SW-Motech Bags-Connection EVO Rear Bag
by Rick K. for webBikeWorld.com
See Also: Bags-Connection Daypack Review
Why do the manufacturers release new motorcycles in the Fall?
Last year, it was the BMW C 650 GT scooter (blog).
They had all year to release but dealers didn't see it until mid-October.
This year, it's the Suzuki GW250 (review).
Released under the radar at the 2013 AIMExpo show (report) in October, it arrived at the local Suzuki dealer in late October and in my garage by November.
Just in time for some nasty winter weather...
I'm still struggling to get through the 500 mile break-in period, where revs have to be kept below 5,500 RPM. Problem is, 5,500 RPM on this bike is 45 MPH tops...on a flat road.
Think about it: I can't take anything but remote back roads or I'll hold up traffic moped-style.
Since it's impossible to average 45 MPH for very long, my hour-and-a-half rides end up putting maybe 30 miles on the bike. It's going to be a loooong winter...
In the meantime, at least I can fire up the garage heater and get down to some serious farkling.
First up: the Bags-Connection EVO Rear Bag. This is a beautifully made piece of luggage that's not too big, not too small and fits every bike (and scooter) in the garage. Let's take a look...
Anyone I've ever met who had experience with SW-Motech products has nothing but praise for the company's products. They make way more than luggage and it's all high-quality, precision designed and beautifully made gear. Their products are also known for an OE-like fit to many different motorcycle makes and models.
SW-Motech products are also noted for the detailed instructions (in many languages) and the high-quality hardware provided with the kits. Designed in Germany, the gear has typical German quality and precision. You buy an SW-Motech product and you're pretty much guaranteed it's going to fit your bike.
One example is the SW-Motech skid plate (review) I installed on the Suzuki DR650 (blog). It's precision made, comes with superb hardware and fits like a glove. Bonus: it looks great and it's highly functional too.
The only wrinkle in all of this is the cost. You're going to pay for all this goodness but, as they say, "You get what you pay for". Whatever that means...
So what's the connection (get it?) between Bags-Connection and SW-Motech? Back around 10 years ago, the two German companies developed a partnership and they'yre both are now located in the SW-Motech HQ in Rauschenberg (Hesse), Germany (as an aside, I've been to the area around Rauschenberg and Marburg and it's a wonderful area for touring if you want to see the real Germany).
I guess all of this is getting around to saying that SW-Motech isn't going to partner with a company that makes sub-par products. That's obvious, I hope. The Bags-Connection motorcycle luggage we have reviewed has outstanding quality and it's nicely designed and it looks great. You may (will) pay a bit extra, but this is not the cheap, flabby fall-apart stuff from who-knows-where.
Granted, the EVO Rear Bag is made in Vietnam, not Germany (even though it's priced like it was hand-made by Black Forest trolls), but I'm impressed by the overall construction and design.
I originally ordered the Bags-Connection EVO Rear Bag for the Suzuki GW250 because the bike has zero on-board storage...and I do mean zero. There's barely enough room under the seat to stow the owner's manual. I even had problems stuffing an SAE harness for the Battery Tender in there!
On the flip side, the bike would be an interesting (to say the least) choice for long-distance touring -- but not without luggage. Think about it: the anti-tourer that's not a $25,000.00 over-complicated and overweight monstrosity, but a modern/throwback 250cc motorcycle with a smooth-as-silk engine and mucho fuel mileage (remains to be figured after it's broken in) travelling, say, cross-country.
But even without that fantasy, I still need some storage capacity to make the bike useful -- like going down to the Post Office for the day's Posi-Lock run and bringing home a package of Dare Maple Leaf Creme cookies. And milk.
Same could be said for many other bikes and, surprise (to me anyway), the EVO Rear Bag is nearly a perfect fit on the passenger section of the BMW C 650 GT scooter. It also fits the old 1986 BMW R65 and even the Suzuki DR650. Both of those bikes have enough storage already but for some people, too much is never enough.
Part of the magic here is that the EVO Rear Bag is Goldilocks-sized. Not too big; not too small. Just right. If it fits a 3/4-size bike like the GW250, it'll fit anything. More or less...
First of all, the EVO Rear Bag is a semi-hard bag that holds its shape whether it's completely empty or stuffed to the gills. That alone is a feature worth paying for; I've owned too many pieces of soft luggage that wilt like wet fettuccine unless they're packed full. The EVO Rear Bag looks sharp no matter what.
The shell is a type of unbranded heavy weave of black textile with some dark gray panels. It looks like a type of Cordura but I'm sure if it was the real thing, there would be a label to announce it. In any case, it's thick and stiff; the bag with straps weighs in at 1.8 kg (4 lbs.).
Capacity and Dimensions
The EVO Rear Bag (aka "EVO Rearbag" and "Tailbag" in the Bags-Connection literature) is a medium-sized bag at 24 liters unexpanded. Unzip the full-length expansion panel zipper and the capacity increases by 50% to 36 liters. Adjustable straps on the lid are easy to let loose to accommodate the expanded size.
The single main cavity is waterproof; I assume this means both ways, so you can fill it with ice and water bottles. Maybe. The unexpanded bag measures 30 cm front-to-back by 30 cm wide and about 18 cm deep (1 ft. by 1 ft. by 7" deep). The bag also comes with a pull-over waterproof cover.
I'd much rather have one big storage compartment like the EVO Rear Bag because I can divide it up the way I want, rather than be forced to use various storage areas designed by someone else.
The semi-hard lid attaches with a single clip-type side release buckle holds the top closed; I'm kind of surprised there isn't some extra hook-and-loop or zipper or something to hold the lid on the bag. But, the lid, which is shaped like an inverted cup, fits over the top of the entry to the main compartment with overlap around the outside, so it should keep out any water unless the bag falls into a river!
Burn was riding behind me and noticed that the lid was bouncing around in the cross-wind, which led me to discover that you have to make sure those adjustable straps are cinched tight to keep the lid from moving around in the wind. If the single side release buckle fails, you're toast...although the main compartment does have a zippered top.
Those zippers, by the way, are the YKK "RC-Fuse" type, specially designed to keep on working even if the teeth become damaged. Here's a YKK RC-Fuse video that explains the system.
The bag also has two permanently attached side pockets, each with a waterproof zipper on top. The pockets measure about 23 cm long (9") by 100 mm deep (4") by about 40 mm wide (1.5"). That's big enough to store gloves, eyeglasses, cell phone, etc.
One more mesh pocket is attached to the underside of the lid; it's the same dimensions at the bag and maybe about 40 mm deep at the deepest part. It's all difficult to measure because of the irregular teardrop shape of the bag, but my figures are pretty close to the un-stuffed and as-measured dimensions.
The entire base of the EVO Rear Bag is covered in a rubberized tacky sort of overlay, typically found on soft motorcycle luggage tank bags, tail bags and other luggage.
Motorcycle luggage is only as good as its attachment system. I once had a nice-looking tank bag come through here once and the designer either ran out of time or somehow forgot that the bag would have to be attached to an actual motorcycle. It came with four nylon strings as the attachment straps. That's right -- cheesy little pieces of string. Can you imagine?!
The system on the EVO Rear Bag is a lot better than that for sure, but I do have a couple of gripes. The bag has four sewn-on metal spring-loaded teeth-type grippers on each corner. They give you four webbed nylon straps with the bag and each has a loop sewn on to one end.
The straps are only 66 cm long though -- that's 26". They could have easily doubled that length, which would give owners more mounting options and then you could cut and heat-seal if you needed something shorter. The straps are surprisingly short, even for the GW250.
The idea is that you loop the strap around a section of frame on the bike, or maybe the mount for the passenger foot peg. Then you thread the non-looped end through the metal grippers attached to the bag and pull it tight. The loose end of the strap on the other side of the gripper can be folded and stuffed into the elastic loop above each of the grippers.
It's more difficult to write than it is to see, so be sure to watch the video for more info.
Besides having longer straps, I think the bag should have come with some type of ratchet strap system to tighten the straps. Maybe the metal grips could be little ratchets so you could really crank down and secure the bag. Or, you could feed a long strap under the seat, attach it to a ratchet and crank until tight.
Now on the other hand, I have been able to use the system provided with the bag to secure it to both the GW250 and the BMW scooter without a problem, but it does take some finagling to get it right.
Couple of notes here: first, you'll have to remember that once the rear bag or tail bag is attached to the bike, you'll now have to lift your leg really high over the top to climb on board. If you're on a center stand, this shouldn't be a problem. On the GW250, the seat height is low enough that I can lift my leg up and over the seat, in front of the EVO Rear Bag when it's attached.
On the scooter, no problem because you can slide your leg over the tunnel, just like normal.
The other thing to remember is that the handling may change, especially if you have the bag full of gear. The center of gravity and other physical changes happen, so be careful as always.
Depending on how you mount the bag, the back side can be used as a sort of backrest. It works pretty good on the GW250, although the bike's kind of weird riding position means I'm leaning forward most of the time anyway.
Don't forget that the bag is only attached temporarily, so you don't want to put too much weight on it as you're pressing back when using it as a backrest. And be sure also to check the tension of the straps occasionally when you stop for a break.
The bag comes with two shoulder straps, they're pretty basic and have plastic clips at either end. There are four plastic D-rings on the bag to attach the straps. These D-rings can also be used as extra security when attaching the bag by using more owner-supplied straps or bungee cords.
The bag also comes with two short pieces of nylon webbing with plastic D-rings attached. The webbing has a hole through it so it can be attached to the rear fender of the motorcycle or behind the license plate, to be used as additional or primary anchor points.
And the bag also comes with a sheet of clear plastic paint protection film (reviews) that can be used if you need to protect the paint on the sides of the bike where the attachment straps might rub.
The Bags-Connection EVO Rear Bag is a very well made piece of luggage that looks good on or off the bike. Its a medium-sized tail bag and the dimensions make it useful for all sorts of carrying tasks and adding one to a motorcycle gives an immediate increase in carrying capacity.
I'd like to see it come with longer straps or a different mounting system, although I have been able to get the bag to mount successfully on the Suzuki GW250, the BMW C 650 GT scooter and the BMW R65.
Also, remember that once the bag is mounted, it's not easy to remove it; you have to undo all the straps. If the bag had a base attachment system that could be mounted on the bike and then attach the bag to the base, either with zippers, hook-and-loop or side release buckles or something.
But overall, I really like the looks and utility of the EVO Rear Bag and there's no doubt that it adds a huge carrying capacity to the GW250 -- one that is sorely needed on that bike. Next up for the GW250 is the Bags-Connection Daypack (review), with its fuel tank collar system.
Note: Item provided by a retailer, distributor or manufacturer with these Terms and Conditions.
From "H.S." (November 2014): "Hello from cold/mod-friendly Norway. You mention a pull-over waterproof cover... The manufacturer describes a waterproof inner-bag. The bag itself is 'splashproof' which in my experience means 'contents will become wet in the rain'. I always expect my other pull-over covers to disappear, so the inner-bag might be a good idea.
Also: mounting the straps somewhat high on the bag, like on this one, adds a huge amount of stability versus any type of base/zip or what not."
From "J.N." (December 2013): "The EVO bag having a complicated and time consuming attachment system is a major plus. When I see bags with the type of attachment system mention in the review 'zippers, hook-and-loop or side release buckles or something', I think that not only does that make it easier for me to remove, but it also makes it easier for the dude at the truck stop I just stopped at to remove.
So unless it’s in some way locked to the bike, or I’m always going to remove it when I’m stopped, I’ll take the complicated and time consuming attachment system, and think of it as a theft determent system."