet, so it’s easy to carry in your backpack, tankbag or waist pouch.
7. Chain Lube
The chain needs to be lubed every 400 km or so. Most makers offer them in small cans that could fit under most bikes’ seats. A chain without proper lubrication will grind down the sprockets quickly, cause the roller links to wear, besides robbing engine power and fuel economy.
8. Rain Gear
April may be the hottest month in Thailand, but that doesn’t mean you won’t encounter heavy rain along the way. Trust us, it rained on us on our every trip to the Phuket Bike Week. There are many brands in the market, but the best is by GIVI. They’re expensive, no doubt, but they really work and are tough (proven during the Golden Triangle Adventure).
If you’re riding a sport-tourer or adventure-tourer/dual-purpose bike, it’s a no-brainer to install some luggage. Needless to say, having a luggage system beats strapping on a backpack or tying stuff to the bike anytime (more space for the above items too). There are many brands in the market that offer many solutions, including panniers, tank bags and top cases of different designs and materials. GIVI has the largest selection. (We’ve ridden in South Africa and Indochina with them and boy, are they useful and strong.)
10. Octane Booster
You may not need this but bring a few bottles along as insurance. Thailand does have RON 95 petrol but there have been times where riders mistakenly filled up with lower RON fuel. Using fuel with an octane number lower than the recommended grade is at least detrimental to the engine’s performance, if not cause catastrophic damage. We’ve tested X-1R’s Octane Booster during the said Indochina ride and came away impressed.
by Wahid Ooi, Features Editor of Bikesrepublic.com