Test-Run Around Lake Michigan
By Tim Notier
It only took two weeks on the bike around Lake Michigan to figure out that we need to lose a lot of gear. It's one thing to go through your belongings and think about what you'll need on a three-year trip around the world, and it's another thing to actually pack it all on and ride around. The bike becomes heavy and unmanageable, especially on rough roads, and the gas mileage drastically worsens. But that was why we took this test-run trip, to figure out what we need to add or lose (more like lose) for our real journey.
The trip was incredible, and full of swimming, camping, and fires on the beach with friends. We had a wonderful time, and learned a valuable lesson, and will now be heading off into the unknown a little smarter than we were before.
Our main problem was we were top heavy. All of our gear had a perfect place to fit, accessibility was based on its priority to us. Our Pelican case was weather resistant and lockable to store our electronics, but it elevated our main bag 8". It was hard to say we needed to get rid it of because of the security from both the weather and would-be thieves, but, it elevated the weight of our other gear and seemed to double the weight of our main bag because of its height.
Gear will now need to be reduced and relocated to new permanent homes, but the standard picture that comes to mind of Adv bikes having a rear bag, two panniers, and two dry bags on top of each pannier will be the set-up we will try next. It seems the reason we saw so many pictures of adventure motorcycles set up in this way is because it makes the best balance between storage and weight distribution.
We will be making the proper adjustments and hope that our adjustments will be just right for the real trip. We better get it right now, because this is our last chance. We will be setting off in three weeks!
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