Buyer's Guide - Accessories

The first sissybar I ever owned was bolted onto the back of my 1968 Schwinn Stingray bicycle. The thing looked like a glorified coat hanger, but I found I could securely strap textbooks to it for a worry-free ride to class, and that was good enough for me. Fast forward to present-day cruiserdom (not a huge leap when you think about it), and those inverted U-shaped metal brackets are still sprouting off the back of many a heavyweight bike. Their importance as comfort-enhancing accessories is unparalleled, and their role as a mounting point for cargo has only expanded as people realize what an asset a sissybar bag can be. Available in a variety of shapes and sizes, colors and configurations, look for these key features when you're considering a sissybar bag for your bike:

*Mounting systems: Think about attachment points-is your sissybar tall enough for the bag? Too wide? Will the bag sit on the passenger seat or does it require a dedicated luggage rack? Also consider a universal mounting system for versatility.

*Rigid vs. soft: At least some type of structure is a good thing to have in a bag; it makes for easier packing and unpacking. Rigid bags are also more supportive backrests when you flip them around to rest on the passenger seat.

*Weatherproofing and durability: Many bags come with their own rain covers, but material construction can make a big difference in surviving the elements. Leather has visual appeal, but heavy-grade nylon is probably a better choice for all-weather durability.

*Capacity: Bigger is not always better, especially when mounting something tall and heavy on the back of your bike. Cargo can severely affect a motorcycle's center of gravity, resulting in poor handling or, worse, loss of control. Keep the heaviest part of the load low and as close as possible to the bike.

*Convenience: A host of welcome features are apparent in the latest luggage designs on the market. Two of our favorites are backpack straps (make sure they're padded) and roller wheels (the lower the profile, the better).