The late, great comedian George Carlin had a rant in one of his shows years ago about “stuff” – you spent a lifetime accumulating it and then your kids spent years trying to get rid of it. He explained that you would go on vacation to “get away from it all” but still bring a bunch of it with you, then fill a hotel room with “stuff you’d need” only to pack a bag to, you guessed it, bring along more stuff.
Riding has become a lot like that, too. Look at the bikes built today versus twenty years ago and you can see how our lives have changed. Bigger bags, Bluetooth connectivity, and even cupholders all are in demand for many riders who choose to spend long weekends carrying just enough “stuff” to leave the house for a couple of days.
The last straw for me was a few years ago when I saw a trailer being towed behind a Goldwing.
I’m sure that those folks had a great plan in mind when they bought it and packed it, but how much do you truly need? If you are planning on seeing the world a la Easy Rider, pack light.
Now, on the other end of the spectrum is most of us. We have some things that we need to carry nearly every day – cell phones come to mind – and by the time you actually get on the road, your pockets are full of other “stuff” that you feel is necessary for the trip – even if it is just to town.
The classic work-around for this is saddlebags. Plenty of bikes have them and they are great places to stash stuff, but in the end, I’ve taken mine off for 90% of my riding. Most of them on the market today are big enough to hide a dog in so space is usually not at a premium, but there is another option – a gas tank bag.
The one I’ve come to rely on is made by Viking and is really well built. It’s a molded Cordura-like material that retains its shape while still having plenty of flex, and the back of the bag – the side that sits on the tank – is lined to keep from scratching the paint.
Three “clicks” and it’s on, three “clicks” and it’s off. If you are moving the whole thing from one bike to another (you can do this on some of the Viking models), then installation is as easy as popping off your seat to connect the rear anchor point, which is not permanent, but instead clipped to the frame immediately under the front seat support.
Personally, I’ve found that the tank bag gives me a lot of room in a place that won’t get in my way. The stuff that I’ve found to be critical to a trip is right there where I can get to it and instead of guessing what pocket I stashed something, I can just unzip the bag and see the entire contents, right in front of me. I’m willing to bet that you have some stuff that goes with you every trip and if you are looking for a better way to stash your gear, then I’d have to recommend Viking and their gas tank bags to help you do it. At the same time, though, I’d have to tell you that if you are carrying two full saddlebags of stuff for a daylong cruise, then you might want to look at what you’re carrying and ask yourself – “Do I need all this crap?”