A Guide To Carrying Stuff On Your Motorcycle

You. Your motorcycle. The open road.

It’s all you’ll ever need, right?

Well, clean underwear for tomorrow might be nice. And a few shirts, and a toothbrush, and maybe a camera. Plus a cellphone, a book to read and a sweater to wear to dinner.

You know, come to think of it, another pair of pants and some shoes to replace your motorcycle boots would come in handy. So would a rainsuit, just in case.

Pretty soon, it starts to add up. The fact is, whether you’re headed out on a two-week trip or just picking up a box of cereal and a loaf of bread after work, there are times when you really need to carry stuff on your bike.

And it’s instantly obvious when you look at most motorcycles that they weren’t designed to haul large quantities of anything.

Fortunately, you aren’t the first person to discover this. Lots of riders have faced the dilemma of getting something from here to there over the past century or so. And they’ve come up with plenty of innovative ideas—some of which are likely to be right for your bike.

Here, you’ll find a rundown of the major categories of motorcycle luggage, from cramming stuff into your jacket to high-end hard bags. We list the pros and cons of each, give you tips on what to look for when buying and show you examples of some of the more interesting products in each category.


Sometimes you’re not riding coast-to-coast. Sometimes, you’re just headed to the office, or out on a day-trip. All you really need at times like those is a way to carry some files and computer disks, or a rainsuit and some water and snacks for a midday break.

Rear-seat Bags

If you’re traveling alone, one of the most logical places to carry clothing or gear is on the passenger seat. And a number of companies offer rear-seat haulers that make the process convenient.

Tank Bags

Tankbags are religion. Those who’ve been converted will tell you they do everything from making sure you don’t get lost to curing baldness.

Soft Saddlebags

When most people think of adding luggage to a motorcycle, they think of soft saddlebags. These versatile carriers have been around since before Pony Express riders were hauling mail in the Old West.

All-In-One Bags

Own a cruiser? Want to turn it into a touring bike? Then you probably already know about one type of all-in-one luggage known as back-rest bags.

Hard Saddlebags

Hard bags provide a lot of protection that soft bags can't. They're a great choice but pricier than soft bags.

Integrated Luggage

None of the above is quite good enough for you? There’s still one more choice—let the motorcycle manufacturer incorporate carrying capacity into your bike.