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Types of motorcycle luggage in Vietnam
Touring in Vietnam can be a huge hassle without the proper equipment on your bike. What you bring with you on your ride can make or break a trip. Motorcycles may not look like cargo haulers. However, riders coming into Vietnam to travel and tour on a bike for the first time will be surprised to know the way luggage can be mounted onto a motorcycle and the number of luggage containers motorcycles can carry.
Tank bags are relatively small compared to other luggage types. They are common bags for a lot of riders in general. Although there are tank bags that can store up to 50 litres, these won’t be the best for riding in Vietnam. This is because most motorcycles in the country are in the small bike category around 100 – 200cc, and are best ridden with light luggage. These bikes can carry heavier loads but they may affect the bike’s power and how it handles.
Any weight placed on a motorcycle will affect how it handles. However, some riders still take tank bags over other bags because they don’t mess up the riding dynamics of a bike too much. A motorcycle’s tank sits high and heavy on the bike and putting a small bag on it will affect some of the handling but not too drastically.
Why They Prefer Tank Bags
Many riders prefer tank bags because of their simplicity. They’re a simple no-frills bag that any rider can mount on any bike. Riders usually use tank bags as storage for their GPS or maps, phones, camera equipment, a small snack, license papers, and basically anything they would need quick access to.
Another reason why riders gravitate towards tank bags is the added security. A rider would have eyes on a tank bag throughout the journey. And, would not have the need to constantly check whether or not the bag has fallen off. Tank bags are also easy to install and remove so you can always bring your valuables with you during stops
Tank bags are useful on Vietnam tours. They give you a place for your gloves in short roadside stops as well as quick access to your camera for capturing moments. Brands like Givi are popular in Vietnam and their luggage is easily accessible to anyone coming into the country. Ryan from Fortnine also did a video on his top picks for tank bags. Check it out here.
Tail bags, in general, are larger than most tank bags and are mounted onto a motorcycle’s pillion seat, or rack. They can store much more and are usually for equipment that riders still need quick access to but does not fit in the tank bag.
Equipment carried in tail bags usually includes a raincoat or rain gear, a first aid kit, tools for emergency repairs, and even a change of clothes, handy for those Vietnamese surprise cloudbursts. To get a better understanding of which tail bag to choose, check this video out. Check out the available choices of tail bags from Givi.
Top boxes are hard cases that mount to the rear of a bike and are installed on a rack. Though tank bags are common for riders in general, top boxes are more widely used by the locals as they can have huge storage capacity.
Top boxes usually have the largest carrying capacity of all the luggage mentioned. However, riders should be careful in deciding whether they want this or not. This is because top boxes are placed quite high and behind the rear wheel. When heavily loaded, they can have a significant effect on the bike’s steering and handling.
Top boxes are very practical if you’ll do most of your riding in Vietnam on the open road or in the city. It’s a different story when touring and going off-road as having luggage high up and at the back of the bike can be cumbersome. Givi Vietnam provides a large selection of Top boxes to choose from. Ryan also gives his take on the best top boxes on the market in this video from Fortnine.
Motorcycle Luggage in Vietnam: Saddlebags
Even before horses turned into horsepower, saddlebags were widely used. Nowadays, some may associate saddlebags with cruiser riders as they most commonly use them. The blacked-out leather carrying cases were not only stylish but extremely practical. Now, saddlebags are made from the toughest materials and almost any motorcycle can install a trusty pair.
Saddlebags are pretty much universal and a pair of them can mount to almost any type of bike with ease. Saddlebags are mainly used for storing larger, heavier and bulkier items like tyre repair kits and inflation packs, repair tools, a larger amount of clothes, camping equipment, and more.
Some people go on one-way adventure tours meaning they start from southern Vietnam and head all the way to the far north and end the tour there. These riders would especially benefit from saddlebags
Side panniers function very similarly to saddlebags. They are hard luggage, however, and are heavier and more expensive than soft saddlebags. As for selecting the best saddlebag for you, Ryan from Fortnine might be able to give you a hand in this video. Givi also had a wide array of available saddlebags and panniers for sale in Vietnam.
Motorcycle Luggage in Vietnam: Soft saddlebags or hard panniers?
The choice between having a pair of hard pannier cases or a pair of soft saddlebags depends on a few factors. Preference is of course completely up to the rider but here are a few things to consider.
Hard panniers are generally more secure than most soft bags. They come with the availability of locks to secure your luggage. Riding in different parts of the country for long periods of time may expose riders to risks of opportunistic thieves. Saddlebags are at a disadvantage as they don’t have locks and are susceptible to being forced or torn open.
Length of use
Hard panniers are better for longer trips. Soft luggage is great for a few weeks of riding. However, if riding longer than that, it’d be better to opt for panniers. They’re generally more durable, which is important as riding for long periods of time. They can also expose you and your equipment to abuse and the elements. Riding in Vietnam’s unpredictable weather requires its own specialized gear. This will certainly play a huge part in deciding whether a rider would prefer panniers or saddlebags.
Durability can go both ways. It depends where you’ll do most of your riding. If a large majority of the riding will be on Vietnam’s roads, hard panniers will be a good pick. However, if most of the riding is on Vietnam’s country roads, back roads, and dirt roads, there are other things to consider. Hard panniers can crack and break if the bike falls on them when riding on trails. And, as anyone who’s ever ridden off-road, can tell you, dropping the bike can be an everyday occurrence.
Soft luggage is more likely to survive being crushed by the bike but whatever’s inside may not. With hard panniers, cracking and breaking will be an issue. However, it will add a layer of protection to the contents. If, however, you’re carrying things that will be fine even if a bike falls on it, soft luggage could be a good choice.
On the other hand, some people who know that their bikes will fall still choose hard panniers. Why? Because they can serve as sliders and protectors if and when a bike falls. Also, having panniers will prevent you from getting pinned down by your bike, but clearly, this isn’t what they’re for and this shouldn’t be one of the things to consider when choosing.
Waterproofing is also another concern because the Vietnamese weather likes throwing curveballs, more so if you’re riding from north Vietnam to south Vietnam or vice versa. None of these options is truly 100% waterproof. Some saddlebags have waterproof coatings and come with their own rain shells but most panniers don’t have rain shells since they’re usually constructed with plastic and metal and for some, that alone is enough waterproofing. For this reason, it’s always a good idea to wrap the contents in polythene or other waterproof material.
Cost and installation
Soft luggage like saddlebags is generally a lot cheaper than hard panniers. Installation is also easier as some saddlebags only need a few velcro straps. Hard panniers, however, need their own rack or mounting system. Not only would this affect the bike’s manoeuvrability but also the width, making squeezing through traffic a bit more cumbersome as they are usually wider than soft luggage.
Other motorcycle luggage
Additional motorcycle luggage in Vietnam, though not so common, is tank panniers and dash bags. Tank panniers are installed across the motorcycle tank and dangle over the sides. They are more commonly used by dirt-bikes and dual-sport motorcycles because most off-roaders prefer light luggage. They are smaller usually up to 15 litres of volume carrying only the bare necessities for a quick off-road ride. However, this is also great way to have additional storage on a tour ride.
Dash bags are a more specialized piece of luggage mounting onto a bike’s dash or handlebars. These bags are on the smaller side and usually only have enough room for a GPS, a cell phone, or several tools.
Available Motorcycle luggage brands in Vietnam
You can get both hard panniers and soft luggage in Vietnam through trusted brand stores like Givi Vietnam and Touratech. Both provide a great selection of luggage items for any rider’s needs. Brands like Wolfman and Royal Enfield also have luggage readily available. More renowned brands like Harley Davidson and Ducati are also making their way into the Vietnam motorcycle luggage market.
How Onyabike Adventures packs luggage
Onyabike Adventures wants to make sure that riders coming into Vietnam and choosing to ride with us don’t need to worry about anything but the adventure. We at Onyabike Adventures believe that a rider should only focus on the ride, not on luggage and how to carry it. That’s why we offer luggage for rent.
Onyabike Adventures has three tank bags available for rent and sale and all three are by Givi. Onyabike Adventure’s selection ranges from a small basic 5-litre bag to a 20-litre one. Other than size, all three are basically the same having map or GPS pockets, waterproof lining, rain shells, and straps and magnets.
If the 20-litre tank bag isn’t enough, most bikes at Onyabike Adventures come ready with a luggage rack which can accommodate a top box with 15 kg of luggage. Still in need of more storage? Onyabike Adventures also offers a 40-litre Givi waterproof soft bag that can be securely strapped onto the pillion seat or the luggage rack. Now that’s approximately 60 litres of storage space for every rider!
If you just want to ride with nothing in mind but the bike and the road, and don’t want to bother with placing luggage on your bike, Onyabike Adventures also gives the option to have your luggage carried via a support van that will follow the tour.