Scooter touring? Pack Up Your Troubles with Nick Prince | WORKSHOP
Our very own “Mad Manx” Nick Prince certainly knows a thing or two when it comes to serious riding. He uses his Lambrettas home and abroad, covering serious mileage rallying and touring and almost always two up. So how does he manage to pack his bike safely for these voyages? Nick gives us some tips in his latest feature.
Holiday season is coming up, whether it’s a big ride to Europe, touring in the UK, or a ride to a rally, I need to take my threads – it’s essential to be trendy when I get there.
Here’s a few tips and handy hints including advice given to me by others, on how to pack your scooter to ensure your clobber gets there and does not “abandon ship” during the ride there and back.
Throw over bags / Panniers
Firstly throw over bags/panniers. I learnt this from some of the lads from the Manchester Lyons Scooter Club, after Mrs P (on our first Euro Rally some years ago) was carrying a heavy rucksack and doing a mean impression of a Nepalese Sherpa. They suggested throw over bags/panniers and they were right.
To enjoy the ride we need to be comfortable and let the scooter take the weight. Panniers distribute this lower on the scooter which helps with handling and I find the large panniers were too big but found the ones pictured, which are smaller and meant for super bikes are just right. Also if you put them over the scooter back to front their tapered shape gives room to get to the kick start, unrestricted.
Someone else pointed out that to stop them scratching your panelwork use a piece of Neoprene/foam tool roll underneath. Although tool roll can be expensive its cheaper than getting your panels touched up. Tool roll has the advantage of being very “grippy” so the bags don’t slide about and it helps keep them all in place. It ranges from £5 up to £20 a roll. As for the panniers, I bought mine for £25 from a bike shop years ago in the sale bucket, so these are out there for whatever price you want to pay.
You can buy anti-slip matting from pound shops/B&M etc. for a pound upwards but if you’re serious about touring and will be using panniers a lot getting some clear vinyl protection applied by a vinyl wrapping/sign company is a much better option. It’s invisible and will protect your paintwork for a couple of seasons before it needs replacing. Expect to pay around £50 but it’s well worth it. The other main advantage is that you don’t haver to spend ages on a tour trying to get your tool roll/anti-slip matting to stay in place.
The lads from down south gave me a tip to use a motorcycle magnetic tank bag. I found these to be a brilliant bit of kit because they can fit on to the front of a leg shield toolbox and its handy for keeping your two-stroke oil in. It saves having to mess around with tricky locks on tool box lids and leaves your tool box free for what it’s meant for, tools.
I have seen them stuck on the frame loop, just below where you sit just above the fuel and choke lever. I prefer to have mine front of me though. If you haven’t got a legshield tool box I use the fully extended version of the tank bag in the leg shields, handily they come with zip off sections allowing various fitting options.
Back Racks and Handling
Back racks – I don’t like to add too many racks as they add weight, I like a back rack that carries a spare wheel and a rear hub. I try not to put too much weight on the back of the scooter especially with a pillion, as rear weight can act as a cantilever and “lift” the front end. What I like to do is distribute the weight evenly around the scooter, this helps with handling.
I use a dry bag -purchased from the LCGB stall , dry bags are great as not only do they not let water in they don’t let it our either, so useful for packing oil in if it leaks it’s not going to leak out of a dry bag. Also a lot of dry bags come in hi-viz colours adding that extra bit of visibility from the rear of the scooter.
I also find a Frank Thomas Aqua Pack rain suit has a handy belt that you can hook around the front leg shields, not that it rains that often…
There’s nothing worse than feeling uncomfortable on a ride, Mrs P recently treated me to an Air Hawk seat from the SLUK Shop. I liked it so much that I let her buy herself one as well. You can read a review on them here.
Securing your load-on the rack is essential I use good old bungees , but I use with caution as I had a friend who when using a bungee, it flicked up and damaged his eye, so when pulling them tight, look away!
Also, one of the SLUK supports are ideal for the job, as they give you a wider load base and have handy bungee anchoring points built in.
Wheels and Tyres
If you’re going to pack your scooter up with luggage it’s wise to use a high load rated tyre on the rear. I use a Dunlop ScootSmart J, which has a high load rating and a speed rating of 68mph. On the front I run a slightly softer Dunlop ScootSmart P, with a speed rating of just under 90 but not a high load rating, as I ride with a pillion all the weight is on the back!
Keep an eye on your tyre pressures, set them to the recommended pressure for your machine and the type of riding you’ll be doing. Check them whilst you’re away and give your tyres a quick visual check for wear, bulges or foreign objects. Tighten your nuts periodically whilst you’re away as well.
Handy Clearance Check
Handy Check- whilst doing the Coast 2 Coast recently, two very nice gents asked to show me their rear wheels (see pics above) as you can see there is some wear on the fins on the rear hub, this was caused by the stainless steel 2 stroke oil carry boxes that you can fit around the rear mudguard.
I suggest that if you are running with one, take your rear shock absorber off, let the bike sit without the shock on and see what your clearance is between the stainless steel box and the rear hub. You may need to make a slight adjustment to the box fitment to make sure it is indeed clear.
Remember every day’s a holiday on a Lambretta!
Words and Pics: Nick Prince