Motorcycle Saddlebags – The Ultimate Buying Guide for Die-hard Riders
If you like riding and love to travel long-distance, there is one reliable companion that you would like to have beside you… It’s a good pair of saddlebags.
Motorcycle saddlebags are a must-have biking accessory that provides a convenient and stylish luggage solution for all your knick knacks and essentials while on the road.
The right saddlebags enhance your riding and travelling experience.
If you are looking for one, this comprehensive buying guide will help you understand the different types of saddlebags as well as factors to consider before making the final buying decision.
With that said, let's dive in and discover the one that’s perfect for your bike model as well as your needs.
Types of Motorcycle Saddlebags
When it comes to buying saddlebags, one of the first decisions you will have to make is what type of saddlebag you want.
There are several different types of saddlebags available, each with its own set of unique features and benefits as well as advantages and disadvantages.
The most common types include hard saddlebags, soft saddlebags, throw-over saddlebags, and bolt-on saddlebags.
- Hard saddlebags
These are typically made from materials like fiberglass or ABS plastic which makes them incredibly durable and weather-resistant. They are a great option if you want to keep your belongings safe and secure as they often come with locking mechanisms to prevent theft. However, these can be bulkier & heavier than other types of saddlebags which can affect your motorcycle's handling and performance.
- Soft saddlebags
Soft saddlebags, on the other hand, are typically made from materials like leather or nylon. They are usually much lighter than hard saddlebags, which can make them a great option if you're looking to reduce the weight of your motorcycle. They are also more affordable compared to hard ones which can be a factor if you are on a budget. However, they may not be as durable as hard saddlebags. And they may not be as secure if you are worried about theft.
- Throw-over saddlebags
Throw-over saddlebags, as the name suggests, are designed to be thrown over the back of your motorcycle's seat. They are generally more affordable than other types of saddlebags and can be a great option if you're looking for a quick and easy storage solution. But they may not be as secure as hard saddlebags. And they can be more difficult to mount and remove.
- Bolt-on saddlebags
Bolt-on saddlebags, as you can tell by its name, are designed to be bolted onto your motorcycle's frame. They are more secure than other types of saddlebags and can be a great option if you are looking for a more permanent storage solution. However, they are difficult to install and may require some modifications to your motorcycle's frame.
Hard vs. Soft Saddlebags: Which is Better?
When it comes to choosing between hard and soft saddlebags, there's no one-size-fits-all answer.
It really depends on your specific needs and preferences. If you're looking for a durable and weather-resistant option that's more secure, hard saddlebags may be the way to go.
On the other hand, if you're looking for a lightweight and affordable option that's easy to install and remove, soft saddlebags may be the better choice.
Another factor to consider is the type of riding you will be doing. If you are planning on taking long-distance trips on your motorcycle, hard saddlebags may be a better option as they provide more protection for your belongings.
On the other hand, if you are just planning on taking short rides around town; soft saddlebags may be all you need.
Ultimately, the decision between hard and soft saddlebags comes down to your personal preferences and needs. Consider factors like durability, security, weight, and ease of use when making your decision.
Factors to Consider When Buying Motorcycle Saddlebags
Before purchasing motorcycle saddlebags, there are several important factors to consider.
The first factor to consider is the size and capacity of the saddlebags. Think about the items you typically carry with you on your rides and choose saddlebags that can accommodate them comfortably.
It's also essential to consider the weight capacity of the saddlebags as overloading them can affect your motorcycle's balance and handling.
Another crucial factor to consider is the material and durability of the saddlebags. While hard saddlebags offer excellent protection, they can be more susceptible to scratches and damage.
Soft saddlebags, on the other hand, may not provide the same level of protection but are generally more resistant to wear and tear.
Moreover, consider the weather conditions you typically ride in. If you frequently encounter rain or adverse weather, look for saddlebags that are waterproof or come with rain covers to keep your belongings dry.
- Size and capacity of motorcycle saddlebags
The size and capacity of motorcycle saddlebags are crucial considerations. The capacity of saddlebags is typically measured in litres or cubic inches and refers to the amount of space available for storage. It's important to choose saddlebags that offer enough space to comfortably fit your belongings without compromising your motorcycle's balance or handling.
When determining the size and capacity of your saddlebags, consider the items you typically carry with you on your rides. If you're a daily commuter, you may only need a small saddlebag that can accommodate essentials such as a change of clothes or a laptop. However, if you are an adventure rider who embarks on long trips, you will need saddlebags with a larger capacity to carry camping gear, spare parts, and other necessities.
Keep in mind that the size and capacity of saddlebags can vary depending on the type and brand you choose. Hard saddlebags tend to offer more storage space, while soft saddlebags may have a more limited capacity. Consider your specific needs and choose saddlebags that strike the right balance between size, capacity, and functionality.
- Material and durability of motorcycle saddlebags
The material and durability of motorcycle saddlebags play a crucial role in their performance and longevity. Saddlebags are exposed to various elements and conditions while on the road, so it's important to choose ones that can withstand the rigours of riding.
Hard saddlebags are often made from durable materials such as fiberglass or high strength plastic. These materials offer excellent protection against impact, scratches, and the elements. However, they can be susceptible to cracking or breaking under extreme conditions.
Soft saddlebags, on the other hand, are typically made from high-quality leather or synthetic materials such as nylon or polyester. These materials are more flexible and resistant to wear and tear, making them suitable for riders who prioritize durability.
When choosing saddlebags, consider the climate and weather conditions you typically ride in. If you often ride in rainy or humid environments, look for saddlebags that are waterproof or come with rain covers.
Additionally, consider the maintenance requirements of the saddlebags. Some materials may require special care, such as leather saddlebags that need to be conditioned regularly to maintain their durability and appearance.
- Mounting options for motorcycle saddlebags
Mounting options for motorcycle saddlebags can vary depending on the type and brand you choose. The most common mounting options include throw-over, bolt-on, and quick-release mounting systems.
Throw-over saddlebags are designed to be easily attached and detached from your motorcycle. They usually feature straps or buckles that secure the bags to the rear fender or the passenger seat. This mounting option offers flexibility and convenience, allowing you to remove the saddlebags when not in use. However, it's important to ensure that the saddlebags are securely fastened to prevent them from shifting or falling off during your rides.
Bolt-on saddlebags are permanently mounted to your motorcycle using brackets or mounting hardware. This mounting option provides a more secure attachment, making it ideal for riders who frequently carry heavy loads or go on long trips. Bolt-on saddlebags offer stability and eliminate the risk of the saddlebags coming loose while riding. However, keep in mind that this mounting option may require additional installation time and effort.
Quick-release mounting systems offer a balance between convenience and security. These systems allow you to easily attach and detach the saddlebags from your motorcycle using quick-release buckles or locks. Quick-release mounting systems are ideal for riders who need the flexibility to remove the saddlebags when necessary, without compromising on stability during rides.
- Features and accessories for motorcycle saddlebags
When choosing motorcycle saddlebags, it's essential to consider the features and accessories that can enhance their functionality and convenience. Some common features and accessories include locks, reflectors, internal organizers, and additional pockets.
Locks provide an extra layer of security for your belongings, preventing unauthorized access to your saddlebags. Look for saddlebags that come with built-in locks or ones that can be easily fitted with aftermarket locks.
Reflectors are another important feature to consider, especially if you ride at night or in low-visibility conditions. Reflective accents on your saddlebags can improve your visibility to other motorists, enhancing your safety on the road.
Internal organizers and additional pockets can help you keep your belongings organized and easily accessible. Look for saddlebags that come with compartments or dividers to separate your items and prevent them from shifting during rides. Additional pockets on the exterior of the saddlebags can provide quick access to essential items such as your phone, wallet, or keys.
- Security features for saddlebags
If you're worried about theft, you will want to choose saddlebags that come with secure locking mechanisms. Hard saddlebags are often more secure than soft saddlebags, as they are less likely to be cut or pried open.
How to Maintain and Care for Motorcycle Saddlebags
Proper maintenance and care can significantly prolong the lifespan of your saddlebags and keep them looking their best.
Here are some essential tips for maintaining and caring for your saddlebags:
- Regularly clean your saddlebags using mild soap and water. Avoid using harsh chemicals or abrasive cleaners that can damage the material.
- For leather saddlebags, apply a leather conditioner regularly to keep the material supple and prevent cracking or drying.
- If your saddlebags get wet, allow them to air dry completely before storing or using them again. Avoid using heat sources such as hairdryers, as they can cause the material to warp or shrink.
- Inspect your saddlebags regularly for any signs of damage or wear. Repair or replace any worn-out straps, buckles, or zippers to ensure the integrity of your saddlebags.
- When not in use, store your saddlebags in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight. This will help prevent fading, warping, or damage to the material.
Choosing the right motorcycle saddlebags is essential for every rider, as they provide a convenient and secure storage solution for your belongings.
There are several types of saddlebags such as hard saddlebags, soft saddlebags, throw-over saddlebags and mounted saddlebags. Go with one that suits your travel requirements as well as personal preferences.
Hard and mounted saddlebags are strong, sturdy and offer protection against theft while soft saddlebags may not offer relative protection but they are easy to assemble and disassemble during tours.
Consider factors such as size, capacity, material, mounting options, and features before you make the final buying decision.
Remember to choose reputable brands known for their quality and durability, and don't forget to properly maintain and care for your saddlebags to ensure their longevity.