Last week, I took a motorcycle trip with a friend in the New Jersey and Connecticut areas. It was a fun adventure and significant because “touring” (luggage, overnights, etc.) is a significant dimension of motorcycling.
Oddly enough, when not doing a trip, I like to ride alone – more often than not.
I certainly have the right motorcycle: a 1993 Suzuki GSX1100G standard-style bike. Upright seating position. I mean bolt-upright, like sitting in a chair (not laid back like a cruiser, and not laying down over the tank like a sportbike). Being a large-displacement inline four-cylinder plus a shaft drive makes it one of the last of a style called UJM or ‘universal Japanese motorcycle’. All four major Japanese bike companies copied each other’s ideas thoroughly. I went with Suzuki.
It is a heavy bike (~600 pounds) with a significant seat height (~31 inches). I’m 5′ 6″ with a 30″ inseam. You do the math. I’m on my toes at a stoplight, and the bike isn’t light. Having said this, it’s quite awesome on the highway. Being in the left lane of the super-slab with 53′ long trucks passing by is no problem. The engine is tuned for low-end torque and passing ability. It’s quick, but it’s not like a sport bike.
The sad part is that while the bike was made for a hard luggage option, it and the options were discontinued soon after I bought it. Now, at this point, years later, I made a significant effort hunting down a quality aftermarket set, but all told, it would cost around $1,000. An email to the German manufacturer I looked at had some leftover inventory for this bike. But, I decided to go a different way by using soft luggage (strapped all over the bike).
The soft luggage worked quite well. All of it is from Rapid Transit, and it’s excellent stuff. Tank bag, saddlebags, tail bag. Nice.
I set up my battery-operated, weather- and shock-resistant GPS (a Garmin eTrex Vista HCx) on the handlebar.
This was set up just as a guide, with a nice bunch of “waypoints” (pins in a map) programmed into it. We weren’t led around by it!
Yes, that is beer and vodka on ice in the sink. We couldn’t pack a cooler on the motorcycles; how else would it be kept cold?