Touring on two wheels is one of life’s greatest freedoms; you take your bike, load it with some gear and head off into the distance. But some people overthink things, and end up going nowhere.
When you strip it all back, it becomes a question of a few simple factors such as bike choice and what to pack. Nathan Millward has done it all, from travelling the world on a 105cc Honda to exploring Iceland on a BMW R1200GS; he knows how to get the most of his trips, and is currently running his Garbage Runs, where he takes groups of riders – on any bike – to explore the UK. Meet one of the riders who’s done the ride from Land’s End to John o’Groats with him…
Rider: John James Bike: Royal Enfield 500
Why that bike?
I have a few bikes I could have used but the 500 Enfield was the closest I have to what I understood the nature of the run to be about, ie something smallish but reliable and not a fancy tourer.
How was that bike suitable/unsuitable for the trip?
I found it completely suitable for the type of terrain and speeds we were doing. The low seat height and lots of torque from the engine were perfect for the hills, with plenty of engine braking for the drops. The downside was that it's not really up to carrying all that weight on the back, so the steering was very light, which caused a few scares on tight bumpy left handers. Less weight and uprated rear shocks would have been of benefit.
What luggage solution did you use?
Stuff I already had, so throw-over Oxford bags, a Rickman Honda 90 top box, a large dry sack, plus the tent in its bag.
How did you arrive at that set up?
It was stuff I already had and I couldn't think of anything more suitable. It was all tied on with bungee cords, so taking it on and off was easy.
What did you take that you needed and couldn't have managed without?
The tent and a three season sleeping bag, clothes and washing kit, plus spare cables and inner tube etc for peace of mind.
What did you take that you didn't need and could have managed without?
Half of the clothes, the cooker and gas, the extra sleeping bag and the tent was too big.
What would you do differently next time?
Put more stuff into the throw-overs and eliminate the need for the top box. That would keep the height down and hence the centre of gravity. I would probably fit adjustable Hagon shocks, wear fully waterproof clothes and buy some really good waterproof gloves.
To read BikeSocial’s advice on how to tour on any bike, click here