Motorcycle Saddlebag History: The Dispatch Rider

Dispatch Rider

Dispatch Rider

Motorcycle Saddlebag History – Where Solo Bags Come From

A despatch rider is a military messenger, mounted on horse or motorcycle. Despatch riders were used by armed forces to deliver urgent orders and messages between headquarters and military units. They had a vital role at a time when telecommunications were limited and unsecure.

Riders rode into close encounters with enemy fire and the aftermath of battle. Riders experienced extreme boredom, shattered nerves, cold, wet, loneliness, and hunger.

Modern touring motorcycles often have panniers or saddlebags fitted as standard or available as options. They come in pairs and solo bags.


Historically, the origins were in military use for dispatch riders, where soft, often canvas-type woven material bags were fitted to the motorcycle by rudimentary frames enabling the rider to carry documents securely.

Solo Bags like the ones from Garage Leathers are designed to follow the lines of the motorcycle and offers excellent water resistance.

Panniers mount on either side of the rear of the motorcycle roughly underneath (but not interfering with) the seating position of the pillion passenger. Current bag technology of “Hard” panniers commonly come in an injection molded plastic such as ABS, and “soft” panniers come in some form of textile or leather.

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