People who love traveling on motorcycles, whether overland or tarmac-based, are equally vulnerable to poorly-mounted or imbalanced luggage. In this article, we will attempt to shed light on some insights into getting your luggage sorted for a great ride.
Before we get into why luggage needs to be evenly balanced, let us understand how it affects a motorcycle. Because it is limited by what can be placed between two wheels, a motorcycle, by itself, is unstable. There is not much you can do apart from naturally balancing it that will help its cause. Once it is moving under its own power, the only thing you need to do is keep it balanced, ideally the right way up.
When you introduce luggage in the equation, the whole game of balance becomes much more delicate. For starters, you alter your motorcycle’s geometry every time you sit on it. There really is no helping in this regard for you are making up roughly a third of the machine’s gross weight. The bike’s geometry is always compromised by a few degrees under load.
Modern motorcycles are results of intense research and development regarding vehicle dynamics. Hence there are so many purpose-built motorcycles out there today. Principally, the effort nowadays is to centralize mass for a more predictable dynamic response. This is done in order to achieve sharp, precise handling and performance.
The thing to keep in mind is that weight imbalance affects motorcycle dynamics substantially. Engineers very well have compensated for rider weight when it comes to dynamics, but they can’t control how the rider is going to mount his luggage on the motorcycle. However, keeping a little knowledge of mass centralization will go a long way toward setting up a nice luggage solution on your motorcycle without skewing its core balance.
In modern motorcycles, all the mass is concentrated close to the engine. There is no fixed centre of gravity on a motorcycle, but there is a rough axis of balance which you can define through judging your machine’s weight transfer. More often than not, this axis lies somewhere between the handlebar and the rider. Your goal should be to mount luggage as close to this axis as possible, the farther you place it from the axis, the more force it can exert upon the motorcycle’s components in high-speed manoeuvers. Clearly, this is a less-than-desirable scenario., best avoided if possible.
One might ask that adventure tourers allow you to mount your luggage right over the rear tyre. It can’t be farther than this, so how do ADVs manage this mass without going haywire? The simple answer is that they were configured keeping this exact parameter in mind. For standard motorcycles and streetbikes, tourers, Enduro, Supermoto, and such bikes, the best approach to mount luggage is to keep it as close to the centre of gravity as possible.
What would happen if you were to throw caution to the wind and mount your luggage haphazardly the way you see fit? Well, you will see your bike transform from a wonderfully precise machine to a jumbled, incoherent piece of machinery that not only feels sluggish, but also quite all over the place. It might not want to turn as quickly as you want, it might steer in the wrong manner, or it can simply ignore your inputs and start riding askew.
There is no overstating the importance of mounting luggage the correct, balanced manner. So balance your luggage out side-to-side and front-to-end, mount it without upsetting the bike’s balance, and you might just start to enjoy the ride even more.