Luggage – Five Things to Remember

You need stuff to carry stuff in, if you are going to be spending days or weeks on your motorcycle.
Actually, I need to clarify that – most people will need stuff to carry stuff if they are spending days or weeks on their motorcycle. In truth, you don’t need to leave home with anything but money, but if you have to buy everything while you are on the road, you are going to be going through money in a hurry. Most people who are traveling overland on a motorcycle don’t have those kinds of resources, so – luggage.
There are dozens of companies making luggage for motorcycles, and there are OEM options from the different manufacturers. Luggage is available in all shapes and sizes and materials, and to go over them all would take about five months and be far, far too much text to read. So, while I will be reviewing different kinds of specific luggage options, here are some general things to keep in mind when you are looking at options.
Waterproof – It may seem obvious, but not all the stuff you are going to have the change to strap or bolt on is going to be waterproof. Also, some of the stuff that is waterproof isn’t going to claim it anywhere, but that can be hard to tell.

Removable – You are going to want to be able to get them off. Again, this might seem obvious, but check and see what is involved in removing them. You will want something simple, but sturdy enough to hold them in place. Also, if they require a rack, make sure the rack doesn’t interfere with changing tires (too much, it’s going to be in the way a little), or stick out so much that there isn’t much to be gained from pulled the luggage off.

Repairable – This one is a bit trickier. Soft bags will compress if then take a hit but being dragged along will put holes in them. Usually those holes are patchable, if you can sew (or can find someone who can). Hard cases are more durable, and will dent,but that can usually be sorted with a hammer and some time. Cracks or actual breakage will need welding. With steel cases that isn’t usually that much of a problem, but aluminum is harder to weld. If your case is made from some other, lightweight alloy, it might be a good idea to bring welding rods just in case. Of course, even having those with doesn’t mean you’ll be able to get them fixed.

Replaceable – If something catastrophic happens, you will need to replace the case. How easy will that be? Expensive? Top loading cases can usually be strapped onto a rack if needed, side loading cased are usually a bit tricker, but they are better suited to being put on the top of the back seat to get back to civilization.

Security – This is one that usually gets people putting hard cases onto their motorcycles. How secure is the bag? Truthfully, every piece of luggage is at risk of theft, and it’s more a matter of your personal comfort level. Just remember common sense when parking, especially overnight.


Keep these five things in mind when you are shopping, or when you are considering whether to upgrade the luggage you currently have. Most modern motorcycle luggage systems, especially hard cases, are expensive, and all that money could be used to actually travel instead, unless your current luggage isn’t going to get you on the road.


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