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Parts & accessories for adventure touring motorcycles including GPS mounts, panniers, luggage, protection, dry bags, camping gear, tools, books & DVDs.

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  #1  
Old 20 Jun 2003
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Bags vs. Boxes

Hi Folks,

maybe this topic has been discussed already somewhere, if so, forgive me for posting the question again...

Anyway, everybody's talking here almost always about boxes, and which ones to choose etc. Now I was looking at other options at well, and the use of bags didn't seem too bad...

As far as I can see it, comparing bags and boxes, I came up with the following:

- boxes give better protection against weather conditions (although bags are also water-proof)
- boxes protect your stuff better in case of falling (but bags may come off easier?)
- boxes are better for theft-protection
- boxes are easily fit when leaving, just sort of click-on and go

on the other hand:

- the weight of bags is A LOT less (which also saves the suspension)
- bags are a lot less expensive
- bags might be more easily repaired (?)
- with bags the weight of your luggage is closer to your bike

I was thinking of geting one bag each side on the back, one big bag on top on the back, a tankbag, and a 'hanging' bag on each side of the tank.

Anyone got some experience, advice, do's and dont's...?

As usual, looking forward to your valuable opinions...

Jef
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  #2  
Old 20 Jun 2003
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Join Date: May 2002
Posts: 184
Jef,
You are right this is a well discussed topic, if you do a search on the HUBB for words like 'panniers', 'luggage', 'soft luggage', 'hard luggage' etc etc you will find that this topic has been discussed in great depth.
All your pros and cons seem to be the usual ones that have been discussed and from what I've discovered it eventually comes down to personal choice. My next trip is to Scandanavia for 3 weeks and I will be using soft Cargo Touring bags. I have had aluminium exhaust guards made for our bikes so they do not burn on the exhaust pipe, but no racks or anything, the bags will just hang over the back of the bike.
For my BIG TRIP next year though, I would prefer to have hard luggage for the reasons you have already mentioned, however cost is the overriding factor. I am going to have to do my budget calculations again when I get back from Scandinavia and see whether I can get afford the hard luggage. I will need luggage for mine and my girlfriends Transalps so everything costs twice as much for me. I won't bother with the 'off the shelf' racks though as I believe these are not always very robust so I will be relying on a metal fabricator to make them. Anyway, read all the discussions you can find on this site and that should give you enough info to make up your mind. Happy deciding!!

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  #3  
Old 27 Oct 2003
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I went with soft bags on my XR650L for a trip through South America and am sticking with them for the next trip. I used Oxford Sovereign bags.
We rode a lot of very rough off-road riding and the bike went down many times. It was a pain getting the bags to stay in place (we ride fast and the bike was airborne a lot). But the tie-down system evolved and eventually worked pretty well. It was also a huge pain removing them and reattaching each day.
That said, I don't think hard bags would have survived the crashes (4 at speed and MANY sitting still since the bike sagged a lot under the load making the kickstand effectively too short). The soft bags survived it all with only minor stitch failure from the repeated jarring. I think hard bags would have been badly mangled. I intent to reinforce the stitching with loops of webbing around the outside.

Bottom Line:
My advice is this-
If your bike is light (more off road type) then don't load it down with heavy metal bags- go soft.
If you will be off road a lot and/or crash a lot for other reasons- go soft.
If you have a heavy bike (more street) then the weight will hardly be felt- go hard.
If you don't intend to leave the pavement very much- go hard.
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  #4  
Old 27 Oct 2003
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I forgot in last post, with soft bags you MUST keep them from the exhuast. see my bike prep at my website

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  #5  
Old 16 Nov 2003
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I agree with all of Jim's reasons to go soft or hard. I was always soft, went hard last time for D Riders but would go soft again next time for a similar sort of trip.
Hard are nice and tidy (and good for sitting on/ tyre repaires if Q/D) but make your shins nervous when the riding is very difficult. And they wont bend back into shape

Chris Soft

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  #6  
Old 17 Nov 2003
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River crossing is much easier with boxes, bags aren't 100% waterproof.
I think you must find the better option for you and terrain where you ride. (Check: landscape, time of adventure and weight of stuff).

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  #7  
Old 17 Nov 2003
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It’s a personal choice but I prefer hard boxes. They are not trouble-free and I have used years to find a setup that works but they are safe, pretty waterproof and dustproof and it’s easier to remove dents on the boxes then on my camera-equipment after a crash.
They weigh some kilos more then the soft ones but I’ve lost some weight anyway..
You also need somewhere to place the stickers :-)))
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  #8  
Old 17 Nov 2003
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I agree with everything everyone has said.

I do think though that choice of luggage depends on the type of journey you intend to to take and the type of machine you are going to use.

Surely if you intend to do long off-road sections, desert crossings etc, on a light trail bike, XR etc, then soft bags would be preferable as there lighter and less likely to cause injury should the worst happen.

If your travelling RTW on a larger bike, GS ETC, then security, durability and the quantity and type of gear you take, would suggest that hard luggage would be preferable.

Maybe it's a simplistic view, but then I am fairly simple!

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  #9  
Old 20 Nov 2003
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Seems like the pro's and cons will never get sorted out ;-)

JFYI I have chosen soft bags for my Africa-trip, and so far (after 3 months) it seems to have been a good choice, even if indeed it takes some trial and error to keep everything in place while riding... but advantage of soft is definitely the flexibility you have and also when something's broken it's very easy to repair.

Main disadvantage I found so far is the time to dismount and remount the luggage every time, but even there practice makes it quicker after a while...

Anyway, the battle soft-hard is definitely not over yet, so just follow your own judgement...

Jef
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