If you are new to motorcycling, chances are you will eventually be struck by wanderlust, the need to explore beyond your regular route or pack up for a weekend on the road. When that happens, you may need to expand the carrying capacity of your bike. This is especially true if you plan to bring a passenger with you.
Except for touring bikes, most motorcycles don’t have a lot of storage capacity. But that’s OK. There are a host of solutions for expanding your carrying capacity.
Your first stop should be Honda Genuine Accessories (powersports.honda.com/accessories/aspx). For some models, Honda offers accessory luggage that can even be financed along with your bike at the time of purchase. But if yours isn’t among them, the aftermarket has a galaxy of luggage options.
The first thing you need to think about is if you’re traveling solo, or with a passenger. If you’re going alone you have a lot of choices: tankbag, tailbag and saddlebags, or any combination of those.
Perhaps the best starting point is a tankbag. Tankbags come in a huge assortment of sizes, from small ones for commuting, to ones large enough for a weekend getaway. Mounting systems vary from straps, to magnetic mounts that only require a steel tank. Some are waterproof, and those that aren’t usually come with a waterproof cover. Some also come with—or as an option—separate pouches for carrying your cell phone or GPS.
Again, if you’re traveling alone, you can use—or combine with a tankbag for more storage—a tailbag. Like tankbags, these come in a range of sizes suitable for a day ride, or a weekend excursion. Most are made or fabric, and are positioned on the back seat, secured with adjustable straps. Some tailbags are part of a full luggage system, and mount in concert with saddlebags. These soft bags can be waterproof, or come with a cover to keep out rain. Mounting systems vary from simple straps to separate mounting brackets that bolt to the bike’s subframe.
If you’re traveling with a passenger, your options are limited to a tankbag, saddlebags and a tailbag that’s hard-mounted behind the passenger to your subframe. Soft saddlebags offer the most versatility in terms of mounting and removing, while hard bags require mounting systems that are bolted to your bike. They sometimes have greater capacity than their fabric counterparts, and might have fabric loading bags, but they’re also generally more expensive and more difficult to remove when you don’t want them on. Another choice can be a trunk. These usually require a separate mounting system, usually—but not always—included. Many trunks have a quick-release mounting system, so you can remove them when they’re not needed. Some will hold at least one, if not two, full face helmets, so you can keep them securely stowed when you reach a destination.
When adding any of these types of luggage (or any accessory), you need to pay attention so you don’t exceed your motorcycle’s weight capacity (including you, any passengers, and the contents of your luggage) and also understand that the addition of luggage will affect your motorcycle’s responsiveness and handling.
If you need more storage, there’s always the trusty backpack or messenger bag. Like luggage, they come in an assortment of sizes, waterproof or with a cover, and generally include a variety of zippered or Velcro-closure pouches to store your stuff.
Packing for a trip is an art unto itself, but that’s another story. The key: pack light, and wear riding gear that offers the maximum versatility in terms of temperature range so you can minimize packing additional gear. That way you’ll get the most space out of the luggage you choose.