Going on holiday with your motorcycle is twice the fun, first of all you are on holidays, and second, you are on your motorcycle. What more would you want (well, maybe some nice weather)?
But traveling on your bike with your gear requires a few reflections before you set off. Here are a few hints & tips for those of you planning to use your motorcycle to go on vacation.
The first thing you really need to do is grab your instructions/owner manual to see what the authorized maximum weight is (if you have lost yours, check the web). These figures are always listed since they represent the weight that your bike can carry safely. Any weight above that and you will forfeit any warrantee claims. You might also want to check your insurance policy what happens if you do not stick to the manufacturer’s restrictions.
Then you will need to add your weight and your pillion’s weight (if you have a pillion), plus any baggage weight. You will then know whether you are safe or not.
In practice, most bikers overload their motorcycles and still ride it safely. But you never know what bad effects it will have on your bike’s health.
Saddlebags, Panniers & topcases
If you have special saddlebags, panniers or topcases, you might want to check their maximum weight restrictions as well. These storage compartments often are limited in weight, and usually it is not for the storage compartment itself but for the compartment’s attachment points (luggage racks).
Suspension & Tires
Again, consult your manual. Each motorcycle has its own setup for heavy loads. You will need to set up your suspension accordingly, making it firmer. The last thing you want is to reach the outer limits of your suspension when taking a curve.
Your tires will need to be inflated to the right pressure. If not you risk bursting your tires while riding.
Ride (More) Safely
Riding with a heavy load on your motorcycle requires a bit more thought and patience to the actual riding itself:
For example, hitting the brakes while riding two-up and with all your luggage will mean that it is going to take longer to come to a full stop. If you require to brake several times, your brake pads will start suffering as well, and will need to be cooled down.
Your brakes need to slow down a lot of weight now. Remember that.
The handling of your motorcycle is going to be different. The Center of Gravity (CoG) will have shifted with all the weight, so you will need to take that into account when riding, especially in the tight curves.
The first few miles get to “feel” the bike’s handling.
Your bike will be more wind sensitive. There is more surface for the wind to push, so you will need to pay attention to that. The same applies to passing (or being passed) by trucks, on both directions (in other words watch out of oncoming trucks as well).
Once your bike starts moving because if the wind, it is going to take longer to get it back to the correct path.
When coming to a full stop, remember that you have a lot of extra weight. This might cause your motorcycle to tumble over.
Also watch out when you put the side stand or even central stand out. Your bike is now a lot heavier and can easily dig in, causing your bike to fall over.
An obvious one that often gets forgotten. When you are in the holiday spirit, riding your heavily loaded motorcycle to your final destination, you stop over for lunch somewhere. Many bikers just leave their bikes parked with all their gear on it. When they come back, they are surprised that all their luggage is gone.
If you need to leave your bike, make sure you can keep an eye on it at all times. It is very easy to take something of your motorcycle.
Now, go out and enjoy your holiday.