Lone Rider MotoBags: the 10,000km review

Those weren't all easy-riding kilometres

lone rider motobags review

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My belongings fill a house, but occasionally my life needs to fit on a motorcycle. Whether I’m on a multi-month road trip or stockpiling for the apocalypse at Sheng Shiong, moto-luggage systems are non-negotiable. The eternal question is – what’s the best type? 

Last year I made the switch to a lighter, more dirt-worthy travel bike – hullo, Husqvarna 701E – and renounced metal panniers. Those are heavy, and they break legs. I was ready to throw money at new saddlebags which could hold all my stuff, stand up to being knocked around, and were not butt ugly. My old sling-over duffels were letting the rain in, and I couldn’t wander away from my loaded motorcycle without worrying about thieves. I ended up purchasing from a relatively unknown brand (in Singapore, at least) that call themselves the best motorcycle luggage in the world. 10,000km and 4 countries later, here’s what I think of the Lone Rider MotoBags – semi-rigid, weatherproof, lockable panniers that fold out of the way when you don’t need them.

What’s in the box?

Goodies galore. Besides a pair of outershells and red inner rollie bags, you’ll get a couple of drawstring mesh bags, reflective velcro strips, two head buffs, a lanyard, two keyring tags, spare parts and a little assembly wrench. The damage: 897 euros, shipping included. 

Lone Rider MotoBags
Left: All the extras. Right: The bags arrive with metal mounting plates already attached.

1) Installation

The MotoBags are a universal fit to most rack systems. Prepare to get fiddly with all those tiny screws, nuts and mounts – it’s not a 15min installation job. 

lone rider motobags mounting and folding
Use a painty pen to mark out the mounting points before you position the screws. Once that’s all tightened up, it’s fix-and-forget.

The quality and finishing of the materials is absolutely premium; I can hardly find any exposed seams on the outer shell. One annoyance: the long ends of the straps tend to flap around in the wind. 

2) Weatherproofing

Tropical thunderstorms in Thailand. Dust clouds in Laos. Mud pools and river crossings in Malaysia. Catastrophic bird poop and power-jet spray in Toa Payoh. Bone dry and dirt-free luggage contents. 

lone rider motobags on husqvarna 701 in laos
You’re looking at a 31L + 38L bag combo on my Husqvarna 701. Inner dry bags within a Hypalon, Dyneema and Kevlar outer shell make the contents 200% waterproof. Hypalon is extremely tough – it’s also used to make inflatable white water rafts.

Built-in drainage holes take care of any liquid that does get into the Motobags (don’t say I didn’t warn you about exploding beer cans).

3) Security

Each bag comes with its own proper lock, not the kind that a teenager might use on her diary. I can’t appreciate this enough while travelling alone. The downside: 2 extra keys to carry. 

lone rider motobags lock

4) Robustness

My friend Richard is fond of putting his motorcycle through hell. 

Ducati Scrambler lone rider motobags offroad
Bit mad, this one.

I witnessed his Lone Rider MotoBags get bludgeoned and dragged through mud, sharp branches and rocks on a regular basis, then went and ordered my own set to torture. Between the two of us, we can cheerfully attest to the fact that these things are tough mudders. 

Husqvarna 701 MotoBags offroad
Still cheaper than your sister’s Prada, and much better at impact absorption. Plus, you won’t have to worry about dents ruining the bags’ water-tightness.

A word of warning: they don’t stand up well to direct, intense heat. Mount them 5cm away from unshielded exhaust blast, and you’ll melt yourself an expensive hole.

lone rider moto bags exhaust burn hole
Take our word for it.

5) Convenience & Functionality

The roll-and-clip system is watertight, but makes me miss the ease of a conventional lid that simply snaps open and shut.  

Otherwise, at overnight stops and train stations, it’s a simple matter of pulling out the inner dry bags, which come with sling-easy shoulder straps. This leaves my hands free for other important things, like taking selfies.

Husqvarna 701 at Chiang Mai train station
Awaiting the train in Chiang Mai, Thailand. Station rules: hard boxes must be removed from the motorcycle before boarding. I simply folded the MotoBags flat.

With the hard boards in place, the bags hold their shape well enough for you to easily compartmentalise your gear, yet allow you to cram in just that little bit more.

lone rider motobags
The inner dry bags swallow up everything I need for a month on the road.

6) Versatility

Go everywhere and do everything!

lone rider motobag 31L open
Just another workday at the office. The 31L bag can hold a small watermelon from Sheng Shiong, I kid you not.

City commute: The 31L holds my raincoat and work bag. The 38L side is kept folded flat for rush-hour manoeuvrability.

Travel: With both sides fully expanded, the carrying capacity is perfect for a month’s worth of luggage and tools. 

Offroad/monkey business: I remove the inner boards and pancake both sides for maximum ninja-ness. The compressed bags can still hold the odd waterbottle or spade. They cannot be locked in their folded state, though. 

Lone Rider MotoBags offroad
Are you an innie or outie? There’s more than one way to fold down your MotoBags – it’s not a precise science.

Bonus: the external molle strap system lets you attach extra bottles or pouches for quick access. 

7) Handling

There’s no getting around it – luggage alters the shape and weight distribution of your motorcycle.  

The MotoBags come in variants of 31, 38 and 45 litres, averaging 6kg each, including the metal mounting plates. That’s not much lighter than an aluminium or hard plastic box, so if your priority is weight-saving, you’ll be better off with fully soft bags.

After experimenting with luggage combinations, here’s the setup I prefer for optimal handling at full load: ditch the rear topbox and keep the weight low and centralised in the Motobags. Works at both highway and slow speeds!

Husqvarna 701 lone rider motobags tthailand
I could be biased, but these look a treat better than Pradas.

– Quality and customer service is top notch, with plenty of accessories
– Tough
– Safer than metal boxes
– Packs better than completely soft bags
– Absolutely weatherproof
– Easy, secure lock system
– Versatile
– Universal fit to most racks, so they can be ported to another bike

– Pricey
– Heavier than fully soft bags
– Widens the motorcycle profile greatly when fully extended, unlike rackless soft bags
– No quick release function to remove bags entirely
– Not as convenient to open and close as traditional boxes with lids

Offering the best of both hard and soft cases, the Lone Rider MotoBags are a premium luggage option that will pay for themselves with sheer versatility and toughness. They are available at the Lone Rider webstore.

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