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Ultimate Guide To Motorcycle Panniers

by Daniel Noble 24 Jun 2024 0 Comments

SHAD Motorcycle Panniers

Choosing new motorcycle panniers is certainly no walk in the park and it is important to find the option that best suits your needs.

Panniers come in various shapes, sizes and abilities and whether it is for daily commutes, weekend riding or motorbike tours, there really is an option for everyone.

It is all about finding what is best for you and that is where the ultimate guide to motorcycle panniers comes in, ensuring you know what to look out for and helping you come to an educated decision.

Why Are Panniers Needed?

Motorcycle panniers are a convenient way to transport cargo on the sides of a motorcycle, offering a secure fitment and the ability to provide waterproof protection, security locking and a high degree of storage space. They come in various shapes and sizes but it is their storage offering that sets them apart, allowing weight to be evenly distributed on each side of the motorbike.

Panniers are an alternative to the use of a tail bag, which is less secure and may move around mid-journey or a backpack which, when heavy, can be rather taxing on the rider. They can either be used in place of a motorcycle top box to avoid having too much weight concentrated in a high position at the rear of the motorbike or in conjunction with one when seeking to maximise storage capabilities.

What Size Panniers Should I Choose?

SHAD SH38x Motorcycle Panniers

SHAD's Expandable Panniers.

Motorcycle luggage is generally listed by ‘capacity’ which refers to the internal volume measured in litres and panniers are no different. Panniers are available in an array of capacities and your choice should really depend on how much gear you need to carry, how far/long the trip will be and how many people are travelling. A longer trip and riding with a pillion will naturally require more kit or essential items and thus more storage space while daily riding and filtering through traffic will warrant smaller-sized panniers.

Unable to make your mind up on what size you need? Fear not, as well as standard sizes, SHAD offer their innovative SH38x panniers which are the only expandable aftermarket panniers in existence. These revolutionary motorcycle side cases can operate at full size when more storage is required and can be reduced in size to retain the ability to filter through traffic when carrying less.

Pannier Features To Consider

While size, specifically storage capacity, is likely to be the main consideration made when choosing a new set of panniers, here are a number of other additional features that should contribute to the eventual decision:

Waterproof Structure - While the amount of gear you can fit into a pair of panniers may be the main selling point, what use is having all that storage space if the case can be permeated by water? No one wants their belongings to get wet and that is why waterproof protection should be a priority.

Security - If you are someone who uses their motorcycle to commute to work or perhaps for a camping trip, it is highly likely your motorcycle will be parked out in the open. Therefore, the ability to lock the panniers cannot be understated as it provides the confidence that you will not fall victim to theft.

Carry Handles - This may seem like it would be a given feature, but it may surprise you just how many motorbike luggage brands omit practical carry handles from their side cases. However, this is not an issue for SHAD panniers thanks to their ergonomic carry handles which allow for comfortable, convenient transportation.

Opening - Some motorcycle panniers are side-opening while others are top-opening and this consideration is one that should be based on personal preference. Side-opening panniers allow you to see all of the contents without them being stacked on top of each other but items may fall out when open and top-opening panniers allow for quick access but may foul on certain bikes, rendering themselves incompatible.

How To Install Panniers

SHAD 3P Motorcycle Pannier Fitting Kit

The minimalist '3P' Pannier Rack

When it comes to adding a set of panniers to a motorcycle, there are just two components that are required and they are the panniers themselves and a relevant fitting kit. It is vital to not only make sure you find a pannier rack that is compatible with your particular motorbike but also compatible with the panniers you opt for and that is because there are several different kits.

Take SHAD for instance, they offer a number of pannier fitting kits:

 

3P Pannier Kit - a minimalist framework that is used to mount plastic cases.

4P Pannier Kit - features an additional mounting point for extra stability and mounting larger panniers.

SR Pannier Kit - a secure mount for semi-rigid panniers.

SE pannier Kit - a minimalist rack that supports mounting soft panniers.

Most pannier fitting kits are straightforward to install and are delivered with detailed, visual instructions, however, if you are unsure then it would not hurt to employ the help of a mechanic.

Do Panniers Affect Mobility?

In comparison to motorcycle top boxes which can create excess weight that affects handling, cornering and braking, panniers will have much less of an impact on handling. With that said, larger-sized panniers are likely to stick out further and may reduce the ability to filter through traffic.

As for weight, if one case in a pair of panniers is carrying more cargo than the other then there is likely to be a weight imbalance that will reduce manoeuvrability and make the motorbike harder to handle at higher speeds. However, panniers are designed to carry gear on each side of the motorcycle in order to ensure both sides are evenly balanced.

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