Motorcycle Tail Bags: What Size, And Which One Is Best? [Oxford T50 Review]

Confused about motorcycle tail bags? Don’t be. In this guide, I cover how I picked mine (the Oxford T50) and what I think of it after 2,500 miles.

If you’re like me and commute on your motorcycle, go touring, or just want the ability to carry more than you could in an average backpack, a motorcycle tail bag is exactly what you need.

I purchased my motorcycle tail bag just before a 1,500 mile trip around Scotland. BUT. I also wanted to use it daily, as well as for commutes to my parents. So, I was extremely picky when it came to what size bag I was going to use.

For me, it wasn’t exactly a simple case of jumping on Amazon, sticking in a budget, and choosing the one with the most reviews. What I’ve found, is that stuff is generally the cheapest, but not durable, so certainly not the best.

And, alongside deciding which bag I wanted, I was also thinking:

  • Is this a drybag, or just a normal tail pack?
  • What size tail bag do I actually need?

Do You Need A Drybag, Or Standard Motorcycle Tail Bag?

One thing was for sure, I wanted a drybag. My parents live in Wales, UK, and that’s a regular ride for me. It’s 150 mile trip, and there’s a 99.99% chance it’s going to rain during my ride there. The last thing I want is my kit inside my tail bag getting wet.

From my research, I found there was little difference in price between a waterproof bag, and a non-waterproof equivalent.

For me, it’s a necessity to keep everything dry, so a drybag was essential. But, even if it’s not essential for you, I’d suggest heading for one anyway. It’s just an extra feature that, when you need it, you’re going to be grateful of.

Motorcycle Roll-Bag Or Drybag?

You’ll find that almost all motorcycle drybags, are roll-bags.

So, you close the top, fold it over a few times to create a seal, then strap the heck outta’ it. Roll bags create an extra line of defense for those that want full waterproofing.

The Best Motorcycle Roll-Bag

When I say best, I mean, the one I chose. I’ve not had a roll-bag before. After spending hours researching, procrastinating contemplating, and comparing everything from price, size and reviews…

Here’s what I went for:

And from another angle, and a truer representation of what it will look like on your motorcycle:

The Oxford Aqua T50 Motorcycle Tail Bag

So, the Oxford Aqua T50 drybag was the one I went for. It’s reasonably priced, a decent brand, and it’s got some excellent reviews on a range of online motorcycle stores.

Here’s my experience with it so far (2,500+ miles)…

Size/Capacity

Luckily for me, 3 other people I ride with have roll bags. One has a 30L, another a 50L, and another 80L.

I stuffed some kit inside, to try and gauge which one was going to work for me. 50L felt like the perfect balance between being able to carry enough kit, but not having a ridiculous amount of weight on the back of my bike.

For reference, I packed up enough for a 5 day trip, and had more than enough in terms of tools, clothing etc:

  • Underwear & socks x6
  • T-Shirts x 6
  • Trousers x 2
  • Shorts x 1
  • Shoes x 1
  • Trainers x 1
  • Laptop, charger, GPS charger
  • The usual toiletries + suncream etc
  • Wet weather gear (spare clothes, over-trousers and jacket)
  • Security (Grip-Lock, disc lock and heavy-duty chain + lock)
  • Tools (tightly packed and around 8kg)
  • The list goes on…

Basically, if you pack right, you can get everything you need in the Aqua T50, easily. I had lots of space to spare.

More importantly. When I use this on an overnight or weekend trip, it rolls and packs up nicely. Basically, it’s a big bag when full, but isn’t flapping around when it’s half empty, you simply roll it up and secure it to make it as compact as possible.

So, is this the right size motorcycle rollbag for you?

My opinion is this is the perfect size. But if you can’t pack light, or take a load of additional kit on most trips (lots of photography gear, large tents etc), then you might need to upgrade to something larger.

I know my tent fits in this roll bag, as I measured it prior, and have been on several camping trips. Even if it didn’t I’d just strap it to the top, but you won’t want to be doing that with anything that’s not waterproof.

Stability

I can’t compare this bag to others, as it’s the only one I’ve owned and rode with. What I will say is this…

You won’t notice it’s there.

BUT. If you don’t evenly distribute weight (as with any motorcycle tail bag, I’d imagine), you’re going to notice it in corners.

Pack the heaviest gear in the middle (i.e. I put all my bike security central). Then pack it out either side as evenly as possible, leaving the lightest kit to last (at the furthest point on either side of the bag).

You want as much weight as possible on the seat. On my big trip, I’d guess I had 35kg (77lbs) of kit when I include security chains, and I couldn’t notice it.

Waterproofing

Oxford list the T50 as being waterproof, and I can confirm that. I’ve racked up around 2,500 miles with it, on various trips (again, being the UK, most of the time it’s raining), and I’ve not seen a single drop of water on any of my kit.

And, it will stand up to absolute torrential downpours. Here’s a picture of my bike when I arrived at my parents and the weather had brightened up.

At one point in my 3-hour or-so journey, it rained so hard I had to pull over; I couldn’t see a darn’ thing.

My kit? Still dry when I arrived.

So yeah, it’s waterproof.

Securing The Tail Bag

The Oxford T5 comes with four straps that are secured via D-rings. Now, I like D-rings on a helmet, but I have to say, all that fiddling around can be annoying.

And, there is a strap to secure the bag around the seat (you have to remove the seat to do this). I can’t be bothered with that level of messing around.

So, I use 2 of the D-ring straps, and then I use a couple of tie straps. That works, the bag is completely solid, and I’ve not had an issue with it coming loose to date.

By the way. I noticed a few customer reviews mentioning the straps are far too long. So, if those straps were to come loose, they might get caught in the rear wheel…

The simple fix? Secure the straps so the D-rings are on the top of the seat, not under it. Even without tying it off (which you should do, as an extra precaution), there’s no way those straps are finding their way into the rear wheel.

Accessibility

One thing I don’t like (although this isn’t a dig at the Oxford T50, just roll bags in general), is you can’t access the bag without undoing it.

On my bike, it’s quite hard to secure the bag, without completely blocking access to it. And that means, you’re going to undo 1-2 straps to get inside.

It can’t be that hard to add one zipped pocket, surely?

Oxford T50 Review Verdict

Like most motorcycle tail bags, the Oxford T50 isn’t perfect. But, it does what it says on the tin.

It gives me what I need; enough space to pack gear for 5-7 days, including security for each overnight stay. And, it keeps all my kit waterproof.

For the money, I think it’s a banging deal. So, if it ever needs replacing, I’d happily buy it again.

Oxford Aqua T-50 Roll Bag - One Size
  • Roll Top opening for maximum protection from the elements

Last update on 2018-11-18

What’s Next?

Thanks for reading our guide to motorcycle tail bags, and my review recommendation, the Oxford T50.

Got questions about motorcycle luggage? Using bags on your bike and got an opinion on them?

Drop a comment below, we’d love to hear what you think.

Written by
Grant Draper

Grant's a motorcycle geek, outdoor enthusiast & confirmed racing nut. He road tests all the gear he buys, and then gives his feedback here on NoobNorm.

He also details any quick fixes he stumbles upon, whether that's to stop brakes on motorcycles sticking, or unusual noises coming from gaming wheels.

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Written by Grant Draper