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Old 04-05-2010, 08:07 PM   #1
jeff10236
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Default Cheap gear questions- saddlebags

I don't know if this is the best section for this question, but I basically have it since I am new, so I'll put it here. If a mod wants to move it someplace more appropriate I understand (I would have thought general discussion, but that section basically says it is for discussion related to reviews and other articles from motorcycle.com).

Anyway, here goes:

OK, I'm a new rider who bought a new bike. I eventually want to get nice high quality bags. However, I know from reading these boards that new riders often drop their bike. I don't want to mess up a nice pair of bags by dropping my bike in a parking lot.

I still want bags though. In addition to looks, they serve a practical purpose. They make the bike more versatile. if I ride it to work I can bring lesson plans and materials (I'm a teacher), my lunch, a change of clothes (can't very well teach wearing motorcycle leathers in front of the class), and have a convenient place to leave my helmet. Of course, they also make the bike an option for light shopping and would let me leave the car at home more often. Also, I bought engine guards to help protect the front of the bike from scratches and dents if I do end up dropping it, and I'm thinking bags between the pavement and the rear fenders may help protect from some scratches as well.

So, I do want to get some bags, but bags that I won't be too upset if they get messed up, and bags that I will plan to replace in a year or two anyway. On the other hand, I don't want bags that look too cheap because I do want my bike to look good.

I've got two options. At the dealer where I bought my motorcycle they have bags specifically made for my Suzuki Boulevard C50 that are cheaper than the regular bags and run about $150 (and I still may be able to wrangle the 15% discount on gear they gave me for the gear I bought after buying the bike). On the rack, they look pretty good. The other is online, but then I have no way of seeing how they look before I buy (though returning or exchanging is always an option).

I've been checking all the inexpensive online sources- jfrum.com, Amazon.com, leatherup.com, etc. I've noticed that they have real leather from the discount brands (like Xelement) for around $35-60 and waterproof PVC bags from the discount brands in the $55-70 range and better brands (Tourmaster, Fieldsheer) in the $100-200 range. The cheaper bags also tend to be "throw-over" style and claim not to need supports (which would save some money).

So, some questions:

-Are any of the discount brands still going to look OK? $150 for bags from Suzuki isn't bad (and even if I damage the bags, the supports should be OK and would be needed for the better bags later anyway). $100-200 for Tourmaster or Fieldsheer isn't too bad either. However, I am putting out a lot of money at once for all my gear and if I can save a little money on something I intend to be temporary I will be very happy. Many of these bags are well rated by the customer ratings on the sites, but most people enter those ratings right after buying something (they may look great for the first month or two and wear out quickly) and I don't know if the sites reject most poor reviews (I know Amazon is fine for that, but only a few on Amazon have any ratings).

-If I go with the discount brands, leather or PVC? How waterproof are the PVC? How quickly will rain ruin the leather? I only intend to keep these bags a year, two max, if they'll look OK for a year or two $35-50 for the leather would be nice. Will the leather provide any weather protection for my stuff? Which looks better?

-The "throw-over" style that claim you don't need supports might be nice right now since it would save money until I'm ready for better bags. However, do they really work well without supports or are you better off with supports anyway? Do they even work with supports?

I'm sure I'm forgetting something but I guess that's it for now. Does anyone have experience with these, or know people who do, who can steer me in the right direction?
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Old 04-05-2010, 08:47 PM   #2
A Star Ride
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At my local flea market there is a vendor who carries a ton of bike luggage, check out yours if your town has one. Also Craigslist & find ya some used ones, people buy used bikes & some don't like being able to take anything with them.
The throwover will be cheaper, but make sure they arent touching mufflers, tires, drive gear or suspension, or even paint. I've seen some nice paint jacked up from ill fitting saddlebags, fork bags too.
I've never seen throwover bags that I diddnt think should have supports, many people skip them & cable tie the bags to shock springs, etc., looks like crap if you ask me I'm a hard bag fan myself, but then your in for some real money.
If your only expecting 2 years out of them I'd say anything will do. On my old bike I had a Willie & Max synthetic fork bag & Saddleman side bags, and the Willie & Max held up ALOT better over the 10 years they were on it.
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Old 04-05-2010, 09:06 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by A Star Ride View Post
At my local flea market there is a vendor who carries a ton of bike luggage, check out yours if your town has one. Also Craigslist & find ya some used ones, people buy used bikes & some don't like being able to take anything with them.
The throwover will be cheaper, but make sure they arent touching mufflers, tires, drive gear or suspension, or even paint. I've seen some nice paint jacked up from ill fitting saddlebags, fork bags too.
I've never seen throwover bags that I diddnt think should have supports, many people skip them & cable tie the bags to shock springs, etc., looks like crap if you ask me I'm a hard bag fan myself, but then your in for some real money.
If your only expecting 2 years out of them I'd say anything will do. On my old bike I had a Willie & Max synthetic fork bag & Saddleman side bags, and the Willie & Max held up ALOT better over the 10 years they were on it.
Flea markets aren't a bad idea, I hadn't thought about that and there is a huge one about 30min from here and very near my parents house so I could include a visit in the trip.

Yeah, whatever I go with I only expect to keep for up to two years. In a year or two (when I'm confident that I won't be dropping my bike) I plan to buy some nice bags (matching saddle, sissy bar and windshield bags) and maybe a matching seat (if I find I need a new seat)- something in the $500+ range for the saddlebags (hardbags with the leather look probably). So, as long as it will last at least 2 years, long-term durability doesn't really matter. I do want something that will look decent though.

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Old 04-06-2010, 07:32 AM   #4
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I'd go with the $150 Suzook bags. Unless they are too small to be of any use.

Even better deal if they come with the supports.
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Old 04-06-2010, 08:32 AM   #5
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I'm with pushrod - $150 isn't a bad price, 'Specially if they've got the mounts.
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Old 04-06-2010, 09:02 AM   #6
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I'd go with the $150 Suzook bags. Unless they are too small to be of any use.

Even better deal if they come with the supports.
Yeah, I'm starting to lean that way. The $40 or $50 bags might be nice, but $150 isn't too bad and at least I'll be able to see them and know they look decent, I know how much room they have inside, and I know they will be proportioned right for my bike. Unless I go the $40-60 direction I'll definitely go this way (if I'm getting close to $100 anyway, I may as well go with the one that I can see and that is made for my bike). I don't know if they come with the supports, I don't think they do, but I'll check. If they do, they'll definitely win out over the cheapest options as well since that would put them at about the price of the cheapest bags plus supports (which even if I get "throw-over" bags, I'll plan to buy).
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Old 04-06-2010, 10:02 AM   #7
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Jeff,

I recommend locating a forum specific to your bike. I'm sure there is at least one, maybe more. Browse it and see what the owners there are using and recommending. I did that with my bike and as a result made much better decisions on what to buy and what to avoid (the Suzuki bags for my bike are garbage; the same money buys a great set from Givi).
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Old 04-06-2010, 11:25 AM   #8
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You can pack quite a bit in a decent sized expandable tank bag, that's all I ever used on my Suzuki Bandit...
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Old 04-06-2010, 01:45 PM   #9
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Aerostich has a bunch of seat bags too, along with soft saddlebags. Many o option.
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Old 04-06-2010, 09:23 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kenneth_Moore View Post
Jeff,

I recommend locating a forum specific to your bike. I'm sure there is at least one, maybe more. Browse it and see what the owners there are using and recommending.

+1 on this recommnedation.

Also I would add that whatever you end up getting, I would recommend you have some kind of saddlebag supports. Even the ones that claim not to need it can rub against your tires or drivetrain components.

Leather will last--lots of bikes have leather bags and leather saddles. Just need to take care of it with good leather care products, and occaisionally use some kind of waterproofing--I clean with saddle soap and then apply mink oil, but you can use whatever is recommended by the manufacturer.
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