The Luggage Dilemma: Soft vs. Plastic vs. Aluminum

The Luggage Dilemma: Soft vs. Plastic vs. Aluminum 1

Advantages and Disadvantages of various luggage type

Are you planning a trip? You need some luggage. “Civilian clothes,” the “emergency kit,” maybe the camping kit. And if your girlfriend comes too, the things are getting even more complicated.

Fortunately, most bikes can handle enough luggage for a long trip. But it comes to you to choose the right one. 


Soft Luggage – Going Off-Road? It’s the top choice


 – Featherlight. It weights less than any hard-case luggage. And low weight is the key in enduro riding. It’s not just about handling. It’s the stress on your bike that also matters. If traveling on a washboard unpaved road on an overloaded bike, the risk of getting the frame broken is very high

– Cheap. The adventurous Enduristan Monsoon 3 saddlebags cost $360. Meanwhile, a Touratech Zega Pro Pannier System for Suzuki V-Strom DL 1000 starts from $1,200


– Unsafe. You can’t just leave your bike in a parking lot while visiting that fascinating city. Also, you must carry the bags with you every evening
– Uncomfortable. No matter how organized you are, it will be a pain in the ass to find something on the go. 

While you can choose a $50 no-name bargain, if you want waterproof and adventure-proof soft-bags, you should buy a quality product. Also, we recommend you to use a mounting frame instead of just putting the bags on the passenger’s saddle. Else, you risk breaking them or melting the one next to the exhaust. 


Plastic luggage – best looking on new bikes. Perfect for street-touring


– The look & aerodynamics: unlike the aluminum cases, the plastic cases have an aerodynamic shape, and they can match your bike’s color. Moreover, the new motorcycles feature a frameless mounting system. Your bike will look clean with or without the luggage. 
– Safer than the soft bags
– 100% waterproof


– Heavier than soft bags
– Not so resistant as aluminum panniers. If planning an adventure expedition on unbeaten paths, you should go for aluminum panniers or soft saddlebags. In the case of falling on some rocky terrain, the plastic can break. 
– More expensive than soft bags

Standard plastic cases found on the latest generation adventure motorcycles look more solid than those ones on street bikes and feature some aluminum side-panels. 

versys 1000 bags

Aluminum panniers 


– Resistant and easy to repair. When falling, the 1.5 mm aluminum side might deform, but all you need it a hammer or a stone to put it back
– Proper adventure look. Even when visiting your grandmother, it will look like leaving to Mongolia
– 100% waterproof
– top-loading


– Expensive – A Touratech Zega Pro set starts from $1,200 
– Heavier than soft bags
– Ugly Frame – Unlike the plastic panniers, you need a custom frame to mount the aluminum sidecars on the bike. 

touratech aluminum case

Leather luggage – only if you ride a chopper

If you own a cruiser, there’s nothing classier than some luggage panniers. Maybe it’s not the most versatile luggage set-up, but it’s all about style. 

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