Traveling by motorcycle is an experience like no other. The sight of bikers effortlessly passing by rows of traffic make them a form of "freedom on wheels." But this experience of riding the winds can be challenging if your ride is overburdened with luggage, and this is especially tricky when traveling with another person.
For one thing, you have to make sure not to exceed the permissible total weight of the bike.
Figuring out what that is can be hard to work out. For one, the unladen weight of the bike indicated in vehicle papers is often not sufficient for determining the cargo load. According to Europe's biggest car club, Germany's ADAC, official values are only an approximation of the actual weight of the vehicle.
The number you need to work out is not the official unladen mass, but the bike's real weight including a full tank and optional equipment, which you need to measure yourself.
Believe it or not, you can do this by just using a set of sturdy weighing scales. Move the motorcycle – without additional equipment but with a full tank – onto the scale, first the front wheel, then the rear wheel.
You can try putting a board next to the scales to make it easier to roll the wheel onto the scale. It may also help to have a second pair of hands to support the motorcycle.
The sum of the two measurements is the real base weight. The difference between the maximum permitted weight indicated in the papers and the determined base weight is the payload.
The permissible cargo load isn't as high with current models as you might think, and most bikes are in the range of 125 and 270 kilograms. This also includes one or two people in full gear.
When loading the motorcycle, make sure to put the heaviest items at the bottom and distribute an equal amount of weight in each side bag.
The weight should be placed as close as possible to the center of gravity of the motorcycle. Try to avoid shifting weight off the front wheel - that means keep heavy things in the tank bag, rather than in a top case at the rear.
If you're adjusting the rear wheel suspension, tire pressure or headlights, check the instruction manual for guidance.
Since the center of gravity shifts when carrying luggage, you may need to move your body more when changing your lean angle in curves. Remember that the motorcycle generally becomes more unwieldy and can lift off at the front when accelerating.
Acceleration and braking behavior can also change. It makes sense to get accustomed to a fully loaded machine by doing a few practice laps before setting off on your trip. By doing this you sure to enjoy a safe ride into the sunset.