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A good pair of saddlebags can go a long ways on a motorcycle. Depending on what kind of trip you are packing for, you can usually get most of what you need in a good pair of bags. Don’t believe me, check out this article to see how it can be done. Yes, sissy bar bags, tank bags and backpacks can hold your luggage as well, but for many, nothing beats a good pair of saddlebags. They have become synonymous with motorcycle luggage and are often the first to come to mind when the subject is brought up.
So where do you start? What are the best bags for you and your style of riding? Here are a few ideas to help get you started.
Your cruiser is built for the journey. If you have one of these bikes, it’s probable that you like to go on those longer rides, whether it’s all the time or a couple times a year. You also ride this bike because of its unmatched style and character. You need saddlebags that can hold up to the long haul on the road, but they can’t be an eye sore.
A good place to start is a pair of hard-sided leather covered bags. The rigid bags will give you the durability that you need for those long rides in changing conditions. They also hold their shape, which makes packing and unpacking a breeze. The leather covering adds the style and texture that you want to keep your cruiser looking as sharp as possible.
Our Pick: Mustang Covered Hard Saddlebags
These Mustang saddlebags are perfect for any cruiser. You get the look of a high quality leather saddlebag with the durability and convenience of a hard bag. Offered in either the plain covering or dressed up with conchos, the Mustang covered hard saddlebags will look good on any cruiser. In fact, they are a universal fit.
Style is everything on a custom bike. The last thing that you want is all the hard work of the build being covered up by the luggage. Yet, without any luggage, it’s pretty difficult to show off your bike on those longer rides. You need saddlebags that will complement the lines of your bike without overshadowing the design elements.
Since looks are placed above all else on a custom motorcycle, saddlebags made with premium top-of-the-line leather should be at the top of the list. While vinyl or nylon might work for other types of bikes, it just doesn’t belong on a custom creation. You’ve put the hard work in on the rest of the bike, why stop now? You’re probably not going to tour the country on this bike, so size isn’t that important here. Look for smaller bags that won’t cover up the details of your custom motorcycle.
Our Pick: LaRosa Solo Side Bag w/ Fuel Bottle
A solo saddlebag is a perfect way to get the storage you need while not bulking up your bike. The LaRosa Solo Side bag combines a great looking bag with added function. The bag is slanted and will follow the lines of your bike perfectly, especially along the oil tanks of Harleys. A lot of customs run small gas tanks, like peanut tanks, so fuel is always on your mind. The added fuel bottle with this bag gives you a little piece of mind when you take your bike on those longer rides. Plus, it looks like it belongs.
For those of you who commute to work on your bike, you know the challenges of carrying what you need, whether it’s a change of clothes, computer or whatever. If you are like most people, you don’t have time to be fumbling with stuff in your luggage. Organization and accessibility is the top priority for commuters.
Convenience is everything for the commuting rider. Saddlebags with dividers and extra pockets make a huge difference. If you are running behind, you can simply grab what you need without having to fumble through the bag. A removable bag is the most convenient and will act as a briefcase once you reach your destination.
Our Pick: Tour Master Elite Saddlebags
These Tour Master bags are the commuter’s dream Saddlebags. First off, they are built of heavy duty ballistic polyester to keep your belongings safe. Packing is easy on the Elite saddlebags as well. The sides zip open wide for easy access. Also, there are extra zippered compartments for more organization. Each bag zips off and has a comfortable carrying handle.
Sport bike riders need to haul things too. Many riders will go straight to tank bags, but a good pair of saddlebags can be just as good, if not better. They are more out of the way and can be removed just as easily when you don’t need them. With the right saddlebags, you can tour just as much as those cruiser guys.
Mounting saddlebags can be a difficult proposition. You often have to do so on the bike’s tail, instead of under the seat like a cruiser. The mounting also needs to be able to withstand the higher speeds and lean angles of a sport bike. Many sport bike exhausts come up fairly high. Saddlebags with heat resistant panels on the bottom can help protect your bags and the belongings inside.
Our Pick: Nelson-Rigg Spirit Sport Saddlebags
Nelson-Rigg has been in the game for a while now and their experience shows. The Spirit Sport saddlebags mount up with ease with a hook and loop mounting system with quick-release buckles. The mounting strap will not slip or mark up the tail of your bike. The bags will hold their shape when empty so you don’t have to worry about them blowing around in the wind.
More than anyone, ADV riders need their luggage to be durable. ADV bikes can be taken through the most rugged terrain, where banging off tree limbs and rocks is a common occurrence. They also need to be fairly large and accessible for all of your camping and touring gear.
Soft sided saddlebags will work for the casual adventure rider, but if you plan on going through the thick stuff, you might want to consider hard side cases. When you’re trying to maneuver through the rough terrain, the last thing that you want to worry about is if your luggage is safe. Hard side cases will give you the peace of mind that you want.
Our Pick: Moose Expedition Side Cases by Pelican
Yes they are made by the same Pelican that makes those heavy duty camera cases and brief cases. These things are crushproof, dust proof and of course waterproof with the O-ring seal. All of your gear is sure to be safe in these Moose cases. They are removable with comfortable rubber molded handles to make it easy to transport your gear.
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