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Advantages and Disadvantages of Bagger Motorcycles

Advantages and Disadvantages of Bagger Motorcycles

Bagger motorcycles became popular in the United States after World War II concluded. Over the years, baggers have evolved considerably to meet the ever-changing demands of the motorcycle industry and motorcycle enthusiasts. Through the bagger segment, prominent motorcycle manufacturers attempted to provide a complete solution to riders who needed a “do-it-all motorcycle” for commuting, long-distance trips, recreational camping trips, adventure rides, cross-country rides, and power-cruising. Harley Davidson and Indian Motorcycles took the lead because they had successfully designed military models that laid the foundations of the bagger genre. Sports bike and race bike experts, such as BMW, Kawasaki, Honda, Yamaha, Suzuki, and other motorcycle brands eventually ventured into the bagger market.

Bagger motorcycles are essentially heavy-weight cruisers or motorcycles that are equipped with stock luggage bags. This motorcycle category was even named after saddlebags, which are an essential touring accessory. Some riders use the terms bagger and touring motorcycles interchangeably. However, baggers may or not be fully decked with travel-friendly accessories, entertainment features, electronics, and decorative elements. On the other hand, touring motorcycles have everything that a rider may need during his extended time on the open ride. The availability of stock saddlebags on both motorcycles is what makes these two bikes similar. Also, baggers are more practical for everyday around-town rides, while touring motorcycles may be difficult to handle in stop-and-go traffic and busy streets.

With the launch of the 2023 bagger and touring motorcycles, it seems that the lines between baggers and tourers are blurring. In the beginning, baggers were not as optimized as touring motorcycles for long-distance rides, but with the growing competition and popularity of fully-dressed baggers, the contemporary baggers emphasize luxury, comfort, stability, control, and commendable touring capabilities much like the touring motorcycles.

Since baggers have changed the face of motorcycling, more riders are inclined to buy a bagger. There is a wide selection of baggers available on the market. Some baggers feature a custom look while others boast classic cruiser styling. Some baggers are only equipped with saddlebags and passenger seats, while others are equipped with wind protection, smartphone connectivity, and ABS. Riders can use the modern baggers for weekend getaways, to look cool in motorcycle rallies, to explore the country, to go to work, and to run a few errands within the city. From the looks of it, you can never go wrong with buying a bagger. However, baggers also have several disadvantages that one needs to know to make a balanced and informed purchase decision. Read this article to find out all about the advantages and disadvantages of owning a bagger.

1. The Advantages of a Bagger Motorcycle

Baggers are multi-faceted bikes, designed to take on different riding roles. They are heavier than an average cruiser but lighter than a fully-dressed cruiser. However, with the introduction of fully-decked baggers, we have more touring-oriented baggers to choose from. This change in bagger technology, designing, engineering, riders can enjoy several benefits.

1.1 Larger Engines & Low-End Torque

At the heart of a bagger lies a powerful V-twin engine that offers low end torque. Bagger engines have a high displacement that offers better acceleration and requires less throttle work. These engines can achieve highway speeds easily and can maintain that speed for a long time with ease. Due to low end torque, baggers can achieve targeted speed even with all the luggage and accessories. This puts less stress on the engine, increases the lifespan of the engine, and significantly reduces engine maintenance costs.

1.2 Touring Capability

The low-end torque production directly affects the touring capabilities of a bagger. Low-end torque allows the motorcycle to maintain the highway speed for extended time. Therefore, you don’t have to worry about engine overheating, mechanical breakdowns, and other issues en route. The smooth power delivery, optimal speed, and impressive acceleration make baggers reliable machines for touring. Moreover, the large fuel tank, weather protection, and the riding range further enhance the touring capabilities of a bagger.

1.3 Large Fuel Capacity

The principle of form follows function is applicable to motorcycles. Baggers are equipped with a larger fuel tank that has the fuel capacity of up to 7 gallons, so riders need not stop every few miles to refuel. Larger fuel capacity offers peace of mind, inspires confidence to explore remote places, and helps decrease the duration of the journey, providing ample time for recreational activities and sightseeing on the way. Moreover, a larger fuel capacity alleviates the need for carrying fuel with you. Oftentimes, riders are unable to carry essential items with them because the storage capacity is reduced after mounting fuel-filled jerry cans. Therefore, for an enjoyable and relaxing motorcycle trip, it is crucial that your bike offers a large fuel capacity, something baggers are well-known for.

1.4 Exceptional Comfort

Bagger motorcycles have the best of everything, including rider seat, ergonomic configurations, and suspension systems. Bagger motorcycles come with plush seats and backrests for both rider and passenger. Moreover, the ergonomic configuration is designed in such a way that riders of varying heights can adopt a natural seating position, reach the forward controls without over-extending, and rest their feet comfortably on the floorboards when riding. Moreover, baggers are customizable, so if a rider is not satisfied with the original ergonomic layout, he can readjust, reposition, or replace the seat, handlebars, and floorboards to create more personalized riding ergonomics. As for the suspension, the baggers have modern damping systems that improve the comfort, stability, and shock-absorbing capabilities of the bike.

1.5 Stable Straight-Line Rides

When riding on open roads, freeways, or highways, straight-line riding stability is crucial. This is because baggers are heavier and they should be able to be well-balanced and move in a straight line with little effort on the rider’s part. To ensure this, baggers have a longer wheelbase that optimizes stability and control and guarantees a safe ride.

1.6 Weather Protection

Modern motorcycle baggers feature fairings and adjustable windshields. Both of these accessories deflect wind away from the rider and also offer protection from rain. As a result of adequate weather protection riders are less vulnerable to wind-induced fatigue, hypothermia, dehydration, and other health problems.

1.7 Maximum Storage Space

A motorcycle cannot be characterized as a bagger if it fails to offer storage space. Therefore, saddlebags, trunks, tank bags, tour packs, baggers bags, and other luggage bags are an integral part of a bagger. Riders can use these saddlebags to carry everyday essentials, luggage for trips, camping gear, camera gear, laptops, safety gear, rain gear, tools, and other equipment they deem necessary to have with them while riding. The storage space of a bagger makes traveling possible as without bags one cannot lug anything on the bike.

1.8 Infotainment & Sound Systems

During long distance trips, riders may get bored of staring at the road ahead. If you are riding on a scenic route, then you may enjoy the scenery; otherwise, staying alert can become difficult. Infotainment systems of a bagger include stereo system, color displays, and Bluetooth connectivity. You can connect with your friends and listen to your favorite music to distract yourself from the dull environment. Moreover, infotainment systems can also come in handy during night travels as upbeat music helps you stay awake and avoid running into an accident.

1.9 Rental Income

With the emergence of online motorcycle rental marketplaces, such as Riders Share and Twisted Road, riders can register their bikes in the listing of these rental platforms to generate some rental income. The trend of motorcycle touring and motorcycle camping trips is at an all time high. After the Covid-19 pandemic, riders are prioritizing their dream of traveling cross country and exploring the scenic roads of the United States. Consequently, they need a reliable touring machine, which could be your bagger.

2. The Disadvantages of a Bagger Motorcycle

Though bagger motorcycles are versatile, they are still more touring-oriented and not exactly tailored for around town rides. Due to the bike’s fierce focus on touring, freedom, adventure, and exploration, these bikes leave much to be desired in the following terms.

2.1 Maneuverability & Weight

Baggers are heavy motorcycles that weigh approximately 600-850 lbs. When embarking on a trip, riders mount luggage on the bike which further increases the weight of the bike. Due to this weight, baggers are difficult to handle and steer. Moreover, the bikes have a longer wheelbase to ensure straight-line stability. This spec greatly reduces the bike’s capability of turning corners at a slower speed. Therefore, the most pressing challenge before a rider on a bagger is maneuverability. Furthermore, baggers are not as agile owing to their bulky nature. Consequently, navigating traffic and tight spaces may be difficult for a bagger.

2.2 Parking Space

Compared to a cruiser, bobber, or street bike, a bagger occupies more space in a parking lot. Parking lots are often crowded with vehicles and motorcyclists may need to share a parking space with others. If you own a bagger, you might find it challenging to find adequate parking space due to its large size.

2.3 Customization

Baggers are usually equipped with all the accessories that a rider might need. Though the bikes can be customized, the availability of the essentials tends to deter the riders from spending on aftermarket motorcycle parts and accessories already at their disposal. Moreover, the OEM paint finish of a bagger is of premium quality and not many have the heart to change the original paint scheme with custom paint and graphics even if they have a strong desire for it.

2.4 Fuel Efficiency

Baggers offer excellent range and mileage; however, they are still not considered fuel efficient because their large engines need more fuel to operate, propel all the weight forward, and maintain high speeds for a long time. Moreover, the fairings of a bagger are different from that of a sports bike. Therefore, the aerodynamic efficiency of a bagger is lower than a sports bike. As a result, it contributes little to improving the fuel efficiency of the bike.

2.5 Expensive

Motorcycle baggers are the most luxurious bikes available in a company’s motorcycle lineups. These bikes are quite an investment. Therefore, their insurance costs are also high. Moreover, if you run into an accident, the repair and replacement costs may cost you a fortune. The fear of dropping or damaging the bike often takes away from the fun factor of the bike.

2.6 Maintenance Costs

Maintaining a bagger is more costly than other types of motorcycles. Baggers are mostly equipped with technologically advanced electronics, suspension, brakes, and fuel systems that require special diagnostic tools for inspection and maintenance. These complex systems can only be maintained by certified technicians who specialize in bagger technology. As a result, the maintenance costs of bagger motorcycles are higher. Most riders only trust technicians working at authorized dealers with the maintenance of their baggers. While motorcycle dealerships provide efficient and reliable services, they charge more than an average local mechanic. Over time, one must replace brake pads, tires, and consumables of the bagger. These maintenance items add up to a significant amount.

2.7 Depreciation

Motorcycle baggers do not retain their resale value well compared to other motorcycles. Since these bikes are designed for touring, they are more prone to wear and tear which decreases their resale value. Not to mention, the initial depreciation of baggers is also quite high compared to other bikes. Therefore, these bikes are not a good investment for riders who prefer trade-ins and frequent bike replacements.

2.8 Infotainment

Motorcycle baggers have state-of-the-art infotainment systems, especially sound systems. While these systems make long-distance trips more lively and enjoyable; however, they also serve as fatal distractions. Loud music can make it difficult to hear other sounds in your environment. Therefore, make sure to practice caution when indulging in entertainment en route.

2.9 Not so Beginner-Friendly

Due to their heavy weight, stiff handling, and intimidating engines, baggers are not beginner-friendly bikes. These bikes require a certain level of riding expertise and knowledge. Hence, a novice rider who wants to step into the world of motorcycle touring may find it difficult to handle the bike. This can lead to frustration, a ruined trip, or a bad experience with baggers in general.

3. Last Words

Motorcycle baggers are purposeful bikes and practical in many situations. However, they might not be apt at handling all kinds of road conditions. One can use them for commuting, but to experience their full potential, you would have to guide them to a highway. The advantages and disadvantages of the bagger stem from its design and the purpose it is built to serve. Therefore, make sure you weigh your options and consider all the advantages and disadvantages of the bagger before investing in one.

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