Thoughts On Adventure Motorcycle Luggage


Quite a few people have been asking me about my choice of luggage for my Triumph Tiger 800 XRx and so I decided to put this post together.

When it comes to motorcycle luggage, I believe the more you can carry, the more you will carry. That’s why I think its important to install only those pieces of luggage which are absolutely necessary.

I’m not a fan of panniers and wanted to avoid them completely. They increase the overall width of the motorcycle which then leads to a host of other problems. You can’t squeeze through tight spots in a traffic jam. It’s hard to gauge whether the motorcycle will pass through a gap because the widest part is behind you and not in front. Ideally the handlebar should be the widest part of a motorcycle and that’s exactly what oncoming traffic assumes as well. To make things worse, the day time running lights on modern motorcycles make the motorcycle look like a flash of light and they really can’t notice the two large boxes protruding from the back of the motorcycle. And last but not the least, I come back to what I said earlier. The panniers are going to give you the freedom to carry a whole lot more and you will end up making your motorcycle heavy and difficult to manage, especially when riding off-road.

I use a 48 litre T-Ray top case by SW-Motech. This holds all my tools, compressor, puncture repair kit, medical kit, consumables (oil, brake fluid, coolant), towing rope, electrical chargers, etc. at the bottom. I lay a plastic sheet over all of this and then place my computer, clothes and other stuff on the plastic sheet. If I want to access the tools while on the road I simply lift the plastic sheet, place it on the ground and put it back after I’m done. That way I’m not fumbling through the top case trying to find something I need. This one piece of luggage is enough for me for any number of days of travel in India.

The top case comes with an adapter plate which needs to be bolted on to a luggage rack. The top case slots into the adapter plate and locks into place. The problem with this adapter plate is that its a flat plastic part without any holes. So when you are not using the top case, you can’t secure a tail bag or duffell bag to it. Of course, you can remove the adapter plate and then secure the tail bag to the luggage rack which has holes. But that’s cumbersome. To solve this problem, SW-Motech has a Quick Lock adapter plate which you can use in place of the adapter plate that comes with the case. This adapter plate gets attached to the luggage rack using three spring loaded screws. You don’t even need a screw driver to attach and remove the plate. I use a coin and can attach and remove the quick lock adapter place in under 10 seconds. This makes it very easy to remove the top case and the adapter plate, leave it in the hotel and roam around with a small tail bag strapped to the luggage rack. For more details read “SW-Motech Quick Lock Luggage System“.

I use the 13 litre Slipstream tailbag by SW-Motech in which I place my DSLR camera. When the top case is on the motorcycle, I place the tail bag on the pillion seat. The shape of the tail bag is such that I get to use the flat face as a back rest. When the top case is off the motorcycle, I strap the tail bag to the luggage rack, which then allows me to carry a pillion.

I wanted to know how a fully loaded top case would behave when riding off-road. So on a recent trail ride to Dajipur wildlife sanctuary in Maharashtra, I thrashed the Tiger around the trail for a good hour and a half. No problem whatsoever. I used this setup on a 3,000 km ride to Lambasingi in Andhra Pradesh and it worked wonderfully for me.

Looks like I’m sorted to ride the Tiger anywhere in India for any number of days. This setup works well if I’m going to be staying in hotels. If I’m going to be camping (as was in the case of Dajipur) then I would replace the tail bag with a 40 litre duffel bag which would hold all my camping gear.


Product Links:

48L T-Ray Top Case

Aluminium Luggage Rack

Quick Lock Adapter Plate for T-Ray 48Litre Top Case

13L Tailbag Slipstream