It’s important to know the proper method of loading your motorcycle and to plan a place for each item you will carry. Whether you’re taking a short trip to the corner store, or a long road trip, knowing your motorcycle’s loading capacity and the best way to pack is important. Storage on motorcycles is limited; some models more so than others. First, you should evaluate the storage capacity available on your bike, and determine if additional storage units may be beneficial to your needs. It’s paramount that you understand the GWR or gross weight rating, which can be found in your owner’s manual or by calling the manufacturer. Basically, the GWR is how much weight your bike can handle which includes the weight of the bike. For instance, if the GWR for your motorcycle is 1250 and the bike weighs 730, and you weigh 170, then you have 350 pounds of additional weight that can be safely added. This will include the weight of any accessories you add, any bags you add and the contents of the bags. You will also need to consider the weight rating of your tires, which are marked on the side of the tire, and make sure you fully inflate your tires, and adjust the suspension for the additional weight.
Because of the limited space, you should narrow down the items you will take on a long trip. The “must have” items such as minimal clothing, identification and money, cell phone, first aid kit and tool kit should be considered first. Next, determine the “would like to have” items such as your laptop, iPod, extra clothing and other extraneous items. It’s a good idea to practice packing the motorcycle. If loaded incorrectly, your ability to maneuver the motorcycle can be compromised. Put heavier items on the bottom of the saddlebags and evenly distribute the weight on each side. Put the lighter items and items you will use frequently near the top. Use windshield bags or a tank bag for small items that you want to have readily accessible. A sissy bar and two up seat make it easy to add a T-bag or other brand touring bag, and a tour pack can be added to most types of motorcycles. Hard tour packs and hard saddlebags are nice because they are almost virtually waterproof. On the other hand, T-bags and other soft sided touring bags might be weather resistant, but almost none are completely waterproof. Most come with rain flies that can be used to make them more water resistant, but it also makes it difficult to access the bags when covered with a rain fly. Bungee cords and helmet nets can be used to strap on additional items, but should only be used as a last resort since they can come loose, and cause a catastrophe if they hit you in the face or get caught up in your motor, chain, gears, wheels or other moving parts. Items that fly off the motorcycle can be dangerous to other motorists as well. You can also consider wearing a back pack for small items, but the added weight strapped to your back can cause you to tire more readily, so it is best used for shorter distance rides.
If attention is paid to loading the motorcycle properly, and GWR is not exceeded, you can safely carry everything you need for a long, enjoyable motorcycle trip, as well as use your motorcycle for short trips to work or to the shopping center for groceries, supplies and other necessities.