ABR’s resident expert of everything bikes answers your questions…


Hi Dave, I’ve just bought my first adventure bike! It came with the factory ‘clam shell’ type panniers and a top box. This luggage would just about be OK for a solo trip but the wife and I intend to have a two week tour of France, and there’s no way we are going to get all of the things we need on the bike! We will be stopping in hotels for most of the ride, but how on earth do people manage to get camping kit on as well?

John Price, Evesham


Ah, the age-old problem of too much kit, not enough bike! It’s one that we’ve all come across at some point or another. Something I like to live by is ‘layout all you need to take, then pack half of it’ – best of luck explaining that one to the missus!

With clever packing and some useful bits of kit, you can make sure you’ve got all that you need. First off, it’s worth investing in some inner bags for your panniers, they designate each one to carry specific kit. What doesn’t fit into the bags gets left behind. It’s also far more convenient to open your panniers and take out the inner bags when you get to your hotel stop – plonking a pannier covered in road crud on fresh, white bed sheets is no way to start your stay! Don’t ask how I know this…

Once you’ve selected your inner bags, it’s worth getting your packing technique sorted. And by this, I mean being able to stuff everything you need into a small bag, then being able to pull it out and wear it to dinner without looking like you’ve slept in it!

There are some great packing videos on YouTube that are well worth a watch, though the general gist of it is: roll your clothes up rather than fold them, it really does eliminate creases. Take old T-shirts and bin them when dirty, then buy a couple of new ones from local shops. My missus loves to do a bit of shopping, and those shirts I’ve brought back are a nice reminder of the trip. A couple of pairs of socks and pants should do, wash and wear is the idea here. Shoes are bulky and difficult to pack, you’re on your jollies, take flip flops or sandals instead; they take up a lot less space in the bag.

Try and keep the top box as empty as possible. Mine only has waterproofs in there, obviously never needed in sunny climes, but being British we would never be without! Plus those fleeces that were needed under the riding kit on the way to Dover will not be needed in the south of France but will come out again on the top of the Alps. If stopping to wander around somewhere it’s the place to secure the helmets.

During the trip we inevitably end up buying a few mementoes which end up in the top box, for this reason, I carry a couple of wire cord cycle locks, these can be used to secure helmets to the bike when out of sight, my pet hate is carrying a helmet about.

Lastly invest in a good expandable tank bag, its usefulness for everyday needs such as spare gloves, puncture kit and maps etc. cannot be understated!

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