Road Rash: Expanding Gear

Dec 11, 2015 View Comments by

Over the years, I’ve noticed a pattern of occurrences that seem to defy the laws of physics. Several of these situations happen so consistently that I’m convinced they’re an absolute truth. The general rules regarding probability simply don’t apply to my motorcycling-related activities, and the following is a partial list of the most perplexing circumstances. Call them “Mauk’s Laws” or anything you’d like, but here are some of my favorites.

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1. Law of Luggage Capacity. Any luggage that you purchase will hold approximately 10 percent less than you want it to. This law is universal regardless of what size luggage you buy, and it is futile to attempt to circumvent the law by purchasing higher-capacity saddlebags, tankbags, etc. The list of items to be packed will automatically expand to fill the extra volume, leaving you in the same predicament but with a substantially lighter wallet. Another provision of this law states that there will always be at least one item you wish to pack that is approximately one inch too long to fit into the luggage.
2. Law of Luggage Expansion. In addition to not being able to take as much as you want, you will also find that what you do take will expand around 20 percent once it is removed from your luggage. There’s a simple solution to this problem: Fill your luggage to 80-percent capacity and theoretically you’ll be able to re-pack everything when you head home. Remember, however, that there won’t be any room for that souvenir T-shirt proclaiming that you saw the world’s largest prairie dog colony. But, there’s still a problem with the math here. You’ve probably squirreled away about a 10-percent excess of items you didn’t really have room for into various nooks and crannies, thinking no one would notice. When coupled with the additional 20-percent gear expansion figure, you’re now down a whopping 30 percent. You’ll need at least three cargo nets, plus additional room for them when you figure out that they won’t work, to fix this problem.
3. Law of Cargo Nets. Elastic cargo nets are commonly purchased for the intended purpose of securing the previously mentioned items to the bike that will not fit into the luggage. But, please be informed that the only time cargo nets seem to work well is in cargo net sales ads. I own two sizes of these industrial-strength hairnets and have yet to find a situation where they are capable of securing anything to a bike. The net is always too large or too small, and whatever bike I try to use it on, it never has adequate or properly located attachment points. They’re a great idea, but so was the Tucker automobile. Hint: Buy some screw hooks at the hardware store, install them in a cool, dark place in the basement so that the net will hang on them, and use it to store potatoes and onions. Better yet, wrap it up and send it to a distant relative for Christmas with no explanation as to what it is.
4. Law of Misfit Toys. While on a tour, there is a 100 percent chance that you’ll need at least one of the two or three items trimmed from your packing list in order to allow the luggage to close. The item will generally be something you’ve never needed before such as the tube of miracle repair putty, still in the yellowing plastic blister pack that you’ve been toting around for 12 years.
5. Law of Weather Woes. At least one once-in-a-century severe weather event will occur during a tour, regardless of the tour location or season. If you’re heading to an area with an average annual rainfall of eight inches, it will rain a combined total of at least 24 inches during your four days in the region. The same holds true for temperatures, with the odds of the occurrence increasing in direct proportion to the amount of money spent on special gear and accessories, such as heated grips, to prepare for the tour. If you pack for 45-degree temperatures, you’ll encounter 90-degree conditions, and vice versa.
6. Law of Tread Life. Any tire that you purchase will have a tread life around one-third of the mileage mentioned in the reviews. I commonly read “customer reviews” stating outrageous claims such as, “Great tires … 15,000 miles and at least a couple of cross-country tours left in them!” This snake oil sales pitch is especially true of adventure bike tires, and 3,500 to 5,000 miles per back tire is pretty much the norm for me. Perhaps I shouldn’t make them spin so much.
I truly hope that at least a couple of these struck a chord with you because I doubt that I’m completely alone in some twisted little corner of the universe. And, what can be done if a couple of Mauk’s Laws hit a little too close to home? Absolutely nothing. Simply toss the above list in with more established, scientifically-accepted phenomena such as gravity. Deal with it and RIDE!


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