- Touring

Motorcycle Touring Tips

Motorcycle touring can mean different things to different riders. Depending on the rider, touring could be a weekend trip or weeks of traveling on the open highway.

If you’re heading out on the road, you’re going to need a place to pack your stuff. Here’s a look at some of the luggage to consider:

Soft bags are a good substitute or supplement to hard luggage. There usually made of cloth, nylon, or similar fabric. These bags can be used in conjunction with hard or soft saddle-bags.
The advantage of soft luggage includes its light weight and their easy to install. They are also easy to remove when you get to where you’re going. Some of the disadvantages are that they can be removed easily by someone else. They are also less water resistant, which means they should be covered or you might need to pack whatever is inside with plastic bags.

Hard saddlebags are usually made from fiberglass or some type of hard plastic. These bags give better protection by helping to prevent theft and against the weather. Those of you who have Harley-Davidson touring models already have some type of hard bag. It’s important to follow loading recommendations, which we will look at later. A disadvantage of hard bags is the cost.

Tank bags, usually made of some soft material, are mounted on the gas tank using magnets or straps. A pad on the bottom will help protect the tank. Usually softer items are packed in this type of bag because of its location. Many of these bags have map pouches. Tank bags are like the glove compartment in your car. An advantage of these bags is that they are very easy to install.

Deciding what to take on your trip can be a matter of taste than science. There are certain essentials you should try not to be without. Some of them are:

Basic tool kit
Tire gauge
Tire repair kit
Waterproof flashlight
Rain/cold weather gear
Cell phone
Spare gloves
Toiletries(we all know what that means)
Credit card/ emergency cash, more cash
Emergency contact info.
Medical info.(allergies,etc.)
Owners manual

It’s important to determine how much stuff you can safely load on your bike. Check your bikes GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating). This number is the maximum recommended total combined weight. That means the motorcycle, riders and gear combined. To determine the load capacity, start with the motorcycle wet weight vehicle weight, which is found in the owners manual, plus fuel weight.
1. Find the gross vehicle weight. Again, this is the total combined weight of the motorcycle, fuel, fluids, riders, gear and cargo.
2. Look up the weight as shipped from factory and add six pounds for every gallon of fuel capacity.
3. Subtract step two amount from step one amount. The result will be the maximum load capacity for the motorcycle including the riders, luggage, gear and anything else you’re loading on the bike.

Remember to load heavy gear lower and evenly for more stability. All your stuff can weigh a lot more than you think.


  • If you’re going to be riding with others, share information to avoid doubling up on certain items such as tire gauge and tool kits.
  • Pack underwear and socks made from synthetic material, not cotton. They can be rinsed out easily at hotels and dried on the shower curtain rod.
  • Mail souvenirs home instead of trying to carry them with you.
  • Always pack sunscreen.
  • Bring more money than stuff. There are certain things you can buy along the way. You don’t always have to pack everything.
  • Try to take a GPS unit. You can find some great back roads and short cuts.
  • A touring bag rather than a Tour-Pak doubles as a back rest.
  • Pack clothes in garbage bags inside your T-Bag to protect them from rain.
  • Try to get a hotel on the outer edge of a city so you don’t have to deal with as much traffic, especially morning rush hours.
  • If you’re going to have to do laundry, fill some snack-size zipper bags with detergent. There cheaper than the laundromat or hotel and don’t take up much room.

Whether you’re headed out on the road for the weekend or you’re touring for weeks, these motorcycle touring tips should help.