That’s why I’ve been looking at luggage specifically designed for use on a motorcycle.
The first thing I discovered is motorcycle luggage can be very expensive indeed! The second thing was there’s so much choice out there it’s hard to decide, and no one offers week-long test drives to help you choose where best to spend your hard-earned cash. So when Viking Bags offered up a Viking Phat Sissy Bar Bag in return for a review I jumped at the chance.
When I opened the box my first reaction was that the bag seems bigger than the catalogue photos would lead you to believe. It seems to be very well constructed and comes with a rain cover and several straps, including a shoulder strap, a set of backpack straps, and 4 tie-down straps for attachment to the bike. (After experiencing lost straps and broken clips on other equipment a couple of spare tie-down straps would be a nice addition to the package.)
But first things first. How much will it carry?
I put together what I would normally pack for a week on the road (or longer, assuming a laundromat visit at least once a week). I don’t do camping any more and rely on roadside hotels/motels for a hot shower and a good night’s sleep so I obviously didn’t include all the equipment that is necessary to be completely self-sufficient.
Here’s what I packed into the bag.
As you can see there is still space for some rain gear and all the Harley-Davidson tee-shirts you’ll be buying at every stop en route. The side pouches would easily hold your toiletries, a few incidentals, a small camera, a couple of cigars, and even a mickey or two of your favourite tipple. Or you could stuff them full of socks and underwear, leaving more main storage room for larger items. (Major caveat: if you are travelling with your significant other all bets are off. Her stuff will more than fill the bag, you will be wearing the same clothes you left home in for a week, and you'll be spending several hours at the laundromat wrapped in nothing but a towel as you wait for your jeans and tee-shirt to get clean. Best get her her own bike and luggage.)
Attaching the bag to the bike was straightforward using the straps provided with their quick-connect snap fasteners. I tried it on both my solo seat configuration as well as with the back rest/luggage rack combo. The back rest/luggage rack offered the most support for the bag but both options worked well and getting the bag on and off the bike took only a minute or two. If more capacity is required all the extra D-rings (there are 17 on the bag) would make it an easy matter to attach another small bag, or sleeping bag, on top. This is another place where extra straps would come in handy, but bungee cords would also serve.
Getting at the contents with the bag on the bike is generally good. Once it’s tied down access to the main compartment is through the front flap only so you should pack anything you might want to get at up front and centre. The side pockets are always accessible.So what’s the bottom line? I like this bag. At 3045 cubic inches it has more than enough capacity for any solo trip. Its flexibility in terms of being able to use it in various configurations is also a plus. Only a long-term test will determine how well it stands up to days on the road, sand storms, and rain showers but I wouldn’t anticipate any issues with this bag and would feel confident taking it on a long trip.
Finally, the price is right. At $149.00 it’s one of the better values out there in my opinion. (An even better value at the current sale price.) And if Viking Bags were to include a couple of extra tie-down straps it would be a slam-dunk.