Monday, March 29, 2010

Essential Motorcycle Gear: Luggage You Don’t Hate

You might have noticed that motorcycles don’t have a whole lot of storage space. At least, not unless you add it. Most scooters have a puppy warmer to keep your gear under the seat, but usually there’s barely enough room for a half-helmet and a pair of gloves. That’s assuming you keep your registration and insurance paperwork in your pocket.

Motorcycles have a tiny bit of usable space under the seat, but just enough for the owner’s manual and a small tool kit.

So where are you going to keep your lunch, iPod, spare pair of underwear and bottle of water?

Well, if you really like living minimally, you might keep it all in your jacket pockets, or invest in a pair of cargo pants. Hey, then you could bring TWO sandwiches.

Assuming you don’t like all that weight pulling your pants down, however, you’ll probably want a bag of some kind. And there are really only two kinds of bags to consider: bags you strap to yourself, and bags you strap to the bike.

Chances are, you’ve already got a Jansport backpack (or similar) hiding somewhere in your house. I really like mine, actually, except for the small problem of getting it on over the shoulder armor in my Joe Rocket jacket. A small backpack stays out of the way, and can carry a fair amount of stuff in it. Of course, on the downside, during the warmer months a backpack means you’ve got a bunch of weight on your back, keeping you nice and warm and ensuring the back of your shirt is sweaty when you reach your destination.

If you're like me, struggling to get a backpack on over your armor twice a day will get old very quickly. This is when you’ll go get yourself a nice tankbag. You can keep a ton of gear in them, especially handy stuff like the kickstand puck during the warm months, gum, change for tolls, maps, a compass... you know, the usual stuff that makes riding more comfortable and convenient.

But I’ll tell you what, stomping a couple blocks from your parking spot to the office with a tank bag in one hand and your helmet in the other gets old quick.

What’s the solution? I have no idea. What have you guys come up with?

For the time being, I’ve been carrying my large Timbuk2 courier bag every day. It’s a breeze to get on, leaves my hands free when I’m walking, and keeps me a bit cooler than my Jansport hugging my back. It’s a nice rugged bag and I could, if so inclined, bring enough clothes for a couple days in it - probably a week if I didn't bring extra pants. Stacy has mentioned the possibility of the strap causing severe injury to one's neck in the event of a crash, however. Frankly, I like my head firmly attached, so I'm keeping my eyes peeled for another solution.