The carrying capacity of your motorcycle does not increase in line with your waist and it is extraordinarily easy to overload even an ubertourer with or without that post-Christmas insulation.
As you read this, and your body digests its way through Christmas excess, remember the average Britain will gain 6lbs over Christmas, and most will keep a fair chunk of it ready to load up for next year, which is also an explanation as to how leathers curiously shrink over the winter period.
One disgruntled reader wrote in convinced that he had been mis-sold a bike he (a substantial fellow) and his wife, whose weight was not svelte like were too heavy, with kit, for touring. So, let us take a bike, popular for two up riding, the ubiquitous R 1250 GS.
BMW make no secret of its payload (unlike certain other manufacturers) and the new GS will carry a payload of only 216 kilos. A big but not huge man can easily weigh 100 kilos, add helmets boots and a suit, 120 kilos. We now have 96 kilos left. Put 40 kilos of luggage into 12 kilos of Vario paniers, along with tank bag, top box and roll bag and that leaves us with just 44 kilos for a pillion or just under 7 stones in kit. So, an overloaded bike is a very easy thing to achieve.
So what are the legal consequences of overloading?
On a GS the electronic suspension will do a good job of disguising an overloaded bike, and you will not draw a traffic policeman’s eye like five likely lads in a Vauxhall Corsa, but if you are going to be overweight you could be slapped with an immediate prohibition notice, which you could (if you were feeling brave) ask your pillion to get off and walk to bring you under the weight.
If your overloading is only 10% or less (21.6 kilos on the GS) you can have a maximum fine of £5,000, which depends on your income, but on the bright side it is a non-endorsable offence. Budget on a fine, for a modest overload of one to two weeks take home pay.
However, the real problem is not legal, it is the fact that your motorcycle tyres, brakes and suspension are not designed for its maximum payload, and braking, handling, and tyre adhesion are all compromised by overloading. The only answer is to shed weight, whether that is kit, luggage, or body.
Bike Magazine March 2020