Most people who own a motorcycle dream of one day taking off on the trip of a lifetime which would include eating up thousands of miles across strange continents where we would encounter unknown people and see the world’s greatest wonders. If you are like me then you have probably already imagined how you would load up with some great motorcycle luggage full of all the essentials you need to make the journey and thought about how you could reduce to a minimum the amount of “stuff” you would be able to get by on.
I’m pretty sure Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman have got plenty to answer for, after all their documentaries series “Long Way Round” and “Long Way Down” have inspired many a biker to push ideas of world touring to the front of more minds than anybody else. I even have friends who have never been on a bike in their lives who now aspire to creating their own two wheeled adventures and others who have passed their motorcycle test driven by their love of these documentaries.
Regardless of your motivation or the length of your planned adventure, kitting up with motorcycle luggage and heading off into the distance is one of the things that makes the pastime great. Planning the trip is of course part of the fun and you’ll do well to spend plenty of time ensure that you’ve got the required extra motorcycle gear to get the most from any long distance travel that you do.
Picking bike luggage is an adventure in itself with so many choices available these days you can spend days searching the Internet for the perfect bags to sit atop your pride and joy. Choosing between soft and hard luggage is the first choice you need to make. For serious hard-core long term motorcycle trips you’ll want to opt for hard luggage for its added security, protection from the elements and the often bigger carrying capacity that it allows.
Soft luggage is cheaper and easier to fit so its great for shorter expeditions. Soft luggage also has the advantage of being easier to fit and most of the pieces available can be used on any bike so if you are moving up to a different model you can keep your bags and use them on your new machine. If you have a sports bike which you use at the weekends but occasionally like to undertake longer excursions then the soft option is ideal.
How Big Should A Motorcycle Bag Be?
This is something only you can decide but in my experience traveling light makes for a more enjoyable journey every time. With too much extra weight having an adverse effect on the handling of your bike taking the least amount possible is your best bet. Of course, everyone’s idea of “least amount possible” varies tremendously from spare pants and a tooth brush, to everything but the kitchen sink. Its really only through experience that you will find the level of packing that you are comfortable with.
The age old advice to pack layers of clothing instead of think individual items holds true when going touring. Keep in mind that if this is your first trip you will need less clothing than you imagine so pack accordingly. Obviously you’ll need to make room for emergency items such as puncture repair kits, mobile phone equipment and the ever important toilet roll.
What Motorcycle Touring Luggage To Choose
With tank bags, panniers, tail packs and back packs all taking your fancy you’ll want to think carefully about what you buy to ensure you spend the least amount of money possible. If you’re loaded then it won’t matter and you can really go to town and get the top of the range gear without giving it a second thought but for the rest of us less is usually more.
Sticking to the rule of packing as light as possible you might find that a couple of pieces of luggage is all that you need. I can go on a motorcycle journey for a few weeks with about 60 litres of capacity so a tail pack and tank bag do me just fine in most cases. If you are packing for two then you’ll obviously need to get fully loaded up and if your pillion passenger happens to be a female hasn’t quite grasped the concept of packing light then you’ll need to get your hands on the maximum amount of capacity your bike can handle.
I personally like to stay away from motorcycle backpacks as much as possible, I find they distract me from my riding and I’m always worried about the possibility of increased risk of back injury in the event of an accident.