This article has been submitted by ViaTerra Sponsored Rider Rohan Dewan.
I ride a Royal Enfield Thurderbird 350. I have used these 'Ladakh Carriers' or whatever they are called for many years now. Once I put them on I could load just about anything on them, fuel being THE most important item on that list. I even designed a contraption to carry a spare wheel on the carrier, ready to be mounted in case I had a flat tyre. The First time I had these mounted at my mechanic's shop, he said with a broad smile
‘Now Your Bike looks like one those ones ridden by Foreigners’
I have to admit it did look nice, it does even now. Any bike with these frames on means only one thing, its been places!
But my thought process has changed since the last 2 rides, where I used the ViaTerra’s Claw rear luggage system. I realized that perhaps it was time for me to say goodbye to these heavy metal frames once and for all, and here’s 5 reasons why I think you should too.
1. Time wasted mounting/dismounting the carrier
Two frames and innumerable noumber of nuts and bolts, it is quite an effort and a time consuming task to mount the carrier up onto your bike. If one does have the right tools to deal with it, then it can be done at one's own leisurely time (but I doubt if anyone would consider setting time aside for mounting these frames up on their own when the departure date for their journey is nearing and considering the fact that there will be so many other aspects of the preparation which will also require an equal amount of time).
Best is to leave it to the Mechanics. Unfortunately for me, my mechanic who has been tasked with mounting and dismounting these frames for the umpteenth time by now, cringes every time I land up at his place with them in my hands.
2. Time waster mounting/dismounting the luggage
Through personal experience, I have noticed that loading up the luggage onto these carriers is a pretty time consuming task too! Most bikers use regular rucksacks (I used them too!), load them up, tie them down securely with 2-3 pieces of bungee cords and then figure out a way to use the rain covers to cover them up, and you are done!
The only problem is that you now need to get to work on the other side. And let's not even get to the moment when one realizes that somehow the luggage that was loaded on both sides is grossly imbalanced.
3. Not a Very Pretty Sight to look at.
Overloaded frames are not a good sight to look at. Many riders, especially the ones heading for Leh-Ladakh use these frames. I do not know what bags they use on the inside, but most of them cover it with tarpaulins on the outside to protect the contents from rain. One big sheet of tarpaulin (usually Blue or Orange)!
While loading up the bike, it might portray that image of freedom, and make you feel like you've got enough space for a zombie apocalypse. But trust me, over the years, the more I look at such setups, the more I feel puzzled about what they are really trying to do.
You've got this giant, mismanaged load of God knows what at your back, and you rumble down the highway saying "Make Way!". What you have to understand is that even though it might be a good feeling for you, it's a rather weird sight for others.
4. In case of a break-down?
In case of a break Down or a puncture, good luck finding the Tools that you loaded that morning in that bundle of luggage that you have stacked up in there. The first question that usually comes up is "Damn, which one of these bags did I shove down the tools in hurry this morning?". Second favorite question is "Do I need to take everything apart to find what I'm looking for?". And it usually ends with "Now that I've taken everything apart, how do I put it back together?"
Not only is it hard to find important material when you need it, it's such a pain finding even the most basic items. On top of that you have that constant fear of something falling off, all of which makes it a rather dull experience.
5. Compulsory load sharing!
So you are riding in a group of 4-5 riders. Lets say hypothetically, that 4 are using saddle bags and the chosen one (you) is using the frames. Any extra load that won't fit anywhere will be happily thrown onto the pile you already have!
Doesn't matter if you have the space or not, somebody will find some nook or cranny to fit that last little thing in there, that'll keep falling down every time you ride or unload some luggage.
Not only has this happened to me, I have done it to others too! I once loaded my soaking-wet riding boots to dry off on a friend's Bullet with carriers. Don't trust me? I have proof!
Now I am not promoting or proposing a nationwide ban or a movement to stop the use of these giant metal contraptions. I'm also not promoting any specific band or organization. All I'm trying to state is that you have to realize that certain equipment is designed for certain situations, and specialized motorcycle luggage makes a lot of sense for those motorcycle rides. If you still feel more secure with these Ladakh carriers, I say by all means, go for it. However, do give proper motorcycle luggage a chance before you prepare to head out into the Sunset with your house on the rear seat.
All I am stating is: Travel Light, Travel Smart and Travel Safe.