Jump to content

From tent trailer to tour camping w/ R1200RT 2up


Recommended Posts

Two weeks ago, I sold my tent trailer that had every creature comfort I needed - shower with hot water heater, bathroom, stove, 2 king beds and a twin bed, and room to store a ton of stuff between a small SUV and the trailer.


I'm now trying to condense that down to fit on my 2006 R1200RT for riding with 2 up. Ok, I don't really need the shower and two king beds. I already know I'm going to have to buy backpack/hking quality gear for lightweight and compactness.


We are planning a 1.5-2 week trip from Vancouver to San Francisco along high 101 / 1 - along the pacific coast next June with start/stop being Sacramento. This will be our first long distance trip. We already know the stock seats just won't work. :-)


To get things started, we decided that our essentials will be a tent, sleeping pads, sleeping bags, a couple of small light sources and two chairs if we can squeeze that in. We'll hit up places to eat to avoid bringing cookware and their components - but eventually want to get to that point.


I already know I'll be buying a BMW tank bag (lurking around the boards/ebay until I find a used one). But, even with that, I'm not sure we'll have enough storage space considering tool kits, slime pump, etc etc, that need to go with us too.


We already plan on each having one saddle bag for our stuff - clothes, undies, and such. The tank bag will be used for random stuff through the day - sun screen, cameras, chapstick, toiletries, and overflow from the saddle bags.


The top case, I figure we'll keep whatever tools don't fit under the seat in here, along with additional cycle gear, rain gear, etc. Not having done this yet, these are just guidelines that I've read online and will be starting with that.


I've been surfing around, but still looking for ways to store additional stuff without getting to far into the uggly bike syndrome. I was thinking that since the saddlebags will only be accessed at the start/end of each day, we could somehow strap the lighter weight camping gear over the saddle bags and double as arm rests. Has anyone done that?


I saw somewhere (and I can't find it now), a different trunk bag that wraps around both sides and can store MUCH MUCH more than the 49L top case - but doesn't have a bag rest. It's a soft bag. If I could find that bag, I'll deal with the backrest when I get new seats. However, since I already have the topcase, I'd like to utilize that. I saw a few posts that people have mounted a GIVI luggage rack to the topcase, but haven't found any information on how or what it looks like afterwords.


I would like to get started soon so that we can do a few weekend trips to iron out the wrinkles. :-)


Thanks for any help, web sites, gear suggestions, and packing suggestions....or pointers to other posts/threads/forums/articles.



Link to comment

I think you'll be better off NOT taking the 49L top case and instead, getting a large dry-bag duffel and putting it across the rear rack. If you use the better (Northface) lighweight down mummy bags, they come with both a storage bag and a back-pack bag. The back-pack bag has 4 compression straps that allw the bag to be compressed down the size of a medium loaf of bread. You can put 2 of those bags and 2 of the ultra light Thermarest air mattresses (not self inflating) along with a 3 man tent in the dry bag with room to spare. The problem with the 49L top case is the form factor. It doesn't have the length to hold most tents. You might also consider a JetBoil to heat water for coffee and other quick meals and it doesn't take up much space.


If you must take the top case, it will hold the two bags and air mattresses plus a bunch of stuff and you can put the tent long ways on top one of the side bags. I would recommend putting anything heavy on top of the top case.

Link to comment

After much bicycle camping and uncomfortable nights using a midget REI camping pillow or bags of clothing, I now always take a full sized pillow on my motorcycle tours. I sleep much better...just one of life's little luxuries when roughing it. The pillow compacts nicely in one of the side hard cases.

Link to comment

Dave39 - Thanks for the tip on the heater! Would be great to have for hot coco on those cold night - we don't drink coffee. Or even heating some freeze dried food in a pinch.


This sounds like a job for Helen 2Wheels!


I looked around. What item are you suggesting? The only thing I could think of/find was using 2 XL Roll Top sacks and strap them to each side of the bike somehow (HOW??). I could put an air mattress, sleeping bag, and possibly a pillow in each one to double as arm rests and be light weight. This would really free up the top case for other items. After reading a bit more, I should put the tent above the top case in either a dry bag if it's dry, or a mesh bag so it can dry. The tents I'm looking at REI are only 5-6 pounds.


So, what's the best way to strap the tent to the top case and the roll top bags above the saddle bags?


OR - is there yet another solution?


Link to comment

You're probably thinking of this one.




A big +1 on the Jet Boil. I don't go out of town with out it. Also, rather than buy the JB brand of fuel, I get it from Walmart. It's cheaper and you get more fuel. the down side is that it's to big to fit inside the JB, but hey, you get more for less!


Also, The Walmart near me carries the Mountain House freeze dried food now for the same price as getting it online (and no shipping cost) and it's good stuff!


Make sure you get the French Press kit for making coffee!


You may want to consider one of these. A friend's got one on his FJR. It hold a ton of stuff and he says he hardly knows its there.




I've seen used ones around $1600. Just a thought...


Good luck on the trip!



Link to comment

Hmmm...never tried using my pillow as a heater....but I do recommend a small stove for this and that. A warm cup of coffee before hitting the road in the morning is nice.

Link to comment

I had plans of camping with the wife but found that with her we had too much stuff to put on the bike so I added a hitch and got an old bushtec trailer to pull. With its air-ride suspension I barely know its behind the bike. I was looking at a uni-go but got the bushtec because of the price..Free from a friend who never used it.

Link to comment

+2 on the Jetboil. I love mine! Dehydrated breakfast and hot coffee is about 3 minutes cook time is kick butt! I usually grab a hand full of mini moo creamers and a dozen splenda packets at a gas stop as needed for the duration of the trip. I pack a travel coffee cup with a lid on it so I hold the coffee stuff in that. That cup doubles for drinking water or wine or whatever else is handy.


A gatorade bottle is an in tent necessity as well.


On my 1100RT I took an old tie down strap and cut 10-12" sections out of it and then used the tail rack mounting bolts to make loops of the strap pieces. That way, I can lift the rear seat, flop out the loops and use tie downs to hold dry bags there. I like this set up because with the load tied to the loop, I can lift it up to get into my side cases as needed.


TyTass and I met up on a camping trip last summer and I had my right side case full of mountain house food, jetboil and bottles of water to use for drinking and cooking. A bottle of wine rolls up nicely in your clothes and stays protected that way too.


I'm going to go the Mags Bag route on the GS. Tallman has said great stuff about them and I like the way he manages to pack a lot of stuff in it.


Oh, one more thing... tools and heavy stuff should be packed low. Skivvies and clothes can up top.


Piper, do you tow that bushtec behind your RT?

Link to comment

Have you considered towing a trailer behind the RT? Something like a Unigo?


At rallies, I've also seen small pop-up campers towed behind motorcycles. Don't know the brands or where they came from, though.


There's more to learn in the Trailers section of this site.

Link to comment

A gatorade bottle would do, but my wife brought me a bonafide bed bottle from the hospital. Sure beats traipsing around a strange, cold campsite in the middle of the night....a must for us geezers.

Link to comment
I would recommend putting anything heavy on top of the top case.


Oooo, hope thats a mis-print! Heavy stuff should be as low and as close to the centre of the bike as possible!

Thermarest mats are brilliant. See if you can get Ajungilak/Mammut stuff in the US. Their sleeping bags aare also good (went round the world with one) and they also do small inflateable pillows amongst other stuff. As a tip, I usually place clothes or dry towels on top of the air- cushion for extra comfort. Re the tank-bag; if you can get one with two compartments, use the larger for a carefully-folded tent. You really dont need much space for during the day and throw-over waterproofs dont take up too much space. The 12RT sidecases should be able to take one compacted sleeping bag, toiletries and enough clothing per person, per side. If strapping kit above the side-cases, run straps under the pillion seat and strap from side-to side rather than strapping directly to/around the side-cases. Sleep mats are probably the best, (and least important item)to be strapped to the top of the top-case due to their compace size and low weight. Try to keep as much room in the topcase free as possible- secure storeage space on a long trip is invaluable, especially if you dont want to walk around carrying your helmet or heavy jacket at rest breaks.

Tent-poles. Super-lightweight tents have poles designed to fold up into the length of a shoebox, but if yours are longer, run straps between the topcase and its mounting plate (there should be room) and secure the poles under the mounting plate. If they sit too close to the paintwork, slip a piece of foam polystyrene inbetween. I cut a piece to fit around the mounting plate supports, so it doesnt slip out en-route.

Would recommend a camelbak or platypus hydration pack and if you know you have access to a fridge/freezer on the trip, why not a small freezer chill-pack to keep the drink cool?

Mini maglites which operate on AAA bateries give good light and the lens can be adjusted from flood to spot.

My tip for packing a bike is imagine you will be carrying the stuff yourself, backpacker-style. Now go and re-pack. Repeat several time until you have the minimum. Dont go overboard on clothing and choose lightweight camping/hiking kit for the evenings. There will always be a launderette if you run out of fresh undies!

I dont rate slime. Lose it!

Mobile phone charger is good. Maybe one of those 12V one-cup water heaters if you can get them in the US. Otherwise there are some awesome mini burners that can run on everything from paraffin to unleaded.

It may sound silly, but see if your local bicycle shop has a bag over that that the bike was delivered in (or a similarly large plastic bag). If you dont have room in your tent, you can hang your biking kit up in the bag, off the bike and so keep it dry overnight. Lightweight cable locks are useful for security (helmets too) and small combination locks like those for airline cases.

There are some really small camping stools available, but even they take up a lot of room (maybe something to strap above the sidecases?). Leave them out until the last minute. you may fing a foam square or inflateable sit-mat a better option for space. I've been looking at camping stools for ages and cant find anything really worth carrying.


I hope these thoughts help. Ive also been considering buying/building a luggage trailer for years, if only to make the camping experience better ofr my pillion. We managed two weeks in wet Norway in 2007 with a micro-tent. Just think minimal, minimal, minimal!

Link to comment

I bought a Uni-Go and now that I have it pulling straight, I can carry more than imaginable. Life is too short to be uncomfortable on a vacation.

I bought the these Bags , mattress and compression straps which will make room for other things.

I separate poles from the 4 person tent/ground cloth/rain fly and compress the tent by 50%. Once I get the stuff down small, I turn the stuff 180°, sit on it and pull another 10-15% more out of the total volume.

Link to comment

I would recommend hitting your local REI store in Sacramento for outdoors stuff. The staff knows about products, and you can find anything from low cost and poorly built to overpriced and overengineered. I'm opposed to online shopping for camping equipment, because you really need to see how you set it up, how small you can pack it, and how comfortable it is for you. REI has prices equivalent to online anyways.


As for packing, I'd suggest The Excursion Pack. In fact, look through all of their stuff. You could even drive to New Cayuma (beautiful drive from the 101 or the 5) to see how the various bits work on your bike. Then head up the 33 to Ojai and get a Bill Mayer saddle. That should get you ready for a long trip!

Link to comment

At rallies, I've also seen small pop-up campers towed behind motorcycles. Don't know the brands or where they came from, though.


The Little Guy Rascal looks like it would be quite comfortable at the end of the day. Not sure how well they tow.




Link to comment


This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

  • Create New...