Motorcycle Luggage Upgrade

74/366 - North Face Duffel

One of the things I really enjoy about owning a motorcycle is the modifications and farkles you can add on to it and one of the more functional things you can add to the bike is storage. Why would I want storage on the bike? Well, I like to carry some basic tools and spare parts, including inner tubes. It would also be nice to carry the warm gloves (and balaclava/neck scarf), an extra light jacket that I can wear under my riding jacket, and the alternate face-shield in case I am riding when it is getting dark.

For a dual-sport, there are a few popular options including tankbags, top boxes, and saddlebags. The pinnacle seems to be a set of aluminum panniers. These have the advantage of being lockable and waterproof. (They also make nice places to slap stickers onto!) The problem with these panniers is their initial cost. Not only do you need to buy the boxes, but you’ll need a rack to mount them on. I’d say that a decent set would cost $500 at the bottom end, and the sky’s the limit at the top end. For now, there’s no money in the budget for a set of hard panniers. In the meantime, I am going to go the way of upgrading my makeshift Quiksilver backpack that is mounted to the pillion/rack with a larger duffel.

New Duffel

In all honesty, I don’t see myself going on a long moto-camping trip anytime soon where a set of panniers would be key. I do see myself taking a weekend or 3-day trip out somewhere though. When doing some research, it seems like a 50-70 liter duffel would be a good option. This would be way more than enough space to fit what I am stuffing into my backpack-tailbag right now and I could also put in a change of clothes and more camera gear. Plus, in the future I can still use the duffel in addition to any panniers I might get. Since I ride solo, I can run the duffel lengthwise from the pillion seat to the rear rack. There’s about 24 inches of space back there.

The choice of duffel came down to two candidates. First is the Ortleib Duffel. This is a tough, waterproof bag that is hard to beat. It comes in a bright yellow color and has four lash points for securing it to the bike. The second candidate was the popular North Face Base Camp duffel. This one is not 100% waterproof, but has a bunch more lash points to attach other items to the bag itself. It also has straps for using the bag as a backpack, although this would only be useful for short hauls. I decided on the North Face, and chose the 69-liter medium size in yellow. The small size would have probably been ok too, but I saw a video where the traveler recommended getting the bigger size since you can always collapse a soft bag in the case where you don’t completely fill it with gear. The medium is 24 inches long, and 15 inches wide and fits nicely onto the rear seat/tail rack.

New Duffel

We’ll see how the new bag works out over time, but I’m confident that the bag will last for many, many miles!

Leave a Reply