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Bugging Out On A Motorcycle

Avatar for Chris Thompson Chris Thompson  |  Updated: December 17, 2019
Bugging Out On A Motorcycle

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Many preppers keep dedicated bug-out vehicles in the form of trucks and SUVs with equipment and supplies. If you’ve got a family that you need to look out for, this is the only way to go. However, if you have the luxury of traveling solo, a bug-out motorcycle could be a better option.

While you can’t carry the same volume of equipment on a bike, you’ll have a more nimble and fuel-efficient vehicle than you would with a car or truck. Here’s how to make the best use of the two-wheeled platform.

Advantages of Choosing a Bike

Your options are far greater when you’re on a bike than in a car — the single biggest pro to using a motorcycle as your bug-out vehicle. We suggest using something like a trail bike with good fuel efficiency or some other fully-suspended motorcycle that can navigate off-pavement while leaving some room for storage. 

Some preppers use a car-and-bike arrangement to pull their bike behind their car. However, this method is generally acknowledged as unrealistic for many people because of costs and the added complexity. You’re more likely to see this in a movie than in a real-life scenario.

Keeping Your Bike Prepared

As with any bug-out vehicle, your bug-out bike should be ready to go at a moment’s notice. That means completing tasks like:

  • Performing regular maintenance on things like the bike’s suspension, motor, transmission, and brakes
  • Making sure your bike’s tires are new and not cracking and dry
  • Keeping a full tank of fuel in your bike at all times
  • Storing the bike somewhere safe

Ideally, your bike should spend its days in the safety of a secure garage. In a bug-out situation, a bike is a much easier vehicle to steal than a car. Leaving your ride outside exposes it to elements and could also potentially lead to you not having a bike when you really need one. Also, ensure you have a manual override on your garage door so that you’re not trapped in the event of a power outage, like what happened during recent California wildfires

Consider keeping a log of maintenance events for your bike. Stick to a pre-ordained schedule so that you know it’s always ready to go.

Add Storage

Most bikes suffer from a lack of storage — a critical weak point for a bug-out vehicle. You can use an aftermarket storage solution to add room for a few duffle bags and the basic supplies you’ll need when out on the road. 

Saddlebags are the obvious choice here for some additional equipment space. To add a larger storage area, consider using a frame-mounted rack system that allows you to comfortably carry enough camping equipment and supplies for a brief stint on your own. 

You’ll find even more ways to cram extra equipment onto your bike, although you should consider whether you’re compromising the bike’s maneuverability by piling on too much stuff. Make sure you’ve got a comfortable backpack with a water bladder to keep yourself well-hydrated, and consider tank- and tail-mounted storage, as well. 

Fill With Fuel

After you’ve piled on all that equipment, your bike won’t get factory-rated fuel-mileage. Since you can’t know when — or if — you’ll find more gas out on the road, you’ll want to increase your ride’s fuel capacity by installing a larger fuel tank or adding fuel containers.

Several companies make fuel canisters you can fill ahead of time and attach using a holster that fits your bike similarly to a saddlebag. Of course, you can also carry these canisters in your tank pack or tailback.

Never wear any extra fuel on your person. In the event of a crash, having highly-flammable fuel strapped directly to you is too great a risk. Instead, it’s time to think about removing some other items from your pack or mounting storage to your bike in a new way. 

Prepare Your Kit

You’ll need to think ahead about which riding outfit you want to don if you need to make a quick departure. Use durable clothes that provide protection and storage, and load them out with the things you’ll need ahead of time as much as possible. Have a helmet and gloves ready as well — after all, safety still matters WTSHTF.

Your jacket and pants should already have copies of any medical records you’ll need to take with you, as well as special prescription medicine.

A small first-aid kit can accompany you on your bike’s storage. Include some form of energy as well, such as a bar or energy gels that will keep you going while you’re on the bike. You can pack additional nutrition in your storage containers in whatever form offers the best combination of compact and nutritious.

With the basics out of the way, it’s time to think about tech. On a bike, you’ll have to cram to get all of the equipment you’d normally fit in a car — though it is doable. Have a CB or HAM radio, if possible, as well as a powerful flashlight and a GPS system that doesn’t rely on your cell phone. Emergency flares and a reflective mirror are a good idea, as well. 

Finally, prepare to carry a water filter.

While it might seem like a big item, dying of thirst is not a fate anyone wants to experience. You’ll find some convenient compact models on the market.

Check out our water filter guide for some options.

Practice Your Skills

Choosing a bike to bug-out on is only a good call if you’re used to riding motorcycles frequently. That’s why you’ll want to take the bike out with at least a partial load on it to sense how it will handle. A bike behaves one way without all that extra weight and another when loaded down. 

Once you’re comfortable aboard your new bug-out bike, you’ll be ready to safely use it if you ever need to. Have a whole family that can ride? Maybe you need to stock up on bug-out bikes for everyone. They make great toys when you’re not evading the end of the world.

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3 Responses to “Bugging Out On A Motorcycle”

  1. With few exceptions “Bugging Out” solo is a bad idea… Bugging out on a motorcycle quickly becomes a very bad idea… Here is why.

    When riding a motorcycle or really any two wheeled vehicle a significant portion of one’s attention must be paid to the act of avoiding obstacles and staying upright a much greater percentage than in a 4 wheeled Vehicle over the same terrain..

    Even if one is not killed outright in a grid down scenario we already know even a seriously sprained ankle can mean your life’s journey has come to an end. There is no 911 call going to ensure you receive timely medical care. Realize that if you feel the need to be bugging out chances are you are not alone. So driving down a road riding a motorcycle relying on a bunch of freaked out people in 3000lb vehicles who could care less about you makes sense in what world? Hat tip to predators who see your nicely outfitted Bike and Ruck as having stuff they “forgot”.


    Now I am not saying there are not exceptions or scenarios where a motorcycle might not be of value.. just realize it is more likely you will end up like Steve McQueen laying on the ground as the German Troops in Trucks pull up.. only it will not be a move or video game, however it will be “End of Game” for you.

  2. good call, but fuel problems will be the same for a bike as a car, once the fuel stations are empty during SHTF what fuel you have is all you have.
    a smaller C.C. bike will have better fuel consumption than a larger road rocket. you can pick up a smaller bike if you drop it, with a larger bike you’ll need a block and tackle and still give yourself a hernia!!!

    • You’re right on the spot. And I speak from experience. I ride a nice Honda Shadow1100C 1994 and I know sooner or later, if I want to keep riding, I will need something lighter. Someday. If you’re going to ride lonely trails, loaded with your gear…I would suggest you wait for a day with adverse weather, and make a bug out drill on your bike. Middle sized 450cc or 500cc have plenty of power and are light enough for riders with some experience.

      And for those concerned about fuel supply…as a prepper, you should have a good cache in your compound, shouldn’t you? or some means to produce it. An internal combustion engine is able to digest plenty of fuels with the appropriate mods. Now that I think of it, that could be a great article…
      Stay tuned fellows!.

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