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MCN  says:

You Ask/You Answer: Luggage

"I need some on-bike luggage, but can't decide what sort to go for. Is a top box best, or panniers? Also, should I get luggage that's properly fitted to the bike, or would throw-over panniers or a Ventura-style rack/bag be the best option?" Your answer could help. The best will be printed in MCN. Got a question? Click here to submit it!

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  • Posted 2 years ago (06 February 2013 11:23)

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Nov 12

Posts: 10

HaplessBiker says:

Panniers better than crash bungs

Depends where you’re going and for how long. I use Oxford Sports panniers which expand out so far you could put coasters on them and call your bike a trike. They’re not the easiest things in the world to attach but they do the job, stay in place and are reasonably water-proof. When I wrote Bonjour, Is This Italy (sorry for the ad! I used a Gearsack tailpack which was brilliant, well made, spacious…sadly won’t fit on my current bike. Whatever you use, it’s worth attaching it for a few days before your trip and getting used to the extra dimensions of your bike (filtering…panniers…ouch)

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May 10

Posts: 102

Bebobobob says:

depends on the bike

avoid magnetic tankbags - they fall off and move under heavy braking, fixed luggage only, do you care about taking the bag or it's contents with you frequently or not? detatchable soft luggage for the first, topbox for the latter, do you wish to go through the contents of the mags while sat on the bike at any point (toll road, water, mp3 player) if so, fixed tankbag like a bagster, otherwise rear luggage, and ignore all the tankbag suggestions if it's a cruiser

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Jun 11

Posts: 22

ewanhind says:


There is no single answer, it depends on your bike and what you want it for. If you tour extensively on the bike and want to be able to leave luggage securely when away from the bike, you'll need hard luggage that can lock to the bike, but it can be expensive and heavy. For commuting a top box is great as it's secure, waterproof, doesn't add to the width for filtering and can fit a useful amount. For trips away when you just need to take your gear with you from hotel or hotel or campsite to campsite and security isn't so important then soft luggage will do fine. Without knowing what you want to use it for and what bike you have the question is meaningless, a bit like saying "I want a motorbike, which one is best?"

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Sep 08

Posts: 6

MrJealousy says:


I use throw over panniers. When they are fully loaded they don't affect the balance of the bike anywhere near as much compared to a fully loaded top box and they don't catch the cross winds like a top box does either.

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Jan 08

Posts: 74

Victor9098 says:

Context Matters

Not sure what you need the luggage for. I commute each day and have used hard luggage on my bikes for the last several years, some aftermarket, some official. Hard panniers do not need to be huge, GIVI, Hepco and so on all make bags of all sizes. They also should be waterproof and give your gear on the bike a degree of security. That said, hard luggage usually means altering the cosmetics of the bike due to frames etc. Some makers also recommend against panniers AND top boxes at the same time for safety reasons. Soft luggage is very versatile, just ask any courier (or Nick Sanders!!!) and they use them in all-weather. Have a look online for some pictures of your bike with luggage, most luggage makers have online catalogues that should also help give you an idea of what you end up with. Just think through what you will be using it for and what suits those needs.

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Sep 09

Posts: 898

Rogerborg says:

Tank bag with a backpack in it -> cargo net -> soft panniers with dry bag liners -> top box

Is the order I'd go with unless you have specific needs, like a lockable top box for keeping your lid in.

Cheap luggage works just fine, you don't have to spunk the price of a hack on some bags and boxes.  My Lidl B-Square tank bag is reaching its 4th year of daily heavy use, the Oxford First Time panniers are holding up splendidly, and my no-name eBay special top box is secured with a fuckton of tie-wraps to a couple of shoddily welded-and-bolted on rails.

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Jun 06

Posts: 42

stevowarrior says:

Avoid Moving Topbox

Avoid a "moving" top box like the ones fitted by Triumph as part of the Triumph Dynamic Luggage System. (Fitted to Sprint GT, Tiger 800, Explorer and new Trophy). The top box was really uncomfortable for the pillion who now has a bad back after a season riding a bike fitted with one. Whether it caused the problem I'll never know but the physio's believe it will have contributed.  

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Feb 09

Posts: 515

Toothbrush, clean pants, spare cables, bit of cah and plastic card. Job done.

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Feb 09

Posts: 515

Sorry, should say "cash". Brain pharts are coming thick and fast today.

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Feb 12

Posts: 242

Titosfuneral says:

Touring.. panniers with a tankbag. Commuting.. topbox. Panniers are better for long distances than a topbox as the weight is lower and further forward, but they get in the way when filtering through traffic on the daily commute.

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