Toss me the keys to anything with two wheels and a motor and good luck getting them back. I love motor bikes, sport bikes, dirt bikes, cruisers; damn even bikes with no motor put a smile on my face. But when it came time to park a bike of my own in my garage there was only one way to go for me, the adventure bike; more specifically a Triumph Tiger 800 xc, one bike that can take you anywhere you want to go, the idea makes me giddy.
Like all things manufactured for the masses it takes some time and expense to get things set up just the way you like them. To save you at least the time portion of the equation, let me take you through my adventure bike prep experience.
Today’s adventure bikes are ready to take you exploring straight out of the showroom but it is wise to add some protective armour to your new toy. Engine guard, bash plate and a set of solid hand guards are a must. The hand guards will not only protect your hands from wind and impact but will save your clutch lever from snapping off in a simple tip over. You can’t start your bike without a clutch lever! The seat, anything is possible here, lower, higher, softer. I’m tall so for me a higher seat was in order.
You have two options, hard or soft bags. Hard bags generally give you more room and you can lock things up for added security. On the downside they are more expensive, they can bend or break in a fall and can cause injury if your leg gets trapped under it. Soft bags are less costly, won't break your leg in a crash but offer less volume and lack security. There really is no right or wrong here, it boils down to personal preference.
The GPS has become an indispensable tool for finding your way back home, lol! There are motorcycle specific units available but turn by turn instructions are of little use in the back country. If there is one must-have feature for an adventure worthy GPS unit it is the ability to work with tracks. Unlike directions controlled by the GPS unit, a track is a predeterminate route which shows up on the the screen as a line, the line turns, you turn, no warnings, no instruction, just follow the line. A good GPS unit loaded with the Ontario Back Roads map set and you are ready to go anywhere.
Check out the Go Tour Ontario Trip Planner for the Algoma ADV Route, an exhilarating run through Northern Ontario any time of year.
The best safety feature that you can bring with you on any trip is a good riding buddy. Using a Spot Tracker, an electronic device you carry that can be tracked by a computer at home and can send out a call for help in an emergency, is a wise investment. A tool kit, a spare tube and the knowledge how to fix a flat or basic mechanical issues is good to know. Last but not least the fuel range of your bike and the location of the next gas stop.
The beauty of adventure riding in Ontario is the endless destination potential, pick a spot and go explore. But if you want some more established options to get you started you can try the TCAT, The Algoma Adventure Route or have a look at the Grey Bruce Motorcycle Touring map, it shows a number of adventure bike worthy roads in the area.
From remote lodges, back country trails, lakeside camping spots and thousands of kilometres of gravel roads, with the right equipment Ontario’s adventure riding can make you giddy with anticipation.