When the weather is decent (read: above 50 and not too much rain in the forecast) I’ll often ride a motorcycle to work. My bike of choice for such festivities is a KLR 650 outfitted with various performance / protection upgrades and options for storage in the form of tank, rear rack and side luggage. The KLR is classified as a Dual Sport motorcycle which means although it does nothing extremely well it’s a home on the pavement or dirt. Think of it as the pickup truck of motorcycles and if T-SHTF, it or a similar bike could be an indispensable tool used to enhance survival.
Earlier this week I had to travel on the freeway to see a client, although I do attempt to take backroads when on a motorcycle sometimes the freeway is inevitable. I was cruising along at 70mph and started to see brake lights, not long after 4 lanes of traffic came to a complete stop. Lane-splitting is technically illegal where I live but if you think I’m going to sit there and cook in 90 degree heat, you’ve got another thing coming. I made my way to the shoulder and chugged along slowly for a couple hundred yards and then saw my way out. The shoulder dipped and there was a grass drainage area which ran down, gravel in the middle and more grass on a long incline back up to another road which ran parallel to the highway. Total length was around 100 yards and because of the slope, even a 4WD might have an issue with it (considering the grass was a bit sloppy in the middle). But….not an issue for the Dual Sport! I rolled on the throttle, stood up on the pegs and let the knobby tires do the work as I left gridlocked traffic in my wake and shot through the grass, up the hill and onto a side street. Freedom!
The whole experience got me thinking about SHTF and the usefulness of a motorcycle in situations like what I faced. Not a Harley, streetbike or some other road bike which are only useful on the asphalt. Dirtbikes are cool but are similarly sort of one trick ponies. Great in the dirt but what if you have to haul a passenger, gear or roll for hundreds of miles? The Dual Sport is the best of both worlds in that it allows one to do street duty and if necessary get in the dirt to get to a desired destination.
In my opinion the best SHTF motorycle should have many of the Dual Sport traits:
– Be relatively inexpensive. A used KLR can be had for around $3k, new their MSRP is around $6k.
– Street and dirt use.
– Be able to carry a passenger AND gear.
– Extended range, 200+ miles at a minimum.
– Be easy to work on, the KLR has one cylinder and has a carb.
– Readily available parts, boutique motorcycles need not apply.
You might be wondering what you would use a motorcycle for if T-SHTF, and without hesitation I can tell you there are many uses which involve tasks a vehicle would have a tough time completing.
– Evasion. Try chasing me down in your 4×4 with 400 hp, and I’ll cut through a field and into the woodline. Bye sucker.
– Scouting. Quick in and out into areas considered impassible by other vehicles.
– Supply runs. While a motorcycle cannot carry loads of gear it could be used for essential supplies (extra ammo, medical supplies, barter items). The low fuel usage and ability to navigate restricted terrain make it invaluable.
The Bottom Line
If you don’t know how to ride a motorcycle (eee gads man!) you probably don’t own one which means this entire article does not apply. However the motorcycle should not be discounted as a valuable SHTF resource, especially those of the Dual Sport variety. A Harley / Streetbike / Touring rig might as well be an expensive boat anchor if SHTF, whereas a cheap Dual Sport could potentially be a lifesaver. Just something to ponder!