Luggage – The Inside Story

By Tim Bolderston. If you’re going away on your BMW, you will probably be using BMW panniers and possibly a top-box. All fairly obvious, but what goes in the panniers?  BMW sell matching inner bags or liners for all their models so that you can take the inners out with all your luggage and leave the panniers on the bike. Other manufactures of motorcycle luggage provide similar inner bags.

K1600GT Inner Bags

Are inner bags a good idea? Asking around discovers no consensus – some people use them, some don’t.  it is partly a matter of taste and partly about how you use the bike.

The main advantage is that you have a clean set of bags that you can take into a hotel.  The inner bags will be lighter than panniers and so much easier to carry around the hotel, especially when they give you a room in the most distant part of the hotel.  They also give your luggage additional protection against water and dirt, especially if you have alloy panniers that leave dirty marks where the contents rub against the sides.  Some panniers such as the semi-flexible ones for the F800ST are difficult to pack without an inner bag to hold everything together.

On leaving, inner liners can be conveniently packed up indoors and then carried out to the bike, where many people then proceed to bash them about to try and get them to fit into the awaiting metal or plastic container. The ideal is to fill the inner bags only to the point that they retain their shape, are easy to zip up, and slot easily into place. Using inner bags also provides protection and some waterproofing for their contents, although the more protection and waterproofing they provide, the less space will be left over inside them for luggage.

Kathy’s Journey Design Inner Bags for R1200GSA

The main disadvantage is the loss of space.  Not only do inner bags take up a significant amount of space themselves – imagine folding one up tightly – you also lose space because they do not fit the panniers exactly.  It is very difficult to pack everything tightly together with an inner bag, and even if you do, you will not be able to fit the bag into the pannier.

The demands for luggage space depend a lot on whether you are one-up or two-up.  There are many pleasures and advantages to riding together on a bike, but it does mean that the available space has to carry enough luggage for two. On the other hand, if there is just one person on the bike, it is worth thinking about good ways to make use of the extra space, rather than just carrying more clothes.  Another question is what carrying capacity there is.  Most bikes being used for touring will have a pair of panniers and probably a top box, perhaps a tank bag, or even some kind of roll-up bag positioned on the back frame or on the top box.


Kriega KS40

Inner bags can be quite ingenious.  BMW bags for Vario panniers have expandable panels so that you can match the configuration of the panniers, but you still lose some space when compressed.  Kriega bags, for example, have double expandable panels and can be used as a carry-on flight bag for those on fly-ride holidays. If you will be flying to your destination and checking bags in, a number of companies sell bags suitable for going inside panniers that are also suitable for checking in, like the Kriega KS40

If you are flying, also think about how to transport helmets. These should be carried on as hand luggage, rather than facing the risk of damage or loss if checked in, and a helmet bag which gives the helmet protection and some carrying handles could be a wise investment.

Riders who are not too pressed for space often use inner bags and are very pleased with them, but that means having plenty of space available.  This is easier to achieve where there is only one person on the bike, rather than having to share the space between rider and pillion.  You can also increase the space available by using additional luggage such as tank bags, tail roll bags and soft luggage attached above the panniers.

Riders with pillions who need to use every nook and cranny will avoid inner bags, although some use plastic liners (eg bin bags) to protect the luggage but pack the luggage into the panniers to make the most of the space available. This is popular with some of the weight-lifters amongst us who need to make the most of the space available.  With careful and considered positioning of items, you can undoubtedly get a lot more in this way. However, on arriving at your destination, you will have to lug the heavy panniers into your accommodation, which is probably fine for a ground floor room with robust flooring, but perhaps less attractive up several flights of stairs and into a bijou room with expensive carpets.

K1600GS Pannier and BMW Motorrad Liners

As you can see, there is no simple answer, you have to decide for yourself whether the convenience of having bags you can take away from the bike outweighs the loss of space involved.




Originally posted 2019-08-03 15:33:22.


Author: bolderz