Do Motorcycles Have Storage Compartments?

Do Motorcycles Have Storage Compartments?

  • Updated: 2023-07-04

Riding a bike is no simple task, especially on a longer trip. Since every person needs some supplies when they travel, bikes with storage compartments would be a great thing to have, right? Let’s take a look at how and if these types of motorcycles exist.

Storage Wars

As any rider will know, motorcycles are exceptionally useful and adaptable to all kinds of situations and spaces. The only downside to this is their limited storage space and methods of carrying things on them. Ever since they became popular, people have been looking at ways to conflate the flexibility of the motorcycle with the storage capacity of scooters.

The threat became so big that in the mid-70s there was a meeting between the owners of the largest motorcycle companies in the world, people like Bill Suzuki, Tom Harley, and Francis Kawasaki. Scooters were becoming a threat to the way they were used to building bikes because they could be so much more reliable for people looking to, for example, buy groceries.

What they vowed to do is move away from building bikes with storage compartments as it would impact the quality they could deliver on other parts of the machine. This created somewhat of a divide between riders who supported this move as a way of “breeding” motorcycles for speed and performance and riders who would have preferred a more mixed approach.

What Can You Do?

As a budding motorcycle owner, you will be challenged with finding an answer to this solution. While there are some bikes which come with an already-equipped storage box, most of the time you will have to find and attach your own. Fear not, it’s actually easier than it sounds because most people need this nowadays.

  1. Tank bags: Using a tank bag brings numerous benefits to your riding experience. They help you locate the mass of your luggage as close to the bike’s center of gravity as possible, leave room for a passenger, and also allow you to be able to read a map.

You can find them with a multitude of mounting options, with straps and/or magnets being the commonly used ones. Another storage option known as a “tail bag” has evolved from this, basically soft bags mounted over the pillion seat with the help of straps. Due to the positioning, however, bikes with tail bags cannot carry a passenger.

A tip here would be to make sure you choose the color of your tank bag well so it doesn’t look weird when compared to the other parts of your motorcycle. After all, we want people to look at your bike as a whole, with no single part standing out.

  1. Bags: The obvious solution, bags can be a quick fix for when you need to just throw some stuff inside them and hit the road. On longer trips, however, wearing weight on your back can get really uncomfortable and in the way of you enjoying your ride.
  2. Top box: A top box can be a good choice of storage depending on the type of bike you own. They typically require pillion grab rails or a big subframe, both being characteristics that current generation sportbikes seem to lack. If you own an older model, you will find this to be a practical alternative.
  3. Bungee cords: These can be great if you just want to secure something on the back seat. They are easy, cheap, versatile, and allow you to carry practically anything on your bike. To be on the safe side, make sure to strap them to a secure part of your bike and get them very tight.

How Should a Storage Compartment Be?

Along with having a nice look that compliments the rest of the bike well, a good storage compartment should have enough capacity and also be easily removable as the biker might not need to carry a lot of things all the time so he or she should be able to remove them and fix them again in a moment’s notice.

Keep in mind that you should always buy these bike accessories while having an overall view of how you want your motorcycle to look like in the back of your mind. Some people, on the other hand, are more practical and don’t mind a weirder look as long as they can carry more things on it.

Why Don’t Motorcycles Usually Have Storage Compartments?

The reason why the owners of the big motorcycle companies frowned upon the storage compartments is that installing one automatically takes away from its fuel capacity. In fact, that’s basically how scooters came to be: less overall fuel for more storage. A scooter will usually have around a 5-liter tank, compared to bikes that go for 10 liters or even 18.

Another problem was, of course, styling, since building a motorcycle with an already-implemented storage place required a re-thinking of the whole image of the bike.

In time, some of the big companies brought some special models on the market which had storage compartments large enough for a full-face helmet while sacrificing fuel tank capacity. Since the tank is also usually located under the seat, there were many riders who could not see the difference between these and a scooter.

The practical side of thinking would say that fuel capacity is much more important than storage since it would be quite a drag to have to call AAA every time you want to take a longer trip on your bike. Just like everything else, it is, of course, a matter of preference. Trade some space for more power and fuel, or take shorter trips with a lot more luggage.