If you’re heading out for an adventure on your bike, it’s tempting to cram every bag, pouch and pannier with as many things as you can. After all, you never know when you might need that kitchen sink. However, did you know that your over-packing could land you in trouble?
Can you overload a motorcycle?
Motorcycles with panniers can be easy to overload, especially with luggage and a pillion passenger. However, if you’re over the weight limit of your bike, you could be hit with a fine of up to £5,000.
How do I know if my motorcycle is overloaded?
A lot of factors can affect the weight of your motorcycles, such as the type of motorcycle licence you own or the country you’re travelling to. Each bike has a Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) which is the recommended maximum total weight for your bike. This number includes rider, passenger, cargo and fuel. The GVWR can be located in the owners manual of your motorcycle, or near the VIN number.
Maximum motorcycle weight examples*
|Curb Weight (kgs.)||GVWR||Capacity*|
|2018 GL1800 Gold Wing||379||569||190|
|2016 Harley Davidson FLH series||399||616||217|
|2016 Kawasaki Concurs, with bags||312||541||228|
|2016 BMW 1200 RT||273||493||220|
|Yamaha Royal Star Venture Tour Delux||381||562||180|
|Honda GL1000 Gold Wing||264||428||163|
|Suzuki DL650 V-Storm||235||420||184|
*For reference only. Please consult your owners manual.
Should I take my bodyweight into account?
Referring to a recent survey produced by the government, the average weight for a man in the UK is 83.6kg. That information is based on a height of 5 ft 9inch. Based on this survey, the average UK Male is usually over the ideal weight by 12kg, whereas the average height and weight for a woman are 5ft 4 and 70.2kg. With the added weight of motorcycle safety gear, i.e. boots, armour and a helmet, the weighted average would then be increased with up to an additional 10kg. On top of this, you should take into account any potential pilly passenger too.
If we take the Suzuki DL650 V-Storm for example, the capacity is 184kg. An average male and pilly could take the additional weight up to 153kg, leaving roughly 30kg for luggage, which isn’t an awful lot.
What does the Law say about overloading your motorcycle?
It’s effortless to go over the legal limit when you take into consideration the average weights of UK citizens combined with safety gear and luggage. In the UK the Police can pull you over and escort you to a weighbridge. There has been a dramatic rise in bikers being caught with overloaded bikes recently.
While you won’t have your motorcycle license endorsed, you may receive a hefty fine which will be one or two weeks of your salary. The more overloaded your bike is, the higher your penalty will be
What if I have a motorcycle accident with an overloaded bike
If you are involved in a collision while riding with an overloaded motorcycle, the courts could decide to view it as an aggravating factor however this would mean that the overloading would have to be part of the cause of the incident.
Thus if you were in court for a careless driving offence, the non-endorsable overloading would carry a fine as a right of its own. If the prosecutor in court was to be notably aggressive, the prosecuting party might attempt to argue that the overloading was a provoking factor in the careless driving.
It is important to note that being dangerously overloaded and being involved in a severe collision can potentially lead to a rather severe conviction. That being said it would be difficult legally to prosecute such a case in court even so it would be possible so overloading your motorcycle isn’t a great idea.
If the Police do pull you over and find that you are over the weight limit, the officer can issue an immediate prohibition notice, meaning you cannot use your bike until the excess weight is shed.
What other issues can arise from overloading my motorcycle?
The reality of all this is that you are not very likely to be pulled over for an overloading offence. However, overloading your motorcycle does have an impact on handling and braking. Packing a little lighter prevents the overloading and makes the handling of the bike more comfortable. When you are riding with a pillion passenger, we recommend that you research the weight limit for your particular motorcycle and address how much you, the pillion and your luggage rack etc. weigh and consider how much luggage you need for your touring adventures. You and your pillion don’t have to be overweight to cause overloading even if you have an ‘urban tourer.’
It just goes to show how easily luggage and pillion can exceed the weight limit on a motorcycle. With some of the lighter models, you’d exceed the weight limit very quickly, meaning that you couldn’t have a pillion (even a light pillion) with you and kit at all.