How to Pack Luggage on your Motorcycle

Riding a motorcycle give you the freedom of the road. The sights, the sounds, the smells... they're all more intense through motorcycling. The sun seems brighter, the air cleaner, the first beer at the end of the day simply tastes better if you've got there by motorcycle. Throwing some gear and a friend on the back and heading off to points unknown is one of the truly great pleasures in life. Sleeping back or tent, a coffee pot and a friend are all it takes to have the best holiday life can offer, with a few preparations....

It doesn't really matter if you travel with a toothbrush and a credit card or with a complete survival camping set, it's how you carry what you carry that's important. And where.

Motorcycle manufacturers go to a great deal of trouble to make their motorcycles handle acceptably well, only for us to then ignore tire pressures and maintenance and then stack on a couple of 100 kg of rider, passenger and luggage and wonder why every thing's a little more wobbly than we'd like. Therefore we made a little plan to avoid the problems.

Trying to Pack Less

Every kilo of extra stuff is a burden you and the motorcycle have to bear. The motorcycle bears it in term of performance, fuel economy and handling. You bear it every time you stop and have to hold the motorcycle up or push it around. Less really is more.

Try to Pack your Motorcycle Light and Low

These days, there are any number of lightweight alternatives to the old heavy stuff we used to have to lug around. Check out camping or hiking stores for lightweight tents or sleeping bags and the like. If it's designed and built for someone to carry, chances are it'll work for you as biker also.

The lower the heavy stuff is carried, the less you'll upset your center of gravity on the road. Carry heavier stuff lower down on the motorcycle, and leave the tops of the bags for lighter stuff. It'll make a big difference, especially at fuel stops when you're much more likely to feel the top-heaviness if it's there.

Try to Pack Between the Axles

This might sound obvious, but any weight carried either behind the rear axle or in front of the front axle will screw with your handling. In fact, the ideal place to carry luggage is where the motorcycle is best designed to carry the weight: the rider's seat or the fuel tank. Both carry weights that vary from time to time and neither upsets the motorcycle too much. While you can't carry much gear in these locations, keeping the mass as close to them as possible will help a lot.

For instance, don't be tempted to hand a tool roll or bag over the front guard. Not only does it upset the balance and steering, the consequences of it dropping on the front wheel are too horrible to contemplate.

Similarly, if you have a seat bag/rack set up, when you're riding solo, turn the bag around so it sits on the pillion seat. You'll notice the difference immediately.
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