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Motorcycle luggage may not be a concern for Valentino Rossi, Casey Stoner and co, but for us enthusiasts of long distance motorcycle touring it is an important necessary.
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 going to get stolen
- Functions - Ease of fitment, ease of use, can the whole boxes be taken off into motels, etc
- Price - Because we aren't all millionaires.
Usually this is well thought of by the luggage manufacturers as feedback soon gets around if they produce subpar or exceptional performance in these areas.
What Motorcycle Luggage to Choose
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 Hondas and BMWs.
For this reason it is a good idea to check enthusiasts forums 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.
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.
Types of Motorcycle Luggage
There are few different types of luggage that has different benefits. Here is a brief summary:
Pannier Boxes are the luggage boxes that go on the rear of the bike on the sides. You would usually have 2 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 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 seater motorcycle, and are extended back slightly if you carry a pillion passenger to allow for them to sit. 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 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.
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. Can easily be the cheapest option.
Looking for More Touring Information?
I have written many hubs on motorcycles and touring is my favorite hobby.
If you want to read about Harley Davidson touring - check this hub.
If you want to protect your motorcycle whilst you are resting you will want a motorcycle cover - be sure to get a good one!
An important one to read is knowing how to make a motorbike accident claim in case things go wrong on your adventures.
Need a motorcycle radio kit? Check this hub out!