Browse 300+ Motorcycles

Shop 30,000+ Products

Klarna, Zip & Afterpay

Simple 30 day returns

Bikebiz | For every rider

What's under your Seat

Kym Liebig

Okay, so in normal motorcycling context the most common answer to this question might be ‘my battery’. Mind you, that’d make for a short and shitty blog. What we’re looking at today is the potential of using under-seat space to store stuff that can help get you out of a jam. Hopefully there are tips here for everyone, except maybe the admirably-prepared ADV crowd. You know who you are, the guys with aluminium panniers the size of filing cabinets and a Mig welder in the top box. All jokes aside, it’s worth every biker’s while to ponder preparedness, and the value of what can be stowed under the seat on the bikes we ride.

Credit cards, waiting and the value of being prepared.

Today’s motorcycles are remarkably reliable machines, but according to the Chaos Theory that I learned all about in a dinosaur movie, anything can and will happen. Also, dinosaurs aside, no matter how fancy and high tech your bike is, I’ll wager it can still cop a flat tyre like any other bike. Now, if you don’t like getting your hands dirty, you can solve problems such as breakdowns and flat tyres with a phone, a credit card and maybe a Roadside Assist plan, but I have to ask…how much do you like waiting? Speaking for myself, I don’t even like being put on hold for 30 seconds, so the idea of spending a couple hours on the side of the road waiting for help to arrive is not something that appeals, especially when a bit of under-seat insurance is easy to arrange.

Acknowledging the space crisis

I once owned a British sports motorcycle, which required that a single hex fastener be removed in order to take off the pillion seat pad and reveal the tool kit. The joke, in this case, was that the ‘tool kit’ was a screwdriver clipped to the base of the seat. So yep, I’m aware that underseat space on some bikes – especially sports bikes – can be very limited. You can maybe buy back a bit of room by replacing your big standard lead acid battery with a smaller, lighter lithium battery, but even if you can’t, with some determination you’ll nearly always find nooks and crannies that can be used to store useful stuff. It’s a case of weighing up which problems you’re most likely to face and then using the space you have to the best affect.

Tyres, bloody tyres

With some notable exceptions, motorcycles don’t carry spare wheels. Meanwhile, our roads are liberally littered with tek screws, nails and other nasties. Suffering a flat is just a matter of time. So what works?

For my money, tyre plugs are the best temporary solution. You can strip down a tyre plugging kit to just one small tool, along with the plugs themselves – which look alarmingly like miniature dog treats – plus a couple CO2 cartridges and an adaptor to inflate the plugged tyre. If you’re not familiar with the system, it works something like this; 

  • Find the leak and remove the offending item, if it’s still stuck in the tyre. 
  • Use the pokie tool to shove a sticky rubber dog treat into the hole.
  • Inflate the tyre with the CO2 cartridge.
  • Ride slowly and carefully home and have the tyre replaced asap.

Provided what you’re faced with is a puncture and not an enormous tear or blowout, in my own experience these kits work a treat and with practice, can get you back on the road in about 5 minutes. Of course you’d be crazy to continue using the repaired tyre for anything more than getting you home or to a workshop. But when the gear to repair a flat can fit in the palm of your hand, you’d be equally nuts not to carry it on your bike all the time, rather than find yourself stuck in a situation where a long wait is the very best you can hope for.

Good tools, bad tools

Most motorcycles have some sort of tool kit as standard, and these tend to fall into two categories – rubbish, or lost. If you still have your standard tool kit, a good approach is to take it out, consider how good or bad its individual components are, and replace any pitifully bad tools with better quality items. It shouldn’t be too hard. Right off the bat, replacing the crappy standard pliers with a quality multi tool (pliers, screwdriver, blades, file etc.) could instantly double the capability of your kit. Likewise, adding a compact multi tool designed for bicycles will often give you lots of useful hex key sizes in one tiny package. 

If you’ve lost your bike’s standard tool kit:

  • Shame on you
  • Start with a quality pliers-based multi tool and a bicycle multi tool.

These two will fit into tiny nooks of space on your bike and can really get you out of a jam. Case in point; if you have a nail stuck in your tyre, you’re packing a puncture kit but don’t have pliers, how are you going to get the nail out?

Now, look over your bike and think about the common bolt and nut sizes securing stuff like lever perches, foot controls, fairings and coolant hoses. Often these will be in just a couple common sizes, so try to make sure that you have these covered with spanners that fit. If your space is limited, try to rank your choices in order of ‘most likely to give trouble’, bearing in mind that shit happens, and Murphy’s Law is a thing.

Extras – the bodges that can get you home

Three words – ties, tape and wire. 

  • Cut the head off a medium sized cable tie. Now thread a heap of others onto this headless tie. You now have a handful of cable ties ready to stow away on your bike or in your pocket, packed securely in a way that won’t drive you nuts like loose ties do.
  • Good gaffer tape or even quality electrical tape has dozens of uses on a bike. Try to squeeze some in.
  • Depending on the thickness you choose, mild steel wire is endlessly useful and in a jam, can even serve as a temporary hose clamp. Always worth packing if you have space

Bonus round!

Breakdowns are shite. Breakdowns in the dark are worse. An LED torch the size of a AAA battery can be very welcome. How about a cigarette lighter? It’s potentially another source of light, the beginnings of a cheery campfire if you’re in the middle of nowhere, and if you’re really pissed off with your bike, you could always set it on fire. 

(Okay, maybe ignore that last one. Otherwise, at least please send photos.

Summing up

Spending some time stuffing a few small, useful bits and pieces into the space under the seat of your bike can save you hours of roadside waiting and potentially a ton of money in bike recovery costs, too. Of course there’s no substitute for a properly serviced and maintained bike, but being prepared for what can happen on the road, especially common problems like punctures, can really pay off.

I’ve only used my puncture kit once for myself, but it’s bailed out two fellow bikers over the years, both complete strangers I found stuck out on the open road. Both were a long way from home and feeling pretty bleak, calling on distant friends and family, arranging help that was going to be a long time coming. It was nice to be useful and help get these guys moving again. Riding beats waiting, after all, and we riders need to stick together. So it’s worth remembering that through being prepared, you might even be able to make a big difference in another rider’s day. Perhaps now more than ever, helping feels good.

Stay safe out there, and we’ll see you on the road.