How many times are you going to take that road trip with inadequate luggage? At some point we all have used the backpack or duffel bag and strapped them in some precarious manner to our bike. I challenge you to make this the season you choose to upgrade your travel bags. With the dizzying amount of motorcycle luggage out there, K and G Cycles (www.kandgcycles.com) wants to offer some advice based on the type of bike you ride.
We’ll start with the “non-touring” bikes. For the most part, these will be models without Saddlebags or a Tour Pak. Also depending if you have a passenger backrest and luggage rack, this can change your cargo carrying capacity. Lets take a look at adding saddlebags first. You have the choice of adding different styles of saddlebags, instantly increasing your ability to haul more, effectively.
Throw Over Saddlebags – This is the simplist of the bags and will net you an organized way to tote your belongings. Throw over bags are exactly what they denote, leather or synthetic bags that are thrown over the seat and hang down on each side. They resemble the styling of the courier bags Cowboys carried on their horses in the Old West, hence the name given to them. When using this type of bag, you may want to employ stand offs as they will eliminate the risk of the saddlebags coming in contact with any of the moving parts in the rear as well as not allow contact between the brake line and the bags.
Leather Saddlebags – For those wanting a more permanent solution, you can opt for Leather Saddlebags. These bags are usually rigid bags covered with a leather skin. They will often be a permanent installation, but some models do come as detachable units. Offering up quite a bit more storage than the throw overs, the leather bags are a popular option for those using the bike on long weekend runs or as a main source of transportation when constant storage options are needed. Leather bags come in many different designs so there will surely be a set to complete your look. If you want Fringe, Studded, Plain, or even stitched inlays, you can have that plus an abundance of storage at the ready.
Touring Style Hard Bags – Even though you do not have a Touring bike, there is no reason you can’t have hard bags with the luxury of locking lids. Hard bags are no longer reserved for the big bikes and when used on “the others” can deliver quite the custom look. These bags are often chosen for the level of security provided because they can be locked as well as permanently attached to your motorcycle. Hard bags also have the capability to painted to match any paint job, no matter if it is stock or custom.
Noe that we’ve covered saddlebags, lets move on to luggage racks and their associated bags. In many cases for you to have a luggage rack, you must first have installed a sissy bar, backrest, bitch bar or whatever you call them. Few racks other than Touring bikes are stand alone types, even those that are, benefit from the upright as it gives vertical support to whatever you have attached there.
Luggage Racks – If we weren’t talking about selecting the right luggage for you, we wouldn’t need to talk about said racks. Since we are, let’s dive right in and see what’s out there. For the most part luggage racks are created equal and are meant to serve 1 purpose – you guessed it carry luggage. There are mainly 2 types of racks, Fender Mount and Sissy Bar Mount.
For most, the sissy bar mount is the most common because it give you the most flexibility. You have a backrest already there why not put it to work? Adding a luggage rack to an already existing backrest is easy and is less expensive than you think. You can leave the backrest off and your bike has a lean appearance, install the sissy bar and it is evident you are ready to travel.
A Fender Mount Luggage Rack mounts to the fender and follows the curve of it. The downside to the Fender Mount version is it cannot support as much weight as the Sissy Bar mount style. There is also less surface area so you won’t be able to pack as much. It is almost as though when this style of rack was designed it was intended more for show than go. However if you intend to carry a bag on the sissy bar, you should have a fender mount at minimum to keep the bag off the fender so it doesn’t damage the paint.
So now that we have the different types of “mounts” available, I want to share some luggage options you have at your disposal.
Saddlebag liners are a great way to tote your valuables and clothing. Designed to fit inside your bags, there are ones that work with leather bags as well as hard bags. Convenience is delivered via a zippered entrance and soft handles that let you remove the inserts from the bag and carry it just like luggage. It sure makes transferring your belongings from the bike to the house or hotel so much easier.
Another great system you can utilize is the sissy bar/luggage rack 2-piece bag. I often joke and say the lower bag is the ladies and the small roll bag is the mans, but all kidding aside this style of bag works so well for so many it is no surprise it is so popular. When more space it needed simply attach the 2 and fill it to capacity. When less space is needed you can separate the bag and use either piece independently. As with most luggage made these days, they can be had many different ways - Studded, Conchos, Fringe, Smooth, and more. Pick your style and your off to the races.
Next week we will address the additional luggage options on Touring Bikes (ones that already have a Tour Pak and Saddlebags installed). K and G Cycles (www.kandgcycles.com) wants you to be able to enjoy the upcoming season as much as possible, and one way to do so is ditching the ongoing headache of luggage management. Let us help you get it under control with everything from the luggage rack and saddlebags to the inserts and full service bags.