The FAMSA Tank Bag on Tour
Editor's Note: We shipped the FAMSA tank bag back to the
Motherland, where Iain Wood took it on extended tour during the summer.
Iain put lots of miles on his Ducati ST2 and the FAMSA, and this is his
See Also: Famsa 246 Tank Bag
FAMSA 246 tank bag system consists of a base plate and two separate bag
modules that can
be used individually or zipped together to create one large tank bag system.
of the two modules has an expanding mid section that allows you to
roughly double its capacity by undoing a zip that runs all the way 'round it. Each of the
two bag sections also have a clear covered pocket in the lid for a map
or travel directions.
Rick forgot to send the instructions, but attaching the base plate was
reasonably easy, with some reservations. More on this later...
The smaller module is pretty unobtrusive when in place. It's only a
couple of inches deep, so you can still tuck in behind the screen quite
The pockets on my touring jacket hold about the same volume as the small
FAMSA module and possibly more. This lead me to believe that I
wouldn't use the small module, but in practice, it's just
the right size for my waterproofs, and it's also worth carrying just for the map
pocket on top. That it is possible to fill up with petrol without having to remove
the small module is an added bonus.
The larger bag section is much more useful. It will hold all sorts,
including a laptop and a 35mm camera. When the expansion zip is undone
it will hold much more. I use this section pretty much every time
I'm out on the bike, which is just about every day. In fact, even on the rare
occasions that I take the bus to work I tend to take the large section of
the tank bag, as it doubles as a useful little rucksack.
The FAMSA bag also seems to look "right". I expect a kind of functional rather
than pretty look from bike luggage in general, but this bag actually fits in
well with the lines of the Ducati. Perhaps because they're both
The FAMSA was invaluable for all the stuff I needed along the way, and proved to
be comfortable for the whole 900 mile journey. I could rest on it to take
some of the pressure off my wrists, which meant I could go a little further
before I needed to stop and stretch.
Normally I tend to do rest in between
petrol stops. I found I didn't need to on this trip, perhaps due to the
extra support, perhaps due to me getting used to the bike. Not sure on that,
but the bag does feel right as well as look right.
Rainy weather uncovered one problem when my map book got quite damp. I didn't put the waterproof cover on
straight away as it started raining, but I would have expected the clear map
window to cope with a little moisture.
the waterproof cover is installed, it's pretty hard to see the map, so I may resign myself to
having to replace my maps on a regular basis as they get ruined.
On my return home I
dumped most of my luggage and switched to the smaller bag section and headed off
into Scotland. This one is small enough that I hardly notice it. In fact it's pretty much
ideal for more spirited riding. It's nice to lounge against the larger bag,
along at a nice steady (ahem) 68mph is cool.
But cranking it 'round the twisties
and tucking hard behind the fairing on the straight bits needs more room,
and the little bag doesn't get in the way at all.
The combination of both bags would be dangerous to my license. I can cope
with it being there, handling doesn't suffer at all, but I just can't see
the speedo without leaning way out to the side and peering round.
ago I got caught by a speed camera. I was riding with a broken speedo cable
and trying to estimate how fast I was going. I thought I was doing 30 mph or slightly
above, but I was doing 60! This taught me a lesson: now I won't ride with anything that interferes with my
ability to constantly check my speed -- not around urban areas anyway.
just possible to see the Ducati's instruments using the unexpanded large bag
small bag zipped on top. This combination yields the same capacity as
the single expanded bag. Anyway, I haven't (and won't) conduct extended tests
with the fully expanded configuration. I have tried it for size and it's
comfortable enough, although I have to stay pretty much upright all
the time. The support is nice, and if you are tall and can see the speedo
(about 6' 8" should do it) then you may find this a useful combination.
Right, enough of the glowing praise. This bag does have a few
drawbacks. Nothing that stops it being useful, but you may want to spend a little time
checking if they are things that will annoy you or not before parting with
Firstly, and most seriously, the base plates as delivered don't fit
properly on an ST. The bag arrived with 2 different base plates, and it
looked like it would be possible to get one of them to fit over most tanks. But the ST has a tank mounted ignition switch which definitely restricts
things. Of the two plates, one had a large slot to clear the petrol cap, and
this went on ok. I could still get the key in although access was not quite
The trouble was that the tank bag was then located too far back. I might
have been able to manage if the carry handle on the top of the bag collapsed
against the bag. It doesn't. It's a semi rigid plastic handle that sticks
out far enough to be quite uncomfortable.
I'm only 5'6" and with the bag in
place I'm stretched out between the handlebars and the top of the tank bag. This made low speed maneuvers even harder than normal, and even on the move
I was constantly aware of the handle sticking in my stomach. You might find
this ok if you are tall, or if you only ever use the small section of the
bag rather than the bigger one that converts into a rucksack. I just
couldn't live with that.
The FAMSA tank bag and
The second base plate allowed the bag to be mounted further forward, but
made it impossible to get the key in the ignition. I modified this, taking a
crescent shaped piece out of the front edge.
This is an easy job, you just
need to remove a bit of the edge binding around the front of the base plate
between the front mounting straps, cut a piece out and then reapply the
binding. I chose to do this myself and re-sew by hand. You would get a
neater finish by getting it done by a professional though.
Once this was done the bag felt much more comfortable, and low speed
handling was back to much the same as it is without the bag. Inserting the
key is still slightly fiddly, but I can live with that.
The second problem I came across is the zip stitching on the base plate
has started to come undone. There is no lock stitching, just a single row. This means that the whole section across the front is now loose. The zip
runs right along either edge of the base plate and here the edge binding
sewing also goes through the zip holding it firmly in place. As long as this
stitching holds the bag is quite firmly attached, the loose section just
makes it more fiddly to zip the bag to the tank
I have been using this bag for several months now. It's difficult to say
exactly how long because it very rapidly became one of those things that
feel like they have been there forever. Mostly it gets used on my daily
commute, and contains a change of clothes and a laptop, maybe a book or two,
maybe some lunch.
I was initially disappointed to find that my laptop
wouldn't fit in the smaller of the bag sections and that it had to go
diagonally into the larger bag, but as it turns out, this is actually better.
The laptop is less
vulnerable when it's supported on my spare clothes rather than lying flat in the bottom of
the bag against the curved hard surface of the tank, and expanding the bag
to accommodate some shopping has proved to be very useful on numerous
Although the system is really quite flexible, I rarely ever use any
option other than the larger bag, unexpanded. Occasionally I will expand it
if I end up coming home with more than I set out with, but I prefer to keep
it unexpanded. I can still see enough of the instruments, but crouching
behind the fairing becomes impossible so I would tend to add the panniers
rather than expand the tank bag if I were expecting to travel far.
Overall I like this bag a lot. Initially I was a little disappointed but
the more I have used it, the more I get to like it. Would I buy another when
it wears out? I don't know. Perhaps.
A casual look round the bags in my
local bike shop didn't turn up anything that looked as good, or offered
anything that the FAMSA bag didn't.
See Also: Famsa 246 Tank Bag
Plus points: + Looks good + Very flexible + Can fill up
without removing the little bag + Comfortable (either section). Is
it a good value? I'll let Rick address that one...
Minus Points - Base plate needs modifying to get a good fit - Key access
is reduced however you fit it - Maps quickly get damp if it's raining
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