This is easy to figure out when you’re riding a touring bike. A lot of touring bikes come with luggage or saddle bags. Often the saddle bags or cases easily come off to be carried inside with you. A few more recent models even come with false gas tanks capable of storing overnight gear, gloves, and maybe your helmet. If you ride a touring bike then you probably already know all about storage. It’s when you hop on a sport bike that it can get tricky.
Storing Gear On A Sport Bike
To start with, wear as much gear as you comfortably can. Choose comfortable riding pants that are durable and armored but are nearly as comfortable as regular pants. This reduces what you have to secure; the more you can take with you, the better. For your shoes, ankle-height boots can be comfortable enough to walk around in but still provide decent protection for your feet.
This is my current go-to setup for around-town riding:
- Alpinestars Anaheim Shoes
- Honda Leather Jacket (80 degrees and down), with down jacket underneath in winter or Joe Rocket Ballistic Mesh Jacket (above 80 degrees)
- Dainnese Leather Gloves, with Hot Wired Heated Gloves underneath in winter
- Jeans, with spats underneath in winter
- Icon Airmada helmet, Freeze-Out balaclava in winter
But what if it’s the middle summer and you can’t bring much with you? One solution I have used in the past is to bring a tail bag; the one I used was this:
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You could also go with a backpack, there are many specifically made for riding. These riding backpacks may offer additional spine protection and aerodynamics not found on mall backpacks. I don’t like wearing a backpack while riding for several reasons. They tend to catch wind more readily. They add weight up high on the bike and wear my shoulders out. They also pose a safety risk in the event of a spill because they create space between your head and the asphalt which can allow your head to snap back, breaking your neck.
What Should Go In The Tail Bag or Backpack?
First of all, don’t let yourself be a victim. Don’t put anything in there that gives someone an incentive to steal. Expensive gear, especially gear you shouldn’t be riding without, like helmets or jackets should never be left with the bike. It is too easy for someone to come by and snatch those up. Luckily, backpacks are made to come with you and most tail bags offer shoulder straps to transform into mobile packs as well.
A lot of motorcycle gear tends to be bulky, with exception of small roadside tools and rain gear like Frogg Toggs. Usually, helmets and jackets are too large to secure in a tail bag or backpack. The main problem in securing a riding jacket is the back protector; if you really had to store it in a bag, the best I’ve been able to come up with is pulling out the back protector, stuffing the jacket into the bag, and then securing the back protector as best I can. While you still shouldn’t leave a helmet on the bike, if you are using a backpack you could probably strap it to the pack. I haven’t seen a tail bag yet that was large enough to fit a full face helmet.
The tail bag or smaller backpack work great if I’m just going into somewhere quickly or if I’m meeting my wife for dinner or heading to work. There’s a bigger issue on longer trips.
Handling Gear and Stops On Longer Trips
This is the one area where ATGATT (All The Gear All The Time) becomes a huge pain in the butt. It depends why I’m stopping, for how long, and my assessment of the situation.
For gas stops, I rarely leave the bike. If I do need to go into the store, I’ll typically park the bike close to the front door, and then walk in wearing my gear. If the area looks reasonable, I’ll usually leave the helmet with the bike, or take turns going in with my wife, that way the gear is always guarded.
If I’m stopping for a meal, I still try to park the bike where it’s visible to me and others, but I’ll wear my gear in and carry the helmet and bag. I’ll then find a table, put down the bag and helmet, remove my gear, and put that down as well before going to order.
If the stop is over night then bring everything inside your hotel, home or tent.
I think that about covers it, hope that helps, keep the rubber side down and the shiny side up!
A Web Developer by trade, future data scientist.
A motorcycle enthusiast at heart.
Most days I’d rather be in the woods anywhere.