Every ride can have a few surprises along the way, even on a route you’ve ridden dozens of times. Usually, those surprises are minor and not really a problem; easily handled. Other times they can be of a surprisingly maddening nature, which could have been less maddening if you only had just one minor thing.
In my 40+ years of motorcycle riding, I have become something of a creature of habit when it comes to being prepared for some of those small surprises. Part of that is habitually carrying some things around in my pockets nearly all the time and definitely on every motorcycle ride.
Over all those years, a number of pocket gadgets have come and gone. But a few have risen to the top of my list to carry on every ride; I hope sharing my top five may benefit you. They are presented in no particular order – except number one.
1. Epi-pen or routine required medications:
A number of years ago, I was on a ride with a buddy of mine, miles from anything when he abruptly pulled off the road and leapt off his bike, furiously trying to get his jacket off. A huge bee had gone into his unzipped neckline and was buzzing ferociously down his back inside his jacket.
I’ve been stung while riding at least once every summer, and while the stings are annoying, it’s usually not a big deal—unless you have severe allergic reactions to bee stings. Those reactions, called anaphylactic reactions, are very swift, very severe and can even be fatal. That reaction may cause the person’s airway to swell so severely it can literally close the airway.
Carrying an epi-pen, which is a small pre-filled injector syringe filled with a rescue dose of epinephrine can stop the reaction. My friend, it turned out, was one of those individuals known to have such reactions to bee stings and he also did not carry his epi-pen on that ride, which explained his panic stop and wild effort to get his jacket off. Fortunately, he did not get stung and after that, I doubt he ever took a ride without his epi-pen along.
Similarly, if you need to take regularly scheduled medications such as those for diabetes and the ride you have planned may extend through the time medication doses are due, taking the required dose along, even if not necessarily in your pocket is a good idea.
You’ll note an epi-pen is not pictured in the accompanying images because I don’t have one, since I don’t have anaphylactic reactions to anything I know of, but if you do, you probably already know about them.
2. Mini tire pressure gauge:
I’ve learned not to count on gas station/convenience stores to have a tire air pressure gauge that works, if they have one at all. No big deal most of the time, except if something feels a little “off” in the way your bike is handling.
Knowing where the motorcycle tire pressure is compared to the specified pressure can answer help answer the question. But if you need to check the pressure on the roadside, you can be on your own. So having one of these little beauties can be very helpful.
3. Multi-functional key fob tool:
One little item I’ve had for years is a leather key fob with a stainless steel single-piece multi-tool built into it. I don’t know how often I’ve used it but it has come in handy many a time. It includes a short, sharp cutting edge, a squared-off corner that acts as a blade screwdriver with great leverage, a four-size hex head wrench and a bottle opener. Who says a key fob can’t do more than just hold your keys or advertise for somebody?
4. LED mini-flashlight:
Even if you don’t plan to be riding after dark a mini-flashlight can really come in handy. More than once, I have found myself having to peer into the bowels of a bike to what has come loose and is making that new buzzing noise, or what might be leaking, causing that strange smell. Even on a bright, sunny day, it can be very difficult to see anything back behind your engine, under the carbs and behind that battery. You can’t fix it if you can’t see it, so carrying a little light source along can really be a bright idea.
5. Folding multi-tool:
The motorcyclist’s secret weapon is the folding multi-tool. Of course, it can’t replace that fully fitted-out tool kit you have in the saddle bag—unless you are one of those who rides without bags or tool kit—but one of these miniature multi-tools can be used to solve a lot of little fix-or-adjust problems that can come up out on the road. The one shown has seven functions—needle-nose pliers, wire cutters, LED flashlight, blade screwdriver, bottle opener, Phillips head screwdriver, serrated blade knife and short blade pocket knife.
There are endless variations on these compact travel companion themes, so your top five gadgets may be different. But in the end, having some of these types of items along can help solve minor problems along the road and keep them from becoming major ones.