Whether you’re planning a long-distance road trip or just tooling around town, prefer a stripped-down or beefed-up look, drive a classic or modern motorcycle, choosing the right motorcycle saddlebag is important. You need to consider looks, functionality, material, and your brand of motorcycle. Saddlebags give you storage for all the gear you need to carry, whether it’s a change of clothes, roadside repair equipment, or rain gear and extra layers in case you hit bad weather.
However, with all the saddlebag options to choose from, you might find yourself a little confused when faced with the decision. Some key questions to ask the retailer when choosing your new saddlebags include:
* How will the saddlebag mount on the bike? This is easily your most important and first decision. Some saddlebags have strings that tie underneath the shocks and seat. Others are bolted securely onto the bike. If you want to be able to add and remove the saddlebags easily, consider the tie-on bags. These are convenient when you park your bike overnight on a trip or when you want a more stripped-down look for a day trip. However, if you want the bags to be securely attached, choose the bolt-on bags.
* Are the buckles on the saddlebag easy to operate? Buckles with a quick-release feature are very convenient, because it can sometimes be hard to get into your saddlebags. The quick-release option makes your gear more easily accessible.
* Does the saddlebag come with a lock? You will most certainly want a lock on the saddlebag to protect your gear. If you par your bike overnight or even just leave it for a few minutes, you don’t want your bag and/or your belongings to get stolen. After all, you are often carrying valuable items like a jacket or other expensive gear. Even with a lock, however, it’s best to bring your valuables with you whenever possible.
* Will the saddlebag provide good support, or will it sag over time? Most leather bags will eventually sag. If you choose a leather saddlebag, look for ones that have metal frames. These will be sturdier and more durable, and it prevent the leather from slouching or sagging. Even though this is a little more expensive of an option, it’s much more practical because the saddlebags will last much longer. A PVC saddlebag is not as prone to sagging, but many people prefer the classic look of leather.
* What are the metal components made of? Metal is frequently used on saddlebags for decorations, in rivets and studs, and for bolts on the bolt-on models. There may also be metal frames, as mentioned in the previous paragraph. You want saddlebags that use a stainless metal, like stainless steel. You want your saddlebags to be durable, so make sure you don’t choose a metal that will easily rust, such as brass.
* Are the saddlebags appropriate for your bike? Especially for bolt-on bags, you need to consider whether they will work with your particular motorcycle. Bikes come in many different sizes and shapes, so make sure the saddlebags are recommended for your model.
* Do the details match or coordinate with your bike? Many riders like to coordinate their gear, such as whether you have a certain style of stitching, rivets, or other design work on both the seats and the bags.
Finally, if you will be taking long trips, you might also want to consider matching luggage that attaches to the backrest. This can substantially expand your cargo capacity, which is especially important if you are carrying a passenger and need clothes and gear for two people on one bike.