You might be scratching your head when you see a motorcycle. How the hell do you carry anything on a bike? Do Motorcycles have trunks or something comparable?
Do Motorcycles Have Trunks?
Some motorcycles have a similar concept to a trunk as a lockable solid storage compartment behind the passenger seat. However, it is worth noting that this storage unit is usually an optional add-on accessory for most motorcycles.
A trunk, also called a tail box, or tour pack for motorcycles, is popular with;
- Big touring motorcycles
- Smaller commuter bikes
- Adventures motorcycles (hybrid off-roader and touring)
Unlike a car, a motorcycle trunk is usually a separated part and held in place with brackets bolted to the motorcycle frame.
It means that if the owner needs to, a motorcycle’s tail box is removable without compromising the bike structure.
On the other side of the coin, it would look pretty silly if you were to remove the back trunk from a car. 😉
Why Is A Trunk Popular For Touring And Adventure Motorcycles?
First obviously, to carry more stuff on longer and more arduous journeys.
When you road trip in a car, you carry more items than you usually would to make your travel more enjoyable. It is the same for bikes.
Motorcycles’ limited carry capacity makes external trunks a convenient solution.
The second reason why hard case trunks are popular on touring bikes is that they are usually waterproof (rain-resistant) and they feature a lock option.
It makes it convenient to deter sneaky people from peeking at your stuff while your bike is parked out of view.
Why Is A Trunk Popular For Commuter Motorcycles?
Commuters that use motorcycles or mopeds to move around love trunk tail boxes
Yet again, the rain-resistant and lockable features make them a desirable choice.
Yet, there is also a significant advantage when comparing a motorcycle trunk to more traditional saddlebags mounted on each side of a bike.
Side bags or side cases will widen the motorcycle space and might be an issue in some environments.
A single small trunk on top of a motorcycle tail keeps the bike thin and makes it easier to ride in tight places.
It is incredibly convenient to stay agile and small when lane filtering on a motorcycle.
Lane filtering = A motorcycle that passes between two lanes of stopped cars.
It is not that useful for most of North America since lane filtering is not allowed except for California and Utah.
But for most of the rest of the world, where lane filtering is a common way to get around on a bike, a rear tail trunk is an efficient way to carry possessions.
Also, smaller motorcycles and moped tend to have their exhaust pipes stick out high on one side of the bike.
It might place the exhaust system in the way to install side bags and make a tail box trunk the most sensible option instead.
Trunks On Other Type Of Motorcycles
External trunks can be installed on other types of bikes too, but this is uncommon for esthetical and practical reasons.
For example, a tail box would look entirely out of place on a cafe racer, ruining the vintage look and vibes.
Also, there won’t be pre-made brackets for installing a trunk on these kinds of motorcycles.
To make it work, it would need custom-made mounting hardware from metal machining.
Yet, It can be done; you can install a trunk on pretty much any bike if you got enough determination.
But considering more traditional bike luggage options such as a backpack or saddlebags would make more sense.
Can You Fit A Lot Of Stuff In A Motorcycle Trunk?
The capacity size of a motorcycle trunk will vary but usually go around 20 to 40-liter, which is comparable to a small or medium backpack.
It is usually enough for carrying motorcycle and everyday essentials items such as;
- Water bottles.
- Snack or lunch.
- Tire patch kit with a small air pump.
- Compact motorcycle tool kit.
- Windbreaker and waterproof overall.
Yet, it might be challenging to fit items in hard case trunks even if it is spacious.
Unlike a soft container like a malleable backpack and can expand to accommodate more items, a hard case motorcycle trunk can’t do that.
You might find it easy to fit soft items like a towel in a motorcycle trunk.
But for something solid like a spare motorcycle oil container, there might be an awkward loss of space.
For an extended journey on a motorcycle, a single trunk probably won’t be enough.
There is a good chance that side saddlebags will be part of the setup for such grandiose projects.
Also, in that case, for adventure motorcycles, if something doesn’t fit, strap it.
Motorcycles Trunk and Tail Boxes Drawbacks
Motorcycles’ trunks are not the perfect luggage solution with unicorns and rainbows.
Uncomfortable For Passenger
Unless a tail box features a backrest, the chances are that the plastic or metal will dig into a motorcycle passenger’s back.
Also, it can make it tight for the passenger to fit in the back and not impede on some of the rider space.
In terms of look and style for a motorcycle, tail boxes look weird and awkward.
Decent and well-built motorcycle trunks are expensive.
Also, most of the time, motorcycle trunks don’t come with the needed metal brackets and mounting hardware, increasing the final price.
For a complete setup with rigid containers trunk and saddle cases, expect to spend 800 to 1600$ for everything.
Are Motorcycle Trunks Universally Compatible?
No, even if such products are claiming to be universal. They only are universal if you got the resources and time to make them fit.
In that case, it involves machining custom brackets to fit on a specific model.
Yet high-quality complex cases can usually fit on differents mounting hardware, meaning that they could be reused on another bike.
The Secret But Tiny Trunk Of Some Motorcycles
Did you know that there sometimes is a hidden storage compartment under the rider seat on some bikes?
Yet, It might not be accurate for all motorcycles.
But for those that dose, you unlock this storage space with the motorcycle key with a lock usually near the bike’s tail.
Insert and turn the key, and the seat will pop open.
Now, most of the time, this also gives access to some of a bike’s electrical parts, such as the fuse box and battery.
But there might be a small compartment the size of a tissue box or smaller to store small items.
This storage compartment can be relatively larger on some motorcycles, looking more like a moped than an actual motorbike,
This ”under the seat trunk” is usually where a rider stores the insurance and registration for the bike and some small emergency item.
On some bikes, rather than removing the seat, you need to remove a specific side panel or fairing to gain access.
Carrying stuff on a motorcycle will never be as easy as a car, even if we do have the option to install an external trunk on our bikes.
It is all about making choices of what is essential to carry and learning to live with less.
At least we motorcycles riders are not entirely deprived of carrying capacity… for a price.
Yet If you are a cheap bastard like me, ride with a backpack instead. 😉
Otherwise, how the hell do you expect me to bring back home essentials living items like beer? XD
Drive and ride safe.
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