When it comes to packing for 2-Wheeled travel, some are naturally gifted at packing, while the rest figure out the puzzle, one piece and trip at a time. Having broken many possible rules in the moto-luggage book, it was only fair to share my thoughts here…
The adventures began with a plastic bag. You know the fluttering, flapping type. Not flimsy mind you, for it had to last a ride, or two – if i was lucky. Capacity wise, it’d have to accommodate the can of 2T oil, some loosely-bound tools, plus the ubiquitous spark-plug & rags to go with it. Strapped tightly at the back, this 2-3 kilo weight also kept the skittish rear a wee bit more planted when riding the power-band.
As a bottle of water, replacement control cables & other assorted spares joined on the rides, the plastic bag was due for an upgrade. This could also have been due to the tools, water bottle and 2T oil having gone missing on many a ride. Whatever the reason, it led me to a critical piece of moto-luggage – the Backpack!
A catch-all, be-all piece – to me, the backpack is the default. The one piece of luggage that can stand-in for everything else. Carried on the back, aches and all, or strapped at the rear.
My next step on the motorcycle luggage ladder was when I got hold of saddle-bags. I suddenly felt liberated. With the saddle-bags (Got the Cramster Colt), I could carry an even larger quantity of stuff (more 2T & clothes, for example). I could also reduce the yo-yo effect caused by strapping the backpack to the carrier that extended beyond the rear wheel. Best part was that, I could throw my backpack into one saddle-bag and still have space to shop for stuff on my trips. Marriage happened and we now had 2 RX’s. Naturally, we needed double the luggage. So in came a pair of DirtSack Frogman saddle-bags.
Waterproofing apart, the Frogman’s were cavernous. We often joked on how we could dismantle one of the bikes and fit them into our saddlebags. Unfortunately though, they had a relatively short life with me. You see, they were built for motorcycles with straight exhausts in mind and did great with the Royal Enfields & RX’s. Their end game happened when we needed their high-capacity & in our wise minds, felt it okay to mount them on the CBR250R. Not only did we burn through the cradle, we put a hole in the dry bags and that was that.
This was also the time when I tried out hip-pouches and fanny-packs, having picked up a pair at DirtSack. Like the Frogmans, these too were cavernous. They’d swallow up a DSLR, Spare lens, batteries, charger, etc. and still have space for a stock tool-kit, wallet & spare change. Eventually realised that hip-pouches weren’t quite my thing and gave them away to friends.
The Cramsters’ were back though and they went everywhere. Stuffed beyond design parameters, they proved to be indestructible. The straps that held the bags to the bike, cried bloody torture as I went flying over our beautiful roads, undeclared speed-breakers and kiddie sized trails. I then took to simply throwing them over and relying on the loads to act as ballast that prevented them from falling off.
There was this time when I was playing find the road, down NH17 (Now, NH66), when I launched off a mound of tar. Eyewitness accounts from my fellow-riders behind me, claim that they saw the Cramsters’ do a beautiful, butterfly wing flap before settling in, as I touched down rather noisily on the gravel and stones. Miraculously, the bags were unharmed, as were the contents inside, after all that air-time. In-fact, these bags went on to serve me well right until a few months ago, when a rogue hook, managed to punch a hole through the fabric. Totally my fault – I know, but they’re still usable. So yay! Full paisa-vasool, the Cramster Colt turned out to be.
The road trips grew longer, as the motorcycle journey progressed. Over the years, I got fortunate enough to try out multiple luggage solutions, ranging from better backpacks and saddle solutions from OEM’s and established home grown luggage brands alike.
I then flirted with the ViaTerra Claw, marveling at its ability to swallow every bloody thing I threw into it. To give you an idea, I once filled in 15 pairs of clothes, 2 pairs of boots, an 8 kg tool-kit, a 15.6 inch laptop & charger combo, a full DSLR Camera Gear Bag and still had space to spare.
Every trip revealed a layer, but nothing quite made sense for the first few years. I mean, I noticed, vaguely, that the weight I was lugging, was affecting the way the bike behaved and the way I rode. A 2-3 kg weight at the back, improved the road-holding and grip on the featherweight RX. Fully loaded saddle-bags meant that she swayed with the grace of a drunken dancer. The Enfield reacted differently. It didn’t sway as much, but the already hairy braking distances, got even longer. The CBR threatened to tip over on the side-stand more than once, due to a fully loaded ‘Claw’ – not to mention the fact that it was a task getting on and off the bike.
But it took a few drops and falls on trails and at standstill, where the bike had tipped over due to the load that the winds of change started to waft in through my dense mind. This was also the time when the Himalayan happened…