In 1985, Al Jesse was riding his bike across the Sahara following the Paris – Dakar route. Along the way, he realized there was a big gap in the market: there was practically no motorcycle luggage available for adventure riders.
“I came up with the idea to make aluminum travel boxes for bikes. Being on the road myself, I wanted to create something that would work under any conditions, and that would last. A traveler’s bike is his home, and I knew people needed something reliable. I designed my first set of boxes out of cardboard in a friend’s garage in New Zealand. When I got back to the States, I made the first aluminum set in Monterey, CA”.
And that’s how Jesse Luggage, a company that now sells motorcycle luggage worldwide, was born.
“In the very beginning, our biggest challenge was keeping up with production! It took almost three years before we had even one set in stock”, - remembers Al.
According to him, the key to success of Jesse Luggage was all about hard work and long hours. “And the quality and durability of the product, of course. Our boxes got so popular that people even held “Jesse Luggage” pannier installation parties: for the first few years, we didn’t have instruction manuals on how to install the racks and the panniers, so people would get together and help each other out. To date, the highest mileage for a set of Jesse Luggage panniers is 465,000 miles and counting”.
So what should you look for if you’re shopping for hard luggage? According to Al Jesse, this is what you should pay attention to:
- Make sure the boxes are made of aluminum – anything less will not last long
- Narrow, well-welded boxes will fit your bike better
- Look for multi-angled boxes. Having multiple angles on your panniers means they’re more durable and will have better crash protection.
- Simple design. You want to be able to fix your panniers anywhere in the world!
From Jesse Luggage to Moto Manufacturing
After successfully selling Jesse Luggage to an enthusiastic successor, Al Jesse could have retired and gone for a another round the world journey on his motorcycle. Instead, he founded a new company, Moto Manufacturing.
When asked why, Al says he just couldn’t help himself. “For the first time in decades, I finally had the time to just go and ride my bike. But when I ride, I always think about solutions to all kinds of problems that stock motorcycles have. So many things on stock bikes just don’t make sense, and I love thinking about different ways to fix the problem”, - explains Al.