My first street-legal motorcycle was a Honda XL500R dual-sport, and as a teenager I rode the wheels off that thumper, generally wearing a backpack to carry stuff since securely fitting the soft luggage available then to its skinny seat and fenders was a pain. Like our dual-sport bikes of today, however, soft luggage for them has advanced considerably, enough that it’s now possible to quickly and securely attach enough for an on-/off-road overnighter, even on my little Yamaha WR250R.
Nelson-Rigg recently released a pair of Dual-Sport/Enduro Saddlebags that hold 12 liters per side, or 15 liters per side expanded, a good size for a short camping trip into the backwoods or trips to the grocery store on most dual-sport singles. Constructed of UV treated, water-resistant Tri-Max fabric with an anti-slip/scratch protective panel on the back, their kidney shape is well suited to the upswept tail section and muffler of the typical dual-sport bike, and the lengthwise zipper on top makes it easy to load larger items—I was able to slip a large roll of paper towels and four cans of soda easily into one without even expanding it. Should you need more space, a circumferential zipper unzips to expand the bags outward, and there’s a pouch pocket for tools and whatnot on the underside of each.
The mounting system starts with the usual pair of adjustable hook-and-loop straps that go over the seat. Then you tie off the front of the bags with a slip-buckle strap that also serves as a tensioner for the load in the bag along with another tensioning strap on the outside. The aft straps attach to an adjustable harness with U-shaped buckles on each end that slips onto the rear fender. It takes a bit of fiddling to get everything adjusted properly, but once you do the bags end up better secured to the bike than typical saddlebags. They still aren’t held down as tightly as bag types that attach to a separate harness, and these saddlebags aren’t waterproof, so I would categorize them as medium-duty, best for on-road and light, dry off-road riding. Make sure to have a heat shield in place if a bag would otherwise contact a muffler.
Nelson-Rigg’s Dual-Sport Saddlebags do hold a lot, and their top lengthwise zipper (versus a roll-down opening) makes them very convenient to use. To add even more capacity, Nelson-Rigg’s Trails End Dual-Sport Tail Bag holds 6.5 liters or 11 liters expanded, attaches easily to lots of motorcycle types—not just dual-sports—and its rugged UltraMax fabric construction holds it shape when empty. Zippers are water-resistant and also keep out dirt and dust, and there’s a Molle panel on the lid for attaching even more stuff. This tail bag is perfectly sized for my soft lunchbox, for example, and has tie-down straps inside to secure the load.
As long as your off-road adventures aren’t too gnarly, this Nelson-Rigg saddlebag/tail bag combo is a convenient solution to dual-sport luggage needs. The Dual-Sport/Enduro Saddlebags go for $142.95 and the Trails End Dual-Sport Enduro Tail Bag is $119.95.
For more information, visit Nelson-Rigg.