What to Consider When Looking For Motorcycle Luggage

There are a few aspects to consider when looking for motorcycle luggage.

* Size – We need space, but too much can negatively effect aerodynamics and therefore fuel efficiency which is important on tour.
* Weight – Again the lighter the better for the same reasons as above.
* Security – Because carrying stuff is pointless when it’s likely to get stolen
* Functions – Ease of fitment, ease of use, can the whole boxes be taken off into your accommodation, etc
* Price – Because they are just plastic/metal boxes at the end of the day.

Usually this is well thought of by the luggage manufacturers as feedback soon gets around if they produce poor or exceptional performance in these areas, aerodynamics can generate a lot of drag including wind noise.

Many manufacturers produce pannier and top box luggage varieties for their motorcycles as standard, especially touring bikes. Harley Davidson touring motorcycles have this for example and big Honda’s and BMW’s.

For this reason it is a good idea to check enthusiasts forums (do a Google search on your motorcycle and put words like fan/enthusiasts club to find it) on these bigger bikes and see if you can buy the original luggage from someone else. They are often taken off and sold separate as they fetch more money on their own than if they were sold with the motorcycle. eBay is also a choice place to find them but forums are usually cheaper due to savings on eBay fee’s.

If you do not like the original luggage fitment or have a bike where it is not available, then there are third party motorcycle luggage manufacturers that have the market well covered. Givi are the most popular in Europe and are an Italian brand recognized by their black boxes and red reflective safety stripe around them. They are designed to be aerodynamic, spacious inside and easy to remove.

Most luggage boxes are universal and you would need to buy a separate mount specific to your motorcycle, however there are some universal manufacturers who get around this by using straps and this allows the retail price to be cheaper, however the quality is usually much lower and the boxes are not as secure on your motorcycle.

There are few different types of luggage that has different benefits. Here is a brief summary:

  • Pannier boxes
  • Pannier Boxes are the luggage boxes that go on the rear of the bike on the sides. You would usually have two of them to balance out the look and weight – one on each side. It is important to match the inside weight of these too as it can effect handling if you have one box full of heavy equipment (camera, laptop, tools, etc) and the other light (clothing)

  • Top Box
  • Top Boxes would refer to the box on the back of the motorcycle on top. These are typically where a pillion passenger would sit if you have a one seat motorcycle, and are extended back slightly if you carry a pillion passenger to allow for them to sit (occasionally with padding for the pillion passenger). They make a good single fixed box alternative to panniers if you are not carrying much and also compliment pannier boxes if you need additional storage.

  • Tank Bags
  • Tank bags are usually called bags rather than boxes as they are typically soft storage not hard plastic or metal like pannier boxes and top boxes. They effect your seating position and are not the most comfortable option to travel with. I’d advise these are the last storage compartment you add to your motorcycle and only to be used if necessary and you already have the other options but still need more storage space.

  • Backpack
  • Quite simple really – not many are designed for motorcycles and they mean you are carrying the load on your back rather than the motorcycle carrying the load, so are typically used for very light luggage or short distance trips as opposed to long tours, however they can easily be the cheapest option.

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