Gear: 5 Soft Bags For Your Bike

Gear -


5 Soft Bags For Your Bike

One easy way to make your bike more useful is to add some luggage. When bike manufacturers think luggage, they get out the clay models and start laying up fiberglass. Before you know it, there’s a set of heavy hardbags hanging off of the rear fender, adding weight and width even when they’re not in use.Hard bags can be very useful, don’t get us wrong — but they’re not the only solution. They’re not even always the best solution to hauling stuff on your bike.

Here’s what we look for when we’re shopping for soft luggage for our bikes:

  • Durable fabric, double-stitched seams, high-quality zippers and fasteners
  • Some degree of water-resistance and/or an included waterproof cover
  • Simple, integrated system for attaching the luggage to the bike
  • Lots of compartments and useful space
  • Good looks and some reflective material for added safety
  • Reasonable prices


Here are five of our favorite pieces of soft luggage:

T-Bags Dekker 2

T-Bags Dekker 2 Bag: $249.99

This tailbag is rigid, so it keeps its shape even when empty, and looks good on a pillion or luggage rack. It’s made from ballistic nylon with multiple waterproof coatings and comes with a rain cover. It has four quick release mounting straps and 8 bungee loops and D-ring tie-down points. Over 2.6 cubic feet of storage space – that’s almost 4,500 cubic inches.

Saddlemen S3500 Sissy Bar Bag

Saddlemen S3500 Deluxe Motorcycle Sissy Bar Bag: $197.96

This 3,500 cubic inch bag has Swiss Army Knife utility, with multiple pockets and side compartment that you can access even when the bag is secured to the bike. This bag has modular elements, including a top roll that you can strap on to increase capacity. The 1200-denier SaddleTuff material and SaddleHyde panels help make the bag rigid, and multiple carrying points make it useful off the bike as well.

Cortech Super 2.0 24L Tail Bag

Cortech Super 2.0 24L Motorcycle Tail Bag: $98.99

The cool arched shape of this tailbag compliments modern bike styling, and looks good on the back of almost any bike. Made of ballistic polyester and polyester-backed twill, this bag also has reflective striping and logo, and includes a rain cover. 24 liters (1,465 cubic inches) of storage space comes in handy for extra gloves, notebook, compact camera and other essentials on the go.

Icon Urban Motorcycle Tank BagIcon Urban Motorcycle Tank Bag: $95

Wouldn’t it be great if your tank bag could also be your backpack when you get off the bike? That’s what Icon has done with the 1,800 cubic inch (approximately) Urban Tank Bag, which combines all of the conveniences you need in a medium-sized tank bag with all of the usefulness of a backpack. Its got magnetic mount, and is even equipped with a helmet carrier with a neoprene protector. The Icon Tank Bag is constructed with water-resistant ripstop material, has a clear map pocket (including a CD/MP3 player compartment) and padded backpack straps to boot.

Nelson Rigg Classic Series Saddlebag Nelson Rigg Classic Series Deluxe Motorcycle Saddlebags$134.99

When it comes to luggage, it’s hard to beat the capacity and usefulness of saddlebags. When used correctly, saddlebags are great. They carry their load low and closer to the bike’s center of gravity. If you load them evenly from side to side, they have minimal effect on handling and balance. An added benefit is you can use them and still carry a passenger, unlike many seat or tailbag options. Good soft bags, like these classy Nelson Riggs, provide easy-access, mount and unmount from the bike quickly and maintain their shape with rigid sides and lower panels. You can fit a lot of gear in these tidy bags with a capacity of 1,200 cubic inches per side.

  • William Connor

    Helpful for people doing research into this style of commuter or lightweight bag. The Saddlemen bag is certainly designed for a larger motorcycle with a large back rest or sissy bar to mount it on.

  • Dan Long

    I have the nelson rigg classics on my bike. They look a little silly as I ride a 1980 XS 850 but they are super functional. I have the matching tail bag as well that clips in to form one giant unit. That setup has taken me from Michigan to Texas and back a few times. Rain covers are a big plus as well.

  • Scott Otte

    I used the Icon Urban Tankbag for a while when going to school and it was great. However the version I used and the one in the picture only really works on Metal tanks since it uses magnets. Which is not as useful with a lot of bikes these days.

  • Tom Gabriele

    Thank you for having “reasonable price” be a criteria! That is something that had been missing in the past

    • Jason Fogelson

      Obviously, “reasonable” is very subjective — but we do factor in purchase price into the value equation when evaluating gear.

      • Tom Gabriele

        Well in this case, it looks like our ideas of reasonable line up pretty well. I did not get that same sense with Wes.

  • Sjef

    Lol the Saddlemen bag has a Discman in it’s productphoto.

    • Jason Fogelson

      It’s retro, Sjef. They don’t have a bag big enough for vinyl.

  • Heeno

    What has happened to this site… douche bags writing about soft bags

    • Jason Fogelson

      Thanks – it’s this kind of personal response that makes me treasure the comments section.

      • Κακος Λυκος

        Maybe instead of replying try to actually buy a bag of these that you review and post some pictures, ride it, test it. This is my last post on this site enough is enough

    • Heeno

      Good Lord… you write about soft bags for our bikes but where’s the user experience? Stock photos, writings gleaned almost verbatim from the manufactures’ site. You feed us these articles without any practical, meaningful, and valuable aspects of using these products. I for one, feel RideApart’s readership deserves better.

      • awwshucks

        looks like someone ate a big bowl of bitch flakes this morning. it’s a free website, they don’t owe you a thing.

        • Michael Howard

          True, though many of us have been here since it WASN’T free and resent seeing a site we’ve supported and enjoyed lose its way.

          • awwshucks

            Fair enough, I think we all kinda feel that way lately. BUT I don’t think we need to call the writers douchebags. If you’re really upset, consider writing an article for them and contributing to the site.

        • labradog

          Ah, so the site’s SUPPOSED to be useless?

          • awwshucks

            if you’re such a good judge of quality, submit an article to the site and help make it better. quit bitching.

    • Piglet2010

      I actually miss the ego inflated, spoiled brat snarkiness of Wes Siler.

      • Nolan Zandi

        I’m still hoping for a guest appearance. But for now check him out here:

      • Price Action Guru

        Yes, indeed.

    • Mark D

      We are one step away from repurposed press releases about Harleys.
      Oh, wait…

  • John Lyon

    I got burned by Cortech. My new saddle bags started to fall apart during my first trip with them. I liked the older TourMaster and Cortech stuff but it seem quality has taken a nose dive. Customer service told me, because I bought it online, they would not cover it. Never again.

    • Jonathan Booker

      That sucks. I’ve had the same cortech saddle bags for 7 years. They’re used daily all year round and still are as good as they were new. The bottoms are a bit torn up from road debris and I lost one of the rain covers but they’re still going strong.

  • Rowan

    Kriega US 30

    Your welcome.

    • McSpofforson

      Stunned—STUNNED, I say—to see Kriega nowhere on this list!

      • Jason Fogelson

        We could never cover all of the gear on one short list — this was intended to spark ideas about kinds of soft bags, and to inspire this discussion so you could talk about your favorites, too.

    • Mark D

      I’ve got a 30 for a tail bag, and a 5 that I keep permanently as a tank bag. Carries wallet/phone, plus my disk lock and a bicycle lock for helmets/gears. I’ve ridden in absolutely torrential downpours and everything stayed 100% dry.

      Throw a pair of socks and underwear in there for touring, and thank me later.

    • Nemosufu Namecheck


      • Rowan

        I was drunk. Eat me.

  • MichaelEhrgott

    Two words: GIANT LOOP!

  • hunkyleepickle

    Softbags…..the simplest, most ugly form of motorcycle storage. Seriously, almost without exception, soft bags tend to very quickly fade, get very out of shape, and generally ruin the look of any motorcycle. About the only exception is some dry roll top bags, Kriega and twisted throttle come to mind. To each their own though i guess.

    • Jason Fogelson

      I love dry roll top bags for items that I don’t have to access during a ride, like the next day’s clothing, etc. But I like to have compartments and easy access for shorter rides and for during the ride, so I usually use a combination of both.

  • Vincent Lehmann

    I personally recommend Wolfman luggage, great soft bags !

  • kent_skinner

    I have Wolfman dry saddlebags on my WeeStrom, and I love them. Not the cheapest option, but they work really well. 100% waterproof, they *do not* move around on the rack, even when in rocks and dirt. Really smart mount system, so they are tight and compact no matter how full they are, and they never flap in the wind.

    The guy who makes their racks no longer does, but they have a kit to mount your bags to just about any hard rack.

    I think this is the best dual sport saddlebag out there. Roll-top means they are waterproof, but not as fast as a zippered bag. They might be a little time consuming for a commuter bag, but they are dry. Can I tell you how much I hate bags flapping in the wind?

  • Joe

    MotoCentric Tail Bag… Best $80 i ever spent. Don’t waste your money to purchase a name. Excellent quality, fits securely, perfect size.I commute with this daily. Comes with a shoulder strap and rain cover as well.

  • Fava d’Aronne

    I own those nelson riggs. Decent, not great. The rain covers keep on breaking because of the wind, which tears the stitching apart. The good news is that Nelson Rigg has been sending me replacements every time.

    I would give them a 6 out of 10. Also: buy Givi stuff. lasts forever.

  • Jeffrey Neill

    Or just use a plastic milk crate.

    • zedro

      *****applicable only to KLRs, void where prohibited.

      • Piglet2010

        Prohibited where void.

  • zedro

    No mention of that old tote bag you won as a teenage sporting participant 15 years ago slung over your seat with a bungee net?

  • FreeFrog

    For soft luggage fans (which I’m one), my Givi expandable “magnetic” tankbags are brilliant. Great durability, flexibility, etc. I’ve used many tank bags and Givi’s 20 Liter magnetic expandable is the most durable I’ve tried; the expanding kind regardless of brand will prove invaluable. The Cortech SportTail bag is mighty fine too for the price… though it’s too bad the rain cover isn’t stitched in, since mine flew off at freeway speeds. My old Pacsafe TailSafe is brilliant too for ADV travel, but a bit bulky and no longer sold.

  • zedro
  • Joe_Bob_Einstein

    Not sure why the crankiness below… everything above is motorcycle related, and I appreciate the info.

    • Jason Fogelson

      Thanks, Joe_Bob.

  • francenducat

    my favorite are sailing bags… because it is always dry ! …!litres

  • Ken Lindsay

    I used to have these on my DR650 on the islands. They held up very well for the 4 years I used them. Mine were not water proof, but I was more looking for something that would handle a crash or two and I could throw my gear into it so I could go riding up the mountain or down to the beach without having to have wear a back pack. Having a soft bag worked out so much better since it was lighter and it would conform to whatever shape I needed. Held a 12 pack when needed!

  • Emmet

    I have these on my 71 Triumph Tiger and they don’t look too out of place. Lots of space, good universal fitment, can’t complain!

  • Κακος Λυκος

    I am sad to click rideapart nowdays, all i see is advertisements about gear that the authors claim to be their favourite yet they post public images from products that i am positive thar they havent even tried, the same goes on and on for reviews about motorcycles that they never post pictures of them riding the bikes, yet they make a review without actually owning them. What sort of review is this? Again advertisement, rideapart as of today you are out of my fav list. This type of blogs i dont want, take them back, i prefer to read a magazine about bikes