What to Look for in Motorbike Panniers

Picture a traditional cowboy on their trusty horse, where either side sits a saddlebag to hold their essential items. These cowboys were on to something. The saddlebag provided a secure place to hold items whilst the careful distribution of weight on either side of the horse reduced discomfort and allowed for maximum load.

These days, the saddlebag sits under the definition of a ‘pannier’ described by Wikipedia as ‘a basket, bag, box, or similar container, carried in pairs either slung over the back of a beast of burden, or attached to the sides of a bicycle or motorcycle’. In the modern era, it remains a hugely popular luggage option for those on the move – think of the postman/woman with their letters held safely and securely on either side of their bike. In the motorbike world, panniers have long been a top choice for enthusiasts who need that extra capacity to get the most out of owning their awesome vehicle.

Thanks to their popularity, motorbike panniers exist in a huge variety of designs suited to the diverse needs and budget of any motorbike rider. In this article, we discuss more about the benefits and different types of panniers in a quest to further understand their popularity and to assist you in deciding on how to choose the best pannier for your individual needs.

Benefits of Motorbike Panniers

Extra Storage

Of course, the obvious benefit of a pannier is that they are a simple way of increasing the storage capacity of your bike – a bonus for any journey. Their design, however, helps to maximize the storage, in comparison to other options by carrying extra loads on both sides of your motorbike rather than sitting just on top or in a rucksack on your back.


It is not just whilst on the journey that the practicalities of a pannier can shine. Many will include shoulder straps so that you can carry them around and take your valuables with you when leaving your bike. This is a perk for short journeys as well as long. Your next trip to the grocery store will be a breeze with a pannier!

Balance and Comfort

The design of a pannier is not an accident. By distributing the extra weight across both sides of your bike, your bike is easier to balance and you are better able to maintain a comfortable ride. Plus, when it comes to comfort, the thought of arriving at a destination with a sweaty back from a backpack is far from ideal!

Freedom of Movement

Alternative storage options such as a backpack can have the negative effect of limiting movement, particularly when full or heavy. A pannier sits safely at the back of your vehicle out of your way, giving you the freedom to stay in full control of your motorbike.


Hopefully, you are already well aware a bag slung over a handlebar or nestled into your lap is far from a safe way to transport items. Maximising the capacity of your bike with a pannier also improves your safety by ensuring you never have to compromise on packing items that may assist you in an emergency. A first aid kit should be essential for long journeys and a tool kit is always handy. You may even choose to pack certain spare parts that you are able to fit yourself without the need for a mechanic in the unfortunate incident of a breakdown such as lock nuts and self-assembly kits.

Take a look at our website at Venhill for more information on the parts and tools to ensure you are prepared for any journey, including spare cables and brake lines.


For some, the shiny chrome and pristine paintwork of our bike is something we want to showcase and a luggage bag may seem to compromise the aesthetics of our bike. That said, panniers can actually add to the aesthetic, especially if you choose to go down the route of customisable options. A quick Google search will find you suppliers all over the world that allow you to add your personal touch without compromising on style.

Protection from the Elements

Most panniers come with a whole host of features when it comes to protection from the outdoor elements. Make sure you check your pannier protects your luggage and items from rain, snow, sleet, road dirt and even sun (look for UV protection). 

Style and Type

When deciding on the style and type of pannier to purchase, there are a number of factors worth considering, including storage capacity, fittings, material and colour.

Storage Capacity

The range of sizes and storage capacities out there are huge. A tip is to check the storage capacity and dimensions of a backpack you may already have lying around to give you a better idea than the list of measurements in the spec online.


It’s worth remembering, that ensuring your pannier is safe and secure on your motorbike may involve buying and fixing a pannier rack. Check whether this is included in your purchase and read the reviews to get an idea of how easy it is to do. For most, it tends to be a fairly straight forward process and minimal effort but make sure you do your research.


As mentioned, protection is a huge benefit of panniers but only if the material they are made from is manufactured to do so. Leather, canvas, tarpaulin and even aluminum are common materials. Some may have a rain hood rather than the bag itself being waterproof and a neoprene pad can help protect the paintwork of your bike. UV protection from the sun is also a bonus feature to look for, especially in hot climates.

Colour and style

Many manufacturers offer a range of colours so make sure you’ve selected your preferred choice before clicking to confirm your purchase. Some will be designed to for particular makes and models, which can help you choose a style suited to an old classic or modern bike and anything in between.

Venhill Motorbike Cables

When it comes to increasing the storage capacity of your motorbike, little can beat a pannier for its simplicity in maximising load. The huge range of designs available ensures there really is something out there for everyone and if extra storage allows for greater adventures – we’re certainly all for it!

If you are planning a new adventure or simply want to make sure your bike is in tip-top shape, here at Venhill, we have been manufacturing control cables, hydraulic hoses and brake lines for over 45 years. All of our products are made in the UK to the highest possible standard helping you to maximise the lifespan or your bike and its components. This leaves you to enjoy all the highlights of owning a motorbike.