I recently heard about a motorcycle going down because a shirt in a saddlebag came loose and got tangled in the rear wheel. It caused a fatal accident. This really got me thinking about how I pack my motorcycle and making sure everything is tied down and safely secured. Here are some tips from Motorcycle Cruiser magazine on how to safely pack your motorcycle before a ride.
1. Keep it even
This is common sense, but make sure you’re distributing the weight evenly on both sides. A lot of us have the habit of using the left saddlebag more since that’s the side most people mount and dismount from. By putting some items in the right saddle bag as well, the bike will behave better and you’re less likely to have a lid pop open from being overstuffed.
2. Position luggage properly
Make sure your saddlebags, tank bags, and other luggage don’t make it harder to get on or off the bike, or to plant your feet firmly at stops. Also, expandable tank bags are great until you fill them with so much stuff they block your view of the instruments. The same goes for expandable saddlebags, which, when heavily loaded, can droop enough to scrape in corners, or touch the exhaust or chain.
3. Secure all items inside luggage
If you can, pack everything inside a mounted bag. And while you’re at it, put bag liners in your saddlebags. This will help you stay organized and prevent any loose items from flying out of your bag if a closure comes loose or breaks while riding. Plus, when you get where you’re going, you can just pull the inner bag liner out and use it like a suitcase.
4. Use extra straps
An extra bit of security is worth the small inconvenience. If you’re carrying things outside of mounted bags, tie it down tight. This goes for throw-over saddlebags too because they can slide around. For extra security, run the bungee through the handle or other loop on a bag you are tying down. You will want the extra retention if the other cord(s) holding the bag down go AWOL. Bungee nets are also extremely versatile and offer excellent security.
5. Observe load limits
Your owner's manual and the VIN plate both list GVWR (gross vehicle weight rating), the maximum total weight of bike, fluids, riders and luggage that the manufacturer recommends. Will your bike self-destruct if you overload it? No. But braking distances will increase, handling will become awkward, suspension and wheels will be overworked and may wear, and tires will get hot, which at the least means greater wear and at the worst could cause a blowout.
6. Consider saddlebag guards or brackets
Wind pressure, forces applied by the rider or passenger, or shifting during the ride can move bags against or into the wheel. The latter can be disastrous. Almost every cruiser on the market can be fitted with accessory bag guards or brackets. It’s cheap, thin tubing that drops down below the rear fender to keep the bags from swinging into the tire. These also provide additional mounting points to help anchor your bags. They’ll make your bags look better too because they will hang straight and level. Unless your bags ride really high, these brackets are a good investment.
Take your motorcycle packing seriously. Think about how you're positioning and securing everything you’re carrying on the bike. The best way to have a good ride is to think about motorcycle safety before, during, and after every single ride. Unfortunately, even the safest rider can have a motorcycle accident. If you or a loved one has been involved in an accident, contact Karney Law Firm, a North Carolina motorcycle accident attorney - 704-376-7982 or toll-free 877-376-7982.