What is Wet Weight?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Kristen Osborne
  • Last Modified Date: 29 September 2019
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Wet weight is a term used to refer to the weight of a motorcycle when it has been loaded with all the fluids it needs to operate, along with the battery. People may also call it the “curb weight,” referencing the idea that the motorcycle has everything it needs to operate. This contrasts with the dry weight, where a number of elements are excluded. Motorcycles are typically shipped dry for ease of handling and safety, with dealers adding fluids and getting them ready for sale.

These terms are not standardized across the industry and this can result in confusion. Some people calculate the dry weight by subtracting the weight of a tank of fuel from the given wet weight, for example, ignoring other potential exclusions like the battery, hydraulic fluids, lubricants, coolants, and so forth. Individual manufacturers often use different terms and may not release information about the wet weight, offering only dry weight and gross vehicle weight rating measurements.

The gross vehicle weight rating is the maximum weight for safe operation, including the vehicle, accessories, riders, and cargo. For people looking to buy motorcycles, they usually want a low wet weight because lighter motorcycles tend to handle better. If there is a big difference between the wet weight and the gross vehicle weight rating, this is also of interest, as it indicates the bike can be heavily loaded with gear. The unreliability of stated measurements can potentially be a problem for people doing comparison shopping.


Manufacturers have their own internal and standardized process for weighing their products and they will publish information on the basis of their test results. Trade publications and review magazines may use different measuring systems and there can be a disparity between their assessments of dry weight and wet weight when compared to the manufacturer. People researching motorcycle purchases may take several measurements into account rather than relying on just one for this reason.

Releases of wet weight are sometimes not made in specification sheets provided by the manufacturer. For this information, people may need to ask dealers or check reviews with specifications. People comparing different results may also want to consider factors like whether a tank is full or only partially laden, as this can influence weight measurements. Usually, the methodology used for a wet weight is not described so there is no way of knowing what was included and excluded during the measurement process.


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Post 2

@SailorJerry - That's what I want to know! I've heard that a Honda CRV, for instance, can load as little as eight hundred pounds - four big adults, and you barely have room for the groceries!

And with both cars and motorcycles, it's important to be aware of how the weight distribution affects balance. A rooftop carrier, for instance, can make a car a whole lot more likely to tip over.

Post 1

It seems like wet weight vs dry weight should be straightforward, but apparently it's not. Cars have a similar problem. They'll tell you what the maximum total weight is, but make it difficult for you to calculate first how much your vehicle actually weighs, and second what that means for how much you can carry.

How are people supposed to drive safely if they don't know how much they can load?

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