Posted: 23 Sep 2011 10:00 PM PDT
Of all the bikes in the Inline Performance Magazine garage, it's our trusty old project XT-600 Yamaha that actually spends the most time on the road doing the daily commute. While the Yamaha—which I often describe as "a big street-legal dirt bike'—would be more at home tearing up the trails than doing the daily California commute, the Yamaha isn't as out of it's element as you might think.
The motorcycle's upright position is much more comfortable than being hunched over a sport bike, and also gives the rider better visibility in city traffic. Even better, at well under 400 pounds, the XT-600 feels quite light and nimble, able to pick it's way through the gridlock. Of course, sixty miles per gallon doesn't hurt either.
But one thing kept the old Yamaha from being an ideal commute bike—a lack of storage space. The only option for carrying anything was to bring a backpack or cargo pants.
What should you do when you need to add cargo capacity to a motorcycle? After considering much more expensive options, like soft saddle bags or hard panniers, I opted to go for a low-buck solution more appropriate for a 25-year-old motorcycle: A cargo net.
Mojo Town in San Rafael, CA, hooked us up with a motorcycle-specific cargo net, complete with rubber-coated hooks to protect the bike's paintwork. Installing the net was easy too, we just stretched it over the gas tank, hooking it under the edges of the tank. Cargo nets are available on the web and pretty much any motorcycle shop, you can usually chose from a selection of colors as well.
Moving to the back of the bike, we could have simple gone for another cargo net, but we were looking for something with a little more flexibility. Again keeping with the "cheap is good" philosophy, we opted for two sets of nylon straps with backpack-style plastic clips. We got ours at our local athletic store for less than ten dollars. Installing the straps was just as easy as the cargo net—we just tied the straps to the frame.
Out on the road, both our additions work great. The cargo net works great to hold pretty much anything small or odd-shaped you can imagine. Even Subway sandwiches and cold, slippery soda bottles were held tightly in place with no chance of falling off. Similarly effective were the straps on the back of the seat. While they won't hold small or odd-shaped items like the cargo net will, larger items, like backpacks, duffle bags, or even a tent or sleeping bag can all be strapped onboard.
If you're looking for something a little more secure, there are lots of motorcycle-specific storage options out there, from hard aluminum panniers, leather saddlebags, or even painted, plastic sport bike "luggage." But even if you chose a cheap and simple solution, having real cargo capacity will make you rethink when and how you use your motorcycle.
Stay tuned for more updates, and be sure to order your copy of the 2011 print edition of Inline Performance Magazine HERE at the pre-order price until supplies last.
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