Your bike’s load capacity is a critical number that tells you how much weight you can put on your vehicle. Understanding how to determine and calculate load will ensure that you’re driving safely. Adding custom parts, cargo, a passenger, and even special gear on your own person will all impact your bike’s total load. Keep a close eye on this critical number to make sure your bike is always driving under optimum conditions.

Understanding Load Capacity

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Image via Flickr by hyku

Load capacity refers to the maximum weight that your motorcycle can safely carry. This includes the weight of the bike itself as well as anything it’s carrying. If you exceed your bike’s capacity, it can become dangerously overloaded. When a bike is overloaded, it’s more difficult to turn and control. It will accelerate more slowly and take longer to stop. Overloading puts excessive strain on your tires, causing them to wear out rapidly and increasing your risk of serious damage both to the tires and the bike.

Determining Your Bike’s Maximum Load

Manufacturers specify the maximum load capacity for bikes and tires. You need to check both and adhere to the lower of the two numbers to make sure you’re driving safely. You’ll find your bike’s load capacity in the owner’s manual. Just look for the Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR).

The load capacity for your tires is stamped on the sidewall. The double-digit load index code here is a number between 33 and 90 that corresponds to maximum poundage. For example, a load index of 33 indicates maximum capacity of 254 pounds. Look up the maximum weight that your tires can carry according to their load index rating.

Calculating the Weight of Your Load

Once you’ve determined how much weight your bike can carry, you need to figure out how much weight it’s actually carrying at any given time. This includes:

  • The wet weight of your bike (found in the manufacturer’s manual)
  • Fuel, oil, and other fluids (typically about 40 pounds)
  • Custom parts you’ve installed in your vehicle
  • Accessories such as hard bags
  • Any luggage or cargo you’re carrying
  • Yourself with all your clothing and gear
  • Your passenger, with all clothing and gear

Keep a careful eye on the pounds you’re loading on your bike to make sure you don’t overload it.

Ensuring a Safe Ride

The load capacity listed on your bike and tires assumes a certain tire air pressure. When your tires are low, the load capacity declines. Keep your tires at the maximum recommended pressure for the highest load capacity. Remember that your tire’s pressure recommendations refer to cold pressure. If you measure your tire pressure after you’ve been driving, you’ll get the hot pressure instead, which is higher. Look at your tire pressure while cold to get an accurate reading.

Check your bike’s maximum load capacity and keep a careful eye on any items that you pile on your bike. An overloaded bike is a serious danger both to yourself and to others who share the road with you. Prevent problems on the road, and always stay on top of your load.

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