Tank Bags: Your Input Needed!

December 31, 2014

Up next on the development agenda: tank bags.

Tank bags are tricky.  It’s a crowded category with a lot of similar offerings and a lot of opposing viewpoints on everything from how big/small they should be, to what kind of features they should incorporate, to whether they should even be used at all.  For the Mosko tank bag, we want to do something really cool and different.  Something that stands out.  We already have a few ideas going but we’re still waiting for that ah-ha moment to strike.

For illustrative purposes and for getting the dialog started, here are some tank bags offered by other soft luggage companies.  We’ve seen some of these in person but not all of them, and only briefly at rallies and gatherings.  Hopefully some of you might have some personal experiences to share.

Enduristan Sandstorm – this is a unique looking bag.  Looks like some good welding work, nice zippers.  A relatively new company?

Mosko-Moto-Motorcycle-Soft-Bags-Dualsport-Offroad-Luggage-Soft-Luggage-Pannier-Duffle-Saddlebag--KTM---BMW---KLR--Rackless---Reckless---12-31-14-(1)

Wolfman Expedition – I have one of these.  Great little bag.  Simple, tough, good price.

Mosko-Moto-Motorcycle-Soft-Bags-Dualsport-Offroad-Luggage-Soft-Luggage-Pannier-Duffle-Saddlebag--KTM---BMW---KLR--Rackless---Reckless---12-31-14-(2)

Giant Loop Fandango

Mosko-Moto-Motorcycle-Soft-Bags-Dualsport-Offroad-Luggage-Soft-Luggage-Pannier-Duffle-Saddlebag--KTM---BMW---KLR--Rackless---Reckless---12-31-14-(3)

Wolfman Timberwolf – This is Wolfmans top of the line offering, in terms of cost anyway.

Mosko-Moto-Motorcycle-Soft-Bags-Dualsport-Offroad-Luggage-Soft-Luggage-Pannier-Duffle-Saddlebag--KTM---BMW---KLR--Rackless---Reckless---12-31-14-(4)

Ortlieb – this looks kind of interesting.  Ortlieb does some cool welded-seam waterproof stuff.

Mosko-Moto-Motorcycle-Soft-Bags-Dualsport-Offroad-Luggage-Soft-Luggage-Pannier-Duffle-Saddlebag--KTM---BMW---KLR--Rackless---Reckless---12-31-14-(5)

Touratech – I have an old Touratech bag.  This looks like an update on their classic design with some extra bells and whistles.

Mosko-Moto-Motorcycle-Soft-Bags-Dualsport-Offroad-Luggage-Soft-Luggage-Pannier-Duffle-Saddlebag--KTM---BMW---KLR--Rackless---Reckless---12-31-14-(7)

For me personally, my tank bag is always a total mess.  Crap accumulates in there: batteries, lighters, tangled cables, sun lotion, toll change, wallet, cell phone, receipts, garbage, passport/paperwork, lens cloth, spot locator, maps, tire gauge, headlamp, leatherman, etc.  I hate digging through all that stuff, but at the same time it’s a totally necessary storage spot, and I’m not sure if the things I put in there are consistent enough to have “custom made” storage spots.  I interact with my tank bag more throughout the day/night than any other bag on the bike.  It’s always in reach no matter where I am: restaurant, fire, tent, hotel, wherever.  For me it’s a really important piece of kit.

Here’s my wish list on tank bags:

–  Truly 100% waterproof.  No rain cover.

– Electronics integration: charging cable pass-through.

– A waterproof but visible way to view a cell phone, with a way to run a headphone cable and charging cable, but that won’t make an iphone overheat on a hot day like most of the clear map pockets do.

– Map pocket for paper maps.  I would love to not need this, but it does come in handy sometimes.

– Quick & easy on/off the bike.

– Easy to switch between bikes.

– Easy gas-fill access.

– Compartmentalized internal/external storage.  I don’t really know how I want that structured though, because it’s always a different mix of stuff.  Ideas:

– cable storage

– loose change/money storage

– map storage

– small round item storage: chap stick, lighers, pens, batteries

– document storage

– sunglass/goggle storage (i.e. felt pocket)

– goggle/glass wipe/shammy on hand

– easy access phone/wallet compartment

– Comfortable off-bike carry option (i.e. backpack straps).  It would be cool if it turned into a real backpack that actually looks and functions like a backpack instead of looking/feeling like a tank bag that’s hanging off my back.  Like something I would actually use to go hiking, run errands, or trek around a city on foot if I’m on a long cross-border trip.

– Easily removable integrated tank pannier option

– Doesn’t get in the way when I’m up on the pegs

– Won’t dump my phone and other stuff on the side of the road if the bottom of the map pocket doesn’t close right.

– Tool storage (maybe, I don’t store tools in there now, but I would consider it)

– Hydration/water storage (same with this, I don’t store water there now, but would consider it)

– Expands/contracts

– Would be cool if there was an option to use the same bag as a tail bag as well for day rides.

Not sure if there’s anything out there that currently does all of the above.   Certainly there are some bags that do some of it.  That’s part of what make this such a tough category to enter.  I keep thinking of my Dakine Nomad pack for mountain biking and my Dakine Heli Pro pack for backcountry skiing:

Mosko-Moto-Motorcycle-Soft-Bags-Dualsport-Offroad-Luggage-Soft-Luggage-Pannier-Duffle-Saddlebag--KTM---BMW---KLR--Rackless---Reckless---12-31-14-(9)

Mosko-Moto-Motorcycle-Soft-Bags-Dualsport-Offroad-Luggage-Soft-Luggage-Pannier-Duffle-Saddlebag--KTM---BMW---KLR--Rackless---Reckless---12-31-14-(11)

I’ve been using both these packs for years and they’re awesome. Both are Andrew’s designs, back when he worked for DaKine.  They have all the features I want, none I don’t, in a compact easy to access package.  For the Nomad there’s a pouch for sunglasses, a spot for a spare tube, spot for an air pump, helmet carrier, spot for bike tool, hydration bag, etc.  Same on the heli pro: hydration bladder, backcountry shovel storage, ski/board carriers, space for avalanche probe/saw, padded goggle pocket, etc.  I feel like our tank bags should be something along these lines, but for a moto.

I currently have a Wolfman expedition tank bag, which has held up great over a lot of miles and many crashes.  It’s simple, strong, and goes on/off easily.  Not fully waterproof but water resistant enough that I don’t worry about it too much, especially since the aerodynamics of the bike tend to keep it sheltered from direct rain.  The map pocket is really small, and my cell phone often slides out of the map pocket if the velcro isn’t closed all the way, which is easy to do, especially if there’s a map in there too.   My favorite things about this bag are the simplicity, easy on/off, and adaptability to different bikes.  It looks like this.

My other tank bag is made by Touratech.  It looks like the pic below, except that the side panniers got torn off a long time ago.  Then repaired, then torn off again.  They don’t survive crashes very well.  Also the harness is kind of a PITA to get on/off.  And this bag is not waterproof at all, but it does come with one of those rain condoms.  Also, because the map pocket opening is at the bottom of the pocket, and the velcro closure is getting old, things slide out.  Maps, cell phone, etc.  Despite all that, for long-distance pavement touring, it’s a pretty good bag.  Really expensive though.

These two bags are at totally opposite ends of the spectrum in terms of size, features, and cost.  Whichever one I have it’s always a total mess inside, and it seems to fill up quickly.

We think there’s an opportunity to step up the game on tank bags and do something radically different.  But because there are already so many features out there spread out over so many different makes/models, plus so many opposing opinions on what is/isn’t useful, it’s hard to figure out where to start.  Every one of my riding buddies uses a different tank bag and there’s no obvious consensus on which is best.

We’re reaching out for help on this.  We have shop-time reserved with Chip over the next couple months.  This is a window of time where we can incorporate and test a bunch of ideas.  Here are some questions to help get the ideas going:

– Who is making the best tank bag out there right now and why is it the best?

– What are some of the best/worst features of the tank bags you’ve used?

– What are some things that you store in your tank bag all the time (things that we can make special pockets/carriers for)?

– Do you have a preference for a zippered mounting harness vs a clip-on style bag without a harness?

– How do you feel about tank panniers?  Why don’t more people use them?

– Do you use the map pocket as it was designed (ie for maps), for something else, or not at all?

– Have you ever had a truly waterproof tank bag?  If so, was it the “rain condom” type or was the design innately waterproof (ie welded seams)?

We want to develop three tank bag designs to cover the full range of bikes, from big adventure bikes to smaller enduros.  We’ll start with the middle size and then scale/feature up/down from there.

We’ll be monitoring the Mosko Moto advrider.com thread really closely for feedback on all of the above.  Chip and Andrew will be developing the tank bag concepts while I’m in Asia riding with the Reckless bags.  We want to collect as many viewpoints as possible.

Thanks in advance for your input!

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15 thoughts on “Tank Bags: Your Input Needed!

  1. John R

    Love the idea of a tank bag that convert to day use pack. I own a wolfman expedition, great bag and quality. Wish it had better pockets for change, Chapstick, etc.
    I own and have used Maxpedition bags for years and LOVE them! So versatile… my favorite is the gunslinger series. Making quality, ykk zippers, mil spec all around. Over built. No nonsense. Check them out. May not need loop Velcro for a hostler 😉 but can certainly maintain your use of PALS webbing as in your other bags. I personally would love to see a durable MOLLE sunglasses pouch to attach to your tank bag…

    Reply
  2. freakingreen@gmail.com

    I’ve used a Rapid Transit on the SE for a season. Small enough for the personal stuff. Would like a way to attach a spot tracker to the top of a bag so I can use it without it bouncing around. Quick detach would be nice as well as the ability to keep it cantered when I start riding like a nut. It’s small enough to not get in the way. If it was expandable for a little more room that would be cool. It’s not perfect but none of them are. SE almost needs small saddle bag type tank bag that matches the tank shape. Map pocket below the fuel cap and pockets going forward and down along the tank nice and slim. Carry the personal effects and a tiny bit more. Make the map pocket area the expandable area capable of carrying a small base layer or ball cap. Just a thought for us SE die hards.

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

    Reply
    1. Susan

      I just noticed that I didn’t answer many of your questions. Sorry. I got distracted with my own bitch list.

      I haven’t found the perfect bag yet.

      I like the idea of a zipper on and off, but I haven’t tried it. That way the straps won’t filp flop all over the bike upon removing the bag. Just make sure that it zips back on easily. I still hope to actually remember to bring the shoulder straps to turn my bag into a pack. The problem is that I resent giving up valuable real estate for bag functionality rather than hauling my own crap, though I end up regretting it later when my shoulder gives out. Can you hide the straps or tuck them into an outside bottom pocket? I love the fact that your bag straps never flap in the wind, so you probably already have a great scheme for this.

      I don’t know why more people don’t use tank panniers. they seem genius to me. Can you make a tank harness for tank bag and front panniers together? The panniers have got to be forward enough to NEVER touch your knees.

      I use the map pocket for maps, letters to mail, turn lists, phone (sometimes, if its not too hot and sunny), the cover for my GPS mount, garage door opener, (I’ve lost one or two on the road that were clipped to the bag) and sometimes my keys.

      Reply
  3. David Waggoner

    I like where you are going with the tank bag concept.
    I have used dozens of bags and I have not found “the” perfect tank bag.
    I am currently using a Harro Elefanteboy and a Giant Loop Fandango.
    The Harro bag attachment to the bike system is crap.
    The Harro bag is big and easy to access the main compartment.
    I like the GL bag attachment to the bike – it is simple and hold the bag firm.
    What I don’t like about the GL:
    I keep my wallet in the tank bag – so I need to unzip the content compartment to get my wallet.
    I always forget to zip the content compartment back up after I get my wallet
    When I unzip the bag and flip it up to gas my bike all my stuff falls out.
    How about a method to flip the tank bag up to access the gas cap exposing a wallet pocket eliminating the need to access the main compartment.
    Also, It seems that I need to almost completely unzip the bag from the attachment base to be able to flip the bag up so I can get good access to my gas tank.
    I would like a easy way to access the gas cap – this is my biggest complaint.
    My tank bag goes with me everywhere and it needs to be able to be used as a backpack.
    Also, I need a handle to carry the tank bag to the camp site or hotel.
    I don’t use the clear map windows – I carry my maps and GPS in my chest pocket.
    A clip for bridge or road tolls would be nice. (dealing with road tolls with gloves when it is cold is a hassle).
    Nothing is water proof – I don’t expect anything “water proof” to work – things get wet.
    If something needs to be dry I put them in a small dry bag.
    Make the interior of the bag color something bright – not black – so I can find things.
    A super secret place for a spare key would be nice.
    I like the MOLLE webbing, I can see a lot of uses.
    How about making it easy to fit tank panniers to the tank bag.
    I use tank panniers all the time to carry food, water and trash.
    Please no rain covers – I will loose it within the first month.
    My random thoughts.
    David
    Davis, CA

    Reply
  4. Kirk

    About 7 years ago when I owned a BMW R1150GS (currently without a moto), I bought a tank bag from a now defunct company called Chicane. The feature I really like about it was it’s compartment for a hydration bladder. There was an outlet hole for the hose at the rear of the bag and a clip on the side to hold the hose in place when not in use. I’m not a fan of carrying weight on my back if possible when riding. It was really convenient to flip up the modular chin guard on my Caberg Justimmo and grab the hose for a quick drink.

    Reply
  5. Susan

    I am currently in the drama of finding the right bag for my DR650. I have an after market expanded fuel tank which is great for everything except a tank bag. The fuel relief valve interferes with every bag because the bag sits on it. I want the bag up high enough to be able to stand up on the pegs and big enough to carry stuff which compresses the valve. Giant Loop has a curved bottom which partially accommodates the valve but I returned their bag for other deficiencies. I would be grateful if you could solve this problem for me.

    Like you and many riders, I MUST have a tank bag, and I have collected several. I like where you are going and what you listed for a bag, all my bags have the same attributes you listed, as important, and the same problems. Its got to come off quick and easy. Please no rain condom, I never want to carry it til I forget it when it starts to piss-pour.

    I carry a thermos with something sweet and cold so that my electrolytes stay balanced. I also carry a hydration bladder in my chest pocket, but I’ve been thinking of moving to a front bag ‘cuz I’m tired of the extra weight. I have pass through ports that go through the phone pocket to the main bag and out the front to the charging port. That way I can charge stuff out of sight at a quick stop or on the go. I won’t mind two pass through ports for electronics one for water. Please set up the hydration pocket in a separate compartment for potential spills and leaks, then I can put a quick snack in too and the entire bag won’t fill will decaying food, except in the bottom food compartment. I always carry an epi-pen for bee stings. A long slim elasticized inside side pocket, without padding would work for maps and epi-pen, and/or a thin thermos.

    One of my bags has an amazing double zippered pocket nearest to me that fits a phone with a pass through wire port for charging on the go/ or headphones and has a slim pouch with an elastic top in the same compartment so I can put ibuprofen, antihistamine, chapstick, business cards and a credit card near at hand. With the double zipper I rarely go off with it open enough to loose the phone, but its probably happened once. I like your idea of a clear pocket for the phone so that I can screen calls, I tried to put the phone in the map pocket but nearly cooked it to death. So a clear window on an end placed phone pocket might work nicely. That same bag has a padded lined shaped sunglass pocket on the front end of the bag and the pass through port is above it on the main compartment of the bag. It has a really great handle with rubber reinforcements on the end closest to me (cuz the bag is heavy with all that crap) but I’ve set the bag upright in a crowded pub full of dodgy drunk patrons three times now and broken my sunglasses. Still love that handle though. Pilot error, now I set that thing flat even if its on the counter. I’ve got padded straps that attach for a back pack and I love that idea but I never remember to bring them until my shoulder gives out on a long walk hauling that bag. I’ve tried wired bags, but I end up resenting the power connection taking up precious real estate in the bag, I like my power source on the bars, so all I want is pass through ports; I haven’t had any problems with them leaking in the rain. Its a bit embarrassing to admit the number of electronic devices I want to keep powered up: phone, GPS, com device, they all need connectors and charging wires.

    I think Giant Loop bags are just butt ugly with all their gaudy branding and they look like they deliberately encourage the fantasy of being water proof but they definitely aren’t. I returned the one I bought which was outrageously expensive. I love the fact they come in colors though. I know how you like to make black and grey bags, and that’s fine for a tank bag but make the interior light, so I can find stuff. My favorite bag has an expansion pocket the width of the bag AND two compartments. I like carrying extra gloves, so I can keep my hands comfortable in wide temperature swings. All my top clear map pockets have right side access zippers. Bottom velcro seems very silly, I have run down the road and been grateful to just pull the side zipper up before stuff flew out, even though it took my throttle hand to do it. The clear pocket attaches to the bag with a bottom snap. Food in one compartment, sundry necessities in the other. I want the top map pocket to be big enough not to do map origami every 20 miles. I have tried a quick release collar connection to the fuel tank which works great for sport touring bikes but leaves me stranded for the DR which has a plastic threaded fuel fill.

    I have front panniers for tool storage. One place where all the heavy stuff can go at a good center of gravity point on the bike that I can get into quickly (but rarely) and get them all out in a second for an emergency. I am currently experimenting with storing a water bladder there too. I don’t need to organize my tools in some goofy roll kit that takes up a bunch of space I just need to have them all there in a simple rip-stop or leather pouch,easy to remove and drop back in. My DR has a SM bondage look for bags in the front, but there doesn’t seem to be anything for it.

    I look forward to seeing what you come up with.

    Reply
  6. Roger Fastring

    Needs to be waterproof. The new Fandango Pro has the electronics solution. I’ve had the small wolfman and hate the lack of waterproof and how it mounts. The Fandango mounting is great. Why not have some molle widgets on top/side to allow it to scale? Good spot for a small waterbag with hose.

    Reply
  7. David Waggoner

    Carrying water has always been an issue for me.
    I like to carry it low on the bike
    Would the idea of having the base of the tank bag (the piece that attaches to the bike and the bag zips onto) be a water storage bag? Maybe some kind of tank pannier be a water storage bag.

    Reply
  8. Tim Porter

    I’ve used the Enduristan Sandstorm 2 for the last 2 years. Out of the box it does everything I need apart from function as a backpack. It is in the way a little when up on the pegs on steep climbs but I can live with that for everything else that it gives me. Extremely durable and well made. Expandable. Very quick to clip on and off the bike. Detachable document pouch with clip out key holder. Detachable A4 size map pocket. Two exterior pockets that I use for sunglasses and odds and sods. Stiff sidewall that enables you to mount a power socket in the front – I run power from the dash into the bag to charge my phone, iPad and camera batteries when travelling. Fully waterproof. David kindly sent me some extra clips and using a piece of nylon webbing I modded the straps so that it does function as a backpack. Maybe not something I’d want to hike around all day with, but good enough for parking up and going for a wander. I also added a couple of Lezyne neoprene Bicycle chain stay protectors to the straps that travel down the sides of than tank on my 990 adventure. These serve a double purpose of protecting the tank from strap scuffing and provide padding when the bag is in use as a backpack. The only other thing that would be useful for me is a way of attaching the helmet to it so it hangs from the bottom of the bag when carried on the back.

    BTW I love the design of your Back country panniers and duffle. When I go “soft” and have saved enough bread, your system is the one I will go for. And if there’s anyone that can make a tank bag that improves on the Enduristan, it’s you guys

    See ya

    Tim

    Reply
  9. Rich

    Removable dividers made of stiff foam. Expandable by adding a middle zipper. Good idea, having a cable access for charging cell phone or camera batteries. Keep outside material the same color as your other products. To be clear here, no black.

    Reply
    1. Cameron Boswell

      Did you end up making a design for 2016?
      I’m ready to buy. What do you have on the horizon for tank bags?

      Reply
      1. moskomoto Post author

        Tank bags didn’t make the 2016 assortment. For production timing reasons not for lack of desire on our part 🙂 We have some cool concepts that are part-way done and as soon as all the final details are wrapped up for our 2016 production order, tank bags are the #1 priority.

  10. Dean Marshall

    I ride a KTm 690 Enduro which has a Safari tank fitted to it. I would love to be able purchase a tank bag which fits on this setup but to date have not been able to find anything close. Being a popular setup for this bike it may an avenue to look at also. Keep up the good work the gear is top class.

    Reply

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