Semi-Rigid ADV Motorcycle Luggage: Why MotoBags Trump Aluminum Panniers

Semi-Rigid ADV Motorcycle Luggage: Why MotoBags Trump Aluminum Panniers

When it comes to luggage, the go-to choice for many ADV riders is aluminum panniers.

The basic aluminum design has proven effective for decades, but it carries some serious flaws, especially for the true ADV riders who like to go the distance. These flaws include heavyweight and an added danger to the rider in the event of a crash.

Thankfully there’s a solution. Enter the semi-rigid soft luggage like our MotoBags.

We have spent considerable kilometers testing our semi-rigid designs, and they have proven capable of handling the most extreme conditions. Produced with high-quality materials like Hypalon and Kevlar, these aluminum pannier alternatives are extremely tough.

Add in the other benefits like improved rider safety and security, and it’s easy to understand why semi-rigid designs like the MotoBags trump aluminum panniers.

Following are some reasons why.

Semi-Rigid is the Best of Both Saddlebag Worlds

Take a minute to imagine being able to take all the strong suits that aluminum panniers have to offer, then combining those with all the advantageous features that come with soft bags.

Great, right? This is entirely the case with the semi-rigid bags.

Aluminum Pannier Advantages:

  • Large capacity
  • A secure design that is lockable
  • Ability to easily add on accessories

Soft Bag Advantages:

  • A softer design that is proves safer in a crash
  • 100% waterproof
  • Fully collapsible
  • Lightweight

MotoBags have all that. While remaining completely collapsible, these bags can fit a lot of goodies in them. In fact, they are sold in 31- and 38-liter capacities.

Still not enough? Easily add on some of your own bags and tools with the Molle system. To keep your belongings safe, the MotoBags come with a waterproof padlock and straps that are reinforced with steel wires. No need to worry about leaving your bike alone.

Semi-Rigid Construction is Tougher than Aluminum Panniers

Our MotoBags are manufactured to handle whatever the ride demands, plain and simple. The construction of the semi-rigid bag begins with a frame built of durable, yet lightweight aluminum as well as stainless-steel reinforcements.

A high-strength plastic board gives the MotoBags its shape but is easily removable to help collapse the bag into a smaller size. The outer layer of the bag is made of Hypalon, which is also waterproof.

The combination of top-shelf materials and innovative design gives the MotoBags the ability to handle the roughest of rides. Whether you knock your bag into a tree or suffer a crash, we designed these bags to continue on. Aluminum panniers, on the other hand, are prone to dents, punctures, or being completely ripped off your bike.

The problem with a complete metal construction is the inability to deflect off of an object, like a tree. Hit something at a high enough speed, and the force will throw you and the bike in opposite directions. No crash is a good crash.

MotoBags are semi-rigid construction for true ADV riding

Semi-Rigid Bags are Safer When the Going Gets Rough

Speaking of crashing, investing in a semi-rigid bag rather than an aluminum pannier can save your body if you do end up on the ground. Having a hard-case pannier land directly on top of a limb can be disastrous, especially if you’re on a backcountry trail.

As previously mentioned, pannier boxes are designed without the thought of having an ability to help absorb an impact. With that said, having a pannier land on you means getting the entire force of the falling bike directly to the body, which can easily break bones. 

Semi-rigid bags have a flexible shape, which helps deflect the energy of a falling motorcycle. It won’t just benefit your body either.

The deflection of energy by the semi-rigid bag may save your subframe or other hard parts from being broken in a crash., saving you a hard-earned dollar in the long run.

A 100% Waterproof Design

The road ahead of you is treacherous. With each passing moment, the rainfall becomes stronger. Worried? There’s no need—the MotoBags are designed with a 100% waterproof construction. 

The outer layer of the MotoBags is constructed of a synthetic-rubber material called Hypalon, which has proven itself in the use of inflatable watercraft. Should you encounter any wet weather, this will be the first defense in keeping the goods inside your luggage safe and dry.

And if by chance any moisture makes it through the Hypalon, a second waterproof layer is located inside the bag for extra protection. The best part? This inside layer is completely removable and easy to carry when it’s time to get off the bike.

Consider this a step up from the alternative aluminum panniers. While most manufacturers label their metal units as completely waterproof, just regular use can easily affect the legitimacy of those claims. Things like a small dent or puncture from an impact can hinder the pannier’s ability to resist water. Prolonged build-up of moisture on the seams of the pannier may also cause an issue.


There’s no denying it - ADV bikes are heavy. Why would we want to add any more weight to them than we really have to? Each aluminum pannier can weigh roughly 30 to 40 pounds. Attach one to each side and another to the top, and that’ll add.

Well, you get the point.

Adding serious weight to either side will change the balance of the motorcycle, increase the effort needed to make side-to-side transitions, and affect the responsiveness of the throttle and brakes. Try to handle all these handicaps on a rough trail or wet rough, and it might just get ugly.

The MotoBags are designed with premium materials to save weight. Of course, if you pack them full of concrete, your ride quality will suffer. Head to head against heavy aluminum panniers, though, and the MotoBags will take victory every time.


Semi-rigid Motorcycle Panniers

MotoBags Typically Fit on all Racks/Frames

The semi-rigid design makes fitting them to your ADV a painless process. Already have pannier racks? MotoBags will fit on nearly all major racks like those designed by Touratech, Givi, HappyTrail as well as the BMW OEM racks.

And in case you don’t have racks of your own, we offer stainless-steel mounting frames. These come in 47 different available configurations, which covers almost every make and model of ADV motorcycle on the market. Choose from silver or a black powder coated finish.

Totally Collapsible – Stow Your MotoBags Out of the Way

The width of the trail in front of you is shrinking by the minute. Sooner or later, your ADV bike might not be able to squeeze in between the obstacles. Not much in your MotoBags? Go ahead and collapse them, which will give you a few extra inches of clearance on either side. It may be the only way to carry on through the section ahead.

Collapsing the Motobags is a simple process. Simply open the bag to remove and flatten the inside board, then reinsert the board and pull the straps tight.