There are more different types of motorcycle bags than there are motorcycles. So how do you choose?
Different Types of Motorcycle Bags
I love tank bags. They are my security blanket while motorcycling. They are just so handy – and you can carry just about anything in them. Gloves, glasses, vitamins, ear plugs – heck – one time I carried a gallon of milk. It was an expandable bag – it fit right in.
Tank bags can be mounted with straps, magnets or some high end bags have a mount so the bag does touch the bike’s paint.
Not all tank bags come with rain covers – this is a serious must if you plan to use this on any extended trips.
Add power to the tank bag
What I have done for the last few is add power. When I park, I connect the bike to a battery tender. The battery tender has an SAE connection – I have routed mine up near the handlebars. This is also what I use to power my tank bag. I’ll add an external plug to the bag – and when not charging at home, I plug it into my tank bag and it powers the bag.
It’s a great way to get power in your tank bag to charge phones, cameras and communication devices.
Saddle Bags and Panniers
Saddlebags or panniers (pronounced PAN-YERS) are wonderful. My first few bikes didn’t have bags – but now its a must. The questions you need to ask is if you want to use hard bags or soft bags and what kind of look or feel you’re looking for – possibly what size you’re interested in.
Bags made of metal or plastic – hard bags are good for a few things.
- They are usually waterproof. Make sure to check when purchasing. There is nothing like dry stuff at the end of a very long and wet day of riding.
- They are usually lockable – again, very nice feature. It may not be much more secure – but it gets your stuff out of sight and you feel better about leaving your gear in a locked compartment.
- Protection – this is something I learned the hard way. When you crash your bike without bags – the first point of contact with the road will be your leg. This is bad – but the worst come next. It tends to trap your ankle between the bike and road…that’s the really bad part. With a quality set of bags – it creates just enough space to get you free of the motorcycle. Still bad…just not pins in the ankle bad.
There are a number of great options in soft luggage too. These make the bike much more streamlined (or convertible to no bags at all) very quickly. If you buy bags made to be removed quickly – you can pack in them and they remove quickly. This is a plus at night when done riding and you want to move from the bike to your logging.
Soft bags are (most of the time) water resistant – but not waterproof. But – if you are wanting soft bags – there are options for inner waterproof bags.
Other Saddle Bag Accessories
Outside of powering your bags (like describe in the tank bag section) my other favorite thing is bag liners. What these are in a bag-in-a-bag. These make life very easy at the end of a long ride…you can pop open your saddle bags, grab the handle of your inner bag and off you go. There are available for many popular bag brands and styles. Another good option is custom made bags – they can be made to fit any bag.
These inner bags can also be waterproof – which is always good for bags which are not. I’ve spent a day of rain riding to only find out that my “waterproof” saddle bags were not – or worse…I had a cord in the seal with allow water to enter. Not fun.
Trunks are funny. No one will ever say they want one. If you buy a bike with a truck – you will tell yourself you will take it off as soon as you get home and only use it for long rides…then you never take it off because its so handy.
They are incredibly useful =- but they have one downfall. You need to be aware of how much weight you put in them. The weight you put in a trunk – this weight is in the exact opposite place you want it. It is above the fuel tank and behind the rear wheels. The worst spot for weight on a bike.
Two of my favorites are the Bestem 929 – which is my bargain favorite. You will not a find a better trunk at a lower price. This truck also comes with nice reflectors on the rear. Some models have the ability to connect the brake lights too.
Anytime you can get more lights, especially blinks/flashing brake lights – please do it. It could save your life.
Just take a look – it is very nice. Some Givi’s have integrated lights, which helps with visibility.
Motorcycle luggage is a need when it comes to enjoying a motorcycle trip. Do your research and find luggage that works best for you. There are tons of options and your choice will come down to what is best for you on your bike.