Types of motorcycle luggage

Traveling by motorbike has a number of advantages. It offers the opportunity to experience the environment much more intensely than in a car. You are also more flexible than with a package tour, for example, and you get to know new people faster. But if you want to go on a longer tour or even a camping trip with your two-wheeler, sooner or later the question arises as to where all the luggage should be stowed away. There are different luggage systems for this purpose, such as saddlebags, motorcycle cases or simple backpacks. But which system is best for your bike and your needs? In this article we compare the advantages and disadvantages of the individual motorcycle luggage systems and explain what you generally have to watch out for when riding with luggage. 

What do I have to consider when riding a motorcycle with luggage?

First of all, it is important to remember that every motorcycle has a maximum payload weight. This is usually around 200 kg, but can also be 230 to 250 kg depending on the machine type. You can find the precise information on the maximum permissible weight in your vehicle registration document. 

In addition, additional luggage also changes the center of gravity of the bike backwards or upwards, depending on the type of luggage. This can have a significant impact on handling, as the motorcycle reacts more slowly to handlebar movements, is more difficult to handle and the handlebars may wobble. 

You should therefore be particularly careful with luggage and drive carefully. You should also observe the following tips in order not to endanger your safety or that of other road users:

  • Only take the bare essentials with you: For example, you should avoid a second pair of shoes or a change of jacket.
  • For heavy objects and for everything that should be close at hand (e.g. your smartphone, tools or a camera) is ideal a tank bag.
  • Especially when using a tank bag, the view of the instruments and the steering angle must be checked.
  • The motorcycle should be loaded as evenly as possible and at the center of gravity of the bike.
  • Heavy objects should be packed down and to the front.
  • Only light and soft objects may be transported in the motorcycle backpack to avoid the Reduce the risk of injury.
  • The rear light and the indicators must not be covered by the luggage.
  • Make sure that you still have enough freedom of movement.
  • Increase the tire pressure according to the load.
  • Check the chassis and adjust the suspension or damping if necessary.
  • Never attach your luggage to the handlebars or the fork to avoid the handlebars flapping.

A tail bag for your motorcycle is a good alternative to a tank bag and top case

Tail bags are soft textile bags, also known as soft bags, and are particularly suitable for motorcycles with a luggage rack or passenger seat. They are attached with lashing straps and straps to hooks provided for this purpose on or behind the pillion seat or to stable points such as grab handles or footrests. These bags come in a variety of shapes and sizes, making them suitable for almost any motorcycle. However, make sure that you do not choose a soft bag that is too large for your motorcycle, as in the worst case this would hinder you while driving. However, this type of luggage is usually not waterproof, which is why additional rain covers must be used.

Motorcycle backpack – the most universal solution

A universal and practical luggage system is the backpack, which is now also available especially for motorcyclists. You can easily take this with you on a tour if you leave your motorbike and want to explore the area on foot. However, this is only suitable for short distances and can quickly become a strain on the back on longer tours. In addition, a backpack should only be loaded with soft things, otherwise the risk of injury is too great.

A tank bag is a sensible alternative. This can be attached directly to the tank on almost all motorcycles between the rider and the handlebars. Exceptions are sports enduros, which do not offer enough space for it, and motorcycles where the instruments are on the tank. The backpack can be attached either with straps, via click attachment to special tank rings or with magnets. It is particularly suitable for heavy luggage, valuables and everything that needs to be close at hand when you are on the go. The center of gravity of the machine is affected the least with this type of luggage. In addition, road maps or smartphones can be stowed in a small, often transparent compartment. It can also be taken with you when you take a break, but it doesn't offer a lot of storage space.

Saddlebag – the classic luggage system with lots of storage space

This system consists of two motorcycle bags that are placed over the passenger seat and hang on the right and left of the bike. If the weight is evenly distributed on both sides, the center of gravity of your two-wheeler is hardly affected. For additional security, the bags can be attached to the footrests using straps and lashing straps. With the help of adjustable Velcro straps, they can also be easily adapted to the width of the motorcycle tail or the seat. When attaching, make sure that there is enough distance to the mufflers to avoid damage to the bags. Saddlebags for motorcycles are often not 100% waterproof, which is why additional rain covers should be used. Alternatively, the use of waterproof inner bags is recommended. A disadvantage of this luggage system is that the bags can rarely be locked.

Motorcycle cases as an alternative to saddlebags

Case systems have many advantages compared to traditional saddlebags, but also some disadvantages. Because they are attached to both sides of the rear, they hardly have any negative impact on driving dynamics. They also offer plenty of storage space and can usually be loaded with heavier objects without any problems. They are made of aluminum or plastic, which makes them more robust, waterproof and, thanks to the integrated locking mechanisms and locks, more theft-proof than simple textile or leather bags. However, they are also significantly more expensive and heavier, since the side cases require special brackets to be attached to the motorcycle. However, these are often only suitable for a specific motorcycle model. 

Luggage roll – the space-saving solution

This is the cheapest and most basic luggage system for motorcycles. You can attach a luggage roll to the rear of your motorcycle or to the pillion seat. To do this, it is fixed with straps and tension belts to special luggage hooks or other stable points such as handles or footrests. Most luggage rolls are waterproof and have a carrying handle that allows you to use them as a travel or sports bag when you are not on your motorcycle. However, there is a disadvantage for those who like to have order, as the rolls usually only have a single compartment. A motorcycle luggage net is an alternative for transporting large objects, or as anti-theft protection for a luggage roll. This is an elastic and close-meshed net with six hooks.

Motorcycle top case – the secret favorite among luggage systems

You can attach this small case to the luggage rack or the rear of your motorcycle using quick-release fasteners or a carrier system. Both attaching and detaching is quick and easy, which is why the top case can be taken with you effortlessly. You can also leave it on your bike for short breaks without hesitation, as it can be locked to prevent theft. It is also waterproof and offers plenty of storage space, so you can easily store two helmets in it, for example. A major disadvantage of this luggage system, however, is that the handling of the motorcycle is strongly influenced by a top case and can also be thrown off balance. This is because it is relatively high and being mounted at the rear shifts the center of gravity of the machine backwards. Therefore, you should definitely observe and comply with the manufacturer's specifications for maximum load and speed.


The extensive range of motorcycle luggage systems makes the choice of right not easy. It is best to think about how much luggage you want to take with you before you buy it. Once you have decided on one or more systems, it is important that you load your motorcycle as evenly as possible to avoid shifting the center of gravity. Also make sure that you do not overload your bike and do not exceed the specified maximum weight. You should also increase the tire pressure accordingly before a longer tour with luggage and adjust the suspension and damping to the additional weight.

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