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Choosing luggage and accessories

Adding luggage and a few well-chosen accessories to your bike can transform its practicality and comfort.

The list of potential accessories for your bike is almost endless, but some will make a bigger difference than others. Luggage can make any bike much more practical.

Type of luggage you need

Choosing the right luggage depends on the type of bike you have and the kind of riding you do.

  • Massive brackets, and a metal pannier and top-box set works well with an adventure bike
  • Throw-over panniers can be a bit of a half-measure for long rides in all weathers
  • Soft luggage gives you more stowage and is ideal for shorter and less frequent trips. Options include:
    • sets with mounting racks, an integrated tail pack and matching tank bag
    • simple throw-over panniers, tail pack, tank bag or rucksack
  • Water resistance varies:
    • some are showerproof, and sometimes you’ll need inner liners or outer covers to deal better with rain
    • hard panniers and a top box are usually more waterproof but not always 100%
    • waterproof inner liners or bags are sometimes necessary to deal with the worst downpours
  • Metal will be your material of choice for off-road use, to stand up to the odd impact.
  • Hard luggage is expandable and if you tour a lot, you can’t beat the stability, security and weather-tightness of securely-mounted hard luggage. Think about what you’ll use the luggage for – a lockable top box works well to store your helmet, and a tail pack works well to store smaller items, eg keys, wallet and phone.

Remember, whatever luggage you fit will likely require some suspension adjustment–especially when loaded. Luggage can also affect stability and may not be secure at higher speeds. 

Remember

Always be sure luggage and accessories are properly fitted. If you’re not confident, get it done professionally.

Buying accessories

Other ways to increase the practicality and comfort of riding include:

  • Hand guards. They keep a lot of the wind and rain off your hands, improving comfort and control, and they’re a doddle to fit
  • Heated grips. Even more comfort and control in cold temperatures
  • Aftermarket screens. Upgrading an existing screen or adding one to a naked bike can help deflect wind and rain, improving comfort
  • Aftermarket seats. From lowering seat height or increasing comfort to just improving the looks, a different seat can make a big difference
  • Satellite navigation or phone GPS mount. Many are simple to fit and make finding your way much easier. Check that the actual unit is waterproof
  • Crash protection includes crash bars, especially for off-road, a sump bash plate, crash bungs, engine case covers and handlebar-end sliders.

Fitting most protection is an easy DIY job.