Motorcycle Saddlebags: Head Out On The Highway

February 19, 2009 by: MCg

Motorcycle Saddlebags

Saddlebags for Cruisers, Sport Bikes, Sport Tourers, Street Bikes, Dual-Purpose Bikes, Etc.

Motorcycle saddlebags (also called panniers) can be made of metal, hard plastic, leather, or fabric, or sometimes a combination of materials. Saddlebags may be permanently fixed to the motorbike or may be readily removable to be used when needed.

Adding saddlebags to your bike is an easy way to increase your storage capacity.

If your motorcycle did not come equipped with SADDLEBAGS(and most do not), then, when you wish to take a trip, you will probably start looking around for extra storage capacity.

Most saddlebags can be included within two broad categories:

1. Hard bags
2. Soft bags

Motorcycle Hard Bags

Hard bags are generally more resistant to wet weather, and more likely to maintain their look over time (just clean them when you wash your bike).

Furthermore, most hard bags include locking covers and many have locks to your motorcycle so they are more secure than soft bags.

However, hard bags do require hardware that attaches them to your bike, which hold the bags themselves. Hence, hard bags are also usually more expensive.

If you are interested in hard bags, you will want to be sure to get mounting hardware made especially for your motorcycle.

Motorcycle Soft Bags

Soft bags, whether they are made of leather or textile, may be water resistant, but are less likely to hold up to an all-day ride through bad weather in the same way hard bags would. However, soft bags are lighter, certainly more flexible, and are, generally speaking, less expensive than hard bags. Most soft bags require no special mounting hardware, although there are some exceptions. (They also need more care and attention to keep them looking good.)

As a bit of a twist, there are some hard bags that are made to look like soft bags, since, particularly for some cruiser riders, soft bags might be considered more stylish. In other words, you can get the look of leather saddlebags and have the security of hard bags.

Also, if you’re thinking soft bags might be more convenient than hard bags in terms of grabbing them and carrying them into a motel/hotel while on a trip, well, you may or may not be correct. Most hard bags can be unlocked and readily detached to be carried, like luggage. On the other hand, it’s not unusual to use a liner for hard bags, which can be more readily removed, without unlocking the hard bags from your bike.

It may not sound like a big deal, but when you’re on the road, and you’ve just put on a lot of miles, being able to quickly unpack can be a great advantage. Additionally, when it comes time to pack things and hit the road again the next morning, it’s easier to toss those liners into your hard bags than to re-secure the soft bags. (Of course liners can also be used for soft bags, if you have a type that is not meant to be quickly removed.)

Regardless, either hard bags or soft bags are both the best ways to increase your motorcycle storage space.

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