MOTORCYCLE CAMPING: WHAT LUGGAGE TO USE
Taking your motorcycle off into the sunset with everything you need to on the back of your bike is most people’s dream. Having taken my Royal Enfield camping several times, I can safely say it is one of the most liberating methods of camping. The first time I went I just chucked everything into a big backpack and set off. Fast forward to several hours later and my back felt like it was about to crumble like an accordion. In my youth and complete inexperience, I had completely overlooked this. Now there are heaps of motorcycle specific luggage carriers and choosing between them can be nearly impossible.
Hard luggage panniers are the most secure method of taking your luggage. They are fastened to the bike with sturdy mounts which can be easily detached for shorter rides where you want to leave the bulk of your luggage behind.
The compartments are made from durable plastic, lightweight fibreglass or aluminium. They are fairly strong, but can’t usually handle a direct impact with the floor followed by the weight of the bike landing on top of them. So be careful. They also feature a lock mechanism. This makes them the safest way to transport your belongings on longer trips. You can leave your bags on the bike without worrying about thieves helping themselves to your possessions.
Leather saddlebags provide the ultimate vintage look. They provide an old fashioned, romantic look, but newer versions come with the same mounting technology found on hard models. They are simple to attach and remove. Leather saddlebags don’t have the same level of security that you can find on a harder model.
They don’t have a lock so you should be slightly more aware of where your luggage is at all times. But for pure aesthetic, these luggage racks cannot be beaten. You will need to maintain the leather to keep it looking fresh. You may have to reapply the waterproof protection periodically and treat the bags with leather preservatives.
Avoid buying your leather saddlebags from dealerships. They often charge premium prices for products which aren’t even real leather.
TEXTILE LUGGAGE BAGS
Textile bags are often the cheaper option. They are Velcro mounted and made from durable, waterproof textile. They are not as aesthetically pleasing as leather or as secure as hard luggage, but textile luggage bags offer a level of practicality.
Textile luggage won’t be damaged if you drop the bike on it. It doesn’t need treating or specific maintenance like their leather counterparts. It can be easily washed with a damp cloth and you are ready to go.
The only drawback can be the mounting system. Often the mounts make it difficult to quickly remove and attach the bags. It is possible to mount textile bags with quick release buttons but they are not always the most common variety. Textiles offer the economic, versatile choice of luggage. Their universality makes them the most popular option for motorcycle campers.
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