Travel in style: Best motorcycle luggage as chosen by MCN

Best universal motorcycle luggage
Best universal motorcycle luggage

One of the drawbacks of riding a motorbike is that you can’t carry as much with you as you can in other types of vehicles – but this can be improved with some luggage.

Whether you’re commuting to work, doing the weekly shop or taking a long trip or bike tour, there are simple luggage options that can add litres of storage to any bike.

From panniers to rucksacks and tankbags to tailpacks, whatever style of bike you ride there is an option out there that will work.

Some bikes are better suited to the job – an adventure bike will always have more carrying capability than a superbike – but with a bit of research and some creative thinking, anyone can fit luggage to their machine.

Best universal motorbike luggage

Best for high volume

Price: 117.95 (was £199.99)

Oxford have been making versions of these panniers for decades and they're a great way to add high volume carrying capacity without having to modify your bike. They velcro to each other and have plenty of anchor straps to hold them in place. Unlike a topbox, panniers keep your bike's centre of gravity nice and low so you can add weight without risking a low-speed topple.

Tested by Ben Clarke for 5 months, 13,000 miles

"I used a pair of these for a bike tour of the USA and Central America that included a variety of riding surfaces from tarmac roads to deserts, forest sludge and wet clay. They stayed dry through a literal hurricane and all of the straps and fastening survived plenty of abuse and off-road falls. A brilliant product that has stood the test of time."


  • Easy to fit and remove
  • Can be used on most bike types
  • 50 litre capacity
  • Lifetime warranty


  • Not waterproof but come with liners

Best for commuters

Kriega have worked hard to become the last word in bike luggage over the years and this rucksack is a great example of that work paying off. It uses the brand's quadlock harness design that keeps the weight off your shoulders and is rugged, waterproof and exceptionally well put-together.

Tested by Ride Magazine scoring 38/40

"A very sturdy bag that hides its loac superbly once the heavy-duty padded harness is correctly adjusted. It's 'excellent on the bike, with very little drag even at very high speeds. The padded back board is stiff but comfy.
"The two external pockets are usefully large, and six adjusters allow excess pocket and main compartment capacity to be taken out to prevent flapping. Internally there are no pockets or pouches, making it easy to stuff - though finding small items may take some fishing.
"It's also completely dry: heavy-duty showerproof with a welded-seam inner and a roll-top closure. "I did think it a bit big at first," noted the tester, "but it's actually just right. The best bag I've ever used on a bike.""


  • Strong
  • Waterproof
  • Comfortable
  • Good capacity


  • Quite big

Best for accessing your valuables

Price: 100.48 (tank ring sold seperately)

The SW Motech Pro Micro Tank Bag is. asmall but mighty addition to your luggage set up that lets you keep a few important valuables (phone, wallet, passport etc) in an easily accessible place. This is particularly handy if you need to pass through tolls on your trip. It requires a bike specific mount but most models are covered.

Tested by Rich Newland for three months, 3500 miles

"I'm not a fan of buying multiple cheap solutions to solve problems – I’d always prefer to use a perfect solution that’ll last a lifetime – and SW-Motech kit fits that bill. This kit is specifically for the Ducati DesertX, a bike which confounds normal tank ring mounted systems thanks to its off-set filler cap. But SW-Motech have engineered a solution, using a clever aluminium bracket which mounts to three bolt-down points on the DesX, providing total stability and security. 

"The Micro is big enough to swallow phones, wallets, snacks, cloths and more up to a standard 3-litres, expanding to 5-litres via a zipped expansion panel. It’s not waterproof, so you will need the included rain hat in a storm; this is 100% effective and has two drawstrings, so you get the perfect 3 or 5-litre fitment. Not cheap, but it is simply superb."


  • Well-designed
  • Keep your valuables to hand
  • Take it with you when you get off the bike


  • Only a small amount of storage

Best for versatility

The Shad SW45 Rucksack is a clever bit of kit that you can sling on your back or strap to your bike depending on what you're up to. It's waterproof and has. asimple and reliable rolltop design plus a large capacity.

Tested by Ben Clarke for 4 months, 1500 miles

"The main body of this Shad SW45 rucksack is a cavernous and waterproof space, just like a rollbag, but you get the added convenience of shoulder straps and two externally accessible pockets. On top of that, the bag comes with everything you need to fix it to the back of your bike as a tailpack.

"The shoulder straps are plush and soft with a link strap across the chest that allows you to relieve a little shoulder pressure. It’s incredibly comfortable to wear, but the lack of a waist strap makes it feel heavy on your shoulders if you’ve got a full payload.

"I really love the ‘stuff it and go’ practicality of the SW45, it’s got IPX5 100% waterproofing you can really trust. I’ve not seen another rucksack with a flap to hold things in place on the outside and it’s a great addition if you’re walking around on a hot day. When the bag is in tailpack mode, the flap can secure extra luggage, such as a small tent, too."


  • Big capacity
  • Waterproof
  • Can be used as a tailpack
  • Extra carrying flap design


  • No waist strap for comfort

Best for stuffing loads in

Price: 54.95 (was £79.99)

The Oxford Aqua T50 is a large-capacity roll bag that sits across the pillion seat of your bike, distributing the weight of your load evenly. It's completely waterproof and easy to use and the simple strap fixings make it completely universal.

Tested by Chris Newbigging for three years

"This simple sausage-shaped bag would likely attach to most bikes, but I found it particularly useful on a trip to Paul Ricard on a borrowed 1985 GSX-R750 with five days-worth of camping equipment, camera kit and my clobber to carry in a manner that wouldn’t rub and wear the repainted bodywork.

"I chose the 50-litre version (there are 30/70-litre options, in olive or flouro yellow as well as this grey colour) and managed to get it all in, hiking tent included. Fully packed, it forms a rigid cylindrical shape, which perched on top of the Slabbie’s seat.

"It stayed closed when packed to capacity – however the roll-top doesn’t appreciate being overfilled, opening a little at the centre. You might not lose items, but the waterproofing won’t work (MCN’s sister title RiDE found it effective when they awarded it a ‘Best Buy’ in their tailpack test).

"It comes with four D-ring straps which work fine, if you have brackets or subframe tubing to tie them too – I didn’t, so I used longer Rok-Straps (£20 for a pair)."


  • Large capacity
  • Simple to fit
  • Waterproof


  • D-ring straps may need upgrading depending on your bike

Things to consider before you buy

Motorcycle luggage is incredibly useful and extends the usability of your motorbike but there are a few things to keep in mind.

All motorcycles have maximum payloads, that’s the combined weight of you, any passenger you may be carrying and your luggage. It is unsafe to exceed this weight and will affect the bike’s performance and brakes in the best case or lead to snapped subframes or other component failure in extreme cases.

You should also consider the distribution of the load you wish to carry. Piling a lot of weight up high will affect the bike’s handling and make it difficult to manage at slow speed and if you opt for panniers and fill one side with socks and the other side with tools, you will find yourself listing on the motorway.

There are also lots of luggage options that come as factory accessories and even bikes that come fitted with panniers and a top box as standard so shop around when you buy your bike or consider haggling with the dealer to get them chucked into your PCP deal.

- Just so you know, whilst we may receive a commission or other compensation from the links on this page, we never allow this to influence product selections.