There's no doubt in my mind that travelling on two wheels is the most fun way to get around.
When you take into account how effective bikes and scooters can be on a commute, you could argue they are the most practical way to travel too. But there is one side of that particular argument that doesn't go in a bike's favour, and that is how little space there is when you want to bring something with you.
This all depends on what you're riding of course, a lot of scooters these days come with very generous under seat storage but sometimes even that isn't enough and there are some bikes that can barely squeeze a tool kit in them.
Fortunately, there is a whole range of solutions to these practicality problems, whether you're looking to go on tour or just a trip to the shops, in this blog we are going to look at some of the luggage options available. Whatever your budget might be there should be something to suit you. So without further delay and in no particular order, here is our top luggage solutions for motorcycles....
We start with the simplest and cheapest option, a simple backpack. I featured a backpack in our commuter gear blog as well (which you can check out here) and nothing has changed - it's still the perfect solution for taking a few essentials on the road. Great for trips to the gym or to the shops or even when you need a change of clothes for work. In fact, I rarely go anywhere without one!
Any basic backpack will do the job, however regular rucksacks can be a bit annoying at times, catching the wind and rattling about on your back, they aren't exactly durable either. Luckily, there are plenty of backpacks specifically designed for motorcyclists that do a grand job of avoiding these shortfalls, so let's look at a few examples of some good bags, just to show what is available.
QBag Waterproof Backpack 15
This one is a great budget choice; you can pick one of these up for around £20. It has a pretty spacious 30 litre capacity, looks nice and has a few extra features you don't find on most regular rucksacks. Firstly, it is fully waterproof and features a roll top to prevent any leakage which is always good when you are riding in the UK. There are also some reflective details that can improve visibility at night a little bit and adjustable mesh straps to get a snug fit.
Oxford AQUA B-25
Another great choice from Oxford is the latest update on their Aqua range. In terms of price this one is in the middle with an RRP of £64.99 but you may be able to find it even cheaper if you shop around.
Aside from a very reasonable price, the bag has a lot of things going for it. Firstly it is designed to be as waterproof as possible. With a roll top, welded seams and waterproof zip pockets, anything you store in here is going to remain nice and dry. The bag has a nice aerodynamic shape, and the additional waist strap helps make sure it will stay snug to your body while riding. There is some reflective detailing on the back and even a loop to hold a light, it also comes in a range of colours including a high visibility fluo yellow.
At the opposite end of the budget spectrum is the Kriega R20. A 20-litre capacity bag, this one retails at around £129. It comes in black with a more stylish design and features Kreiga's quad-lock harness, which not only holds the bag securely but allows for the pack to be positioned exactly for the best possible fit.
The bag itself is lightweight and extremely strong with Hypalon abrasion resistant re-enforcement. It features multiple pockets and even the option to add on additional compartments and a water holder. If the 20-litre capacity isn't enough you can get a 30-litre version now too but, it will set you back an extra £50. The Kriega bags aren't the cheapest but they provide everything you could want from a motorcycle backpack.
Motorcycle Tail Bag
Tail bags come in a huge variety of shapes, sizes and price ranges and do a great job of bridging the gap between a backpack and fixed luggage for a relatively cheap price. Once again, I will give a couple of good examples of what is available.
QBag Waterproof Roll Bag 3
The cheapest option here is a simple waterproof roll bag from QBag. This polyurethane coated bag is durable, waterproof and features a roll top with a large opening for easy access on the go. It features a huge 50-litre storage space inside and costs less than a tenner! Obviously, for such a low price what you get is pretty basic, there are no fixings or carry handles included so it's down to you to find the best way to lash it to your bike. It's not the most stylish option either but for £9.99 you can't really go wrong.
Kriega Drypack Tail Bag
The second example is a tail bag from Kreiga - the Drypack. This one comes in a few different capacity options from a compact 5-litre up to 30-litres and comes with an adjustable shoulder strap so it can be carried as a bag as well. It comes with hook straps to secure it to your bike and will fit a wide range of motorcycles. The bag is waterproof and features a roll top and waterproof zips. There are some handy additional mesh pockets to keep smaller items and the whole thing is made of sturdy durable materials.
The price varies depending on which size you go for with the small 5-litre starting at around £50 and the large 30-litre going up to £145. One last cool feature is that the bags feature connection points so if you decide to get additional sizes they will fit together and stack on top of each other!
The last of our lightweight options, a tank bag is similar to a tail bag but attaches to your fuel tank instead, so it really becomes a matter of personal preference which you want to go for. One advantage a modern tank bag can have over its tail counterparts is the addition of a built in GPS or phone holder. Alternatively you could just combine any of the first 3 entries in this list and suddenly you're carrying a fair bit of stuff relatively inexpensively. As usual we will look at a couple of options below to expand on what you can expect. Tank bags come in a range of sizes but there are also a few different ways to attach them, so be sure to choose the right one for you.
Givi ST602B Sport-T Tanklock Tank Bag
First up is a small and compact little bag, the Givi ST602B Sport-T 4L costing around £70. This bag offers great durability with a semi-rigid design made from thermoformed EVA which also gives it a nice aerodynamic shape. The bag is only 4-litres but that makes it unobtrusive and neat and can easily fit a few essentials inside like a wallet and passport or even a snack and a drink. It has a handy pocket on top with a clear screen that can hold a GPS or smart phone and features a carry handle and separate detachable shoulder strap if you want to unlock it and take it with you.
This one is attached via a tank lock system which is pretty easy to install, it essentially requires a locking ring to replace your fuel cap which then allows the bag to attach via its own locking mechanism. The locking rings are specific to each make and model of bike and will need to be purchased separately but Givi have a huge range covered and once set up make for a very hassle free way to attach and remove the bag, and a perfect option for anyone with a plastic tank that cannot use magnets.
Oxford M30R Tank bag
Now let's take a look at the opposite end of the tank bag spectrum with the Oxford M30R. A magnetic tank bag this time, so it will require a steel tank but no setup at all thanks to the quick release system. The bag features an unzippable base which holds the magnets that will stick to your tank, once unzipped the bag can be removed and features shoulder straps to convert into a backpack.
Oxford make quite a few different versions of these with various attachment methods and sizes. Since the other bag we looked at was quite compact, this one is a larger bag at 30L offering a lot of storage space, therefore it may not be ideal for sports bikes due to its size. Similar to our other example, it does feature a satnav holder on top, this time with a neat sun-shield feature and if you are looking to maximise your carry space, one of these will set you back about £120.
Top box / top case
So far, we have looked at some of the more simple and convenient solutions to luggage on a motorcycle but now it's time for some of the more major and long-term carrying options, starting with the top box or top case. This is a classic luggage solution that has been around seemingly forever and, like the other items on this list, comes in a huge variety of shapes, sizes and prices. A lot of manufacturers have very good optional top boxes that can be purchased with your bike but here we are only looking at after-market products.
A top box will require a bit more set up, needing to be attached to a rack fitted to the back of your bike but it can potentially store a very large amount of luggage. The advantage is that while generally being quite large, they sit behind you, out of the way and add no extra width to the bike as panniers can. You might assume that a top box will be one of the more expensive options and while top of the range models definitely cost a few bob, you can also find some surprisingly cheap options as well. I'll give two more varying examples below.
Givi TRK52N Trekker Monokey Top Case
The first one we will look at is the Givi TRK52N Trekker Monokey Top Case, a pretty heavy-duty case with a huge 52-litre capacity. The 'Monokey' part refers to the locking mechanism that attaches the case to your bike, Givi make two main types - the 'monolock' and 'monokey'. The main difference is that a monokey attachment is able to support heavier loads and therefore larger cases. This one can carry loads up to 10-kilos, fit 2 full helmets inside, has a cool aluminium finish and retails for around £200.
Givi E300NT2 Monolock Top Case
As I said earlier, you can still find a decent top case on a budget if you have a shop around and this next one is a good example. Also from Givi, this top case is a bit more compact with a 30-litre capacity and uses the monolock system meaning a lower maximum load of 3 kg. The upside is that it retails for under £60 making it very cost effective. It has enough space for a full-face helmet, looks good and has a smoked reflector on the back for some added visibility.
The last luggage solution on this list is the motorcycle panniers, or side cases. This option requires the biggest budget but also provides the largest carry capacity - so their suitability depends on your specific needs. Panniers come in hard and soft versions, the hard versions functioning similar to a top case except attaching to the sides of your bike, whilst the soft versions function like saddlebags. We will take a look at examples of both styles with varying capacity and prices. If you just need something to take a few essentials on the road these are going to be a bit overkill but if you are looking to maximise the amount of luggage your bike can carry this will be your best bet.
Oxford Lifetime P60R Panniers
The first example are the Oxford P60R Panniers, a soft variety that has a combined capacity of 60-litres and a lot of handy features. The first advantage is they require less set up and no additional products, everything you need to secure these to your bike is included. There's a heat resistant base to protect from contact with an exhaust and the side panels are rubberised to protect your paint work. A handy elasticated net on top will hold a few extra items in place and a removable shoulder strap makes it easy to carry to and from your bike. The Oxford P60R has a nice minimalistic design that looks really neat and you can pick a set up for around £160.
Givi TRK33BPACK2 Trekker Monokey Panniers
The second set is a more premium hard case version, the Givi TRK33BPACK2 Monokey Panniers. A pair of these will cost over £400 which is no joke, they will also require a separate bike specific fitting kit, but they are perhaps the ultimate luggage solution. Each case has a 33-litre capacity and uses the Monokey system for attachment, which means larger loads with each pannier having a 10-kilo limit. With 66-litres and 20-kilos of luggage total, you should be well covered even on long distance touring. I really like the aesthetics of these panniers; with a sturdy matt black design they will look decent on a wide variety of bikes.
As you can see there really are a lot of options when it comes to increasing the amount of luggage you can take with you on your bike or scooter. The makes I listed are all great trusted brands who have been about for a while but there are plenty more manufacturers out there. These are by no means the only options so have a shop around and look for the best item that will suit your model and needs.