Motorcycles, Travel & Adventure


Motorcycle TourMagazine

About Whatchathinkin'

Backroads’ fairer half, Shira Kamil, has an interesting perspective on the day-to-day things riders run into which is both extremely well written and informative. She adds a new polish to the editorial team here at Backroads.

Name: Shira Kamil

Current Rides: Honda 919, Suzuki V-Strom 650

Favorite quote:

Time flies. It’s up to you to be the navigator. ~ Robert Orben

I CAN'T live without…

WhatchathinkinWith the passage of winter, which – honestly – was not all that bad, we are heading into the riding and touring season. Yes, I know, there are those of you who are diehard riders, heading out in all but the most treacherous of days, along with the Polar Bear crowd. I did get out a few times during these winter months – granted they were anomalies of 50-degree days – and they got me past my Parked Bike Syndrome.

But I ache for the long road trip. Like most of you, I’ve spent these short days and long nights planning, as Dr. Seuss said, ‘Oh, the places you’ll go.’ There are rallies, states, countries and destinations that fill the list. I’ll see how many get ticked off this year.

What also happens this time of year is the Spring Cleaning and Restocking. My tank bag is pretty well kitted but, over a good riding season, things get used up, misplaced or go bad. Currently mounted on my tank is the Mosko Moto Nomad with a gazillion partitions, pockets and zippered compartments to organize the myriad of essentials for my trips, long or short. In addition to this space I have my Givi Trekker Dolomiti top case with separate inner liners, one that holds my heated gear and extra gloves and the other, also compartmentalized, with an assortment of stuff (medical kit, Stop N Go and battery backup, to name a few).

All this, while very wanted and some hopefully never needed, falls outside of the 'I can't live without' category. I'm sure everyone has their own must-haves on this short list, but I'm the one doing the writing, so you'll get to read mine. I'd be thrilled to know what sits on your list - email:

Extraordinary Lip Balm

Next to my glove fetish, lip balm runs a very close second. Brian swears by Blistex, and I agree, it is very good, but I need to reapply that too frequently for it to be useful on the motorcycle. What I’m looking for is one that comes in a self-applying, probably twist tube, that is smooth and not only soaks into my lips but stays moist for more than an hour. It also needs to be UV, not melt in 100 degrees when left in the tank bag or freeze if I forget it in the garage during the winter. Currently my go-to is Palmer’ Cocoa Butter stick for quick application and Aquaphor for the longer stops when I can use a finger.

Eyeglass Cleaner

I used to wear my contact lenses while riding but, as I've gotten older, my eyes no longer accept the wind in my face while there are lenses in my eyes. I like riding with my face shield up so my glasses get a workout with the elements. Some years back, Mark Byers mentioned Walmart's Shield lens cleaner and I've been using it ever since. It's inexpensive, does a great job and comes in small travel sizes that work perfectly in the tank bag. More recently I discovered Peeps All-in-One Cleaners. This little gem is a dry, self-contained cleaner that will make your glasses spotless in day-to-day wear. Of course, if you have gotten some icky mess (mud, sleet, driving rain, etc.) on them, take out the Walmart cleaner first.

Baseball cap

Here's another item that can easily become a large collection over the years. I have MANY Mets caps, almost as many Backroads and lots from our travels around the world. But there is only a handful that have been shaped and fitted to be just right for doffing once the helmet comes off. My current two favs are my Gifford's ice cream and D-Day from Normandy caps, although my newest Backroads distressed cap is going to start its trips this season. We'll see how it breaks in and if it makes the cut.

Hard candy or mints

While I almost always have my CamelBak or some sort of hydration system with me, I find I get very easily parched while riding. If I pop a hard candy or mint in before taking off, I can extend my stops for quite a while. While I try to keep my sugar intake to a bare minimum (no, I really don’t eat as much ice cream as all of you think) I am a sucker for Werther’s (no pun intended) and try to always keep a tin of Altoids on board.

HEDz adaptable headwear

This little piece of tubular material can make all the difference in the world – or at least a 10-degree difference. I must have at least half a dozen with me at a time, either stuffed in my pocket, my tank bag or my top case. It will keep the sun and dirt off your neck and face on a hot day or the wind and cold when the temperatures plummet. We have many versions with different Backroads logos and I've collected a good amount from the different companies with which we've toured. They also can be used to clean your glasses (see previous entry) or wrap a fragile souvenir from a road trip.

That’s my short list of ‘can’t live withouts’. Now I’m off to the garage to do that inventory and restocking. I’ll see you on the road!