How to Install Motorcycle Saddlebags – Guide for 2021

Are you looking to take better use of the space on your motorcycle? The best way to do it is to install saddlebags that will make your motor even more useful in terms of storage and extra space.

The additional storage is ideal for long trips across the country, but it’s also useful for a quick stop to the grocery store.

Maybe you’re just looking for a great saddlebag, or you’ve already got one but don’t know how to install it. Either way, we can help. There are things and factors you should consider, so check out our guide below.

Installation guide


There are many choices, but it all comes down to your personal style. You can choose between bags with studs, without studs, with buckles, without buckles, bags that open away from or towards the bike.

It’s a matter of practicality as well, but it mostly comes down to your personal style. You might want to follow the general theme and style of your motorcycle. Or you want the saddlebags to match the glossy paintwork.

Most bags also have different attachment methods and give out a completely different vibe to the entire vehicle.


This is also something you get to decide about. The size and capacity of your saddlebag determine how much storage space it provides. However, it’s recommended you only go with the capacity that’s proportionate to your motorcycle.

Think about the size of your bike and what would be the best bag capacity. You want to avoid a bag that’s too large because it would just look funny and it might even cause draw or throw you off balance.

Measure your Motorcycle

Measure the bike from the end of the rider’s seat to the back turn signals. This helps determine the length of saddlebags that would work the best for your bike.

Measure from the fender rail to the top of the motorcycle exhaust to determine the height. Take the time to check the measurements a few times because it’s essential your bags fit snuggly and firmly otherwise they might not work properly.

image of throw over saddlebag kit

Mounting Options and Attachment Points

The first thing you should ask yourself is whether you want saddlebags that are easily removable or not? Some are more permanent, so this is an important factor to consider.

Most bags come in either hard-mount, throw-over kits or a quick disconnect system. The difference between them is in the fit as well as the ease of use.

  • Throw Over Kit

This is a reasonably stable system. It’s solid but not as permanent, so you’ll be able to remove the bags easily if you no longer want/need them.

In most cases, the system consists of a chrome cradle that sits on your bike. It allows you to install and remove the bags with ease while always remaining in place. It’s probably the most convenient option to go for if you don’t think you’ll want to use your saddlebags every day.

  • Hard Mount Kit

This one is the most heavy-duty and permanent mounting system. It’s also the most secure system as it’s nearly impossible for this type of mounting to fail mid riding.

Bags that come in a hard mount kit usually come with bolts and nuts. It works by bolting the bag to the bike using the hardware you either got with the bag or purchased separately.  The bags will stay in place, and you’d need a wrench to remove them.

  • Quick Disconnect System

The QDS is the best for easy installation and removal of your saddlebags in just a few seconds. The hard mount is still more secure, but the QDS allows you to take your bag with you when you leave the bike outside.

The difference between these and throw over kits is that once you remove the bags with the QDS, there’s nothing on the bike that shows they were even there.

Safety and Making Sure it’s Secure

The level of security is also something you should decide on your own depending on your preferences and needs. Some bags can be locked on the top or under the straps, while others come with padlock rings.

It really all depends on how you feel about security and what you’re carrying in the saddlebag. You want to make it hard for a potential thief to get to the insides of your bag.

Want more safety tips? Find out how to store a helmet after parking your ride.

Beware of Moving Parts and Exhaust

The installation is somewhat simple with all the three types we’ve discussed. Still, make sure to follow the user manual if you got it in the package. This way, you’re making sure that the installation is done properly.

Even if you didn’t get any, the rule of the thumb is to watch out for all moving parts and exhaust. These are the most critical components of your bike that you don’t want too close to your saddlebags.


As you can see, it’s quite simple to install saddlebags regardless of the mounting system you opt for. Some are easier to work with, while others have a different set of benefits they bring to the table.

Either way, you want to pay attention to whether the bags fit your bike. Make sure to stay away from the exhaust and all moving parts, and also consider the style and capacity.

These are handy additions to all motorcycles so it’s just a matter of finding the best design and size that would fit your needs and preferences.

Additional Resources:

The team at Road Racerz aims to be a source of knowledge for all riders, whether they are beginners, intermediate, or have been riding for 20+ years. We want everyone to enjoy safer rides and have access to rider-specific content to get the most out of every mile.

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