“It’s not the destination, it is the journey…”
An oft repeated truism, which holds good for life, but especially for motorcycling. Because just getting you from point A to B, is possible by any mode of transport. Immersing yourself in the gorgeous vistas along the way, well, only motorcycles can really do a good job of that! On your journey, it is incredibly important to live in the moment. To do that, every other element of your motorcycle ride should be on autopilot. Your machine, riding, gear and luggage is not something you should have to worry about when travelling. Having all these elements sync together, is what gives you joyous experiences to remember for a lifetime.
This article will help you buy the correct sort of riding luggage, so that you can fully focus on enjoying your motorcycle tour. Choosing motorcycle bags isn't just about style; it's about functionality, durability, and convenience. When you're in the market for riding luggage, there are several important questions to consider. Here, we explore what to ask yourself when buying luggage for your motorcycle.
What Type of Riding Will You Be Doing?
The first question to ask yourself is what type of riding you'll be doing. Are you planning long-distance touring, short city commutes, or off-road adventures? The type of riding you'll be doing will significantly impact the kind of luggage you need. For long-distance touring, you'll want spacious saddlebags and maybe a top case for extra storage. For city commutes, a tank bag or a tail bag might be sufficient. If you're into off-roading, you'll need rugged, waterproof riding bags to withstand the elements.
Do You Need Waterproof Riding Bags?
If you're an all-weather rider, the answer is most likely yes. Getting caught in a rainstorm with non-waterproof luggage can result in soaked belongings and a less enjoyable ride. Many motorcycle luggage manufacturers offer waterproof options that use advanced materials and sealing techniques to keep your gear dry even in heavy downpours. Even if you're not planning to ride in the rain, having waterproof bags can provide peace of mind and protect your valuables from unexpected weather changes.
What Size and Capacity Do You Require?
Consider how much storage space you'll need. This depends on your riding style, the duration of your trips, and the number of items you'll be carrying. The capacity of your riding luggage can vary from a few litres to over 100 litres. If you're planning a weekend getaway, a set of saddlebags or a medium-sized tail bag may suffice. For extended tours, look for larger saddlebags, a top case, or even a duffel bag that can accommodate all your essentials.
How Will You Mount the Luggage?
The way your luggage attaches to your motorcycle is crucial. There are various mounting systems available, such as saddlebag stays, tank rings, and straps. Hard cases usually require specific mounting systems, while soft luggage often offers more versatility. Ensure the luggage you choose is compatible with your motorcycle's make and model. Be prepared to invest some time in the initial setup to secure your bags properly.
What's Your Budget?
Your budget plays a significant role in determining the riding luggage you'll buy. Motorcycle luggage comes in a wide price range, from budget-friendly options to premium, high-end gear. It's essential to balance quality, features, and your budget. Keep in mind that durable, high-quality luggage may come with a higher price tag but could save you money in the long run as it tends to last longer.
Do You Value Security?
The security of your luggage is a top priority, especially if you're carrying valuable items or traveling to unfamiliar places. Some luggage comes with built-in locking systems, providing an extra layer of protection for your belongings. Additionally, consider how easily your luggage can be removed from the bike; if it's too simple, it might become a target for thieves.
What's Your Preferred Style?
Riding luggage comes in various styles, from traditional saddlebags to tank bags, tail bags, and top cases. Your choice should reflect your personal style and the aesthetics of your motorcycle. Keep in mind that certain luggage styles might be more suitable for specific types of rides. For instance, tank bags are great for quick access to essentials, while saddlebags are ideal for longer trips.
Do You Require Quick Access Compartments?
Quick access compartments can be incredibly handy for items you need to reach while on the road, such as maps, smartphones, or sunglasses. Many modern motorcycle bags come with dedicated pockets for these essentials, making it easier to keep your focus on the ride rather than searching for your gear.
Is Versatility Important to You?
Versatility can be a game-changer when choosing riding luggage. Some bags are designed to adapt to various situations. For instance, a tail bag can be expanded for extra storage or reduced for a sleeker look when you're not carrying much. Versatile luggage can accommodate different riding scenarios without needing multiple bags.
What's the Reputation of the Manufacturer?
Before making a final decision, research the reputation of the luggage manufacturer. Read reviews from other riders, check for product recalls, and verify warranties and customer support policies. A reputable manufacturer is more likely to provide durable, reliable riding luggage that meets your needs.
Are You Planning to Travel with a Passenger?
If you often ride with a passenger, you'll need luggage that provides ample storage for both your belongings and your companion's. Consider luggage with enough capacity to carry gear for two, without overloading your motorcycle. That increased capacity should not come at the cost of the pillion’s comfort.
How Easy Is Maintenance and Cleaning?
After a long ride, your luggage might accumulate dust, dirt, and even bugs. Luggage that is easy to clean and maintain can save you time and effort. Look for materials that can be wiped clean with a damp cloth and ensure zippers and closures are durable and resistant to dirt and debris.
Do You Want Customization Options?
Some manufacturers offer customization options, allowing you to choose the colour and style of your luggage to match your motorcycle's aesthetics. At times customisation can be for practical reasons, your motorcycle model might not fit that generic bag being sold. Customized gear adds a personal touch to your ride and can enhance the overall look of your bike.
Have You Considered Your Motorcycle's Weight Limits?
Remember to factor in your motorcycle's weight limits when choosing luggage. Overloading your bike can affect its handling and safety. Read your motorcycle's owner's manual to determine the maximum weight capacity, and ensure your luggage doesn't exceed this limit.
What Are Other Riders Using?
Lastly, take inspiration from fellow riders. Observe what types of luggage other motorcyclists use on similar journeys. They might offer valuable insights into what works best in real-world riding scenarios. At times, the best reviews you can get are from your motorcyclist friends and acquaintances.
When it comes to buying riding luggage, the right choice can enhance your riding experience, while the wrong one can lead to frustration. Take your time, consider your options and go with the bags which will stand the test of time and travel. Don’t get swayed to buy the cheapest product on the shelf, that might work out more expensive in the long run!