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How to prepare your motorcycle for a desert tour

The key decision when it comes to embarking on a motorcycle tour through the desert is undoubtedly the type of motorcycle to use: the classic maxi enduro handles most circumstances well, including trails in many deserts, but if your plans are particularly ambitious — perhaps involving a few days deep in the Sahara — heavy twin cylinders should make way for lightweight, specialist enduro bikes (a four-and-a-half is a good choice).
Another must-have: adventures in the desert require a motorcycle with “knobby” tyres.
Even if you plan on taking things fairly easy, your motorcycle must still be fully fitted out so you can count on it even under duress. Never set out without having a complete check-up carried out on your motorcycle by a trusted mechanic: engine, chassis, electric system, tyres (if you don’t know which to go for, opt for mid/hard models), chain (must be degreased and have O-rings; you can’t go wrong if you opt for rally), fluids, brake pads, and a thoroughly cleaned air filter.

Get ready to enter the GIVI world, designed for travellers with an attitude for Adventure.

Equipment, accessories, clothing How to prepare for a motorcycle tour in the desert

These tips on equipment are mainly aimed at those setting out into the desert in the saddle of their own motorcycles. For example, a small group of friends, all motorcycle enthusiasts and owners of maxi-enduros, getting organised for their first outing on sandy trails (Morocco link to the journey, Tunisia, Algeria). But even those relying entirely on the tried and tested logistics of a specialist operator, or setting out from home with a 250 or 450 enduro, might also find inspiration here on the equipment they’ll find necessary for a motorcycle tour through the desert.

Protecting your motorcycle

To limit, as much as possible, the damage that falls or blows could cause your engine or other sensitive motorcycle components, it is particularly important to protect its mechanical parts.

Most importantly of all, don’t forget to pick out your engine guard; high, low or both, GIVI has specific engine guards for different motorcycle models.
Also crucial is protection for the oil sump, available from GIVI for many of the maxi-enduro bikes currently on the market.
Protections for the radiator, engine head, chain and frames are also important accessories to avoid significant damage to the vehicle, particularly in desert zones far from populated areas.

Considering that the desert can sometimes be “stony”, it’s also not a bad idea to protect the front headlight with a metallic grid. This accessory can easily be found on the market, but many prefer to fashion their own.

Bags and cases

When it comes to luggage, the equipment you’ll need for your journey can take many forms. If you’re embarking on a motorcycle journey through the desert in the saddle of a maxi-enduro, it’s best to opt for a mix of aluminium side cases combined with a soft rear bag, preferably waterproof. Alternatively, you might consider mounting a large-capacity rear top case in aluminium or plastic, bearing in mind that it’s always best to keep your centre of gravity low in order to avoid excessive unbalancing, while climbing dunes for example.
If you intend to keep your photographic equipment inside the rear top case, you might choose a more compact model instead: the most important thing is to have an interior lining, in order to avoid damage to the contents.

When it comes to luggage sets for small- and mid-capacity enduro motorcycles, the best choice is to opt for water-resistant soft bags, preferably modular. In this case, the advice from GIVI is to bet on super high-tech models specifically designed for the world of adventure to meet the needs of Off-Roaders. One concrete example is that of the waterproof bags for enduro motorcycles from the CANYON line, which can be configured together to adapt to various transport needs.

Alternatively, for mid-capacity enduro motorcycles, you might want to go for hard cases: these are heavier than the soft bags, but safer in the event you plan on crossing areas considered dangerous due to the risk of theft, or if you’re transporting delicate photographic equipment. In the latter case, we recommend fitting out the motorcycle with a trio of hard cases, preferably from the TREKKER (plastic) or TREKKER OUTBACK and OUTBACK EVO (aluminium) families.
For all these product ranges, the modularity of the solutions proposed by GIVI allows the different needs of those preparing for a motorcycle trip through the desert to be satisfied. This is true for any type of motorcycle used, whether mid- or maxi-capacity, to tackle the desert on two wheels either alone or in pairs.

Useful accessories

Another important aspect, worth careful consideration, is which accessories will be useful for those travelling by motorcycle. The list is infinite and your choices will depend on your personal needs and the route you’ve chosen to tackle.
To improve riding comfort, it’s essential to choose aerodynamic protectors with care. This category includes larger windscreens and fairings, to be selected based on your needs and model of motorcycle (GIVI makes specific fairings for many models of motorcycle on the market). Moreover, the additional adjustable spoiler is also extremely useful.

It’s also always worth considering your choice of hand guards, sturdy plastic extensions which attach to the hand guards present as standard on certain tourers/adventure bikes. Visibility after dark can be boosted thanks to a pair of additional LED lights, which can be mounted easily on the engine guard, and it’s good practice to invest in covers to protect the air filter against sand during desert journeys. Two more kits you can’t do without when embarking on a motorcycle adventure are the first-aid kit (to be padded out with personal or generic medications) and the Tubeless Tyres repair kit (naturally, for if you’re using tyres with no air chambers). These are both compact and easy to fit in your luggage.

As for tools? You’ll easily find customised sets on the market, which can be carried in a Tool box, preferably secured with a lock and suitable for mounting between the side-case holder and frame of the motorcycle, to optimise the vehicle’s equipment set-up. Other useful accessories you might need for a motorcycle journey include adjustable straps, which can be used to secure bags or other items, or alternatively an elasticated net.
If the journey will involve camping overnight by the side of the road, you’ll need a special set consisting of a tent suitable for motorcycles (you’ll find more information on the topic here), a compact sleeping bag, inflatable mat and pillow, cooker and crockery. And don’t forget an LED lamp: occupying little space, it will be indispensable if you plan on sleeping in a tent.

Navigation and communications are vitally important. To manage a  motorcycle journey through desert zones, you’ll need both a satellite navigator and a smartphone. A GPS, possibly a Garmin device like the GPSMAP 60CSx, will keep you reliably informed of your position as well as other information like  data on your route, distances, times and direction. Meanwhile, a smartphone will allow you to take photographs and videos, record voice  notes, make calls and use the web. You’ll need stands to hold both  these devices on your motorcycle, preferably attaching to the handlebar region. There is an entire collection of such accessories with many  different characteristics, so the choice is yours depending on the  journey you're making.

To  get off to a good start, make sure to bring a HUB kit with you with  ports for multiple devices, a Power Bank and a motorcycle intercom (if  you're travelling in a group with other motorcyclists). Our final  point is about water, which you’ll never have enough of in the desert.  Make sure you have enough with you to meet your daily requirements. Your  first choice for carrying it should be the Hydrapak rucksack, along  with a jerry can and thermal flask which can be attached to the  aluminium cases using special optional accessories (if your motorcycle  has OUTBACK, DOLOMITI or ALASKA cases).


Packing your bags for a motorcycle tour through the desert also affects how you store your clothing: our advice is to keep your personal clothes separate from your technical riding gear, and to have “ready-to-use” spaces where you can keep the items and accessories you’ll need throughout the day. The following are the accessories you can’t do without:

-A perforated tech suit with removable thermal interior.
-Tech undergarments.
-Approved back guard.
-Enduro boots: don’t leave these behind. Remember that this type of journey will often see you riding while standing on the pedals.
-Gloves with protection. Fabrics suitable for the mid-season.
-Enduro/cross helmet + goggles that protect well against dust, with dark lenses. Only go for a flip-up model with a peak and visor if your trip is going to be on the “soft" side.
-Don’t forget your rainproof suit. There’s always the journey to the desert to think of...
-There’s a considerable difference between daytime and night-time temperatures: bring an ordinary jacket and tracksuit.
-You’ll also be glad for sneakers to wear instead of your boots when you spend a few hours out of the saddle.
-A neck warmer and scarf will take up little space and may turn out to be useful.
-A backpack is an indispensable accessory, and better again if it’s waterproof.

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