Best universal motorcycle panniers

Carry more luggage more securely with universal-fit soft motorcycle panniers.

Riding a Yamaha Ténéré 700 with luggage on the road

by Jim Blackstock |

There may well come a time when you need to carry luggage on your motorcycle. You may have chosen to use it for commuting when the world opens back up again and you find yourself back in the office. You may have decided you’d like to go away for a weekend on the bike and need to carry some spare clothing with you or indeed, a longer tour and need clothes and kit for a week away.

While some may be able to get everything they need into a rucksack or a roll-bag on the pillion seat, many others prefer the convenience and carrying capabilities of panniers. They can house any manner of kit securely and keep it dry. Mounting it low down, below the seat line and either side of the rear wheel tends to affect the bike’s handling and stability less than a heavy bag sat up high in the seat, too.

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Of course, not all bikes can use panniers; some with mid- or high-mounted exhausts, for example, simply don’t have space to house panniers with a capacity worth having. And for those that can accept panniers, the manufacturer will generally have a set available as an option but these chances are, these will not be cheap.

You can spend up to £1000 on a pair of boxes which, if you’re buying new and putting it all on the never-never, may not be too painful month-by-month but it can be a big hit if you’re buying secondhand, for example.

One advantage of spending this kind of money is you can get hard panniers in a colour that matches the bike and uses the same lock as the ignition and steering lock for convenience.

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These will likely be completely waterproof and fairly secure but can be a pain to lug around when you get to your destination. Soft panniers from manufacturers are an option – they are generally cheaper but not as secure and possibly, not as waterproof either.

But a set of aftermarket universal soft panniers can be useful and portable and – crucially – available for almost any bike with the exhaust system in the right place. They can be just as effective at keeping the weather out, just as portable – if not more so – than hard panniers and can be slung over the shoulder cowboy-style for carrying into the hotel, for example.

Be aware that you may also need a pair of pannier racks on your bike to prevent the bags from pulling in and coming close to – or even hitting – the rear wheel or exhaust in use but with a rack in place, there are lots of options available.


Iu2019ve used a few of Lomou2019s products before and they have always kept any contents

Lomo Dry Bag

They each hold 30 litres for a total of 60 litres (plenty for a week-long trip away) and are designed to fit an existing pannier rack via three adjustable Velcro straps with side straps securing the bottom of the bags to the bike. In addition to these touring-style panniers, the company also produces adventure-style panniers and ones to fit crashbars for adventurers.

Ryde produce a range of inexpensive motorcycle luggage and these panniers get pretty good reviews

Ryde Twin Black Panniers

For a chopper, cruiser or a custom u2013 particularly one of the big American bikes like a

Leather Saddlebags

Italian manufacturer Givi have a huge range of soft panniers available including for adventure

Givi Corium Panniers

The classic design means they are particularly well-suited to retro bikes and they are formed in 1200D polyester with a removable waterproof liner to keep contents dry. Adjustable straps mean they can also be used on bike with high exhaust pipes, such as scrambler-style machines.

SW-Motechu2019s Blaze range of saddle bags fit to a removable arm on the bike and then, the two

SW-Motech Blaze

These side bags from Shad can either be fitted using universal straps or, for a more secure

Shad Side Bags

Forming part of Oxfordu2019s Lifetime range (it also has Heritage and PVC tarpaulin Aqua ranges as

Oxford Lifetime P60R Panniers

There’s a total capacity of 60 litres and the bags are held by straps across the pillion seat as well as several to make sure they remain secure in use. The bags are showerproof but come with waterproof inner bags to keep the contents dry and also include a range of useful features such as a luggage net on top for items like spare cloves and external pockets.

These stylish saddlebags from Italian manufacturer Kappa come with twin hook-and-loop straps to

Kappa Alpha

There are reflective inserts for visibility at night or in poor weather conditions and each bag also comes with a shoulder strap for use off the bike.

Kriega equipment is not cheap but then, it is exceptional quality. These 36-litre saddlebags are a

Kriega Duo

They are made in 1000D Cordura and feature a roll-top closure with a large flap covering the top and side of the bags for complete waterproofing. They also come with a shoulder strap for use off the bike.

US-brand Mosko Moto is a pioneer of the toughest u2018backcountryu2019 kit, and through quality

Mosko Moto Reckless 80L Revolver

Comprising a 1680D Ballistic Nylon yoke with leg holsters and three removeable drybags (2 x 25l, 1 x 22l), the system is packed with pockets, straps and MOLLE loops, offering an adaptability that isn’t seen anywhere else.

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