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Thread: Balancing the load?

  1. #1
    Registered User dmftoy1's Avatar
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    Mar 2012
    Lexington, IL

    Balancing the load?

    First long trip on new bike and everything is packed and ready to roll. Since its raining and I can't ride decided to weigh what I had in each pannier and top case. Was pretty easy to even out load but how far do you take it? I'm about 6 ounces different left/right.

    Never even gave it a thought before but was curious what others did and to what extreme?

    Have a good one,

  2. #2
    Polarbear Polarbear's Avatar
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    Jan 2006


    I usually consider my muffler too, as its usually on one side or the other. YOU did not specify what model bike you're on. I balance my loads by feel, guess work, but a muffler weighs into the mix, as its a heavy item down there. That bag gets less weight for my GSA1200. Twins of old days would be a no brainer, two mufflers. I run Jesse luggage and fill'em up, probably total gross left(muffler side) is 20lbs+ and right near 25lbs+, a guess lifelong tourer. I DO like to weigh my bikes axles(loaded bike) before big trips to see and I have a scale at work to do it. I usually hit(or less) the gross weight, me on bike at scale and I use the tires printed sidewall weights for a guide. Look on your sidewalls on tires for your weights recommended for that tire. The rear tire will carry near twice the weight of the front. Compare the numbers you find on your tires. Wife and I did a cross country trip(2up,camping) on the GSA1200 last summer and went over the rear tire limit by 100+ lbs.. We still went, overloaded and the bike did swell. NOT recommended by me,but we did it anyhow, no issues and bike handled it really well, handling and all. Every model is different, so be wise...The GSA happens to be a truck on two wheels. Your choice. Randy

  3. #3
    Enjoy The Ride saddleman's Avatar
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    Apr 2009
    Huntersville N.C.
    On long trips I have weighed my LT at over 1,300 pounds. I carry about 80 lbs of tools & spare parts in my two side cases and have never given it any thought about left or right side weight. I just pack it all in there the best way it fits.
    Dave Selvig
    2004 Black LT
    2000 Canyon Red LT

  4. #4
    Registered User dmftoy1's Avatar
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    Mar 2012
    Lexington, IL
    Cool! Makes me feel great with my 25lbs of tools and clothes. Maybe another 15 of gear (rain,etc.)

    I'm on a k1600gtl so mufflers on each side.

  5. #5
    Polarbear Polarbear's Avatar
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    Jan 2006


    Bikes are pretty amazing, carrying our loads about the USA. Ever see those Asian pics of folks carrying 4-5 people on a 250cc something of a bike and baggage too! Talk about overload. Well, we don't do all that, but go to rallies about the US and see many bikes overweight. We LIKE our stuff. Randy

  6. #6
    Registered User David13's Avatar
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    Nov 2011
    I sure am not much concerned about it one way or the other.
    I lean all the time anyway, and don't do a lot of straight line riding anyway.
    Plus, I am quite asymmetrical. One side of me weighs more than the other. I usually carry a set amount of coins in my left pocket to offset that asymmetry. Otherwise, I would like kind of funny walking down the road.

  7. #7
    Out There Somewhere ricochetrider's Avatar
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    Apr 2008
    Harrisburg, PA
    I never gave much thought to weight or balance, tho I guess the balance factor comes naturally, as things go where they fit, and it never has felt "funny" to me.
    I just rode a 3K trip two-up, carrying what I'd call max load, and I'm guessing we were nudging up against our total OA capacity for the bike (02 K1200RS).

    I figured (rough estimates)
    160 lbs (me)
    140 lbs (her)
    WITH riding outfits- pants, jackets, helmets, boots, etc.

    My side pannier (muffler)
    DOP kit + clothes
    15 lbs? (feels like)

    Her side panier
    clothes + light shoes + make up (honestly!)
    25 lbs? (feels like)

    GIANT Givi topcase (52 liter?)
    netbook + reference materials
    2 rain suits
    1 pair sneakers
    40 lbs? (feels like)

    Tank Bag
    odd assortment of stuff
    10-15 lbs? (feels like)

    395 lbs +
    Bike @ wet weight +/- 620 lbs?
    comes to about 1015 lbs.

    Total max capacity of 1101 (
    So I figure we were pretty close, almost certainly not exceeding max cap.
    Wasn't initially running max tire pressure but some odd wear began (ridges etc.) to show, pretty quickly- so I pumped up to max. Wear patterns didn't seem to get worse or affect the ride at all.

  8. #8
    Registered User
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    Sep 2008
    Wilmington, NC
    Weighting is fine for my track cars- getting the crossweights where I need them is a necessary part of the setup for the right balance of handling and tire life on a road course though camber and toe are equally important (caster less so) and one hopes for a geometry that doesn't create too much bump steer. Results get measured by segment times on a particular track which normally boils down to the ability to get to full power as early as possible on a couple critical parts of the track without losing traction and either spinning or having to lift. Note that the weights themselves are only a guide and a way to repeat a setup that works- not the final result that matters.

    But on my RT- you've got to be kidding. Touring isn't racing and the modest differences in handling induced by modest "imblance" (whatever that means because there is no reason to believe that a weight balance in and of itself allows optimum handling in any specific situation).

    I carry tools and paperwork in the throttle side case so it is heavy, only riding gear in the other and stuff that goes inside a motel in the topcase-trying to keep excess weight out of it. Camping gear or the Veskimo go on the rear seat. Tankbag is light- only electronics, munchy and water.

    Despite my casual approach to weight distribution on a bike I get no strange tire wear- only the tire cupping on front for which some types are well known though I no longer use those. So I see no evidence this subject really matters much except at its extreme. If I had a dedicated trackbike, its setup would get the attention my track cars get.

    Not arguing for grossly improper setups- just common sense. How many of you pay much attention to how the indvidual corner weights of your 4 wheelers might impact handling on wet or icy pavement?

  9. #9
    rsbeemer 22600's Avatar
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    Jan 2011
    New Braunfels,Texas/Taichung, Taiwan
    It's probably smart to think about such a thing, but , I never did.
    1978 R100rs MOA#22600 125cc Kymco , 180cc Kymco Racing King
    The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails.

  10. #10
    If you really want to think about this long and hard, start with the weight bias on a unladen bike. The final drive and most of the swingarm are weight biased one direction. The weight distribution of the shafts and gears in the transmission are not symetrical - input shaft is generally centered but the output shaft is biased to the same side as the final drive. On classic K bikes the crankshaft is not centered. All those pounds are biased to one side.

    So even if you have precisely equal weight in each bag the bike is still unbalanced.

    Classic K bikes and Oilheads are biased to the right. So added weight on the left side would be an advantage, not a disadvantage. But you probably wouldn't notice much difference.
    Paul Glaves - "Big Bend", Texas U.S.A
    "The greatest challenge to any thinker is stating the problem in a way that will allow a solution." - Bertrand Russell

  11. #11
    Is the tank on your bike symmetrical? My GS doesn't have a symmetrical tank. To balance the bike you'd have to figure out the difference in gas weight between the left and right side. But wait... my bike uses a sucking jet pump to move the gas from the right side to the left side. It keeps the left side full until the right side is empty. Even if the tank was symmetrical that is about a 15 pound difference (2.5 gal at 6 lb/gal) in sides when the tank is 1/2 full.

    In other words, you can't win, so don't spend a whole lot of time trying to play the game.

  12. #12
    Registered User tourunigo's Avatar
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    Aug 2005
    Larry's River, Nova Scotia, Canada

    1992 k1100lt

    Timely discussion. We have decided not to use our Uni-Go for Sedalia and thus the 'question of balance' / weight equation is taking on a significance not considered for a few years. So, this is the way I'm sortin' it out:

    What's coming:(besides us)

    - one tent; very light four person
    - one sun shade (8X10)
    - one double width air mattress (we still only use 3/4 of it
    - one large 'puff'; no sleeping bags
    - tools (but not 80 lbs of the stuff.... gotta have some faith eh?)
    - our clothes plus missy mary's cosmetic support system
    - two air flow jackets (in addition to the one textile and one leather jackets-wearing))

    How I pack it:

    - tools in two sacks: one for the bottom of each saddle bag; close to axle level is nice.
    - tent, sunshade and blanket: compression sacks.... air sucked out (right bag with one rain outfit)
    - mattress: air sucked out and wrapped like a tootsie roll (left bag on tools with mattress air pump and one rain outfit.
    - Trunk has our clothes and missy mary's cosmetic stuff (greatly reduced through 'tearful' negotiations)
    - air flow jackets in bag with air sucked out; rolled and put in the now unneeded tent bag. This hangs on right saddle bag.
    - Tent and sunshade poles: two 3" plastic pipes affixed at top of left and right bags. Cool cannon look from the rear!
    - Tank bag can handle all the other incidentals.


    - sorta guess the weights. Pack and then sit on the bike. Let it play back and forth as I straddle it. Ride it loaded without Mary for a bit; adjust as needed. Mary's position is neutral to the equation (although her position is indeed vital to the overall task at hand.... when riding two up the balance equation fore and aft should not be neglected)

    Disclaimer: We have some horrendous packing history which defied logic and general safety standards. The rivets in the arse-end of a /5 let go because of that 'kitchen sink syndrome' but the trip was a success. 11,500 miles took a toll I guess. However, even slow learners can learn without becoming clinically anal about it all. It's not rocket science or even 1st year physics.... really. Side to side balance and keep yer arse end off the fender. - Bob
    Bob Weber
    Larry's River, Nova Scotia, CANADA

  13. #13
    Registered User dadayama's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Oklahoma City
    I agree with Roborider....

    I load each side by use... so the side that is up when the kick stand is down is the side i put stuff i might want to access through out the day... the tent and other stuff can go on the low side... i have never noticed a difference in weight on either side of the bike... and that goes for times when i am commuting to work and only load the high-side...

    just some thoughts

    take care
    Ich Fahre Nicht Zu Schnell, Ich Fliege Nur Niedrig
    Oklahoma Adventure Trail

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