Saddlebags are most commonly used to carry luggage on a motorcycle. There are 2 major kinds of motorcycle saddlebags. Throw over saddlebags and hard mount saddlebags. The concept of hard mount saddlebags originated from throw over saddlebags which were used in early 1950 for the first time.
A group of riders drilled several holes in the back fender of their motorcycles in order to permanently bolt the saddlebags to the motorcycle. This permanent installation resulted in the saddlebags being more reliable and sturdy. This step also contributed towards the aesthetic appeal of the motorcycle. The trend soon gained popularity amongst the riders.
Motorcycle companies like Indian Motorcycle Company and Harley Davidson Motorcycle Company noticed this trend and soon started producing motorcycles with struts. The struts enabled motorcycle riders to bolt the motorcycle saddlebags without making any permanent changes to the motorcycle such as drilling holes in the back fender. Later the same strut enables other accessories to be securely mounted on a motorcycle such as motorcycle carrier and sissy bars.
As the Asian motorcycle manufacturers such as Kawasaki, Honda and Yamaha made their way into North American market they also made sure that the riders get enough room for the luggage. Yamaha motorcycles are a classic example of this as they manufacture most of their bikes with most room for the saddlebags. They also make sure that the turn signal does not interfere with the saddlebags, a common problem with smaller motorcycles.
In 1980 the motorcycle companies realized that most 1000 cc and above motorcycles are used for long rides. To further add value to their motorcycles they started selling motorcycles with fiber glass saddlebags. These motorcycles did well as most of these came with the motorcycle specific luggage. This also saved the motorcycle rider a lot of time and headache.
Despite the popularity of factory installed saddlebags motorcycle riders still prefer leather saddlebags in most cases. This is due to the fact that motorcycles leather saddlebags can be customized to a greater degree as opposed to motorcycle specific fiber glass bags.
Most early motorcycle saddlebag companies used studs, spots and conchs to decorate the saddlebags. Recently the more advanced motorcycle saddlebag companies have started manufacturing and offering saddlebags that are not only motorcycle specific but also match the color of the motorcycle. Another approach is to design the leather motorcycle saddle bags in such a way that it blends in with the overall design of the motorcycle. These advancements have resulted in more and more people willing to install saddlebags on their motorcycles.