BMW motorcycle saddlebags

BMW motorcycle saddlebags /2, /5, /6, /7

BMW motorcycle saddlebags

by Duane Ausherman

This is a collection of photos and information from BMW riders and collectors.  I have included duplicate photos of a similar perspective in case one shows some aspect that another does not.

This collection covers the hard bags that BMW started selling in about 1972-73 made by Krauser.  The former leather bags, see them below, were eventually discontinued.

BMW bags from about 1981 to 1985?

This first one is a lateral view of the BMW pannier, which was an optional BMW extra.  I’m unsure which date they started, but I’m reasonably certain they were changed for the monolevers in 1985.

The frame was mounted at 3 points.  The front mount was on the triangular gusseting from the subframe.  Note, it has been noticed that the red label may be mounted in a different spot usual.  As a dealer, we often found things of this nature to be different.  Sometimes a stick-on label was in the toolbox, un-mounted.  Other times it could be stuck on in an “odd” place.

You are looking down at the front of the taillight housing.  You can see where the two frames are connected at the rear.

The triangular welded in gusset with the surface rust braces another weak point.  This is the top rear corner of the frame.  The bags can bounce a little during normal use, and the tubing may crack.  Overloading may be the biggest culprit.

The original weld broke, and a gusset was added to strengthen the repair.  This was a weak spot and prone to cracking.  The other place prone to cracking was the opposite corner of the rectangle, near where the crossover to the opposite frame leaves the rectangle shape.  The crossover was the upper rear mount.  The upper front mount was shared with the upper mount of the rear shock.

This shows a view from above the front of the bag.  The grove fits on to the front vertical part of the rectangle shape.  The bag is then attached and locked onto the frame at the rear.  The lock is at the rear.

The keys have a 3 digit code eg, 055.  If a key is lost and the code is forgotten, the code is embossed into the side of the lock.  The lock does need to be opened to find the code.  There are 6 locks, each bag having 3.  Each bag has one lock to attach the bag to the frame and two to lock the lid.  All 6 lock codes are the same when they leave the factory, but over time they deteriorate, and getting the same lock/code is sometimes difficult.  Some numbers are out of production.  When buying a second-hand bike, it might be worth checking the keys and codes.

The lock in the open position

Location of the key code

The finished look

Bag liners were available for the BMW saddle bags.


These bag liners were sold by BMW in about 1981-83 and are of high quality.  The idea was to stuff them full of your clothes and then carry them into the motel room.  I sold these in 2004 on eBay, and they were still in original boxes.

Here is one reason for some of the confusion

These photos were scanned from a 1981 sales brochure.  While the only bags in 81 were with the lettering “BMW” and not the roundel logo, the literature suggests otherwise.  It was very common for BMW to use old photos in sales brochures.  This is just one example.  They also would photograph a pre-production model with items that didn’t exist.  Then they would sell that bike with the odd items.  This makes it very hard to know what was original.

This is the accessory catalog from 1981.

The R80G/S showing a white bag with the BMW logo.  I was the salesperson for California BMW, and we never saw this bag color or the emblem.  They had the words BMW on them.

Again, a bag with the BMW roundel logo.

This shows the actual bags that were for sale.  BMW took the disadvantage that they didn’t have color-matched accessories and stupidly tried to make it into a sales advantage by showing that you may paint your bags?

BMW motorcycle leather saddle bags, by Denfeld

BMW (Butler and Smith) leather bags

BMW bag photos supplied by Jim Nassetta

Typical Delfeld leather saddle bags offered by BMW for many years.

The back side of BMW leather bags.  The inside of the Denfeld leather bags.

These bags were supplied by Butler and Smith for both the /2 and /5 series.  Only the mounts were different.  The leather was high quality, very thick and stiff.  The mounts were well known to break, but that was because they were overloaded.  They were not highly waterproof, and users would wrap the contents in plastic bags.  They were probably the least expensive bags one could buy for a BMW.  The 1971 parts book shows two sizes of leather bags and no Krauser bags.

These bags came in slightly different shapes and got distorted by use.  I think that over time, different contractors made them for motorcycles, and they were imported by Butler and Smith.

A well used left leather bag.  A rear view of the bag  This view shows the back side with the mount in place.  A good side view of a well worn BMW leather bag.

/2 photos provided by Bob Fee, thanks

Right rear view of the mounting system. Rear view of the mounting system.  Underneath view of the mounting system.  Front left view of the mounting system.  View of the back side of a bag.  View of the back side of a bag on the mounts.  View of the back side of a bag on the mounting system.  This view shows the detail of how the bag sits on the mount.

Leather bags on a very tasty /2 conversion

By Craig McClure

A slash 2 conversion with a R90S engine, leather bags, Heinrich large tank and snowflake wheels  The left mount in place.  The left mount shown directly and the bag sitting on the bike.  The left bag shown mounted up.

Hi Duane, as promised, here are the pix. I got the bag mounts from Bobs BMW.  He had 1 more mount-set than bag-set, or would not have sold it without the bags.  I conjured these bags up for much less $$$, they are leatherette, & have Austrian crest markings.  I prefer to ride without bags, but they are so convenient & go on easily when you need to carry things.  You are doing a heroic service for the community of vintage BMW fans.  I, for one, certainly appreciate it.  Thanks & very best wishes to you, Craig

Updated 13 Nov. 2019