I have what I would consider three different Bug Out Vehicles (BOVs): a 4WD pickup, a 4WD SUV and a motorcycle. The bike of coarse could be placed in the back of the pickup and unloaded somewhere down the road as needed thus greatly extending the range of either individually. As far as BOVs are concerned there are many advantages to using a motorcycle. One is good fuel mileage. Another is the ability to go around snarled traffic and other obstacles. Disadvantages are lack of carrying capacity and the personal protection of being in a big heavy vehicle.
As far as what motorcycle you would use, I would recommend one of the types know as Dual Purpose. These bike types have the ability to go both on and off road. I’d start with at least a 650cc for a single rider and I use a 1200cc because I ride two with my wife. The bigger bike isn’t as easy to ride in the hard stuff but it can carry a heavier load. Just don’t get a bike so heavy that you can’t pick up when it falls over, because it will at some point. If the bike doesn’t come with one buy and install one of the large capacity aftermarket fuel tanks. The bike I have has a range of about 350 miles on one tank of fuel. It would be very wise to get a bike with a quiet muffler. No need in letting everyone know where you are.
I personally ride with all the protective gear, helmet, gloves, pants and boots. Select these items with your intended purpose. All of mine are waterproof which I consider a big plus if you get stranded. Note that through experience not all items advertised as water proof actually meet those criteria. I use military issue waterproof, steel toed boots instead of regular motorcycle type boots for when you have to abandon the bike and take to foot. My jacket and pants have lots of waterproof pockets. In those pockets I always carry a folding knife, multi-utility tool, survival butane lighter, paper matches, LED flash light, some toilet paper in a zip lock, cash and copies of all pertinent paperwork. In addition, a password protected jump drive with lots of personal information, phone numbers, policy numbers, bank info, some photos, passport and birth certificate copies and land titles. A Fisher Space Pen is another item that has proven invaluable to me. It will write upside down, in freezing cold, in zero gravity and under water. In the US where allowed I carry my pistol and a small quantity of ammo. (I intentionally try to avoid traveling in states that don’t allow concealed carry. No use in giving them any of my business). I carry two wallets. My real one and one filled with a few dollars and some of those sample credit cards you get in the mail. The fake one is a give away in case someone is demanding my wallet.
I always carry a good road atlas as well as some of the DeLorme Atlas of the areas I’m traveling in. Another item I use regularly is a GPS. In case of a G.O.O.D. situation it is recommended to have several escape routes planned. This is where hopefully the GPS satellites are still functioning. The GPS I have is made for motorcycles and is waterproof and vibration resistant. In addition the model I have allows you to plot detailed routes in advance on your computer and then down load them into the unit. Each route can be displayed in a different color. In addition I have loaded a complete set of topographic maps in addition to the regular road maps. Since having the Dual Purpose bike, this allows you to plot routes through some very remote areas on trails that won’t show up on normal road maps. Of course you have these marked on your paper maps as well. I’ve found these work well in the US but in Mexico, South America and Africa, maps both paper and GPS are sketchy at best unless you are on a main highway.
One of my main Bug Out Route concerns is bridges (river crossings). These are easy choke points and a huge issue of safety. Last year flooding of the Missouri River between Omaha and Kansas City forced the closing of a few bridges causing one to drive many miles out of the way to get across the Mighty Missouri. Think what it will be like if the New Madrid fault knocks out bridges along the Mississippi or an earthquake takes out bridges on the west coast. In Patriots the characters ran into trouble at a check point on the road. I see this as a real concern. Having the Dual Purpose bike with knobby tires can hopefully safely get you around these types of points. In many other countries I’ve traveled in, check points with armed guards are common place. Only a couple of times did they try and shake us down for some cash. This type of a situation is where having the fake wallet with just a couple of bucks in it comes in handy.
When my wife and I travel on the bike we carry all our gear on the bike. I consider this good training for a G.O.O.D scenario. We trade off on camping and staying in hotels depending on where we are. You quickly learn what is important and what is not as storage space is very limited. We make use of saddle bags (panniers) and a dry bag. In one pannier I carry tools and spare parts. These need to be chosen based on your bike and your abilities. One of my friends asked me what I thought was the most important tool to carry and I told him a pair of Vise Grips. He asked why not a wine bottle opener and I replied that with the Vise Grips I could make a wine bottle opener. An LED headlamp with extra batteries is a very important item. I like the ones that have high and low settings. Some times you need just a little light and on high they seriously impair your night vision. On my first trip with my new LED head light, I pulled it out to begin setting up camp only to find it was completely dead. I didn’t have spare batteries because I knew the new batteries would last for way more hours than I needed for several trips. Well that was before the on/off push button accidentally got pressed in my pack. Now I have spare batteries and remove one of them from the light before I pack it. I also carry a small cheap (in case it gets confiscated) machete. This is a common tool all over the world and I’ve not had it questioned at any checkpoints.
Other supplies I’ll say are very important are duct tape, silicone rescue tape, bailing wire, Quicksteel epoxy putty, Loctite 248 (this is like a chap stick and won’t leak), an assortment of bolts and nuts, rope, zip ties and tire repair items. On a recent out of country trip the Quicksteel was used to repair a hole in a radiator, a broken turn signal and a broken lever mount.
Along with the basic tools including wrenches, screwdrivers, etc, I carry a small triangle file which can be used to repair damaged bolt threads as well as other uses. Another handy item is a Stanley 15-333 8-Inch Folding Pocket Saw. This saw is like a big folding knife that uses reciprocating saw blades. It will store a couple of extra blades in the handle. I carry a wood cutting blade, a metal cutting blade, and a carbide grit blade that can be used to cut hardened steel like a padlock. We once used these to manufacture a needed part in a remote area in South America. One more item, although I’ve never needed to use it, is a few 3/32” E-6010 welding rods. These can be used with three 12 volt car batteries and some jumper cables to make an emergency field repair.
I haven’t had hardly any issues with flat tires in car or bike in the US in years. After saying that, I was assigned to do some volunteer work in a Midwest City that was partially destroyed by a tornado. One of the things that became readily apparent was there were lots of flat tires and more than one tire per car. In a TEOTWAWKI situation I would suspect flat tires to be a huge issue and highly likely. Having a hand pump or compressor and tire repair tools and supplies will be most important. On the bike I carry a small 12 VDC compressor, tire plugs, patches, spare tubes and tire irons just in case my tubeless tires can’t be repaired with a plug.
Traveling in remote areas in foreign countries is a real eye opener and good practice for when things are not so good here. One of my first remote bike trips was in Baja back in the 1980’s. When we arrived in a small town there was a line at the gas station. People had been there for 3 days waiting for the arrival of the next gas supply truck. In South America one gas station was so remote they had to start a small generator to make electricity to operate the gas pumps while another station was just a rack with 2 liter pop bottles filled with gas. Traveling in these remote parts of the world you don’t pass up keeping your tank full because there may not be any fuel down the road, something that may happen here way too soon. We had just left Santiago, Chile four days before the big quake in 2010. Talk about being lucky and being glad I keep the survival items with me. Here’s another tip, never fill up your vehicle if there is a fuel tanker at the station unloading fuel into the stations tanks. This stirs up any crud that may be in the stations tank and you will pump it into your vehicles tank.
We have it too easy here in the US, or at least until TSHTF. Here in the US we think getting patted down at the airport is a big infringement of our rights. In a grocery store in Namibia all customers were patted down before leaving the store and there was a military guard with machine gun at the entrance. At several other locations, stores had little to sell and shelves were basically empty. Leaving one town the next morning after a rain storm had all the ditches along the road filled with people bathing, washing clothes and filling their buckets from the puddles of rain water. These are some of the things that are commonplace in many parts of the world but not yet here. I know I’m preaching to the choir, but get and store the items you want while they are still available as they are luxury items in many places and in the future they may be scarce here also. In Zambia I paid about 32,000 of their dollars ("Kwacha") for two beers. The point being that cash, even the US dollar, may not be worth much in the future.
Traveling on normal roads in the US isn’t that hard on a vehicle, but in a TEOTWAWKI situation, off road or remote travel will introduce a lot of vibration. This is hard on the vehicle, passengers and supplies. Your vehicle whether a car, truck or motorcycle needs to be prepped. It’s amazing how many things will shake loose. I use Loctite on all the nuts a bolts. I recommend Loctite 290, which is medium strength wicking formula that you can apply to already fastened bolts thus negating the need to undo every fastener. Other things you don’t think of, are things like pills. They will turn to dust if not properly packed and some medicines can be deadly if taken as a powder instead of a slowly absorbed pill. I’ve had holes rubbed through packed clothes that touched the inside walls of the panniers. I’ve also learned to pour my water into recycled soda bottles. The thinner walled water bottles don’t hold up well under vibration and even the heavier duty soda bottles need to be carefully packed.
I carry a pretty complete first aid kit that I packed into a foam lined camera case. I won’t go into the contents as there are many good lists available. Because I’ve traveled in remote areas in several foreign countries I’ve had special shots and pills required for things like typhoid, hepatitis, tetanus and yellow fever. If one studies the aftermath of areas where disasters have occurred and the diseases that become issues I’d recommend getting those shots now. My doctor is aware of the type of travel I do so he has prescribed other medicines for “just in case”. I just plainly asked him what he would take with him if he was going where I was going. A couple of different antibiotics and some pain medications supplement the other over the counter medicines I normally pack. One really important medicine is an anti-diarrheal.
Because bulk and weight are precious commodities on a motorcycle during normal travel, just a jar of peanut butter and crackers are used to supplement daily food stops. In a SHTF situation I have another dry bag packed with a pack stove, mess kit, food items and additional water as well as a Katadyn water filter. I carry the typical backpacking camping equipment for setting up camp. A Gerber pack axe for its size and weight it is pretty useful tool as well as an additional defensive weapon. Some OD green heavy thread and some booby trap string poppers make a good perimeter guard and can be attached to items that might walk away. They won’t hurt any one and the loud report will probably scare away all but the most determined.
While a motorcycle isn’t the ideal BOV for everyone, it has some advantages and I consider it another backup to the back up. Ideally in a group evacuation a motorcycle could be very useful as a scout vehicle and in less than total collapse situations they allow quick fuel efficient travel. My final tip for when TSHTF is to remember to pack a roll of toilet paper.
JWR's Comments: It cannot be overemphasized that choosing a motorcycle as your bug out vehicle will necessitate storing nearly all of your gear and storage food at your retreat. While not for everyone, a dual sport motorcycle can add tremendous versatility to your mobility.