Are long-term adventure motorcyclists the ultimate minimalists?
This isn’t a piece about small bike vs big bike, that decision is entirely yours – this is just another way to look at it if you are on the fence about what Adventure Motorcycling possibly is or isn’t and where you can get to or not get to…
Having some spare time I have been reading about minimalism and wonder how it could be integrated into Adventure Motorcycling. Think of it as an alternative way to look at your set up ‘before you head out’ on that big trip. At absolute worse it may help you pack a little less.
It’s obvious that some don’t understand ‘less is more’ when it comes to riding and travel when some bikes are packed to excess – we’ve all seen the photos
This got me asking myself a question, if less is more and it can potentially make an adventure even more of an adventure why don’t more riders do it and embrace the minimalist lifestyle on the road…have a read and see what you think and then ask yourself some questions about your rational and your set up for what you want your adventure to be.
When I was thinking about this I was actually thinking of trips at a minimum of three months, but longer trips will make a lot more sense of what you’ll read below.
Less is more – do you pack for every eventuality?
Less is more – can you pick your bike up by yourself?
Less is more – does the size of your motorcycle determine where you go?
Less is more – do you like to fill up more than once a day?
Reading an article about minimalism, which then linked to something else and then something else you know when you get in that spiral and find yourself on a page that you weren’t expecting to find?
Ever happened to you, well it happened to me!
I landed on a page about minimalism (that had NOTHING to do with motorcycling) and a list of 25 reasons why you might be a minimalist. Something I’d honestly never even considered, but when I read the list and could relate to so many of the points as a long term rider with over 400,000km under his belt RTW it got me thinking.
Lightweight adventure riders are basically traveling minimalists just taking what is required to get the job done and survive. Every single thing that is required to live life to the fullest is on the bike. If anything is missing it is sourced when required.
On the other hand, the riders on the big behemoth bikes (I’ve done both so I can comment) have everything and more on the bike, don’t expect to have to buy a single thing besides fuel and food for the whole trip.
For me, every subsequent trip I take less as I learn more about what I need and don’t need regardless of the length of the trip.
So, the question is – if you were a minimalist adventure rider – would you have MORE of an adventure.
Read the following list (again NOT motorcycle related but can be adapted) and see how you score and can relate to the 25 Reasons You Might be a Minimalist
- If you have an empty attic or storage shed, you might be a minimalist.
- If you are debt-free or paying off debt with gazelle intensity, you might be a minimalist.
- If walking through Target or Wal-Mart makes you really uncomfortable, you might be a minimalist.
- If your children are mad at you because you canceled the cable, you might be a minimalist.
- If you can’t stop giving stuff away, and your dog is worried that he’s next, you might be a minimalist.
- If a friend asks you to go shopping, and you would rather go to the dentist, you might be a minimalist.
- If you don’t want your parents to stop by your yard sale, because you are selling their stuff too, you might be a minimalist.
- If you don’t have a junk drawer, you might be a minimalist.
- If you have more free time than ever before, you might be a minimalist.
- If you have ever used a car share service, you might be a minimalist.
- If you are curious about living with less than 100 things, you might be a minimalist.
- If clutter makes you crazy, you might be a minimalist.
- If you follow less than 100 people on Twitter, or 100 friends on Facebook, you might be a minimalist.
- If you vote with your dollars, you might be a minimalist.
- If people who can fit all of their belongings in a backpack inspire you, you might be a minimalist.
- If you schedule time for nothing, you might be a minimalist.
- If you nap, you might be a minimalist.
- If you read a book, and then give it away, you might be a minimalist.
- If you want to have a packing party, you might be a minimalist.
- If words like trinket and souvenir make you cringe, you might be a minimalist.
- If you’ve thought about living in a tiny house, you might be a minimalist.
- If there are less than 33 things in your closet, you might be a minimalist.
- If you spend more time thinking of ways to reduce your overhead than ways to make money, you might be a minimalist.
- If you have more resources (time, talent, treasure) to give, you might be a minimalist.
Last, but not least….
- If you would rather spend a day with Leo Babauta instead of Oprah Winfrey, you might be a minimalist.
Maybe you agree with some of these statements or think some are silly. With all of the misconceptions about minimalism, it can be confusing to see how it might apply to your life. You might be a minimalist, or maybe you’re just happier living with less. Then again, what’s the difference?
I personally can say that 21 of 25 from the list I would put a check mark by. And years on the road have helped but also some of those 21 have kept me on the road longer than most.
Why would this help you as an adventure rider? Here are those four questions I asked at the start, but now they are numbered. If you answer YES to any or all of these you might be having a negative affect on your own adventure without really realizing it –
- Less is more – do you pack for every eventuality?
- Less is more – can you pick your bike up by yourself?
- Less is more – does the size of your motorcycle determine where you go?
- Less is more – do you like to fill up more than once a day?
Number 1. If you pack less, its is obvious you have spent less because you have less, therefore it means more money in your pocket, which means a longer adventure.
Number 2. That crazy dirt road you pass that looks interesting but on a big bike you might just have to tell yourself no. No, because if you are alone it’s an unknown and if you get in trouble who knows if or when someone would find you stranded with a dropped bike, or worse an injury because coming off your heavy bike has physically hurt you. If your bike goes into a ditch with handlebars down/ wheels up, are you stuck if you are solo? Can you drop your bike 10-15 times a day and pick it up, can you do that day after day…in sand/ mud/ bulldust/ pea gravel/ altitude etc. If the answer is no then are you really riding an adventure bike or just a bike that the manufacturer said was an adventure bike…did you just find out your were sold on advertising and maybe a sport tourer would have been just as good and probably cost you less?
Number 3. Big bikes are great but once you leave the first world countries you are shoving your wealth in people faces, you are less likely to be welcomed with open arms. You are more likely to be looked at like an alien, or a cash machine. Only the very, very best of riders can ride a big bike on a consistent basis offroad day after day. Adventure, I mean real adventure isn’t on a paved road is it?
Number 4. Fuel, I hear some riders filling up more than once a day, you’re not giving yourself chance to immerse in the cultures you have created this once in a lifetime chance to come to see (if that’s your goal) you are just riding. If you are filling up more than once a day then there is a very good chance you are riding mainly on pavement. Ride less distance, 200km a day is a lot – leave late, arrive early, travel slowly, spend less, which in turn means – more travel and adventure.
My conclusion which I actually realized months ago if not years ago, is after a year and a half back on a big loaded bike 265kg/ 585lbs I’m done with it, I am going smaller and lighter with both bike and luggage and going back to being a motorcycling minimalist and seek out more adventure and ride to more remote locations
The new set-up is coming in the next few weeks, stay tuned.