Ready to Ride: Fit soft luggage safely



Don’t take for granted that when you have fitted soft luggage to your bike that it will stay secure.

You should check that it is still safely fitted when you stop for fuel or park up.

A pal of mine in his youth was blasting back from the Dutch TT onboard his Suzuki GSX-R600 with a bunch of mates when, at high speed, one of the soft luggage panniers worked itself loose and got caught between the rear wheel and swingarm and locked the rear wheel.

Amazingly he managed to control the bike until it came to a standstill – but it blew the tyre out.

Blew his mind, too. The two lessons to learn here are: Don’t rush the fitting of soft luggage, and the speed max warnings whether it be on soft or hard luggage are there for a reason. Take it easy!

Anyway, here’s my step-by-step guide to fitting soft luggage safely…

Read instructions properly

This Rhinowalk soft luggage from Amazon includes a tank bag that attaches to the bike magnetically, and a 20-litre roll bag to strap onto the pillion seat. Soft luggage requires a bit of thought to make it secure. First off, familiarise yourself with the instructions, and pay particular attention to maximum weight restrictions.

Protect the tank

Protect your bike’s tank by applying some clear, sticky-back protective vinyl wrap (available from Amazon) to the places where the bag’s magnets will locate. If you look underneath the tank bag you will see the magnetic sections of the bag. Cut the vinyl wrap to the correct shape and stick firmly in place.

Leave it loose

As an additional safety measure, the tank bag also has a looped strap that secures it to the bike. Take the strap and feed it around the headstock, making sure that it does not pinch any wires or cables. Adjust the length of the strap to
suit the position of the bag. It does not need to be under any tension.

Get ready to roll

Next up is the roll bag. Spend a bit of time here thinking about how you’ll place it – it’ll need to be positioned on the rear of the bike so that it is as stable as possible. This Rhinowalk roll bag has a clever anti-slip surface on the bottom to aid secure fitment, the flatter the surface that the bag is placed on, the more stable it will be.

Right length, right strength

This bag comes with a variety of straps that make it possible to fit it to a wide selection of bikes. Check out the options and understand how and where they fit to the bike and bag. See what end fits where and have a play around with the various adjustments. They can be adjusted for length and the loose ends tucked away.

Fix it firmly

Assess the layout of the possible fixing points for the four straps. As a general rule you need two from the front of the bag to pull slightly forward, and the two straps on the back of the bike to be pulling in the opposite direction. This way the bag will have an even force that will prevent it from moving in either direction.

Products we used

Amazon Microfirbre Cloths – If you have the desire to do things right then you will need a selection of microfibre cloths like this from the Amazon Basics range. We used them here for applying a contact cleaner to the tank to remove all traces of dust and wax, thus ensuring that the clear vinyl wrap would stick perfectly to the clean surface.

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The Ready to Ride video series and related content provides practical sports and performance bikes information for use as general information or for educational purposes. We do not know your particular vehicle or circumstances and the information we provide may not meet your motorbike repair, maintenance and/or health and safety requirements. It is up to you to contact a motorbike mechanic professional if you are concerned about the repairs, maintenance and health and safety of your motorbike. MCN and Amazon do not give mechanic advice in relation to an individual case or motorbike, nor do we provide mechanical or diagnostic services, and this information should not be relied upon as such.

Please note that some of the products and equipment featured in this article may carry health and safety warnings. Please see the product and equipment details page or handbooks to check for possible health and safety hazards and for more information about each product and item of equipment.

Bruce Dunn

By Bruce Dunn

Datalogger, professionally testing bikes for over 25 years.