I like to have the ability to carry things regardless of if I actually do carry anything, hence driving an SUV. My motorcycle was a step towards a minimalist lifestyle, and yet i'm finding this is not the case. I'm buying more items than I had ever anticipated needing, e.g., several jackets, several sets of gloves, several pairs of boots, and so on. Just riding around town necessitates attaching a magnetic Sedici Garda Tank Bag or a Biltwell EXFIL-7 bag to bring along all of the items that I don't really need but feel naked without. I had considered saddle bags but don't really like the look. Still debating on a swing arm bag but it would have to look and function just right. What right is I still haven't figured out but I'll know it when I see it.
So tooling around town is covered but I didn't just buy a motorcycle to tool around town. I want to see America! Sure, the internet has nice pictures and videos of the good 'ol U.S. of A. but I also want to touch it.
Viking Bags has a lot of different luggage solutions for just about any cruiser or street bike. If you're looking for adventure bike luggage, some of their products could work in a pinch but that is not their intended purpose. I have a Harley Sportster 48 with a Burly Brands 13" Sissy bar which I have used for strapping on all sorts of small items. I never intended for it to support a large heavy piece of luggage but, like me, it will adapt and overcome.
The seat of a motorcycle is probably one of the best ways of getting closer to this great country and I feel I'm finally due to experience it. This means lots of carrying capacity. I don't want to be somewhere and feel like I forgot something.
So here is the video of me exploring the bag indoors.
The Extra Large Plain Sissy Bar bag holds an enormous 4,553 cubic inches. I should have no problem carrying all of my junk. It consists of two separate bags, a main bag with 3,459.5 cubic inch capacity and a top roll with 1,093.5 cubic inch capacity. The main bag can be used without the top roll but the top roll can not be use without the main bag. All required straps come with your purchase and include backpack straps and shoulder straps. This is a rather cool feature because one might want to walk around town with a small roll bag once you reach your destination or you just want to carry everything on your back to your hotel room without unpacking in the parking lot. Last to be included, and most important in my book, is a rain cover that looks like it's up to the task of keeping all of your gear dry and mud free.
The main bag has six pockets on the outside with six additional inside pockets.
Let's talk about the outside of the bag first.
The front of the bag has three pockets with a large pocket towards the top and two side by side below it. Since this is the plain sissy bar bag, you won't find much for decoration. Fine by me. If you've seen my bike, then you can see that I'm not one for much chrome. With that being said, the buckles are chrome. Since they are catering to mainly cruisers and since most cruiser owners like chrome on their bikes, it stands to reason that even the plain bags are going to have some chrome. The good thing is that it is tasteful and limited to the buckles and zippers. Underneath each buckle you will find a quick release. This speeds access to your pockets considerably and keeps the synthetic leather from getting worn around the buckle. There is no locking mechanism for the pockets which at first bummed me out. I was ready to start complaining, to no one in particular, before I realized that a lock is pretty pointless on one of these sissy bar bags. This goes to show how the expectations of a beginner rider don't always reconcile with the reality of riding. Locks on a bag made of leather and cordura, which is attached to a sissy bar with quick disconnect straps, seems rather silly but we'll get to more on that subject when we get inside the bag. Each of the front pockets have elastic on each side for expand-ability. The top front pocket also has slot style pockets inside to carry pens, credit cards, maybe a passport. My first thought is why? Wouldn't I keep those items close at hand like in my jacket? Well, on second thought, I won't ever be away from my motorcycle while traveling and the pocket is really acting like the glove box of my SUV so it makes sense now. Plus, you may want to use those pockets for entirely different purposes anyways.
The side of the bags have identical accordion style pockets to allow for larger items. There is also a mesh pocket that could hold large water bottles. There are straps to ensure your water stays put. The accordion style pockets have a zipper within a zipper. The outer zipper expands the bag and does not need to be closed to still be secure. The inner zipper allows access to the interior of the pocket. Interestingly, this zipper is a locking zipper, in that it contains little loops onto which one could attach a padlock. Pretty cool but...why? A sharp knife will get into the pocket or they could just take off with the whole bag. I guess if someone is out for a quick and easy target, sight of a padlock may serve as enough of a deterrent.
The top of the bag has a nice little pocket that takes up space on the interior of the bag. So if you pack the main bag completely, you will barely fit a set of keys in the top pocket. Load up the interior sparingly and you could probably fit two 12oz beer cans in the top pocket. Not saying you should but you definitely could.
Now let's go to the interior of the bag.
It has wrap around locking zippers (again with those locks. Pretty sure I could bypass those zippers pretty quick if I was so inclined.) to allow entry into the interior of the bag from both sides. There is a fairly hard plastic liner that is on the side doors and around the interior of the bag. This plastic is what gives shape to the bag and allows it to be sturdy enough to hold up a full roll bag on top when the main bag is empty. There are three mesh pockets on the interior of each door. The top and bottom one have an elastic opening and the middle one uses a zipper. These are useful to see what you have stashed before having to dig in each pocket. A stiff shelf is attached to the interior by way of Velcro straps. This allows for elevation adjustments depending on your load out.
Speaking about just the main bag, I like it. It meets my expectations for carrying luggage and has plenty of places to separate and store items.
And now for the roll bag.This roll bag is just a tube that attaches to the top of the main bag via four quick disconnects. One of the straps that comes with this luggage can be attached to the roll bag to make it serve as a shoulder bag once you get to your destination. There is only access to the interior of the roll bag from one side. The sides do not hold their shape as well as the main bag but it's really not intended to support any weight. It's really more of a stuff sack type of container which suits me just fine. There is a little sheath style pocket on the inside that could easily hold a compact umbrella or the backpack straps when they are not in use. Not much to this bag. It hold things and that is all it's required to do. Sometime simplicity is the best way.
A couple of thoughts on future enhancements. Again, these are coming from a beginner rider without any long riding trips under his belt.
- How about some way to protect the interior from entry like steel mesh? Pacsafe does something like this and I think it would probably make the sissy bags locking zipper make more sense. This will probably increase weight and raise the center of gravity which in turn would compromise safety. So maybe not a good idea.
- Subdued molle on the outside so individuals can attach their own pockets or even extra gas bottles. I know the average cruiser owner probably doesn't want this but I know there has to be some riders that would love to customize their own bag.
- Speaking of customizing, some fuzzy Velcro material on the outside and inside. Being able to swap out patches on the outside could be nice and some people might want to attach holsters or other gear to the inside.
- As I was looking at the bag just sitting on my floor it occurred to me that is was pretty close to airline carry-on bag size. Maybe some roller wheels and a larger handle on top. Could prove useful for even the older riders that don't want to lug it into their hotel room on their back after a long hard ride.
Please comment any suggestions or concerns and i will be sure to respond. Stay tuned for Part 2 of this review where I'll actually be taking the bag out for a ride vacation style.