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?
Wolfman Expedition – I have one of these. Great little bag. Simple, tough, good price.
Giant Loop Fandango
Wolfman Timberwolf – This is Wolfmans top of the line offering, in terms of cost anyway.
Ortlieb – this looks kind of interesting. Ortlieb does some cool welded-seam waterproof stuff.
Touratech – I have an old Touratech bag. This looks like an update on their classic design with some extra bells and whistles.
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)
– 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:
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!