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How to Use a Motorcycle Luggage Rack

How to Use a Motorcycle Luggage Rack

Motorcycle riding is a great way to break the monotony of mundane life. Motorcycling can help with stress relief and improve mental health. According to a study conducted by researchers from UCLA’s Semel Institute of Human Behavior and Neuroscience, motorcycling improves focus and reduces the production of cortisol, a major stress hormone. This study was funded by Harley Davidson, showing that motorcycling offers multiple health benefits.

Motorcycling is an enjoyable experience, but for long rides and camping trips, you may need accessories to help enhance your riding experience. These include saddlebags, fairing, tank bags, sissy bars, crash bars, and luggage racks.

All touring motorcycles and some cruisers have built-in luggage bags. Similarly, motorcycle fairing is a standard feature for all sports and adventure touring bikes. However, the most important accessory, a luggage rack, is only available as an aftermarket part.

This article highlights the uses and benefits of a motorcycle luggage rack to better pack and carry all your essentials wherever you go.

1. What is a Motorcycle Luggage Rack?

What is a Motorcycle Luggage Rack

Made of top-grade stainless steel, a motorcycle luggage rack is a sturdy metal structure that can help carry additional luggage on your motorcycle. A motorcycle luggage rack may be attached to the sissy bar or come as a solo part that can be mounted on the rear fender. Almost all luggage racks feature a grilled design that offers space to tie down luggage bags with a strap.

2. How Much Weight Capacity Does a Motorcycle Luggage Rack Offer?

The maximum weight capacity of a motorcycle luggage rack is 10 lbs. No matter how sturdy you believe your rack is, you should never exceed the weight limit.

3. Benefits of a Motorcycle Luggage Rack

The biggest benefit of a motorcycle luggage rack is being able to carry additional luggage. However, it also has other lesser-known benefits you may want to know:

3.1 Storage

A motorcycle luggage rack increases the surface area of a motorcycle’s rear. Moreover, it can carry different types of motorcycle luggage bags, such as a tail bag, backpack, and even a side pannier. If you don’t have motorcycle luggage, you can also carry small duffel bags and suitcases on a rack. If you pack carefully, you can carry extra essentials on a rack without adding weight to the motorcycle’s rear.

Good organizational skill is the key to carrying more luggage, but some items are too large to fit in a luggage bag. A luggage rack can safely transport your larger items to and back from your motorcycle destination if you tie them down with bungee cords or Rok Straps. Rok Straps are available at different lengths and have an adjustable buckle. If you hook it to a sturdy structure like a luggage rack, it will allow you to mount large items that don’t fit in a bag and make them easily accessible.

3.2 Durability

Made of stainless steel, luggage racks are extremely durable and can last a long time. You can travel 10,000+ miles on a motorcycle with a luggage rack.

If you purchase a luggage rack from a trustworthy brand like Viking Bags, it will have three protective layers:

  • Copper
  • Nickel
  • Chrome

These metal coatings make the luggage rack waterproof and rustproof. Hence, a high-quality luggage rack can withstand the elements as well.

Also Read: Viking Bags Motorcycle Luggage Racks 101 Guide

3.3 Ease of Installation

Another benefit of a motorcycle luggage rack is that it is easy to install. Luggage racks from popular brands have installation hardware. As soon as you bolt it onto your rack, it is ready to use.

3.4 Permanent & Versatile

Once installed, a motorcycle rack offers a permanent ledge to store your luggage. You can mount any type of luggage on the rack with bungee cords. Whether you use your motorcycle for local daily commutes or an extended road trip, a luggage rack will come in handy.

3.5 Aesthetics & Customization

Available in a chrome or matte black finish, a luggage rack can add a classic or modern look to your bike. Custom luggage racks also feature beautiful metallic art that adds a personal touch and improves your bike’s aesthetic appeal.

3.6 Safety

Mounted on the rear fender, a luggage rack extends outward from the motorcycle’s frame. In case you drop the bike or it falls over due to an accident, a luggage rack will absorb the impact, protecting the frame and the engine.

3.7 Rear Crash Protection

Moreover, a luggage rack can also act as rear crash protection. The luggage brackets are sturdy and can absorb the impact if another vehicle hits from the back. However, a luggage rack is not an alternative for rear crash bars

Also Read: What Are the Benefits of Motorcycle Luggage Racks

4. Ways to Use a Motorcycle Luggage Rack

A motorcycle luggage rack is a simple accessory that can be used in different ways, depending on your riding needs. Though its capacity is limited, how you use it can allow you to carry plenty of cargo.

4.1 Create a Motorcycle Top Case System

Much like a tank bag, rear top cases mounted on a luggage rack ensure easy access to snacks, first aid, tools, etc. But those who ride adventure touring bikes and like to travel far off the beaten track should always use a combination of a luggage rack and a hard top case, also known as a tour pack.

Off-road riders have to tackle tough terrain, with chances of overturns, side-drops, and low-side crashers being high. Therefore, keep your expensive and breakable items in a top case.

This luggage rack system is beneficial for riders who like to film their trips and carry a laptop, camera equipment, and a drone. If you drop the bike, your tech gadgets will be safer than if they were in a soft saddlebag. The hard top case retains its shape and has enough space for a RAM mount. You can mount your GoPro camera on it to take remarkable rear shots at different angles. Make sure you place all your equipment in neoprene bags for easy access.

The sturdy lock system on a top case is better for carrying your insurance, vehicle registration, and other important documents than on the side panniers or saddlebags. Though hard cases are waterproof, make sure to apply silicone around any bolts on top of the case to keep them from leaking.

4.2 Mount a One-Gallon Fuel Tank

When traveling long distances, you have to be careful not to run out of fuel. The risk of running out of fuel is higher when going camping and riding around national parks. Hence, it is prudent to carry extra fuel with you on trips. Above the luggage rack and top case, secure a Rotopax one-gallon fuel pack or use a jerry can to carry extra fuel.

4.3 Strap Luggage Using Bungee Cords

Different luggage bags, including tail bags, backpacks, sissy bar bags, roll bags, and other motorcycle luggage can be easily tied to the luggage rack with a bungee strap. Make sure the weight of the luggage does not exceed 10 lbs and is placed horizontally. Look for loose strap extensions as they can get caught in the rear tire while the motorcycle is in motion.

4.4 Tie a Tent to the Luggage Rack

On a motorcycle luggage rack, you can transport your tent to the campsite and also tie it to the luggage rack using two straps when setting up. In fact, the rainfly of the “Goose” camping system manufactured by the Wingman of the Road is designed to be tied to the luggage rack or back seat.

4.5 Carry Food or Picnic Baskets

A motorcycle luggage rack can make your picnics and beach getaways. You can carry a blanket, food, picnic supplies, such as flatware, disposable plates, cups, a hammock, and a travel-size coffee maker in the basket and tie it to the luggage rack with bungee cords or buckle straps.

To make rides more enjoyable for your passenger, attach a rack to the backrest.

5. Other Motorcycle Parts That Improve Storage Space

Though a luggage rack can carry everything you might need on a motorcycle trip, sometimes you want to bring more belongings beyond the luggage rack’s carrying capacity. If you plan to participate in a motorcycle event, stay at a national park, or spend the night at an organized campsite, you may need items that ensure better comfort. Also, some riders do not like to have luggage racks on their bikes. Alternatively, you can add the following motorcycle parts to increase your bike’s storage space and make it travel-friendly:

5.1 Sissy Bars

A motorcycle sissy bar is a stylish accessory that can be mounted on the rear fender struts. A sissy bar is a backrest that can improve passenger comfort. However, the bars have a weight capacity of 10 lbs, allowing riders to mount luggage for long-distance solo rides. Some padded sissy bars feature foldable luggage racks, allowing moto campers to carry luggage and a passenger simultaneously. You can secure tail bags and backpacks to sissy bars with bungee cords. 

5.2 Passenger Seat

Some motorcycles have stock passenger seats, while others can be customized with aftermarket seats for two-up riding. When riding solo, you can also use your passenger seat to secure luggage bags with a Rok Strap or a bungee cord. This tip will come in handy if you do not want a luggage rack or a sissy bar.

5.3 Handlebar Bags

You can carry everything on a luggage rack except for a few essentials, such as keys, cash, sunglasses, spectacles, wallet, gum, mobile phone, charger, and Airpods. This is where handlebar bags come in handy. Available in different shapes, sizes, and closure designs, you can choose from a wide selection of handlebar bags readily available on the market.

5.4 Windshield

An optional feature on most bikes, windshields are useful on long-distance trips. They deflect wind and also provide protection from rain and debris. However, a windshield can also increase storage space. Simply mount a windshield bag to carry small items, like bandages, snacks, and keys.

5.5 Fuel Tank

Besides gasoline, a fuel tank can store luggage if you have a tank bag. A tank bag can store items you use frequently. Also, if your tank bag comes with a pouch and an opening, you can carry a CamelBak hydration pack and route its tubing outward through the opening for easy access to water. Some tank bags also have clips to secure the tubing of hydration packs. You can carry sunscreen, snacks, a book, a journal, a silicone cup, a spare USB cable, a map with notes, and small motorcycle tools. Some riders also place an inflatable pillow in the tank bag for their power naps during rest breaks.

6. Takeaway

A motorcycle luggage rack is a storage accessory to help a bike prepare for long rides. Some riders also use it as a rear decoration due to the beautiful black and chrome finish.

A luggage rack is an affordable option for carrying your motorcycle luggage. If you have this accessory, you can mount almost any type of bag and secure it with straps, buckles, and clips. You would have to pick and choose your belongings carefully to ensure they all fit when preparing for a trip. Overloading the racks can cause the supports to weaken and break.

Also Read: How to Choose a Motorcycle Luggage Rack

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