Choosing (and Modifying) Luggage for your Bike

As mentioned in my previous post, we do a lot of out-of-town trips on the bike.  We love spending the weekend going…wherever.  The nice thing, too, is that if I were to sit home from Friday night after work until Sunday night when it’s time to hit the sack, it would feel like the weekend is so short.  Taking the bike out for the weekend, however, makes it seem like we just done so much!  One trip was just out of town after work, overnight in a hotel and back home by 9 pm on Saturday!  I had a whole Sunday for stuff around the house, but I didn’t have that “I got robbed!” feeling.

Because we are out riding, and there’s two of us for just the single bike (so far), luggage was a key consideration.  Sure, the Heritage has the great saddle bags but with the camera electronics, and now also the LED wires and controller, plus the rain gear, some basic tools….well, one whole saddle bag is pretty much useless.  The other saddlebag holds some “trip-clothes” like ball caps, our cooling vests when not worn, some flip flops and all that times two for the both of us.  We also tend to put bottles of water in there for easy access at gas stops and the like.  All that to say that the saddlebags, in our use case, just don’t have the space to pack “luggage” items like bathroom kits, socks, underwear, phone/Bluetooth charger cables, etc.   We needed luggage….

Looking through the various sites that offer bike luggage, you’ll see everything from tool rolls (I have one of those, too…), tank bags, bags that sit on the pillion (won’t work for us), sissy bar bags, duffel bags, etc.  There are hundreds of combinations, and some setups are even modular, meaning you can stack more parts later.

For us, though, we ended up with Oxide Sissybar luggage.

What we liked about this, prior to actually having it in our hands were a few factors:

  • The studs and conchos match the look of the bike.
  • Has some outside, accessible pouches for quick access to small things.
  • Seems quite rigid
  • In the case of this version with the studs, they serve as mini-reflectors since it has no reflective piping.
  • Has the top bag that we can take…or not.
  • It is convenient, once removed from the bike, to just grab the top handle of either bag and carry it into the hotel or back into the house.

Now, in practicality….and having ridden with it for a while, I can tell you some real issues with it:

  • Those side pouches don’t have the quick-clips.  You actually have to unbuckle them. It’s a hassle.
  • The Oxide logo is ugly…   A black Sharpie marker solved that problem!
  • The latch (just above the front pouch, with the D-ring), pretty much sucks.  Every time the wife tries to open it she calls me over to do it.  And it’s getting harder for me to open it each time.
  • Because we have the armrest on the sissy bar, it limits our ability to “connect” to it.   Notice the back:
    It has the wide velcro strap, but we can’t use it.  (I cut it right off.)  And those buckles…forget about it.  Not nearly sturdy enough for my tastes.  Instead, we have a looped bungee cord through the D-ring (in my point above about the latch), that we loop from the front, with either end going over the side pockets and between the seat back and the little arms and buckled to bottom of the bars.  Constant use has worn some of the rubber off the bungee cord ends and is now scratching up the powder coat on the armrest.  We also have another loose bungee cord we just wrap from the square ring (where the straps above go through at the top of the bottom bag) also to the armrest metal.  More scratches…yay.
  • Overall, I feel like it might last another year if we’re lucky.

Riding a Harley-Davidson, it’s tough to resist the urge to “buy all things Harley”.  There is, however, a really nice bag from Harley:


I’m not certain, but it looks like it has less capacity than the Oxide one we have.  It definitely doesn’t have the extra top, rounded bag addition.  It does, however, have the reflective piping, and safety and being seen is important.  I can also tell you that those three d-rings on either side would be very conducive to connecting it like we need.  It’s $230, though, and that’s kinda pricey.  The HD logos must be very expensive to make!

So when choosing your bike luggage, consider all these factors I’ve listed and try to think through what your needs are for capacity and strength in conjunction with the money you’ll have to spend to get what you need.

As it seems with a lot of things we buy for the bike, we also just don’t really know if they will work like we hope.  As I stated in my last post, I’m on version 2 or 3 of different components that just haven’t made me as content as I’d like.  Since we’ve only been riding for a little over three months now, there’s so much experience that we still have yet to attain.

Feel free to leave a comment about your personal solutions!


One thought on “Choosing (and Modifying) Luggage for your Bike

  1. Pingback: Not a Lot of Room Under the Seat (aka “Upgrading your Bike”) | Two Wheels. One Bike.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s