What I can remember after decades of working with BMW motorcycles
Craven saddlebags (panniers)
BMW motorcycle Craven saddlebags, Panniers, Luggage Golden Arrow, Safari, Dolomite, Comet, Silver Arrow
Craven Panniers (saddlebags) for BMW motorcycles
by Duane Ausherman
Original Craven Sales Brochure for saddle bags/luggage
This old sales brochure was scanned and donated by Roger Newark, thanks.
My first BMW was a R67/3 and I added Craven Bags to it. The hardware was made for the plunger frame models too.
A /5, or later engine in a /2 frame with a huge Heinrich tank and double disc brakes. At the rear is a set of Craven Golden Arrow panniers and top box. According to a Craven brochure, the aluminum bands should be vertical, not horizontal. Thanks, Chris Walstow for the ID.
An R75/5 with Craven Safari bags, rare in the USA and sort of short Dolomite bags. The lid has only three sides and is latched by three clasps, one of them locking.
An R75/5 with the slightly less expensive Craven Comet bags. They are top loading bags. Some hinge forward and some lift off. They came in black or white.
These may be Safari bags.
Silver Arrows. These are the Grand Dame of the Craven line and they are really wonderful vintage bags. Beautifully made (for the period) they were the absolute best thing you could put on your bike. Typically seen on Vincents, Borough’s, etc. They didn’t lock but had two knurled knobs that screwed into a threaded receiver inside the case. You do see some Silver Arrows fitted with fold over latches that you can put a small padlock on.
They have flat sides that are glued together. These are the 1950 Style Silver Arrows and were provided for about 8 years, or so.
This broken latch is the type used on the early bags. Just reach in behind the bags and twist two of these and lift the bags off.
Photos of Golden Arrow luggage by Bob Fee, thanks
Craven ads from 1973 Road Rider magazine
Craven “War stories” and interesting tidbits
I looked at the Craven pictures on your site because their factory is only 200 yards from my mother’s house, & I have called in there many times over the years for a coffee & a chat.
Ref the Heinrich tanked /2 – I would say those are Golden Arrow panniers EXCEPT, & I am looking at one of their brochures as I write this – the metal bands in the set pictured in the brochure go the “wrong way” – in the brochure they go vertically.
I agree re the Dolomite panniers & the Comets – I had a set of those on my 1974 Commando.
The unidentified set I would say is the 1950 style “Silver Arrow” suitcase style.
All the above were still made in the 1990’s, at which time the owner, the late Graham Lockwood kept the motorcycle side going out of sentimentality. The company actually earned their bread & butter making water header tanks for internal building plumbing systems & also fire proof internal building doors.
As a sideline, they made internal “liners” to fit inside Police dog carrying van’s – K9 Units I believe they are called in the US. These protected the inside of the van from the ravages of excited doggy feet, improving the residual values when they were sold off, & also dampened the sound of the dogs. Research showed that when the dogs get excited, & they do know when they are on their way to a “job”, their barking exceeded safe decibel levels, but the handlers didn’t notice it. In much the same way that people who live near an airport or a railway line grow oblivious to the noise, their minds blanked it out, but real damage was being caused the handlers long term hearing.
I always found Craven an old-fashioned, & that’s a compliment not a complaint, sort of company to deal with.
For years, right up until the K1100 Series, our Police machines were fitted with the Concorde top-opening panniers panniers, & very robust & practical they proved to be. The earlier sets were a bulkier pannier called County, as it was felt that we country officers – “out in the Counties” – had to carry more equipment as we had to be more self reliant until 4-wheeled back-up could arrive. I have not seen a a set of these panniers in 20 years say, & they are not in the brochure I have in front of me, although the rather similar “Safari” set were listed.
I hope the above has been of interest,
P.c. 520 Martyn HILLIER,
Hepco makes a very good replica of the ‘classic’ Krauser pannier.
Some comments on Craven panniers;
When I traveled from Australia to Europe, then from the US to Bolivia and then around Australia, I used 3 bikes (75/6, 80/7 and 90/6) and a single set of Craven panniers. Craven Comets top loading in white. Why, because they were cheaper than Krauser, fibreglass panniers are easier to mend in the ‘field’ than plastic, fibre glass is a better insulator and taken off the bike the panniers make good seats! Downside is that fibre glass smells for a bit!
The racks and fittings were very robust, much more so than the Krauser, even so the rack needed fixing in South America. Craven were a very English firm, the fittings came in a plastic bag and you were rather left to sort out what was what, goodness help you if they had sent the wrong bits, best way to fit would be to put it all together loosely, then as you tightened it up it all came together.
If you line the top and bottom of the pannier with camping mat foam, it really helps to keep everything from rattling around too much, use tupperware boxes for small parts, always keep your camera in the tank bag.
Craven, at the end, were making Krauser type panniers, but I don’t think that they were that popular.
I hope this helps, It is a pity that I don’t have access to various photos of craven panniers in action!