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Motorcycle Saddlebags

Motorcycle Saddlebags Oxford Sport Saddlebags - Panniers

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Review Summary
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Let’s see — so far we have 36 liters of space in the Compact Tank Bag and 42 liters in the Sport Tail Bag.  That should be enough to get you back and forth to work in good shape, but how about another 55 liters worth of storage space for those long treks?

The Oxford Sport Saddlebags can be fitted to many different motorcycle types, as long as the muffler doesn’t interfere with the mounting location.  The Humpback saddlebags are a bit smaller at 45 liters, and they’re shaped with a slightly different angle, which should fit most sport bikes.

Each bag measures roughly 50cm (20″) long by 22 cm (8-1/2″) wide (unexpanded) and tapers from about 30cm (1 ft.) high at the front to about 23cm (9″) high at the rear.  Unzip the expansion pocket to add approximately 10cm (4″) of space, for the total of 55 liters of very useful storage space.

The saddlebags have a full length top lid with a built-in stiffener.  The lid opens via two zippers, one on each side, and reveals a huge, open cavern, all of which is usable space.  We were able to stow a full-face helmet inside with enough room left over for a sweater and a rain suit.

The internal configuration of the right and left bags is slightly different.  The right side bag has a full-length zippered pocket on its internal wall, and includes a mesh pocket and a 120mm (4-3/4″) wide by 180mm (7″) high storage pocket with a flap secured by Velcro.  The left side bag has a single open slit pocket along the full length of its inside wall, suitable for maps or other papers or notebooks.

Each saddlebag also has two outside pockets.  The front pockets are about 250mm (9-3/4″) tall by 200mm (8″) wide and can be stuffed to about 50mm (2″) thick.  Each rear pocket is roughly 230mm tall by 200mm wide and just as deep.  They each open with a top mounted zipper using Oxford’s metal ring zipper pulls.

Our test Bandit has a Yoshimura exhaust system, and although it may not look like it in the photo on the left, there was enough clearance between the right side bag and the exhaust to ensure safety.

The Sport Saddlebags are not designed to rest on the muffler, but they have a heat resistant bottom made from Oxford’s “Firetex” material, which resists heat damage.  The backs of the saddlebags also have a rubberized and padded section of material along their lower half to help protect the sides of the bike from damage.

Sport Saddlebag, flip side (the side that mounts towards the bike). The yellow arrows indicate the two external safety straps that must be looped through a mounting point on the motorcycle. The white arrows indicate the under-seat strap (lower) and the two over-the-seat straps (upper, laying on top of each other). The padded shoulder strap is shown at the bottom of the photo.

The saddlebags don’t require any type of external mounting brackets on the motorcycle.  They have a built-in mounting system that uses three separate straps.  A 35mm (1-3/8″) center strap is placed over the top of the seat (or can also be placed underneath), and two 50mm (2″) wide straps are placed under the seat to hold the saddlebags on the bike.

These straps should be wide enough to fit across (and under) the back of most motorcycle seats.  Using Oxford’s recommended 150mm (~6″) of overlap for the Velcro allows the Sport Saddlebags to fit a motorcycle with approximately a 425mm (17″) wide rear.

We didn’t have any problems mounting the saddlebags across the back of the Suzuki Bandit 1200, and they also would theoretically fit the width of the Triumph Thunderbird Sport, but that bike’s radically upswept dual mufflers don’t provide enough clearance for the right-side bag to hang without touching.

The Sport Saddlebags have two additional mounting straps on the internal side (the side facing the motorcycle).  These 25mm (1″) wide adjustable nylon straps are designed to be looped around a solid mounting point on the bike, such as frame sections, passenger pegs or dedicated luggage hooks.  It was easy to find a couple of good locations on the Suzuki’s frame to secure the straps.

This photo illustrates a typical mounting point for the external safety strap on the Sport Saddlebags. The Suzuki Bandit has a perfect location under the tail section. The strap is shown prior to tightening.

It took us a few tries during the first installation to figure out the best mounting locations and to get the straps properly adjusted through their buckles and configured so that the loose strap ends would fit into their keepers.

The instructions advise the owner to ensure that the straps are securely and tightly fastened, to prevent the bags from bouncing around and possibly damaging the paint or causing some other type of mischief.

We cinched them down as tight as we could and we never felt any insecurities about losing the bags.  The Bandit was taken up to about 100 mph on our secret test track and we didn’t notice any problems or undue buffeting.

It would be nice perhaps to have some type of quick release mechanism so that the mounting straps could be semi-permanently attached to the bike, which potentially could help make the bags easier to install and remove.  If the bags are removed from the bike and taken into a hotel

The Oxford Sport Saddlebags also come with a pair of rain covers.

room at night, for example, the straps must be removed and reinstalled in the morning.  It’s not really a problem, and becomes second nature after it’s done a few times, as long as it’s not raining or dark or both.

Each saddlebag is supplied with internal stiffener that can be inserted into a zippered pocket at the bottom of each bag.  Another nice touch is a small pocket at the front of each bag that’s specifically designed to hold the rain cover.  This is very handy, because the rain cover either takes up usable space inside the saddlebag or disappears somewhere in the garage, never to be seen again.

Oxford also provides four bungee cords with the pair of saddlebags, to be used as additional hold-downs.  The bags have a pair of big D-rings, one in front and one at the rear for attaching the bungees.  Each bag also comes with a padded shoulder strap that can be attached to a couple of smaller D-rings for this purpose.  Each bag also has a padded carrying handle at the front of each bag.


Even if factory hard luggage is available for your motorcycle, the saddlebags alone can easily cost well over $1,000.00, with an additional expense for the mounting system.  And hard luggage doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll end up with a logical amount of usable space, due to the idiosyncrasies in the way that the bags may be molded.  I’ve owned some king-sized hard luggage that still couldn’t hold a full-face helmet.

The Oxford soft luggage system solves a lot of problems.  We liked the flexibility of the built-in mounting system and the quality of the materials.  Oxford’s designers did a good job of thinking through the feature set, with goodies like the padded shoulder straps, the extra map pocket on the tank bag base and the removable bum bag, with its own belt, no less!  The hidden pocket for the saddlebag rain cover is a great idea, and a suggestion might be to include this feature on the Tank Bag and Tail Bag.

The luggage fits many different types of motorcycles, which will be much appreciated by sportbike owners.  There are a couple of issues with fitting the Tail Bag and the saddlebags to some bikes.  The saddlebags will need at least two solid places on each side of the bike to attach the straps.  Also, the Tail Bag’s strap system may not fit around your motorcycle’s seat; this probably won’t be a problem on sportbikes but may be on other types.

The system shown here provides more than enough storage space for just about any type of travel, either local or long-distance.  When you consider that you could own this complete set of soft luggage for somewhere around 1/3 the cost of a set of hard bags and mounts, it’s an easy decision.

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Product Review: Oxford Sport Saddlebags
Available From:  Castle Sales is the U.S.A. Distributor   |  Also visit the Oxford ProductsWebsite Suggested Retail Price:  Tank Bag $104.95; Tail Bag $124.95; Saddlebags $194.95
Colors:  Black, Red, Blue. Also special Silver coating ($5.00 extra) Made in:  Indonesia
Product Comments:  Soft motorcycle luggage that fits a variety of makes and models, including sportbikes.  Mix and match components to obtain touring bike storage capacity.  Rugged design and good looks.  Sport and Humpback lines of soft luggage carry lifetime guarantee against manufacturer defects.  Made from waterproof PVC-backed 1500 Denier polyester.  3M Scotchguard treated and 3M Scotchlite reflective accents.  Rain covers and padded shoulder straps are included for each item.  Tank bag includes separate rubberized mesh blanket for protecting fuel tank finish.  Nice strong zippers with big pull tabs that can be gripped when wearing gloves.  Sport models shown here are designed for maximum capacity; also available in the “Humpback” series, which are slightly smaller and more aerodynamic.  Oxford also offers the “1st Time” range of soft luggage at a lower price point.  The 1st Time line carries a 1 year warranty against manufacturer defects.
More:  Comments from owners on Oxford luggage review home page