Ever since crashing my Honda Africa Twin outside Giza, Egypt in 2006 I developed a mistrust of travelling with hard luggage or panniers. As the motorcycle had rolled over a few times before it came to a rest, all my essential possessions which I required for the next two months travel were not only strewn all over the freeway, but due to the boxes not resembling their former shape, closing or fitting onto their frames anymore, I had no way of transporting my luggage for the remainder of the trip.
Now I know no-one plans to crash on a bike ride but it happens and being able to carry on with my journey thereafter with minimal hassle rates very highly on my list of priorities when I’m far from home. That is why I choose a soft luggage option and a minimalist one at that.
My ideal set-up is a 30 or 40 litre waterproof roll bag fastened sideways on the rear luggage plate of my bike with a sturdy pair of Rok Straps looped through the bags webbing. In addition to this I have a smaller 5 litre zipper case in which I keep my puncture equipment, tubes, compressor and essential tooling for easy roadside access.
Leaving the passenger seat vacant allows me the ability to lean backwards when standing and braking or descending steep sections of trail without feeling cramped by my luggage.
Now this is not the absolute ideal when it comes to keeping the weight low on my bike however, I counteract this as best as possible by only travelling with the items I need and know I will use on every trip. Its much more important to me that my luggage is light, secure and protected for the entire trip.
Side bags are only used if I need to carry camping equipment such as tents, mattresses and sleeping bags. My reasoning is that I try to keep as much luggage away from the sides of the bike where they can get damaged on brush, rocks or unfortunately the road from time to time in a wobble over.
The other advantage of soft luggage is that it is ‘dead’ bulk and does not rattle or vibrate, destroying its contents (and your sub-frame) like hard boxes when exposed to more than 10km of off-tarmac touring.
It does however settle with time, becoming slightly smaller on the back of the bike and that is why it is imperative to use Rok Straps or a similar fastening system with a short bungee section to take up the slack caused by your luggage compressing during the days ride.
Should you wish to know what I typically pack on a multi-day motorcycle adventure, please click HERE for my packing list.
Travel light, travel well,