Motorcycle Luggage - Buying Guides

Motorcycle Luggage - Buying Guides

Posted by Team Motorcycle on Nov 17th 2016

Traveling on a motorcycle is great fun, but it does have a few inconveniences compared to traveling in a car. By far one of the biggest issues is storage space.

If you are riding your motorcycle for a few hours, or to the local grocery shop, you don't really need to worry. But if you are planning to go on holidays, or long distances, or you need to carry stuff on your motorcycle, then there's a slight hiccup! Motorcycles just do not have much storage space unless you've got a Honda Gold Wing. At its best there's a place you store spare change, and maybe if you're lucky you can store your helmet below your seat, but that's about it.

In order to be able to accommodate your gear, computer, cameras, you'll need to get motorcycle luggage.

There are several areas on your bike that can receive luggage; it's not restricted to one area alone. Depending on your needs, you can use several areas on your motorcycle to store your stuff. The only thing you need to watch out for is weight. You'll not want to exceed the maximum weight authorized by the manufacturer.

Motorcycle luggage comes in different flavors:

- Saddle bags

- Sissy bar bags

- Tail bags

- Tank bags

- Tool bags

- Wind shield bags

- Backpacks

Saddle Bags

Saddle bags sit alongside your pillion seat. Most of them are fixed to the bike using special brackets (check if your motorcycle model has the required bracket option).

There are also several models that do not require brackets to fix to the motorcycle, you'll just need to tie it down.

Saddle bags or panniers, can be made out of leather, PVC or metal (usually aluminum). If you buy leather bags, remember that, like all leather products, they do need some maintenance.
Get a cream to nourish the leather.

Things to watch out for:

- Rain proof. You do not want your stuff to get wet. If they are just water resistant, buy a water proofing cream or spray.

- Volume. Will all your stuff fit? The more volume you have, the bigger the luggage gets, so you'll have to watch it on the road.

- Quick release. You don't want to be spending 10 minutes after a day long ride un-attaching your luggage.

- Locks. It's a good idea to have a saddlebag or pannier that can be locked. If there's no lock, look for attachments on the bag that can be used to secure a lock.

- Carry Handles. You'll want bags that have handles or straps to carry your gear from your motorcycle to wherever you are going.

Click here to see a list of saddle bags

Sissy Bar Bag

If you motorcycle has a sissy bar you can attach bags to the back of it. Weight distribution is far better in the back, towards your rear wheel, and it will give less wind drag.

Not all motorcycles have sissy bars, and even when they do, many are not tall enough. The sissy bar that can accommodate these kind of bags are usually found on cruisers.

Most sissy bar bags are made out of leather, some are made out of nylon.

Things to watch out for:

- Rain proof (as above, you'll not want your gear to get wet)

- Volume. You can take a lot with you if your sissy bar is long, but do watch out with too much weight.

Click here to see a list of sissy bar bags

Tail Bags

Tail bags usually have less volume, and are fitted towards the rear of your motorcycle, on a cargo rack or your pillion seat.

You'll find tail bags more often used on sports motorcycles since they offer the least wind resistance.

Most tail bags are made out of nylon, some are made out of leather.

Things to watch out for:

- Rain proof (as above, you'll not want your gear to get wet)

Click here to see a list of tail bags

Tank Bags

Tank bags are fitted onto your fuel tank, and have as an added advantage that the storage space can easily be reached while sitting on your motorcycle (like reaching for toll tokens).

Attaching a tank bag is either down using straps, or they are magnetic. The materials used are mostly nylon or other synthetic materials.

If the bag is attached using straps, some will have a mounting base to which the bag is attached. This allows for a quick removal of the bag.

Things to watch out for:

- Rain proof (as above, you'll not want your gear to get wet). If it's not rainproof, make sure there's a rain cover.

- Volume. You will not want one that is too tall so you can't see your dashboard.

- Magnetic. If you are taking one that is magnetic, make sure your fuel tank is metal, if not, it'll not hold you bag.

- Map Holder. Having a clear plastic top pocket for maps is handy, since it'll allow you to place a map and look at it while riding. Obviously, if you are using a GPS, you'll not need it. If you do use a GPS, you might want to think getting a bag with a GPS pocket.

- Pockets. Having at least one, preferably multiple pockets is a good thing. You can store loose things in these pockets and access them without getting off your bike.

Click here to see a list of tank bags

Tool Bags

Tool bags are small pouches used to carry tools for your motorcycle. They are usually found on cruisers, and allow you to get to your tools to make quick repairs whenever needed.

The bags are closed with straps or Velcro, and are made mostly out of leather. You can get them in sets of 2, one for each side of the motorcycle, and you can get tool bags that are designed to go onto your sissy bar.

Click here to see a list of tool bags

Wind Shield Bags

Wind shield bags are smaller bags that are mounted behind your windscreen on top of your dashboard. Cruisers are the type of motorcycle that usually have them,
and they have the advantage, like fuel tank bags, to be reachable from the biker's seat.

Wind shield bags are usually made out of leather, and sometimes PVC.

They don't offer much volume, but are handy to store small bits & pieces, or papers.

Click here to see a list of wind shield bags


The final piece of luggage that comes in handy when riding a motorcycle is the backpack. Backpacks come in all sorts of materials and sizes,
but obviously can only be used when riding solo.

Backpacks have as added advantage that they can be used when not on your motorcycle.

Things to watch out for:

- Rain proof (as above, you'll not want your gear to get wet). If they are not rainproof, make sure there is a rainproof cover with it.

- Volume. Don't get them too big, since you'll be wearing it for the ride. If it is big, you'll just fit in more stuff, and it will get heavy and start dragging you down.

- Make sure it can carry the gear you need. Typically, if you want to carry your computer laptop, make sure there is a compartment for it. The same if you require the backpack to store your helmet.

Click here to see a list of backpacks