Motorcycle Luggage Systems

Welcome to the Ultimate Motorcycle Luggage Systems Guide, your one-stop resource for all things related to motorcycle touring luggage. If you've ever found yourself overwhelmed by the plethora of luggage options available or puzzled over how to pack efficiently for a long ride, you're in the right place.

Choosing the right luggage for your motorcycle touring adventures is more than just a matter of style; it's a question of functionality, safety, and overall riding enjoyment. The right luggage can make your journey smoother, more comfortable, and, let's face it, a whole lot cooler.

motorcycle luggage on VFR800Fi

Saddlebags and Soft Panniers

What are Saddlebags vs Soft Panniers?

While these terms are often used interchangeably, there are some subtle differences to consider, particularly in terms of design and usage. Both are a pair of bags designed to be mounted on either side of a motorcycle's rear, usually flanking the rear wheel and sitting just behind the rider's seat. The concept of saddlebags dates back to horse travel, where similar bags were used to carry supplies on long journeys. Saddlebags often have a more classic or traditional aesthetic, reminiscent of bags you'd see on classic cruisers or retro motorcycles. They offer good storage but might not be as expandable as soft panniers.

Kriega Saddlebag Duo 28
Kriega Saddlebag Duo 28


  • Balanced Weight Distribution: Because saddlebags sit on either side of the bike, they help distribute weight evenly, making for a more stable ride.
  • Ease of Access: Saddlebags are generally easy to access even while you're on a pit stop, saving you the hassle of unmounting other types of luggage.
  • Versatility: They come in various styles and materials, from leather to hard plastic, allowing you to choose one that suits your bike and personal taste.
  • Spacious: Saddlebags often offer a good amount of storage space, making them ideal for longer trips.


  • Potential for Overpacking: The ample space can tempt you to overpack. This can potentially cause the bags to tear or lead to overloading which in turn can put undue stress on the attachment points, leading to a risk of the saddlebags detaching from the bike during a ride.
  • Weather Sensitivity: While many saddlebags are weather-resistant, not all are fully waterproof. You might need to invest in rain covers for added protection.
  • Not as Secure as Panniers: Compared to panniers, saddlebags may offer less security in terms of attachment stability and resistance to unauthorized access, making them a less ideal choice for those who prioritize maximum security.

Top Pick:

Kriega Saddlebag Duo 28 litre

If you're in the market for a reliable set of saddlebags, consider Kriega Saddlebag Duo 28. This set perfectly marries traditional aesthetics with cutting-edge performance. Crafted from rugged, abrasion-resistant Hypalon and 1000D Cordura, these saddlebags are fully waterproof. The roll-top closure offers rock-solid protection against the elements, while the white interior liner, which is also removable for cleaning, makes locating your items a breeze. Plus, the bags are securely fastened using aircraft-grade anodised alloy strap connectors and heavy-duty cam buckles. As an added bonus, the set includes mounting straps and an adjustable shoulder strap for off-bike use.

*Requires saddlebag supports fitting to the bike

Top Pick:

Oxford P60R Saddlebags

Check out this remarkably versatile set of soft panniers, offering a whopping 60-litre storage capacity. Ideal for naked bikes, tourers, and sports tourers alike. They come with a lifetime guarantee against manufacturing defects, so you can hit the road with peace of mind. Alongside their impressive capacity, these bags boast an expandable design for those extra bulky items and a heat-resistant base to prevent any close encounters with your exhaust.

Additional features include a handy shoulder strap, an elasticated external net for that bit of extra stash, and an internal net pocket for easy organisation. Accessibility is a breeze thanks to the large top opening and 360-degree zips, while a rubberised side panel ensures your paintwork stays pristine. The panniers are securely attached through a 7-point fitting system and crafted from durable Ripstop nylon. They feature a removable waterproof liner, making them ready for whatever weather throws at you.

Recommended by RIDE magazine

Final Thoughts

Saddlebags are a tried-and-true option for motorcycle touring, offering a balanced and accessible luggage solution at an affordable price. However, they may not offer the same level of security and rigidity as hard panniers, making them a less ideal choice for those who prioritize these features.

Tank Bags

Strategically positioned on your bike's fuel tank, these nifty bags offer easy access to essentials like your phone, wallet, or map. Often secured through magnets or adjustable straps, tank bags stay firmly in place even when you're tearing up the tarmac. Many modern options come with a plethora of features: think waterproof compartments, quick-release systems, and even transparent pockets for your sat-nav or smartphone. They may not rival panniers or saddlebags in terms of capacity, but what they lack in size, they make up for in convenience and accessibility.

Tank Bag
Tank Bag


  • Convenience: Positioned within arm's reach, tank bags offer quick and easy access to essentials like your wallet, phone, or map.
  • Flexibility: They're typically easy to install and remove, making them suitable for both long journeys and short commutes.
  • Minimal Footprint: Unlike panniers or saddlebags, tank bags generally don't affect the bike's centre of gravity or aerodynamics significantly.
  • Multifunctional: Many come with features like transparent map pockets, waterproof compartments, and even power outlets for your gadgets.


  • Scratch Risk: If not properly installed, they can scratch the paintwork on the tank.
  • Magnetic Issues: Some use magnets for attachment, which won't work on all types of tanks.
  • Blocking View: Some larger models might block your view of the bike's instrument panel.
  • Refuelling Hassle: Refuelling can be a hassle with a tank bag in place, as you may need to unfasten straps or detach magnets to access the fuel cap, adding an extra step to your petrol stops.

Top Pick:

Givi XS307 Xstream Tanklock Expandable Tank Bag - 15L

The Givi XS307 is a top-of-the-range, yet reasonably priced, soft luggage option from Givi's innovative Xstream series, tailored to suit the needs of both tourers and commuters. What sets this tank bag apart is its compatibility with the Givi Tanklock system, a clever design that negates the need for magnets or straps to secure the bag to your bike. This makes it a breeze to fit and remove, and simplifies the refuelling process. The Tanklock fitting system does require a separate flange for installation, but the convenience it offers is well worth it.

When it comes to features, this bag is packed to the gills. It's expandable to a 15-litre capacity and comes with water-resistant zips to protect your belongings. Reinforced areas and reflective inserts add to its durability and visibility. A weatherproof compartment for storing the included fluorescent rain cover offers additional protection against the elements. Tech-savvy riders will appreciate the removable tablet holder and handy cable port. For easy off-bike transportation, the bag is equipped with a handle and shoulder strap, and for added security, it comes with safety locks.

* Requires bike-specific Tanklock flange fitting or universal S430 Seatlock sold separately.

Final Thoughts

Tank bags are a solid choice for riders valuing convenience and functionality. Easily accessible and quickly installed or removed, they're handy for both long tours and short commutes. Despite some drawbacks—like the potential to scratch your tank or make refuelling a bit fiddly—their benefits, such as minimal impact on aerodynamics and handy extra features, largely outweigh the cons. With careful selection and proper installation, a tank bag can prove to be an invaluable addition to your motorcycle setup.

Tail Bags

Tail bags are a nifty luggage option for motorcyclists, offering a compact storage solution. Positioned on the rear seat or tail section of the bike, these bags are an excellent choice for riders who want quick access to their essentials without compromising the bike's aerodynamics. Often designed with weather-resistant materials and multiple compartments, tail bags can be a great alternative to bulkier options like roll bags, panniers or saddlebags. Easy to attach and detach, they provide the convenience of a backpack without the discomfort of carrying one, making them a popular pick for short trips.

Tank Bag
Tank Bag


  • Easy Access: Tail bags offer quick and easy access to your belongings, sitting right behind you on the rear seat or tail section.
  • Aerodynamic: Their placement and shape often have a minimal impact on the bike's aerodynamics.
  • Simple Installation: Most tail bags are easy to attach and detach, often requiring no special mounts or hardware.
  • Versatile: Can be used in conjunction with other types of luggage, such as saddlebags or panniers, for added storage.
  • Compact: Their design is generally streamlined, saving space while still offering decent storage capacity.


  • Limited Capacity: Tail bags usually offer less storage space compared to panniers or saddlebags.
  • Security Concerns: Easier to remove, which could pose a risk for theft if not properly secured.
  • Aesthetics: Some riders find that a tail bag doesn't suit their bike's style.

Top Pick:

Kriega Drypack Tail Bag - US-10

The Kriega US-10 Drypack is a top-tier piece of motorcycle luggage that's bagged multiple awards for its exceptional quality and design. Offering a modest but sufficient 10-litre capacity, this drypack is your ultimate riding companion for those looking to travel light but well-prepared. One of its standout features is its 100% waterproof construction, achieved through a roll-top closure and taped-seam waterproof liner. Crafted from robust 420D Cordura Lite and reinforced with abrasion-resistant HYPALON, this bag is built to last. The bag attaches securely to the rear of your bike using buckle loops and alloy hook straps that come included. In addition, its modular design allows it to integrate seamlessly with other US packs, creating a flexible luggage system tailored to your needs. It can even be used as a tank bag with the purchase of a separate US Tank Adaptor.

Ease of use is an area where the Kriega US-10 excels. Designed to fit most race-rep style seat pads, the drypack can be easily fastened or removed thanks to its four quick-release buckles, eliminating the need for any additional bungees or covers.The base of the tailpack features a convenient mesh pocket, perfect for storing items like disc locks or chains. Other notable features include a YKK water-resistant side pocket zip, a rear mesh pocket, and a 10-year warranty, underscoring the brand's confidence in the product's durability.

Final Thoughts

Tail bags are a nifty option for riders looking for compact and aerodynamic storage. Sitting just behind you, they provide easy access to your essentials without compromising much on aerodynamics. Their simple installation and ability to work alongside other luggage options make them versatile for various trips. However, their smaller size means limited storage, and their easier removability could be a theft concern. Overall, if you're after a low-profile and convenient storage solution, a tail bag is a strong contender.

Roll Bags

Roll bags are a versatile form of motorcycle luggage that, as the name suggests, typically take the form of a cylindrical shape. They are designed to be easily strapped onto rear parts of a motorcycle, such as the pillion seat, or on top of other luggage like panniers. Known for their ease of use and adaptability, roll bags are particularly popular for long-distance touring and weekend getaways.

These bags are often made from heavy-duty, weather-resistant materials like polyester or tarpaulin and usually feature a roll-top closure to help keep your gear dry. The roll-top design not only makes them water-resistant but also allows for flexible storage capacity - you can roll the bag down smaller if you're not packing much or use the full extent for those big tours. Ideal for storing clothes, camping gear, or even some tools, roll bags are a reliable and convenient luggage option for any rider.

Roll Bag
Roll Bag


  • Storage Capacity: Roll bags often offer generous storage capacity, making them ideal for riders who need to pack a lot of gear.
  • Versatility: Roll bags can be strapped to various parts of a bike, making them a flexible storage option.
  • Ease of Use: Their simple design makes them easy to pack, unpack, and access during your travels.
  • Weather-Resistance: High-quality roll bags are usually made from durable, weather-resistant materials and often have a roll-top closure, providing good protection against the elements.
  • Compatibility: They can be used in conjunction with other types of motorcycle luggage like panniers or saddlebags.


  • Limited Security: Unlike hard panniers, roll bags can be easier to break into as they are typically made of softer materials.
  • Can Be Bulky: When fully packed, the cylindrical shape can be bulky and may affect the bike's centre of gravity and aerodynamics.
  • Strapping Required: Properly securing a roll bag usually requires straps, which might not be as quick and convenient as other mounting systems.

Top Pick:

Oxford Aqua T70 Roll Bag

The Oxford T50 Roll Bag is an all-weather champion, designed to keep your belongings safe and dry, no matter what the skies throw at you. This roll bag features a robust roll-top opening, ensuring maximum protection from the elements. Constructed from lightweight yet tough waterproof TPU, this bag is built to withstand the rigours of the road. A front pocket with a water-resistant zip offers convenient storage for essential items, allowing for quick and easy access when you're on the move.

What sets this bag apart are its versatile mounting options. The Oxford T50 comes with integral VELCRO® brand closure base straps and double-D ring adjustable straps, making it easy to secure to the rear of a motorcycle. Additionally, the package includes two front tie-down straps for looping through the subframe or passenger peg stays, and a rear strap to loop under the tail section. Off the bike, a carry handle and a shoulder strap are included for easy transportation. With a substantial 50-litre capacity, the Oxford T50 Roll Bag measures 32cm H x 56cm W x 32cm D when filled, making it a reliable and convenient luggage option for any rider.

Final Thoughts

Roll bags are a solid choice for riders valuing storage capacity and versatility. They can be strapped almost anywhere on your bike and are often weather-resistant. However, be aware that their softer materials can pose a security risk, and a fully-packed roll bag might affect your bike's handling and aerodynamics.

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Continue to Part 2 → Hard Luggage

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Fun Facts

Did you know the world's longest motorcycle was over 26 meters long. It was presented and measured at Lakhota lake, Jamnagar, Gujarat, India, on 22 January 2014. The bike was more than 4 m (13 ft) longer than the previous record holder's.

To ensure that his super-stretched motorcycle would be able to perform like a conventional motorbike, the constructor rode it along a road for 100 m (328 ft) without putting his feet down.

Tip of the week:

Never grab the front brake; squeeze it!

Grabbing the front brake abruptly can cause the front wheel to lock, as it doesn't allow time for the bike's weight to shift forward.This significantly reduces the front tyre's grip on the road and may result in loss of control, posing a serious risk of an accident.

Did you know?

The aerodynamic drag on a motorcycle can increase by up to 40% just by the rider sitting upright instead of in a tucked position. It's a wind-resistance thing—like trying to walk through a pool vs. gliding through it!

Photo of the week

motorcycle camping
Motorcycle Camping

Forget the fuss of hotels; discover the liberating joy of motorcycle camping with us, and elevate your road trips from memorable to absolutely legendary!

Having the camping gear with you grants the freedom to decide where and how you want to spend your nights, including the option of choosing a hotel bed if desired. Though it's common to camp every day due to the desire for fresh air and the outdoors when you're prepared.

motorcycle camping

Reading List:

Joke of the week

What's a motorcycle's least favourite game?

Hide and squeak!

Riding Techniques

Ready to elevate your skills from basic riding to mastering the road? This guide aims to do just that by uncovering crucial riding techniques that will boost your confidence, safety and enjoyment on the tarmac. But we're not stopping at mere tips and tricks; we're going the extra mile.

riding techniques
10 Reasons Why You Should Ride a Motorcycle

Riding a motorcycle is like savouring a five-star Michelin meal when you're absolutely famished. It's an experience that not only satisfies an immediate craving but also leaves a lasting impression. Just like that first bite of an extraordinary dish makes you forget the world around you, so does the initial twist of the throttle. Your focus narrows to the sensation of the bike, the road, and the rhythm of your breathing. It's an immediate way to bring mindfulness into your day.

motorcycle luggage

So next time you feel weighed down by the demands of life, remember that your two-wheeled 'Michelin experience' awaits you. One session on the road can recalibrate your mood quicker than you can say 'Michelin star.' It's the sort of lifelong journey that never disappoints, always offering new flavours for your soul to relish.

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