Soft vs Hard Panniers - how common is theft?

Discussion in 'Equipment' started by rickypanecatyl, Aug 13, 2019 at 12:08 AM.

  1. rickypanecatyl

    rickypanecatyl SE Asia adventure tours

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    Like many here, I would prefer to ride with soft panniers over hard boxes but my biggest concern is theft. I often don't have a choice where I park and often (I realize my riding style is rare for 1st world countries) I NEED to ride dirt single track and city traffic and park in less than desire places and be out of view of my bike for a couple hours.

    It's occured to me that my biggest hold up with soft panniers is fear of theft. At the same time, the reality is I know that it is pretty darn easy to force the locks on my hard panniers open AND hundreds of times I've accidently forgot to lock them. It's been a long time since anything has been stolen...

    I'm just curious what your stories are? Examples of NOT getting something stolen when you thought you would/should or getting stuff stolen despite all the precautions?
    #1
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  2. Tsotsie

    Tsotsie Semi-reformed Tsotsi Supporter

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    It all depends upon where you ride. In Mexico friends had lots of stuff taken, even in supposedly secure parking areas. They also don't need taking off the bike at night.

    Decent hard boxes are also more water and dust proof. Easy to add foam sealant to the lids if needed. I lined my hard boxes with stick-on thin carpet on the sides and bottom. I also added internally locking locks. Simple.

    Having less to concern about sticky fingers adds to the pleasure of the ride. 170K miles and nothing taken, yet.
    #2
  3. shrederscott

    shrederscott Long timer

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    I use soft luggage on my dual sport and my street bike.

    I live in Denver, ride all over the SW never had anything stolen.

    IMHO the hard luggage perceived extra security is offset by its leg breaking risk and significant extra weight when compared to soft

    Scott
    #3
  4. nickguzzi

    nickguzzi Long timer

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    Isn't one of the points of soft panniers that they are easy to take of and carry with you?
    I have ridden since 1965 and toured across Europe since the very early 80's. Never had a problem. Leave them on except at night when I may need something out of them.
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  5. Mikey Mike

    Mikey Mike Blowing Bubbles Supporter

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    I lose more things through rushing or forgetfulness than have things stolen and I run soft bags and always have ..
    Some places are poorer and there is crime but it is a chance thing and do not think criminals care.
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  6. bykergrrl

    bykergrrl Been here awhile

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    I’ve used soft panniers across the USA, Canada, Mexico and down through Panama.
    I have the Mosko Moto (early version-no locks) the new ones have a lock.
    In all my travels and daily commutes in California I haven’t yet had a theft.
    I do take the bags off at night if camping or moteling.
    I also have a bike cover, easy on and off, that I use when leaving the bike out of sight when roaming away from home. I believe what you can’t see you are less likely to want.
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  7. Bad Wolf

    Bad Wolf High functioning sociopath

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    Thieves look for quick and easy. But they are on the lookout for something to steal to pawn. A shockingly simple deterrent is a bike cover. Buy a cheap Cycle Gear Nelson Rigg something. Even a sheet.

    Takes up a little extra luggage room, but you won't have to worry as much about soft vs hard luggage.


    Don't get any branded cover...like <ahem> Harley that blatantly advertsises what is behind the curtain.
    #7
  8. Mikey Mike

    Mikey Mike Blowing Bubbles Supporter

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    I think as bike owners we encourage theft .. the price we pay for some of the items and the cost of gaining a bike service from companies that charge and justify more for a working class man to complete .. Corporate biking including BMW, KTM, Harley, Klim and others steal without a thought.
    95% of what we buy is made in China, Cambodia and the South American countries where $200 dollar a month is a good wage.
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  9. rickypanecatyl

    rickypanecatyl SE Asia adventure tours

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    Cool tip on the foam sealant! I hadn't thought of that...

    And yes... dust and waterproofness + faster speeds to get stuff in and out is a secondary draw to me of hardboxes.
    #9
  10. rickypanecatyl

    rickypanecatyl SE Asia adventure tours

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    Good testimony for Colorado folks! :lol3

    I've found personally because I have caught my leg several times on hard boxes the biggest negative is almost that it reinforces bad riding skills. I subconsciously am prepping for another instance and often don't put my leg out as much as I should! :)
    #10
  11. Doug Just Doug

    Doug Just Doug Silly Party Candidate Supporter

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    Maybe soft bags that come off as easily as hard bags (e.g. Mosko Moto) are what the OP needs?
    #11
  12. NorthIdaho800gsa

    NorthIdaho800gsa Bad influence

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    I've had both. The new cool trend is soft. So I went out and got mosko panniers. Personally I don't like them. I'm going back to hard this fall when I get my new bike. I don't think the pannier has anything to do with rider safety. If you are a shit rider with bad habits, you will be regardless of the panniers you run. Everybody was fine with hard panniers for every until just recently and now all the sudden they are a problem. As far as theft goes, I haven't had a problem with either. However, I don't advertise either. For my next bike the thing i want the most is a large top box. I am going to leave it empty. I want to use it to put my helmet and jacket in when I stop. Right now that is my biggest worry. If my $2k in jacket and helmet will be on the bike when I get back or do I carry it with me. So I'm going to solve that with a big ass top box.
    #12
  13. Davidprej

    Davidprej Davidprej Supporter

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    Do you have an idea as to what particular top box you are considering? Have you seen Swedstal's (I've Been Everywhere, Man)? It's the biggest I've seen and he uses it like you want to. Mostly empty and for a place to lock his stuff when away from the bike.
    #13
  14. petertakov

    petertakov Been here awhile

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    There is no secure way to leave luggage on the bike. Just use whatever system is easiest to take off the bike and take it with you. If theft is that much of a problem, you probably should worry more about the bike itself being stollen. I consciously avoid places where I would worry about my bike/luggage - kills the fun of travelling for me. I would consider such places big cities and popular touristic sites and neither of these appeal to me anyway. In my experience theft is not something that happens in small villages and other communities where people mostly know each other.
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  15. petertakov

    petertakov Been here awhile

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    Well everybody though smoking is the coolest thing too. I'm not saying hard panniers are bad (I have hard panniers on one of my bikes), just that your argument is rather strange. The thing about trends is that they are not necessarily driven by the buyers rationale - they are usually created intentonally by companies who need to sell a new type product. Peop!e always (are made to) want new things, much more often than they actually need them :-)
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  16. Dino de Laurentiis

    Dino de Laurentiis Working on it

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    Probably the risk of theft is less than what one thinks. I mean, I’ve left my soft bags, jacket and helmet on the bike even outside big tourist destinations and had no issue. Still, a lockable hard case _feels_ more secure so I think they’re worth it just because I’m more at ease, and that’s why I’m running hard cases on my current bike.
    #16
  17. Tsotsie

    Tsotsie Semi-reformed Tsotsi Supporter

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    In addition to my post #2 above, I have ridden with others who have had accidents with both hard and soft as well as without any luggage, who have suffered leg and foot damage. In 2014 I was taken out in Yosemite by a car. I have total amnesia of an hour before and 5 hours after, $290K + attempted medical bill claims (get a good layer), significant right arm damage and plate and yet no damage, not even a scratch on my right leg and foot. My right hard pannier was significantly damaged and it obviously saved that leg and foot.

    A lot depends upon how one falls. When you go down you have already lost control. As for thefts, off and out of soft panniers in MX, yes, several times from friends. Never had anything taken in the US.

    Both have advantages and disadvantages. My preference and convenience is towards hard. Lockable, water and dust proof
    #17
  18. NorthIdaho800gsa

    NorthIdaho800gsa Bad influence

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    Really thinking about either of these.
    https://www.happy-trail.com/happy-t...aluminum-top-box-47-liters-14-x17-x12-nc.html

    https://www.happy-trail.com/happy-t...tems/top-boxes/aluminum-top-box-58-liter.html

    Leaning more toward the 47liter. I think with the lost space caused by the bevel cuts on the larger, it will be a wash on space between the two. I really like Jesse bags. I just don't know if I can justify the cost for some friggin metal boxes. So I will prolly go with happy trails all around. So if I do one day have to replace a box, I'm replacing a $150 box and not a $600 box. just my thoughts. I really want the look and lid storage of the Jesse. I just don't think it's worth more than twice the cost to get it. For me anyways.
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  19. NorthIdaho800gsa

    NorthIdaho800gsa Bad influence

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    I'm not disagreeing with you one bit. I think a lot of it is driven by trends and nobody wants to be left behind or seem uncool. I also think there is a legitimate need. I think on a dual sport or dirt bike, some thing like the reckless 80 or the like is the way to go. However, to many folks think their adv bike is some thing it's not. They confuse reality with vision. what they think they do vs what they actually do. I've ridden my gsa in some truly fucked up places, but that is the very rare exception and not the rule. I ride off pavement a lot. prolly an honest 60/40 on/off. However that is mostly fire road. which is still a road and far from technical. I've done bdr and never wished I had a smaller bike. I like to be comfortable the 90% of the time vs the 10% of the time I could use a different tool for the job. I have a lot of friends that were lured into dual sport bikes and they hate them and now won't do rides with me. because they suck for comfort on the road.....which is where they are used the majority of the time. rant over...lol
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  20. GalacticGS

    GalacticGS Motorcyclist Supporter

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    My Rocky Mtn softbags are so easy to take off and put on that I'll just put them in my hotel room if I deem it necessary, but often leave them on the bike overnight. Never had a theft problem.

    Closest issue I had was with my soft case tool bag on my BMW GS. One night some a$$hole decided to cut the straps. Didn't take any bags, didn't take anything out of the bags, didn't take any tools or my micro-charger or anything else out of the tool bag - just cut the straps. I didn't even notice until pulling away the next morning and my tool bag falls off behind me.
    #20