LUGGAGE Special Feature

Posted On 21 May 2024
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This entry is part 16 of 28 in the series AusMotorcyclist Issue#32


When I started travelling by bike (as opposed to going to the pub on Friday night and to a keg thereafter), Army surplus ammunition bags were the crème de la crème of motorcycle luggage, augmented by Army (or Navy) surplus duffle bags if you were going to ride around Australia. We needed little on the road and carried less, and what we did carry was supplied by Stoliar Brothers Army Surplus To The Gentry and tied on with rope or string. Washing line was a favoured security device, and many a laundry was deprived of this time honoured means of drying clothes.

Not that our rough-and-ready solutions to the problem of bike luggage were perfect. More than once, a bag would slip to one side and come into contact with the muffler, causing a small but painful conflagration at the rear of the bike. The opposite could be almost as unpleasant when it rained and the bags became sodden.

Help, of course, was not far away.


Unless I’m very much mistaken, as Murray Walker would have said, it was Mike Krauser who came up with the first dedicated hard luggage for BMW. And yes, like the sainted Murray, I am very much mistaken because it was actually Ken Craven who had begun to make panniers in 1951 – 20 years before Mike started and well before even I began to ride. I have no doubt that readers will correct me if I am wrong, as inevitably I will be.

Early attempts at designing hard luggage were laudable but not necessarily as effective as they might have been. Craven luggage frames were complicated enough to require a graduate degree in topology to fit; the much-missed BMW mechanic Don Wilson got to the point where he refused to work on Craven fitment to preserve his sanity. At least Ken’s bags generally stayed on the bike once they were fitted. Hands up anyone old enough to remember when BMW riders all had straps around their panniers and racks? There was a reason for that.

I well remember following my mate Michel over a high causeway somewhere near Golhisar in central Turkey. He hit a pothole, and the right-hand Krauser pannier detached itself from his BMW R 100 S, hit the road and then sailed down the embankment to the field below. It came to rest among a small flock of goats, who possibly raised an eyebrow but otherwise ignored this black, rectangular foreign object. From then on, Michel strapped his panniers on, too.

Today you can buy a huge range of hard and soft luggage with your bike or afterwards, from a multitude of suppliers. Most of this stuff is excellent, although the best of it is not cheap. But when did we ever worry about price when we were buying our bikes a gift, eh?

It’s worth just tipping the hat to Australasia’s luggage innovators.

In Australia, Jack Burger started a revolution with his JAB Gearsack designs, luggage that would fit just about any motorcycle – and without the complications of some previous systems. I’ve seen a Gearsack fitted to an LC250 Yamaha. A little later, Andy ‘Strapz’ White came up with the priceless Andy Strapz which superseded bungees and made loading a bike much easier and safer. Andy is still creating innovative ways of loading bikes. Meanwhile, in New Zealand, Dold Industries continues to make the outstanding Ventura bike luggage systems (distributed in Aus by Kenma).


Back to my misspent youth again for a moment. Triumphs were popular when we headed out of town to hold an alfresco keg. The reason was the little luggage rack that some of them had fitted to the top of their fuel tanks.

If you were brave and stupid enough, you could balance a keg there, holding it in place with your elbows, while carrying the gas, ice and dispensing equipment in the (usually leather) panniers. A one-man, one-bike high speed moveable bar was the result.

I will leave it to your imagination what this made possible.

The rack on the tank was not the only luggage solution that’s been abandoned. For quite a while, BMW boxer riders had the option of getting a set of pot racks made. These were small but strong racks sitting just above the bike’s cylinders, and often used to carry oil, fuel or even tools.

And that brings us to the question posed above. Where do you load?

Pot racks were good for heavy things because they were low on the bike and, if you loaded them appropriately, balanced. Mass centralisation before it was popular – or even named.

It’s pretty obvious where the best place is for a load on your bike. In line with the centreline of the bike, between the axles – in other words on the tank or on the seat behind you. That’s where the heavy stuff should go. After that, sling it out the side in panniers, in front of or level with the rear axle.

Finally, on the rack above the rear wheel. Avoid attaching anything to the forks, above or around the steering head, and don’t load up the back of the bike too much behind the rear axle. You will see many suggestions in this survey of currently available luggage. Happy hunting for your very own selection! PT

ANDY STRAPZ Ph: 03 9770 2207
Traveller Pannierz – $325

Designed to fit any bike with side covers/ panels or fenders they are backed with a special adjustable, sticky, memory foam pad. This pad will reduce the scuffing of bodywork. Traveller Pannierz feature a slash cut bottom to accommodate high rise pipes.

Avduro Pannierz – $425

After 5 years of listening, two years of trialling and testing; Avduro Pannierz are ready for release. While the architecture of the Pannierz hasn’t changed, the way they secure to the support frames has.

There are four added elements to achieve this, making them ultra-tough.

AA & A Bagz – $180-$220

One of Australia’s favourite bike bags, just drop it on the passenger seat and tie it down with its own strap system. No frames or hardware needed. Simple, yet effective and low profile.

VENTURA Ph: 02 9484 0777
Touring kits and top boxes – From $99 – $459

Everyone knows the top quality kit being made by stalwarts, Ventura. You can get all sorts of “soft” luggage to fit their rack systems, to their latest “medium” soft luggage, or choose from their hard case Astro top box. Available in all sorts of sizes and rack systems to fit over 2000 motorcycles, there’s a good bet you can style up your luggage carrying with a Ventura product. We’ve used them for years and loved them. The latest systems available are for the Yamaha MT-09 Tracer and R3 and the BMW R 1200 R and RnineT.

Ph: 07 3252 5381
XKürsion XW5.5 roller bag – $349.99 US

The all-new XKürsion XW5.5 Roller Bag is the largest option available within the XKürsion luggage line-up.

The removable interior divider provides the option of one large packing space or individual upper and lower compartments with separate access points. Thermoformed side compartments provide room for additional cargo and also include side-mounted pockets to keep smaller items easily accessible.

Interior padded electronics pockets in multiple sizes can hold a variety of devices, including cell phones, tablets and laptops up to 17”. When you reach your destination, the sturdy, retractable handle and smooth rolling wheels offer easy transport off the bike. Like all XKürsion bags, the XW5.5 is constructed with premium UV-rated, weather resistant 1200 denier Maxtura material.

The custom thermoformed construction with integrated internal support structures ensure durability and shape retention, regardless of the payload.

OXFORD LUGGAGE Ph: 02 9757 0061
QR tank bag – $199.95 – Tank ring – $29.95

This quick release tank bag system clips into the inconspicuous tank ring keeping the bag away from paintwork. A very user friendly bag to have.

X40 tail pack – $179.95

The most sophisticated seat bag ever designed, the X40 Tail pack has even more useful features with a new, unique design for a totally exclusive look and as the name suggests, it has 40 litres capacity.

Tank ‘n’ Tailer Tankbag & Tailpack in one – $99.95

Tank bag and tail pack in one without the need for a base conversion kit! Comes in an 18 litre capacity with 5 colour swatches included with every first time bag. Simply slide the swatch into the side panel.

GIVI Ph: 03 9464 3366

Givi make premium products and you’ll see many of their products labelled as manufacturers accessories, but Givi has a lot of their range available for just about all bikes past and present.

3D604 – $159 Tank flange – $22+

Mounts with Givi’s tanklock system, flanges are available to suit most modern bikes and the bag features a detachable iPad mini / map holder, phone holder with touch screen window, moulded semi-rigid construction with textured finish, zipper extension, rain cover and shoulder strap.

XS308 Adventure bag – $199

Mounts to Givi’s tanklock system and has similar features to the 3D604, expect for adventure riders there is a tool bag and larger map holder.

Outback case range – From $549

Comprising of panniers and/or top box, fitting kits available for most popular adventure bikes. Made from extremely strong full alloy construction and available in polished alloy or black finishes. Many accessories are also available (backrest, internal soft bags, external soft bags, jerry can holders, elastic nets).

Trekker case range – From $489

Fitting kits available for most popular adventure bikes and made from a super durable casing with alloy lid panels.

Panniers have special split lid for the option of half open or full opening settings. Many accessories are available (backrest, internal soft bags, external soft bags, jerry can holders, elastic nets) and the panniers and top box are available in polished alloy or black finishes.

V56N – $549 – $599

56 litre top box available with an alloy lid panel, or carbon look panel. Fitting kits available for most popular bikes.

B33NMK – $269

Handy 33 litre capacity top box with fitting kits available for most popular bikes.

E300N – $129

30 litre capacity which comes with a universal mounting plate with kits available for most popular bikes.

Waterproof range – From $89 – $149

Available in 30L, 40L and 80L and made from extremely durable Thermoplastic Polyurethane. All seams are electro welded to achieve 100% waterproofing. Comes with carry handles, shoulder strap, and tie down points.

Covered hard trunks

Whether you call them a “top case” like the Europeans or “trunks” as the Americans do, Mustang’s stylish hard cases are made from high quality fiberglass and perfectly match most Mustang seats. These “trunks” measure 22W” x 18”L x 13H” and can accommodate two full-face helmets.

Universal saddlebag sets

Convert your bike to a bagger by adding a set of Mustang’s universal hard saddlebags. These flat-backed bags with recessed front corners for axle clearance are made of reinforced fiberglass and covered with high quality expanded vinyl.

Bags and lids feature a rubber seal to help make them water resistant. The inside is lined with a durable felt material that is easy on the contents as well as the knuckles. Saddlebags come undrilled for a universal fit that will clear most exhaust systems (mounting hardware is not included).

Ph: 02 9820 4444
Stunt PVC tank bag – $209

The Bagster Stunt tank bag has an expandable gusset in order to fit a helmet in. There are smaller outer storage pockets for keeping smaller items close at hand, a tidy pocket for wallet, glasses and a rain cover is included to keep the bag as dry as possible. The bag has 4 attaching clips that fit on any Bagster tank cover. The bag can also be transformed into a backpack so it’s easy to carry your items off the bike as well.

Starlight LED backpack – $279

The new Starlight backpack is a specialised motorcycle backpack that features an innovative additional LED brake light (wirelessly connected) built into the backpack itself. This major innovation increases the rider’s safety by providing additional indicators that the brake light is activated to the following vehicle.

As a backpack, the Starlight is also very practical and stylish. It is top of the range quality and features a thermo compressed hood, comfortable reflective backpack straps, back with foam contacts and a built in rain cover.

Everglade waterproof seat bag/tank bag – $99.95 – $119.95

New and innovative, a transport bag of 20 or 30 litres capacity, 100% waterproof for the greatest of adventures. Flexible, resistant and 100 % tight, the ideal accessory as a saddle bag behind a motorcycle, as luggage in front or behind a quad, or simply as a sport bag – convertible backpack.

TOURATECH Ph: 03 5729 5529
Zega Pro2 pannier system – From $2063

A rugged aluminium pannier system that joins form and function in a harmonious unit, combining the advantages of Touratech’s popular special systems with the innovative characteristics of Zega Pro2 panniers – this is the new Zega Pro2 special system for the BMW R 1200 GS/GSA.

Ortlieb “Adventure” Rack-Pack saddle bag – $160

The absolutely waterproof, dustproof, mudproof, snowproof and sandproof packsack by Ortlieb is a strong bag that has a large transverse roll closure that enables you to see all the equipment clearly. It is the ideal (and essential) travel companion – and not only on motorcycle tours!

Universal tank rucksack – $314.50

Touratech’s universal tank rucksack for most motorcycles offers easy mounting, plenty of space and highest quality for extreme exposure!

Mounting at the front end is via a steering head strap and at the rear end via a sideways looped strap with rotating quick-release catches.

Manufactured from superior Cordura, fitted with a removable DIN A4 sized map pouch and an extension option via a circumferential zip, it is the ideal companion for a number of uses.

DRIRIDER : McLeod Accessories: Ph: 1300 300 191
Streamline backpack – $119.95

28 litre capacity, made from a 600D Ripstop construction with reinforced sides for shape retention, chest and waist straps for support, large main compartment with small storage pocket, rear laptop pocket, large side pockets with storage pockets and key holder, rain cover with strap and reflective strip for night safety.

Navigator tank bag – $159.95

15 litre capacity made from a 1680D construction and features a transparent holder for GPS unit, and the compartment can be raised for viewing.

There is a large main compartment, front and side pockets, rain cover, shoulder straps and waist strap, four suction cups for secure holding and optional magnetic pads available. Non-slip anti scratch base and reflective strip for night safety.

Explorer tail pack – $184.95

600D Rip stop construction with a large expandable main compartment, side pockets, cover for loading extra gear like a sleeping roll, rain cover, shoulder strap,multiple attachment straps and the bag includes PE boards for shape retention and reflective strip for night safety.

Route 66 Deluxe roll bag – $139.95

37 litre expanded capacity with zippered ends, large front opening, expandable side pockets, semi-rigid construction and the bag comes with a shoulder strap, rain cover and two adjustable straps.

Route 66 Throw over saddlebags – $199.95

51 litre expanded capacity, which can be mounted under or over pillion seat, adjustable to fit almost any motorcycle, with no mounting brackets or supports needed. Features include expandable drink holders, external and internal pockets, expandable main luggage compartment and a semi-rigid construction.

Adventurer with roll bag – $219.95

Made from super heavy duty ballistic nylon construction with zip out back pack straps, roll bag is removable and is secured with adjustable straps, all lids and compartments seal with heavy duty zips, bag attaches universally to any sissy bar and sits on either luggage rack or rear seat. Comes with rain cover included.

Tool bag – $29.95

Classic chrome buckle design, yet opens and closes easily with simple clip system, can be mounted on lower triple tree, handlebars or fork tubes (above lower triple tree) using the mounting straps provided. Made from tough, durable synthetic leather.

Saddle bags box lid – $139.95

Classic chrome buckle design, yet opens and closes easily with simple lockable clip system, stylish riveted and leather stitched edge on lids of saddlebags, made from tough, durable synthetic leather, adjustable width for different size fenders and the bags are designed to go either under or over the seat.

Day magnetic tank bag – $59.95

Small tank bag with enough room for wallet, keys, phone and sunglasses, it has 2 zippered side pockets, 1 zippered map pocket, rain cover, non-slip rubber base and 2 super long strong magnets in base.

Adventurer sportbike seat bag – $79.95

A great all-round seat bag made from super heavy duty ballistic nylon and features a pull out rain cover, carry handle, padded shoulder carry strap, reflective inserts and an expandable top.

Metro backpack – $39.95

Be prepared for what the city has to throw at you. The Metro backpack makes your everyday commute easy with its many features and its unbuilt versatility.

Touring saddlebags – $79.95

Made from super heavy duty ballistic nylon and featuring adjustable heavy duty Velcro retaining straps, dual buckles on each saddlebag to ensure your luggage stays put and a large Velcro weatherproof seal with two retaining clips to keep your luggage dry.

Super top box – $119.95

39 litre capacity and features large reflective panels, lockable to base plate and super top box lockable separately, made from heavy duty ABS plastic, with a super heavy duty reinforced steel base plate and comes with a built in back rest.

Super Sport II panniers – $149.95

These soft throw over panniers are designed to fit any sports/sports touring bike for the trip away or everyday commuting. Easy “throw over” design and Velcro straps to attach it to your bike.

The ‘grab it and go’ handle makes it easy to carry. Both main compartments are expandable and large enough to hold the biggest load.

Ph: 02 9719 8890
Waterproof Carry Bag – $65 – $95

Available in either 30 litre or 60 litre, this carry bag is made from PVC coating (100% Tarpaulin) and features a water and dust-proof adjustable roll-fastener, carry handle, detachable shoulder straps, welded seams and reflective print.

City bag – $95

Made from PVC coating with welded seams and featuring 1 outside pocket (not waterproof), carry handle, second main compartment with laptop pocket and organiser pockets, waist belt and 3M Scotch lite reflective inserts.

Roll bag – $60 – $90

Available in 60 or 90 litre capacity this handy roll bag features a water and dust proof adjustable roll-fastener, reflective print, welded seams and made from PVC coating (100% Tarpaulin).

see your local dealer or
Function backpack – $200

High-quality, functional motorcycle backpack packed full of features. Made from heavy-duty upper material of tarp (polyester with TPU-coating) and nylon and a 25 expandable to 30 litre capacity.

The main compartment is also waterproof thanks to an inner bag with roll closure and taped seams.

Giant bag – $350

The perfect luggage for travelling to your motorcycling holiday, specially designed to the travelling needs of motorcyclists.

Plenty of space for all the rider’s equipment essentials such as helmet, suit, boots, gloves, etc. Practical compartments inside make it easy to pack all your gear. Bottom compartment can be used in a number of ways: The helmet-compartment separator is held in place on one side by 2 buckles; it can be folded fl at when not needed.

Easy to use with castors, telescopic handle and carrying handles, and also weighs very little when empty.

Luggage roll – $230

A waterproof bag which can be carried on most motorcycles, weatherproof and hard-wearing comes supplied with 12 retaining straps in 3 different lengths, so there are many ways in which it can be securely attached to the motorcycle.

Softbag 3 small & large – $250 – $300

The all new designed bags are made with a polyester fabric which has excellent rip stop properties and the base being made from forming EVA (ethylene-vinyl acetate) with an anti-slip coating. The waterproof main compartment and water-repellent outside pockets will keep everything dry and ready for use, easily accessed by the large open on the top of the bag.

see your local dealer or
Dry roll bag – $116.50

This stylish 35 litre black dry roll bag features a red and silver Suzuki logo on the side, and is made from welded tarpaulin, with reflective details with an additional shoulder belt included.

Dry hip bag – $53.50

The Dry Hip Bag is waterproof and is made of welded tarpaulin and features reflective details and an adjustable waist belt. The capacity is 2.5 litres.

Top case – $930

Top case ideal for carrying luggage with 35 litres volume. Top case adapter plate required for mounting is included.

Side case set – $1190

Side case set with 26 litres volume on right hand side and 29 litres volume on left hand side. Upper and Lower Side case brackets required for fitment are included. Fits the V-Strom 1000.

see your local dealer or

Triumph Motorcycles offer many genuine accessory luggage options for your Triumph. Ask your local dealer for the full list, but the following panniers for the popular Tiger 800 show the quality on offer.

Expedition aluminium panniers –
$1295, mounting kit – $455.20

These water resistant panniers are made from a 1.5mm thick single skin aluminium structure, with the enhanced protection of polymer corner reinforcements. Features Triumph branded base and latch, top opening with detachable lid and each pannier has a capacity of 37 litres.

Added security comes via the “one key” locking mechanism, using the bike’s ignition key.

see your local dealer or
Luggage system – $402.53

This is a two-bag system with a large touring bag and a smaller day bag. Provides loads of space for all types of touring.

Overnight bag – $201.23

This bag is ideal for the shorter trip or over nighter for a single rider. Fits either the Tour-Pak luggage rack or the sissy bar upright.

Rolling touring bag – $348.85

H-D’s largest bag, at 50 litres you can fit loads of gear for the long haul.

Ph: 03 9870 3807

BM Motorcycles in Ringwood, Victoria specialise in long trip preparation including bike and gear. They are also Touratech luggage dealers and a specialist BMW workshop. We have heard nothing but excellent feedback about Chris and the guys in the workshop. We highly recommend you give them a call or drop in to see them to discuss your luggage requirements!

About the Author
Australian Motorcyclist Magazine is Australia's leading motorcycle travel magazine.
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