Why riding motorcycles with a backpack is a bad idea.

On May 12, 2015  I pulled my wife’s steed out of the garage to make sure it was in good shape for our trip this weekend (European Rider’s Rally).  With general maintenance items checked it was time to leave the stable. I glanced at the clock and realized I, of course, was running a little behind. I should have taken a little time to transfer my laptop and everyday work items into my messenger bag (which fits in Kelly’s f650gs twin side bag with a little coaxing). The backpack does not even come close to fitting in the side cases so I just put it on went on my merry way.

I have always been a little apprehensive about riding with a backpack strapped to my back. In theory if one were to run out of talent on the bike and go down on a tarmac scraping excursion, said backpack has the potential of exacerbating the stunt show (let us go ahead and call this what it is, foreshadowing). Going to work the bike stalled out a few times at stoplights I naturally attributed it to the gas going bad, it’s been sitting all winter. I get to work fine and go about my day. Finally at 1630, (4:30 pm for you non military speaking folk) I jump on my wife’s iron horse to begin the commute home.

No stalling this time, however, the RPMs kept dropping low so I decide to head to the gas station for some fresh fuel. Again nothing spectacular here, I pay without incident, start up the bike and begin the journey home. I turn out of the gas station and start down the road.  There is this fun little turn that I have to make so I prepare the lean.  I look, I press, and “I roll on the throttle”.  When I say “I roll on the throttle,” what I am really saying is the bike threw me to the ground! I think I was doing 40-ish mph. It happened really fast and I hit the ground hard, concrete does not give, period.

I have no idea why the bike went down on me. I think the steed might have seen a snake and threw me off. It was probably a rattler. I honestly do not blame the poor girl, as I share the same fear of snakes. In fact, if you ever want to see a Marine with sheer terror in their eyes bring a snake and place it in front of me. Actually, do not do this, my flight AND fight response will kick in. I’ll flight the living hell out of there when the snake is around, and I cannot be held responsible for what happens (read as fight response will most likely kick in) when I get back.  All you really need to know is, I have this innate ability to sense snakes and I fear them more than anything else in the world. This includes dodging mortar fire, but I digress.

Where were we, oh yes, Kelly’s f650gs saw a snake, or a clown, or heard me make one too many kitchen jokes, and threw me off out of fear/retaliation. While I was sliding in my mesh Kevlar suit, I noticed how blue the sky was, and was thinking to myself,

“Man I’m glad I’m an ATTGATT type of G…”

Audience (in unison)ATTGATT type of what?!

Before I could finish “Guy” I felt a hard tug on my left shoulder, the backpack had hit something and anchored itself. The left strap had a fierce grip on my shoulder, much harder than my mother did when I was goofing off at church. While this slowed my sliding considerably I could feel the pressure building up on my shoulder. As quickly as the whole incident started, it ended. I got up, hit the kill switch on the bike, and had a whole crew of construction guys asking if I was alright. If I was a single lady I would have been flattered, however as a guy my pride was crushed and I was much embarrassed.

Assuring everyone that I was fine I picked the bike up and placed it on the side stand. They kept telling me to sit down, one mentioned I must be in shock, and one pulled out his phone to call 911. The first guy asked me, “How in the hell are you moving?” I told him, “I’m fine; I’m an amateur stunt man.” then I waved my hand like Obi Wan Kenobi and said “He’s fine; there’s no need to get the police involved.” Looking back, they probably thought I had a concussion because of this one instance. After the thousandth reassurance that I was fine, not in shock, no concussion, and completely coherent I grabbed my bag, put it on my shoulders, started the bike and left.

After the adrenaline wore off my shoulder really started hurting and so did my collar bone. The day after the wreck I’m a little sore, no worse off than if a seat belt had been over my shoulder in a car wreck. Thinking back on it if I was going a little faster that bag could have broken my collarbone, separated my shoulder, or even broken some ribs. I have always worn a small camelback without worries but this incident has me wondering if even that is a good idea.

Learn from my mistakes; say no to backpacks while riding.

Let’s do a Positive – Negative Comparison



My gear worked

Wifey asked if I was alright without any mention of the damage done to her bike whatsoever (Keeper!)

Very Little Cosmetic damage to her bike

I learned in a somewhat slow and arguably a slightly controlled environment that a backpack is no bueno (controlled being not highway?)


I crashed my Wife’s Bike

I crashed my Wife’s Bike

I didn’t crash my bike.. I crashed my Wife’s Bike <sadface>

Shoulder is sore

Kelly’s bike is either really loyal to Kelly or is terrified of snakes and clowns



I think I’ll stop telling kitchen jokes in earshot just in case

All in all I’m fine. Glad the moto port worked so well. What really happened?  Well I stopped at a gas station so only guess is oil or anti freeze on the tires as I rolled in there.  Other than that, I have no freaking clue.

2 thoughts on “Why riding motorcycles with a backpack is a bad idea.

  1. Lina Rifai

    Glad you are ok … And glad you wear ATGATT… and you guys even made it to the rally! You with bad shoulder and Kelly with a very loyal bike … 🙂

    I have always felt uncomfortable with a backpack on the bike. It felt as if it was going to interfere with my gear.. Now I have an even better reason not to have one on! Thanks for sharing..

    About your fear of snakes: we can work on that 🙂
    I will just have to come visit you guys and go looking for snakes with you and Kelly… We can even invite Ricardo along… He has a similar reaction to snakes as you, I think… Between a marine and a cop and two biologists we can figure this out 🙂

  2. Jim Brown

    Wow-glad you came out of this OK. The central message here is that back packs have straps and straps can catch on things. A Camelback worn under your jacket ought to be OK. I remember a conversation I had with my dad when I was a boy about why he didn’t wear his wedding ring when he worked on the farm. He had known of people who had lost fingers when their rings entangled with various things one finds in a farm environment.

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