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Leather saddlebags or hard saddlebags, which ones are better?

Leather saddlebags or hard saddlebags, which ones are better?

1. Why do I need motorcycle saddlebags?

Historically, the origins were in military use for dispatch riders, where soft, often canvas-type woven material bags were fitted to the motorcycle by rudimentary frames enabling the rider to carry documents securely.

The concept of motorcycle saddlebags goes all the way back in the roots from the sacks used to carry luggage on horses and mules in the old days. Motorcycle saddlebags are far more advanced and higher tech than the sacks used on horses. At an average speed that a motorcycle travels it requires a secure and convenient means of carrying the rider’s belongings.

Due to the high price of gas a lot of travelers are choosing to buy motorcycles for their travels, if you are a camper, or someone who loves an adventure, or someone going on a road trip from LA to Florida, you definitely need a set of bags for the journey.

In short:

  • Motorcycle Saddlebags increase your carrying capacity.
  • Road trips are more feasible with added storage
  • They are a nice flair to your ride
  • There is always going to be a bag for you, whether you like the classic motorcycle leather saddlebag or hard-case touring trunk, you’ll be able to find a saddlebag that can carry what you need it to.


2. How do I choose a motorcycle Saddlebag?

Step 1

How do I choose a motorcycle Saddlebag?

Step 2

How do I choose a motorcycle Saddlebag?

Step 3

The first and foremost important factor while choosing the saddlebag for your motorcycle is determining whether it provides security to the rider and their motorcycle luggage. Other important reasons include How many essential items can they carry, whether they can be mounted on a motorcycle securely, can they be locked and are they easy to access?
Also, you need to be aware that a set of motorcycle bags that does not include proper instructions regarding the mounting or installation of one motorcycle is not a safe solution. In the absence of proper mounting hardware, it can be very dangerous for the rider as well the road, it can also cause serious damage to the back fender of the motorcycle.

One last critical factor to consider while looking for saddlebags is their convenience. You are on a camping trip, and you had to park your bike and hike 10 miles, you want to be able to take the bags off and carry them with you, so also look for quick release buckles or quick disconnect systems, they let you open and close the motorcycle luggage quickly and with ease.

Lastly, style is a big factor. You want saddlebags that match your bike and more importantly your personality. Color matching definitely enhances the old lady’s look.


3. What types of bags are there?

Depending on the trip, there are different kinds of luggage, here are some of the most popular one:


4. Hard bags or leather bags, which ones are better

If you are really serious about racking up those miles on your old lady, you have most likely considered purchasing a set of saddlebags. Before purpose-built touring bikes were around, hard luggage was at the top of every long rider’s must-have list.

We must all agree motorcycle saddlebags are as much to function as to fashion. Besides the utility they reflect a rider's sense of style as well. Having said that, the diversity of motorcycle saddlebags currently available on the market and the saturating knowledge gap often prevent riders from choosing the right kind of saddlebags.

Considering a lot of the big dogs, like Harley and Indian manufacture models which come out of the factory with no saddlebags. There is a broad choice of hard and leather saddlebags. Let’s talk about both types and their pros and cons.

5. Hard Bags

Motorcycle Hard Bags are usually made in metal, plastic, fiberglass or ABS. These materials have all different properties and while fiberglass might be suitable for most, others might prefer ABS.

Best thing about these bags is they are really good for long trips, they are usually waterproof, their lids are coupled with a gasket that prevents water from getting inside. Speaking in terms of physics, sometimes hard bags can be more aerodynamic than leather bags.

Hard Bags

  • Stability: Hard saddlebags fitment are more solid as they attach more firmly to the bike. It will not move or shift and melt against the pipes, scratch the paint or wedge itself in the rear wheel.
  • Repairable: These bags are fairly easier to repair. Like fixing a dent, or for the cracks you can use tape on the inside and forec thick glue into the crack with a piece of flexible plastic, also once the damage area is fixed, you can touch up the messy edges with finer wet/dry sandpaper.
  • Accessibility: hard saddlebags can be wired for lighting, or even put retro-reflective stickers.
  • Security: Almost all hard saddlebags are designed to have locking mechanisms, that way you don't have to worry about your belongings for a quick stop at the bar or even overnight parking at a hotel.

6. Motorcycle Leather Saddlebags

Leather saddlebags are usually made of durable leather, nylon, plastic and synthetic fibers. They come in various sizes and designs to match all types of motorcycles as well their riders.  You will find leather motorcycle saddlebags made of 1000-denier (unit of measure used to indicate the thickness, weight and durability of nylon) cordura. Although some of the leather bags are waterproof, the majority of these bags are water resistant, hence they come with rain covers or other weather protection.

The mounting systems are fairly easy where you tighten down the bags with Velcro straps, but quick-release buckles are also available to keep everything safe and secure.

Some of the best saddlebags are handcrafted and therefore can be personalized reflecting the rider’s personality and philosophy.

  • Variety: A lot of leather saddlebags suit cruiser motorcycles, so it is easy to find a wide variety of designs. These bags are also very versatile and can fit pretty much any bike
  • Cost: Most of the leather saddlebags are very affordable and price friendly.
  • Capacity: Leather saddlebags also come in many different sizes.

Both leather bags or hard bags have their own unique feel. Having the correct motorcycle saddlebag can make all the difference there in how comfortably you travel. Hopefully this article will help you choose among the few top motorcycle saddle bag brands there are. Do keep in mind that both the bags are useful in their own ways.  Depending on the purpose of the type of bag you are purchasing for your ride, choosing one over the other is a difficult choice but ultimately every rider needs to choose a bag that represents his personality and character.

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