1978 Motor Sport with white Krauser bags Thanks to John Ruchalski for this beautiful photo.
The story of Krauser bags is mixed into the bags made by Krauser for BMW. This makes it very confusing, indeed. The Krauser hard bags came out in about 1971. They took over the market very quickly. The bags offered by BMW were the old leather bags. They never sold well in the USA, and Krauser basically put all of the competition ways back in second place.
Some of the photos show the variety of bags offered by Krauser. A big thanks to Robert Zamojski for his great contribution.
These 2 Krauser bag styles (40 liter Star and 25-liter Starlet) were offered from the mid-’70s up until the early ’90s. They are very versatile and can be adapted to most bikes. Both bag sizes use the same racks. Early on, these were cast aluminum, and you could choose between a T Set (Luggage Rack) or the S Set (T/S holders only – no Luggage Rack). Sometime in the mid to late ’80s, they started offering a K Set, made from Polyamide, a plastic. This set is like a combined S and T set, containing both T/S holders and the Luggage Rack. Along with your rack kit, you also needed an A Kit for your particular bike (or the Universal one). This contained all the mounting straps and hardware specific to your bike. The Universal kit contained long top and bottom front straps that you could cut and bend to fit. If you only acquire the racks, making your own mounts from strap steel is not that difficult. Of the 2 bikes pictured, I used the model specific. A kit on one and made the straps for the other.
Starlet and Star bags
T set S set Universal A set
Starlet and mounts
The BMW and Star bags
Early Krauser mounts
Photos by Ron Kanter, thanks
I have a 1971 R75/5 with a set of Krauser bags that I assume are a very early style. The clasps to close the bags are perpendicular to the edge of the opening rather than parallel (and they don’t stay closed too well.) The bags mount on brackets at three points – a clasp on each end of the bag wrap halfway around one-inch studs on the ends of the mounting frame and an inch tall sleeve on the back of the bag near the bottom slides over a small post in the center of the bottom rail of the bracket. Not a very reliable system, but with some cotter pins and third-party straps, they let me carry lots of stuff.
This shows the rack with the luggage rack on the back. This fits the SWB and won’t fit the LWB. It may be from 1971 but wasn’t produced for very long. It was not a secure system.
This shows the mounting without the rack, It is a later style with the “seat belt” bag fastener. It also was not a secure system.
The rear latch
The front latch
This shows the mounting stud welded on the lower part of the loop.
The sleeve on the back of a bag. It slips down and over the stud shown above.
I believe that this is the first mounting system used by Krauser. Let me know if I am wrong about that. The latches were cheap, rusted up easily, and could fail. That would allow the bag to fall off of the motorcycle. The rack on the back was very small and weak. It should be that way because the amount of “authorized” weight was small. They were commonly over loaded and broke.
Krauser saddle bag liners
The Krauser saddlebag liners were high-quality items. They were expensive and didn’t sell well. This is one of a set of NOS bag liners that I sold in 2004.
BMW and Krauser bag history
I don’t know how much use I can be here. I have never found any source that chronicles the development of Krauser panniers (hard bags) or the racks that go with them, and you can’t go by pictures because most of the bags will (or can be made to) fit any of the racks. I have a sort of story worked out in my mind, but most of it comes from hearsay and posts on forums. Some, I have been able to check using ETK and the BMW Behelfs Katalog, but that isn’t the easiest thing to understand so, I can’t give any guarantees that I’ve got it right. Anyway, here goes 🙂
No hard bag racks were provided by BMW for short wheelbase /5 machines when they came out in 1970. BMW produced soft bags and racks that fit these machines. These came in two sizes and any color you wanted (provided it was black). It would appear that these bags could be fitted to all models up to at least 1981. (Source BMW Behelfs Katalog 1981 edition)
In 1971, BMW started selling hard bags and the racks to fit them. The racks came in two forms. The earliest form was a one piece rack that incorporated a top box mounting. The top box rack meant that the ‘all round’ seat grab rail had to be removed from the seat before the rack could be fitted.
Later, racks came in a three part form. The two pannier racks were separate, and a top box rack could be bolted to brackets welded to the top rail of the racks. There would appear to be some variations to this type of rack.
Some had the brackets for the top box rack, and some did not. Some had the tongue for the ‘seat belt’ type latch welded in place, some had a welded-on bracket for the latch to bolt to, some had no provision for this latch and a long stainless steel ‘P’ clip could be purchased, which allowed the fitment of the tongue.
I have no definitive information about which came first or dates, but it is logical to assume that the three types were in the order I present them because the later type bags do not use the ‘set belt’ type latch and cannot be used with the rack that has the tongue bolted in place.
These racks were produced until the end of the twin shock series and fitted all models.
In 1985, a new variation of the rack was made. This was basically the same shape as the earlier racks, but the shape of the lower fixing arm changed to accommodate the shock absorber on the right-hand side of the bike and the lack of a shock absorber on the left.
The first hard bags sold under the BMW banner were the Classic Bags. All the information I have suggests that Krauser made them and marketed by BMW, but I can’t verify this. It is logical to assume that these came into use in 1971 to match the racks.
The ‘touring’ cases came into use later. I think that was about 1980 and I think they superseded the classic design. The ‘seat belt’ type latches were replaced by ‘claw’ type catches that hook around the rear rack down tube. This necessitated the removal of the older seat belt type latch tongue.
The situation with the Krauser Bags is even less clear. I had always assumed that Krauser just kept making bags for the BMW when the contract for the old classic bags was canceled. Certainly, the Krauser bags resemble the profile of the classics, although they are a bit wider and don’t have the recess for the roundel. In my opinion, they are not as well made as the classic bags and feel quite flimsy by comparison. They fit the same racks as the BMW sourced bags, and the latches are more or less identical, except that the locks are different. In fact, the latches you can see on the back of my ‘classics’ are the latches from the Krausers. I swapped them over since they are better locks.
The ‘odd’ set of latches in the pictures come from the later design of pannier, which was made for the K series. I believe that the same pannier was supplied to fit the last few years of ‘Boxer’ production, but I have no idea about dates. The nice thing about these locks is that they can be key coded to the bike’s key. I think these panniers have different racks associated with them.
Well, that’s about all I can think of in relation to panniers. I would think the best source for definitive information would be the brochures published by BMW. From them, you could probably work out which panniers were being offered at what date.
BTW – I found that my local BMW dealer was happy to order both the 150 and 324 keys for me, and they came in promptly. John Falconer
Are the keys still available?
Updated 12 Nov. 2019