Taking a motorcycle trip? Here's how to load up baggage properly

BERLIN: Planning a holiday on your motorcycle? Maybe you even want to bring someone along? Motorcycles are a great way to travel flexibly, but once you start piling on the baggage, things can get tricky - especially when travelling with another person.

For one thing, you have to make sure not to exceed the permissible total weight of the bike.

However, this can be hard to work out, as the unladen weight of the bike indicated in the vehicle papers is often not sufficient for determining the cargo load, since these are often approximate values, according to Europe's biggest car club, Germany's ADAC.

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 with a set of weighing scales, though they will have to be sturdy enough. 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. Mind you, this also includes one or two humans 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 centre 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, tyre pressure or headlights, check with the manual for guidance.

Since the centre of gravity shifts when carrying luggage, you might need to use your body more when changing your lean angle in curves. In addition, the motorcycle generally becomes more unwieldy and can lift off in the front when accelerating.

Acceleration and braking behaviour can also change. It makes sense to get accustomed to a fully loaded machine by doing a few practice laps before setting of on your trip.
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