Last week we looked at soft motorcycle luggage, so now it’s time to see the other side of that coin with these SW-Motech hard panniers. Finished in matte black, they certainly look the business. There’s something about solid squares jutting out from the back of an adventure bike that give it a gravitas that soft luggage just can’t match. With soft bags, you look like you’re popping out for some Chinese food and back. With hard panniers, you look like you’re popping out to China and back.

These 45L beasts are made of lightweight aluminum and feel just as weightless as the Wolfman textile bags we tested last week. A common refrain you hear is that hard luggage is so much heavier than fabric panniers. Well, SW-Motech seems to have silenced that argument with their TRAX ADVENTURE series. And if they are equal in weight to their fabric cousins, they certainly come up tops in protection. Not only does the aluminum shell protects your belongings, but the lids are fully lockable to keep sticky fingers at bay. Additionally, you can lock these cases to your bike to prevent someone from just lifting off the whole pannier. Lastly, SW-Motech also provided us with a third lock that secures your racks to your bike. Necessary? I doubt it as you would either need to be familiar with the racks or have a decent stretch of time alone with them to learn how they are attached. So not necessary, but every little bit helps piece of mind, eh?

So are they better than soft panniers? We’ll do a full compare and contrast after The Bet is finally concluded this weekend. So far, these SW-Motech units will be hard to beat…