Harley-Davidsons are known for being big, heavy bikes with steel frames to support their bigger engines, transmissions, and everything that comes with both those features.
Still, does that mean that Harleys can handle a good amount of weight for their size?
To make sure a Harley’s chassis and suspension system don’t get overtaxed, you’ll want to stay at or under the total weight the bike can hold.
Continue reading for a good look into how much weight a big, ol’ Harley-Davidson motorcycle can handle!
How Much Weight Can Harley-Davidsons Carry?
The amount a Harley can carry is determined by the Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR), a listed spec you can find in the manual, or by Googling a bike’s specs.
Don’t be fooled by the GVWR. The motorcycle’s factory weight needs to be subtracted from the GVWR to determine the actual weight your Harley-Davidson can carry.
It should be noted that factory weight is not wet weight-the fuel and fluids for your bike add up to a surprising 30-40 lbs (14-18 kgs). The bike’s wet weight should always be figured into the extra carriage weight.
Most motorcycles can carry 350-450 pounds (159-205 kgs) in addition to the weight of the bike themselves. But the 6 different Harley models we surveyed could carry between 415-500 lbs (188-227 kgs). Harley-Davidsons can carry, on average, more weight than other makes and models.
We’ve got the basic stats to share that will help you know a few key Harley’s weight limits!
We went ahead and chose the Iron 883, Heritage Classic, and Dyna and the Pan America, Fat Boy, and the CVO Road Glide. These six cornerstone models can carry the following weight:
- 2021 Harley-Davidson Pan America: 469 lbs (213 kgs)
- Harley-Davidson FLSTFI Fat Boy: 477 lbs (216 kgs)
- 2022 Harley-Davidson Heritage Classic: 435 lbs (197 kgs)
- FXDWG Dyna Wide Glide: 453 lbs (205 kgs)
- 2020 Harley-Davidson Iron 883: 415.5 lbs (188 kgs)
- CVO Road Glide: 500 lbs (227 kgs)
What Harley-Davidson Models Can Handle the Most Weight?
In most cases, touring/adventure models and big cruisers are going to carry the most weight.
That being said, the Harley-Davidson CVO Road Glide can handle the most weight, with an ability to easily carry 500 lbs (227 kg) of fuel, fluids, gear, rider, and pillion (if you’ve got a passenger rider).
These sleek hard-baggers are your best option for maxing out your weight-carrying capacity.
Although we excluded trike models from most of our queries, a bit of digging into the Harley-Davidson Tri-Glide trike model showed it can only handle 496 lbs (225 kg)!
Another notable contender is the Harley-Davidson Fat Boy, which can handle 477 lbs /216 kgs of extra weight, a pretty great cruiser or touring setup for big guys and gals, or long-distance riders who need every bit of carriage weight they can get.
How Much Extra Weight Can You Load on a Harley?
If a big trip is coming, you are going to want to gear up to make a memorable trip as comfortable as possible. This includes panniers or hard bags loaded with clothes, toiletries, emergency equipment, and tools.
It doesn’t usually amount to a lot of weight unless you’re headed to a library convention or brick layer’s expo!
Still, extra weight means extra wear on your Harley’s suspension and chassis. If you have a preloaded suspension, it’s good to know an average weight you can use to calculate for any adjustments.
The amount of extra weight you can load on a Harley depends on the rider and the bike, but you only need to subtract your weight from the total carrying weight of your bike!
If the average American weights app. 200 lbs/90 kgs, then a Harley can easily take on 200-300 lbs/90-140 kgs.
Take into consideration the bike’s additional weight in fuel and fluids as well as all the heavy riding gear which you’ll need to pare off the total extra weight a Harley can carry.
What Is the Max Weight Limit for Passengers on a Harley?
It’s always great to be able to take on a passenger, especially when one of your buddies is stranded. If this situation occurs, they may have to swallow their pride and hop on behind you.
But make sure to quickly calculate how much their weight is adding to a bike that might already be groaning under other weight.
The max weight limit for passengers on a Harley-Davidson can be determined by two factors-the passenger (or pillion rider) weight and the amount of extra weight you are carrying in your bags.
Simply put, subtract the passenger’s weight from the extra weight total you’ve arrived at. This will determine if a passenger can safely ride along without putting too much wear on your suspension and chassis.
We never recommend exceeding the carriage weight rating for your bike. Your Harley’s maneuverability will be dangerously limited, and with a passenger on board, you are endangering two lives instead of one.
How Can I Know How Much Weight My Harley Can Handle?
I’ll give you an example from real life. If I weigh 170 lbs/77 kg and I’m taking my ‘94 Dyna Wide Glide out on the road, I need to do these simple calculations:
- I subtract my body weight (170 lbs/77 kgs) from the motorcycle carrying weight (453 lbs/205 kgs) which leaves me with 283 lbs, or 128 kgs.
- Helmet, boots, and riding gear. We found riders wear somewhere between 15-40 lbs/7-18 kgs of gear when they ride.
- Now I subtract the weight of my leather saddlebags. If you have leather panniers, expect this weight to be 8-10lbs or 4-5 kgs. If you are rocking hard bags, this is an additional 25 lbs or 11 kgs.
- Remember to figure in your wet weight. The 1994 Harley-Davidson Dyna Wide Glide has 33 lbs or 15 kgs of fuel and fluids on top of the factory weight.
If I use this simple formula, I know I can carry 225 lbs/100 kgs, which is a lot of portage if you think about it! The more a rider or their passenger weigh, the less extra weight they can carry.
Can You Install Pegs That Can Hold More Weight?
There would be a serious liability if Harleys were hitting the streets from the factory with footpegs that wouldn’t support the weight of just about any rider.
You can install aftermarket pegs on your Harley to fit for comfort, get better shock absorption, or simply to look rad while you ride, but the pegs are all manufactured for a max weight rating much higher than the average rider’s weight.
Several riders in the 300 lb/140 kgs weight range reported being able to stand up on their stock pegs with no worry that the peg would collapse or fail.
If there is a worry as to the weight limitations that the pegs can hold, one mechanic suggests putting the bike on the center stand, getting up on the pegs, and pumping up and down, carefully so the test doesn’t knock the bike or rider over.
If there is any stressing or cracking, replace the pegs before riding, but it’s likely the individual part is faulty.
Can You Adjust Your Harley’s Suspension for More Weight?
If you are consistently hitting the upper range of your Harley’s weight limit, you’ll want to look for signs of wear and tear on your chassis and suspension.
Aftermarket suspension kits for all Harley-Davidson models are available, and having a preloaded suspension will allow you to adjust your suspension to sit higher.
If you go back and forth between cruising and touring, we definitely suggest the preloaded suspension, as it can be adjusted with every fluctuation of weight that might do damage to your suspension system.
Can Too Much Weight Damage Your Harley’s Chassis?
In addition to the suspension, a Harley’s chassis can become damaged. The two main signs of overloading a chassis are bent swing arms and front forks.
These areas being damaged can cause major malfunctions, limited control, and further damage to other parts of your motorcycle.
Use the simple calculations we’ve included in the article to keep from overloading your bike, and as always, be adventurous, but ride safe!