Lone Rider, which entered the ADV world with its popular MotoTent that features a vestibule to park your bike, introduced its semi-rigid MotoBags in 2017. Over a period of two years, I tested the latest evolution on my KTM 1190 Adventure R with the MotoBags mounted to a set of Touratech luggage racks.
MotoBags combine a hard pannier’s carrying capacity with a soft bag’s flexibility. This design is advantageous if a crash occurs – something that has happened to me numerous times while tackling single-track terrain on my big KTM.
In the event of a crash, hard panniers have two major limitations. First, big impacts can dent and mishape the panniers, ruining the integrity of the lid’s waterproof seal. Second, the rider’s leg can get caught under the pannier, potentially causing or exacerbating an injury. Soft bags, on the other hand, don’t dent and make for a softer impact point than solid aluminum.
I’ve tested the MotoBags in asymmetrical sizes (38 liters on the left, 31 liters on the right) to accommodate my KTM’s right-side exhaust. I’ve covered a wide range of terrain, from hardcore off-road trails to long-distance paved highways. And I’ve scraped and banged the bags against hard objects and dropped my KTM a few times, putting them through real-world abuse.
The 38-liter bag is 9.5 inches wide and the 31-liter bag is 7.9 inches wide. When fully closed, both bags are about 16 inches tall and just over 17 inches from front to back. The MotoBags set weighs 29 lb, which doesn’t include the luggage rack.
The Lone Rider designers wisely looked to the military for inspiration, including the use of a heavy-duty but smooth fabric called Hypalon, which is used in inflatable boats where a puncture can mean a life lost. The fabric offers excellent abrasion and puncture resistance while remaining waterproof and dustproof. Reinforced stitching and replaceable rubber corners add extra strength.
Even though I grazed tree branches at speeds over 80 mph and skidded the MotoBags across sharp rocks, they never punctured, and the fabric, once cleaned up, fared well.
On the outside of each bag is MOLLE webbing for attaching smaller bags or accessories. As I found out, the MOLLE and a set of straps makes it easy to haul firewood or 12-packs from nearby stores to campgrounds.
Because there is an outer bag and an inner waterproof roll bag made of 500D PVC tarpaulin, accessing gear inside of MotoBags requires more effort than simply opening a hard pannier lid. The outer bag, which is reinforced with inner stiffeners, has drain holes in the bottom, so using the inner bag is essential for keeping the contents dry.
For short day trips, accessing the inner bag can be a hassle. But having a removable inner bag for overnight trips is a blessing – simply remove it and unpack what’s needed without taking off the outer bag. On extended trips, I pack only the things needed for the campground/hotel in the inner bags and everything else, like tools, extra gloves, and beverages, between the inner and outer bags.
There is a learning curve with opening and closing the MotoBags. To open one, you must undo the top two main straps, unlock the combination lock (if used), undo the aluminum latch, remove the strap and fold, unfold the top closure, and then open the inner roll bag. To close the bag, do the same in reverse, making sure you squeeze the air out of the inner and outer bags.
Lone Rider provides a programmable four-number combination lock for each bag. However, when my six-year-old son helped me install the MotoBags, he reset the combination and locked one of the bags. For peace of mind, I use a pair of keyed Master Lock padlocks, with a spare key hidden in my jacket.
When mounting the MotoBags, patience may be required to line up their attachment points with the luggage rack. When I first mounted them on my Touratech pannier racks, the quick-release mechanism for each bag was very stiff and difficult to actuate, and I had to tilt the bags forward to be able to lock them into place, which was frustrating. But I later learned when mounting them to my Ducati DesertX Outback Motortek racks that the locking mechanism needed to be readjusted, and now they go on and off quicker than any others on both the KTM and the Ducati.
The Lone Rider MotoBags offer a solid balance between cost and performance, making them an attractive option for those seeking durable, functional, waterproof soft luggage. The 38L/31L setup with the quick attachment and inner bags is available for $1,200.