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How to Ride a Bagger Motorcycle

How to Ride a Bagger Motorcycle

Baggers are one of the bulkiest and heaviest motorcycles with a wet weight of almost 850 lbs and sometimes more. It is the dream of almost every American rider to own and ride a bagger. Due to their unorthodox aerodynamics, they are the most difficult type of motorcycles to ride and handle if you are new to motorcycling. Considering their high price tag, you would not want to even think of dropping a bagger. It can take you years of practice to become good enough to ride a bagger. However, once you are used to handling a heavyweight motorcycle and have mastered slow-speed maneuvering, riding a bagger will be easy for you. If you want to enjoy the experience of riding a bagger, continue reading this article to learn how to ride a bagger motorcycle.

1. Understanding Baggers

Baggers are the most unorthodox type of motorcycle with the aim of making your ride comfortable and enjoyable. They are the simplest type of touring bikes that can be easily distinguished from their large fairing, saddlebags, and a variety of gadgets and electronics mounted to the fairing. Baggers are immensely popular in the U.S. and are considered the American version of a touring bike thanks to Harley Davidson for producing the most iconic baggers, including the Harley Road Glide and the Harley Street Glide in the Grand American Touring category. After the U.S. became the origin and hub of the bagger market, several motorcycle manufacturers, including Honda with its Gold Wing, BMW with its BMW K1600 B, Kawasaki with its Vulcan Vaquero, and Indian Motorcycles with its Indian Challenger and the Indian Chieftain started competing against each other to get hold of the market in the bagger category.

2. How to Ride a Bagger Motorcycle

How to Ride a Bagger Motorcycle
Photo credit: @Bike Exif

Riding a bagger is a next-level thing, first, you must learn how to take your bagger out of the garage and make it stand upright, especially if you are a shorter rider. The power is manageable, but the size isn’t. You have to be strong enough if you want to ride a bagger.

2.1 Start Exercising and Weight Lifting

If you are small or a newbie and planning to buy a bagger, you must work on your stamina, strength, and ability to lift weights. Riding a motorcycle may be different from lifting weights as you do not need to pick your motorcycle up on your shoulders. However, there are several occasions when you have to push or pull your motorcycle while the engine is off. Riding a bagger can be difficult if you are riding on inclined or challenging terrain. Therefore, you must be strong enough to move a bagger from parking and manage its weight. Baggers are designed for long-distance rides and cross-country tours. It can be extremely tiring and can drain all your energy if you are riding a bagger in stop-and-go traffic. Therefore, it is a good idea to start exercising, practice weight lifting, and increase your stamina.

2.2 Practice on Straight Roads

Practice on Straight Roads
Photo credit: @Jalopnik

To start with, start practicing on open straight roads. Get used to the weight of the bagger. If you have some experience riding a motorcycle, riding a bagger on a straight road will be an easy task for you. Initially, you must not start riding a bagger on curvy roads with lots of steep turns if you do not want to drop your motorcycle.

2.3 Practice Slow-Speed Maneuvering

The heavier a motorcycle is, the more difficult it will be to handle a motorcycle, especially while maneuvering at slow speeds. Due to being one of the most heavyweight motorcycles with the most weight attached to its front end, baggers are difficult to lean while cornering.

When you are riding a motorcycle at high speeds, cornering becomes easier as the centripetal force helps you take tight turns easily. Meanwhile, cornering at slow speeds requires skills, expertise, and confidence. Most riders fail to balance their baggers and drop them while turning corners at slow speeds. The weight of the motorcycle becomes more prominent during slow-speed maneuvers. If you are not familiar with riding a heavyweight motorcycle, always choose an easy and straight route with fewer curves to ride the bagger.

2.4 Baggers Cannot Be Your First Motorbike

As a newbie, you must understand that baggers cannot be your first motorcycle. If you are a novice rider, you have so much to learn, including slow and high-speed maneuvering, handling, cornering, leaning a motorcycle, and maintaining it as well which you will not be able to do on a bagger. After you learn how to read the road and curves like a pro, how to shift gears, when to accelerate and decelerate, how much to lean while turning a corner, and how to shift your body weight while cornering, you are ready to take a bagger out on the road for a ride. Cruisers can be a great first bike to learn to ride. Once you start riding a bagger like a pro, all the other motorcycles will feel much lighter and easier to ride.

2.5 Choose a Bagger with a Frame-Mounted Fairing

Choose a Bagger with a Frame-Mounted Fairing
Photo credit: @Cycle World

If you are planning to buy a bagger, choose the one with a frame/chassis-mounted fairing, like the Harley Davidson Road Glide. Baggers are the most difficult motorcycles to steer due to being fitted with large front fairings, integrated with several gadgets and electronics, including speakers, screen, audio system, storage space, analog gauges, and sometimes side mirrors. The heavier front end makes it difficult for new riders to steer, handle, and balance a motorcycle while turning a corner.

To make steering slightly easier and ensure better handling, frame-mounted fairings are better than handlebars-mounted or fork-mounted fairings. Fork-mounted fairings add a lot of weight to the handlebars which makes steering difficult. A frame-mounted fairing stays in line with the frame and the rider just has to push the handlebars while turning a corner.

2.6 Do Not Get Distracted

A bagger is an interactive motorbike due to being equipped with an infotainment system, including a color display screen, speakers, stereo system, gauges, and a lot of hand control options. While riding a bagger, make sure to focus on the road and not get distracted by the gadgets and music.

2.7 Get Over the Fear of Dropping a Bagger

The biggest fear of riding a bagger that distracts you the most during the ride is the thought of dropping it. A bagger is one of the most luxurious and expensive motorcycles that can cost you more than $40,000. As a rider, you will not be able to read and judge the road conditions and situations perfectly if your fear of dropping the bagger continues to overwhelm you.

How to Get Rid of the Fear of Dropping a Bagger

To safely ride a bagger and enjoy the ride, you must be confident, especially while maneuvering at slow speeds and turning corners. Most baggers are equipped with crash bars, including engine and frame guards to ensure crash protection. If your bagger does not have crash protection, make sure to install crash bars before taking it out for a ride. In case you drop your bagger in an attempt to turn a tight corner, crash bars and saddlebags will protect your bagger from touching the ground and getting damaged.

2.8 Practice Cornering in a Parking Lot

Find an empty parking lot or an open space where you can practice turning tight corners on your bagger. You can place traffic cones to mark the boundary or radius of a turn. Another technique to improve your cornering on a bagger is to place cones in a straight line with gaps between them. Now weave through the cones on your bagger to practice slow speed turns. When you become good enough at slow-speed maneuvers on your bagger, start narrowing the gaps between the cones and then practice to become an expert at turning corners.

2.9 Take Slow-Speed Maneuvering Classes

Most riders drop their baggers while maneuvering at slow speeds. The bagger feels heavier at slow speeds and the front end becomes difficult to turn. Several motorcycle riding institutes can teach you how to balance and handle your bagger at slow speeds like a pro. The safety riding courses can help you become a better rider to ensure safety.

3. Bagger Riding Tips for Short Riders

3.1 Take Someone’s Help if You Are Stuck

There is no shame in asking someone to help you pick up a bagger if you have dropped it while attempting to turn a tight corner or when trying to move out of the parking lot or garage. Baggers are heavy and riders who are under 5 feet 2 inches tall may not be able to lift the bagger off its kickstand. Therefore, it is better to seek help when you find it difficult to move your bagger instead of risking dropping it.

There are instances when you may get stuck with your bagger, especially while duck-walking in parking lots and tight spaces, and find it difficult to steer it out of there. It is better to sit on your bagger and use engine power to take it out on the road, rather than pushing it and dropping it.

3.2 How to Take a Bagger off Its Kickstand if You Are Short

If you are a short rider, you can find it difficult to lift an 850-lb bagger off its kickstand. Here are a few tips that can help you take your bagger off a kickstand easily.

  • If your handlebars and the front wheel are tilted towards the kickstand’s side, you may not be able to lift your motorcycle off the stand.
  • Push the handlebars’ left side with your left arm and pull the handlebars’ right side with your right arm to change its direction.
  • If it seems difficult to move the handlebars in the opposite direction, try to push the motorcycle as well with your left leg.
  • Once the handlebars are moved in the opposite direction, you will be able to lift the bagger off its kickstand easily.
  • Do not push the bagger too hard on the opposite side to avoid getting it tipped over.

3.3 Sit Closer to the Handlebars

If you are a shorter rider, try to sit closer to the handlebars while riding a bagger. This will ensure a few benefits, including:

  • It will allow you to bend your elbows, making it feasible for you to turn handlebars while turning a corner.
  • If you are sitting close to the fuel tank, it helps you balance the bagger with both feet touching the ground. Balancing a bagger on your toes can be difficult and tiring, especially while riding in slow-speed traffic or stopping at a traffic signal.

4. The Bottom Line

Baggers are heavy motorcycles and are difficult to ride, especially if you are a beginner or shorter rider, but they are still motorcycles and are engineered to lean and maneuver. Once you get going and cover a good number of miles on a bagger, the heavyweight seems to be manageable. The tips mentioned in this article can help you learn a lot about riding a bagger safely without dropping it. If you are a shorter rider and dream of riding a bagger, this article also includes tips for you to take your bagger off its kickstand and get going on the road. Riding a bagger can be challenging, but it is not impossible. Once you become good at performing slow-speed maneuvers, you become an expert bagger rider and can confidently take a bagger on a long ride.

If you want to further improve the comfort level and storage capacity of your bagger, you can install sissy bars, backrests, comfortable seats, touring-oriented handlebars, sissy bar bags, trunk bags, tank bags, tour packs, baggers bags, and handlebars bags available at Viking Bags’ online store.

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