When you first start to ride a motorcycle you are going to look for any excuse to use your motorcycle. For many this can mean using it to pick up groceries. That’s why I wrote this article, to share some of the ways I have tried in the past or have seen friends do firsthand.
So, how can you carry groceries on a motorcycle? To carry groceries on a motorcycle you are going to need some type of saddlebags, panniers, top box or a tank bag. If you don’t have one of these, you can use a backpack or strap the bags to your passenger seat with some bungee cords.
This is a pretty quick and short answer, but there is actually a lot more to it. Reasons why you would or wouldn’t pick one way over another as well as a few ways you should never carry groceries on your motorcycle. If you want to know more, then read on.
Can you carry groceries on a motorcycle?
Of course you can, motorcycles are perfectly fine for carrying groceries. While they don’t have the carrying capacity of a car, with the right gear and equipment you’ll be able to easily transport your groceries on your motorcycle.
I personally have been using my motorcycle for grocery shopping for years. It kind of adds a bit of fun to the whole thing and gives me another excuse to hop on my motorcycle and ride. After the first few times, you’ll figure out a system for you and you’ll wonder why you didn’t start doing it earlier.
To help you along, I have gone over the best ways to carry groceries on your motorcycle, as well as a few ways you should never carry them. Let’s get into it.
This is a great way to do it, I had one of these on my first motorcycle. It was great, it was big enough that I could actually fit my helmet inside and lock the box. So I didn’t have to worry about something nasty happening to my helmet or lugging it around with me.
Made life so much easier. When it came to shopping, if I wasn’t buying large bottles of soda or six packs of water, I could easily fit my shopping for the week in it. This was usually around 3 bags of food.
Not a lot, but enough for me to get through the week. The only thing I didn’t like was it kind of made my motorcycle look a bit dorky.
Not that it really matters, the amount of use I got out of it made it worth it. A great thing is it didn’t effect the handling at all, I didn’t notice a difference with it on or off. It worked really well and I would recommend you give it a shot.
When I got my first cruiser, one of the firsts things I did was stick a set of leather saddlebags on it. After having a topbox, I couldn’t go back to not being able to carry stuff easily on my motorcycle.
Compared to the topbox, there was a ton more space to carry stuff. My record was 7 bags of food for a summer BBQ, I was amazed I actually fit it all in. Sure it was overflowing and I had to use bungees to hold the top down, but it did fit.
One thing I didn’t like about saddlebags is mine didn’t have a lock. It was just a buckle, so you couldn’t leave anything in there you were afraid of getting stolen. This meant I was only comfortable leaving a rain poncho, pair of socks, extra shirt and maybe the lining for a jacket if the weather was colder.
Nothing I really cared too much about losing. If you do get saddlebags, make sure you evenly distribute the weight on both sides. It will make the ride a little better.
These can be good, I have never personally used one, but a few friends swear by them. They don’t have the largest capacity, but they can carry enough to feed you for a day or two.
So If you are the type that doesn’t mind going shopping each day on the way home from work, then a tank bag could work for you. If you do get one, look for one that you can easily take off and put back on. This means you can take it inside with you, making life a bit easier.
These are probably the best, they are waterproof, can be locked and can hold a lot of groceries. Being able to lock them is great if you are running around the city and you need to leave your motorcycle at a few places while you are running errands.
You know whatever you lock in the panniers is going to be there when you get back. One downside is they increase the rear width of the motorcycle. This can make it pretty easy to clip objects if you are not paying attention. Even so, they are probably the best solution and if these were an option for my current motorcycle, I would probably install a set of them.
Those are the four best ways to carry stuff on a motorcycle. There are few more ways that you can use in a pinch, but these are not the best ways to do it. They include:
You can carry a pretty good amount of food in a backpack. I have used a backpack before, but I found it wasn’t the best way for me and there were a few things I didn’t like about it.
First, I didn’t like having the added weight on my back. It kind of threw my center of balance off and made me feel a little less sure about myself riding. I know if I practised with a backpack I would get used to it.
However there is also a possible safety issue with some types of backpacks, they can actually cause injury to your neck, spine and back. This is especially true for backpacks that are not designed for use on a motorcycle.
Backpacks that are designed for use on a motorcycle, usually will lower this risk or remove it all together. With that being said, motorcycle backpack or not, they are probably the easiest way to carry groceries or anything else on a motorcycle. Just not the safest or the best.
Strapped to the passenger seat
Before I got my topbox, I tried this a few times with varying degrees of success. The first time was one evening on the way home from riding. I wanted to pick up some eggs and milk for breakfast the next day.
I went into the store, grabbed a carton of eggs and some milk. I tossed them into a paper bag, then using bungee cords I strapped that to my passenger seat.
The result was only 8 of the eggs made it home safely, I lost a few soldiers along the way. The pressure used to hold the carton down, cracked a few of the eggs. Apart from that one time, it was usually fine and everything worked out ok.
You just need to pay attention to how you strap the bags down. One trick was to use a netting to hold all the bags together, it made the whole process a lot easier. If you are doing this, pack the heavier or wider objects on the bottom. This will lower the chance of it all “flopping” over while you are riding. I’ve had this happen, it’s not fun.
Down the front of your jacket
This is hands down the absolute last resort way of doing it. I have done this, it’s not comfortable. It limits the amount of movement you have and you are constantly thinking about what the bag is doing and whether or not your groceries are going to spill out all over the road. It’s distracting and dangerous. Only do this if you have absolutely no other choice and it’s a short trip.
As you can see there are plenty of good and ok ways you can carry your groceries on a motorcycle. Let’s quickly go over a couple of ways you should not:
Hang bags off handlebars
This is the worst thing you can do, do not do this. There is a very good chance the bag is going to get snagged on something and cause you to crash. I haven’t seen many riders do this, but the few times I have, it made me cringe. Don’t do this.
Try to transport something that is too big or long
This can be a huge danger. If you are having trouble loading on your motorcycle or you are starting to have doubts whether or not you are going to make it home, it’s time to think about calling a buddy or family member with a car to give you a hand.
If you can’t do this, then calling a cab or some other service to come and pick up the items is your best bet. It’s not worth crashing trying to save a few bucks.
Well that’s it for this article, I hope you enjoyed it and learned about the best ways to carry groceries on a motorcycle. Until next time, happy riding!