This is the first of three new for 2020 Wolfman Luggage reviews. Wolfman Motorcycle Luggage is a long-term major player in the motorcycle luggage industry and for 2020 Wolfman has redesigned their whole line. Every new product is redesigned using heavy duty nylon with TPU laminate and radio frequency (RF) welded for strength and absolute sealing. The new gear is still distinctively Wolfman in look and function, but now even better.
Close to three decades ago, one of my first tank bags was a Wolfman soft textile bag that had a bit of form and tons of function; that bag probably saw at least 80,000kms of use over a decade or more in travel across Canada, the US and a country or two in Europe – sadly it’s not sitting on my collector shelf.
Late last year, Wolfman announced their New for 2020 lineup with their entire line revised, modernized, and otherwise refreshed; in essence, everything was new. And as everything is ‘new’, wBW wanted to get some of the new products to try and get a jump on things for the pending riding season…well, we know how that has turned out.
Early in the new year, we touched base with Lisa at Wolfman Luggage to see about getting some of the new for 2020 WP (waterproof) products and within a short period of time they had agreed to send three products; a set of the Expedition Saddle Bags, a Blackhawk Tank Bag and a Wolf Bottle Holster – a good sampling indeed. wBW has reviews on all three products.
But with COVID-19 dictating the ebb and flow of many things around the world, production of and shipment from their Global Warehouse got delayed and then, early stock was in short supply and needed for the first series of 2020 motorcycle shows.
It was mid-April before the Expedition Saddle Bags arrived at the doorstep, with the Blackhawk Tank Bag and Wolf Bottle Holster arriving via contactless delivery the first week of June.
And before moving on, a few words regarding the review process in this COVID-19 environment. The best approach for evaluating gear, personal or motorcycle mounted, includes overnight trips and multi-day travel events somewhere; but this just has not happened for these pieces, yet.
So, it’s been lots of local riding and trips within current limitations. While confident that the wBW reviews of all three Wolfman products are as detailed and objective as usual, the full scope of activities is still in front of us. Rest assured there will be updates posted to the postings down the road.
“Passionate about motorcycles”, “Family-owned and operated business,” and “Proudly designed and tested in the USA” These statements are displayed front and centre on the ‘Why Wolfman’ page, and they are key to the Wolfman luggage story.
Since 1992, Wolfman (Motorcycle) Luggage has been made with quality, passion, and integrity, and since those early years, the business has continued to build highly functional versatile and durable gear used by motorcyclists worldwide.
In 2007, Wolfman introduced the use of tough vinyl fabric for the Expedition Series and in 2010 the waterproof multi-use Rolie Bags were introduced. And now for 2020, Wolfman has gone to a 100% RF-welded and waterproof product line.
The key to a good motorcycle accessory, including soft side (with or without stiffeners) is versatility in fit and function and, adaptability. Some products will indeed be designed for use on certain types of motorcycles, but if they can’t be adapted safely for more general use, this is a (potential) limitation that can impact marketability.
Wolfman states that their products continue to be the most sought after luggage on the market, with each piece providing versatility so riders can carry what they need in the manner best suited for their use, riding style and motorcycle…and not just ADV riders either – you’ll see the distinctive Wolf logo sported on motorcycles of all brands and model at rallies and on the road.
Wolfman Expedition Saddle Bag WP Breakdown
The first view of the Rocky Mountain Expedition (EXP) Saddle Bag set is positive. Large capacity pieces, obviously well made, heavy duty, and equipped with proven fit and mounting solutions for soft luggage.
The Wolfman Expedition Saddle Bag (WP) is a combination of the previous Rocky Mountain and Expedition Saddlebags, and the now single product reveals outstanding potential regarding fitment, adaptability, and long-term use.
A clean uncluttered look is OK for some things, but not always the best approach, especially when adaptability comes to the fore and in this regard, the Expedition Saddle Bag pieces are not so much ‘cluttered’ as they are ‘equipped’.
Equipped means versatility and these saddle bags have it, with multiple flat strap layouts all securely stitched, and all with heavy duty low-profile buckle connectors with slide adjusters. Sliding elastic loop retainers keep everything wrapped up out of the way.
Opening the full width roll-top reveals a bright yellow interior, facilitating packing and as is more the norm – search and retrieve missions, no matter the lighting. Large removable perimeter stiffeners provide shape, strength, and protection for the bag and contents; with the stiffeners removed, the bags can be compressed to a very narrow width.
A clean sheet approach when redoing a whole product line can be a risky thing; but much or all the risk can be mitigated when design, features, build, functionality, and durability are provided.
With the new for 2020 Wolfman Luggage products, it would seem the risks were accepted and mitigated, with the highest quality materials used and all seams RF-welded – an approach providing strength, durability and gear that is absolutely waterproof; all now identified by the ‘WP’ in the product names; good to go for any type of travel.
The Wolfman Expedition Saddle Bag utilizes what could be termed a classic shape – somewhat boxy in look but soft-sided with obvious form and strength to the floor and side walls. Their light weight and flexibility are deceptive in seeing how well the pieces keep their shape – empty or loaded.
Heavy duty 840D nylon laminated with ultra-strong TPU provides an absolute moisture impermeable layer with all RF-welded sections for a smooth unblemished look with strength and flexibility.
Alloy G-Hook engagement sliders, along with low-profile plastic buckle connectors with friction sliders and quality 25.4 and 50mm (1.0 and 2.0in) flat strapping is used.
Listed measurements are: Length of 38cm (15in), Width of 20cm (8in) and Height of 38-43cm (15-17in) depending on amount of roll. The top opening is 50cm (20in) wide.
Capacity (per saddle bag)
Listed at 30 Litres plus or around 8 USG per bag depending on how much of the top you leave available for rolling (2 is good, 3 is perfect); just remember – no using a tamping stick!
The Rocky Mountain Expedition Saddle Bags WP do need to be mounted on motorcycles that are equipped with OE or accessory side frames of some type due to bag size and capacity and the requirement to have four solid points of attachment for support and security. See the Installations Section below.
- 100% Waterproof radio frequency welded seams
- Ultra-Tough custom 840d TPU fabric construction
- Removable stiffener and protection pieces in each saddle bag
- Black outside and bright yellow interior (removable (washable) interior liner?)
- 30+ Litres per saddle bag (approximately 64 litres per set)
- Ultra-secure 6-point mounting system per bag (2 x crossover, 4 x horizontal)
- G-Hook and perimeter compression strap system facilitates ease of use, provides security
- Internal stiffeners in sleeves provide form and strength with semi-rigidity
- Flexi-Side Panels allow large or small load compression
- Heavy Duty 5.0cm wide (2.0in) cross-over straps with buckles and slide adjusters
- Large 5.0cm (2in) D-rings on top and front for adding other pieces
- 2.54cm (1.0in) flat strapping used for all other perimeter and vertical connections
- Flat strap carry handle on each saddle bag
- Bright reflective Wolf Logo for day and night-time visibility
- Designed in the USA, made with Wolfman legendary care and quality
Mounting Strap/Fastener Layout
Both bags are identical, so initial fitting of both bags over the motorcycle with side-frames is made easy for this and subsequent steps; Wolfman experience, design insights and features are at the fore here.
The wide cross-over seat straps with large modular snap-n-click connectors and slide adjusters at each connection end and elastic strap retainers make the initial layout of the bags easy. Getting the optional kit that includes a set of cross-over extenders is a bonus and, appreciated.
Direct mounting of the individual bags to OE or third-party side frames is done at each corner using alloy G-Hook sliders stitched into the ends of the upper and lower perimeter flat straps.
The G-Hook pieces run through and around the side frame or mounting point and loop back on the outer side and slip in over the flat strap.
Each of the upper and lower perimeter straps has two sections, joined in the middle by the buckle/slider adjuster pieces.
With the G-Hook pieces engaged, the two sections of each perimeter strap are connected and tightened up, pulling the bag tightly to and against the frame or adapter mount, which also serves to seat and maintain tension on the G-Hook engagements.
Small plastic pass-throughs, four per side, are stitched into the upper and lower perimeter straps as flat strap mounting points for other Wolfman products, like the Wolf Bottle Holster (under review) or Rolie bags.
With the bags loaded or just rolled tightly for unladen travel use, the top and side compression straps come into play. There are four adjustable compression straps per bag; two that are pulled over the rolled top and one each for the pull-down ends of the rolled top.
With the bags carefully rolled three times for an absolute seal, the upper and lower sections of the top and side compression straps are connected and then adjusted for optimal compression at the top and sides.
You can never have enough attachment points, right? Well, Wolfman obviously agrees, with two large plastic D-Rings stitched to the upper flat straps on each bag.
If the bags are left in place between uses, they can be depressurized and rolled up tightly. With the internal stiffeners removed from the inside liner ‘envelopes’ that secure with hook-n-loop material, the bags compress inwards for an even smaller profile.
The Rocky Mountain Expedition Saddle Bag WP pieces are compatible with Touratech, Hepco & Becker, Happy-Trails, GIVI, SW-Motech, Moto-Racks, Wolfman (original, no longer available) side frame or hoop systems of less than 24cm or 9.5in height, and the GS Adventure pannier frame kits…see below.
Included with the set of the new for 2020 Rocky Mountain Expedition Saddle Bag WP is the (optional) Rocky MTN-EXP Saddlebags Accessory Kit – a set of the Crossover Extender Straps and two spare flat buckle connectors (one male, one female).
No instructions are included, but if you are familiar with this type of motorcycle-mounted accessory, the lack of included instructions will not be a big concern. And if needing some a reference for things, the How-to Guides are downloadable from the ‘Installation’ Tab on the main website.
In using the step-by-step with picture sequenced Wolfman instructions, the installations undertaken for this review are overview-based with some (hopefully) relevant observations regarding the EXP Saddle Bags and the host platforms.
2019 BMW F 850 GS Adventure
Both F 850 GSA motorcycles in the home fleet (at the time) – one full-height Rallye model and one low frame in Exclusive trim have the factory installed GS Adventure pannier frames; a now standardized assembly (essentially) identical to the pieces on the R1200/R1250GSA models.
Mounting Exercise No. 1 – GS Adventure Frames
In laying the Expedition Saddle Bags over the rear portion of the flat Rallye-style seat it is evident that to get the bags dropped further down so they sat aligned with the side frames the cross-over straps needed a bit of lengthening.
This adjustment is quickly done by increasing individual strap length at the adjusters closest to the bags with any final fitment adjustments needed made using the easier accessed cross-over connection points sitting on top of the seat.
But with the Expedition Saddle Bags laid over the seat and OE pannier side frames, the fitment accommodation required for the right GS Adventure pannier frames becomes evident along with the (anticipated) heat-related concern.
The Immediate Issue. To accommodate the exhaust system, the top of the right frame tubing sits close to the motorcycle but then curves out to clear the muffler or can; so between top and bottom, it’s not a one-dimensional (flat) surface, whereas the left (non-exhaust) side is.
Many soft or hard-bag providers used to sell or offer third-party side frame solutions. That was then, this is now, and most vendors prefer to identify or recommend a side frame solution, including some that address the offset issue – fair game. The search is on.
A workaround is needed. But in the meantime, fitting the Expedition Saddle Bag kit directly to the GS Adventure Frames is an outstanding task, one necessitating a workaround of sorts. The workaround turns out to be a section of light plastic tubing with a diameter of 8.0cm or 3.14in.
With this piece secured to the upper tubing of the right pannier frame with long zip ties and the EXP bags in place over the seat, the right bag sits flat against the lower pannier frame tube and the outer edge of the plastic tube vertically – not elegant, but functional.
A wool blanket is inserted into each bag for shape and resistance to facilitate mounting and from this point, it only took another 15 minutes to get both side bags attached solidly to the GS Adventure frames.
The G-Hook mounts and strap loops run inside the pannier frame tubing and then back around the outside to slip over the looped flat strap. Again, make sure they are fully engaged to ‘capture’ the strap.
With the bags held in place courtesy of the cross-over straps, the top and bottom perimeter strap sections are clicked together.
Now compress the bags slightly and use the adjusters to tighten the straps up fully which serves to tighten the corner mounting loops and pull the bags tightly against the frames.
Mounting or removing the Expedition Saddle Bags, empty or loaded, is done quickly (with practice). Loosen or disconnect the perimeter straps to release tension on the G-Hook pieces, slide them off the strapping and away from the frame tubing, lift the bags up and away.
The usual elapsed time to do this is 30 to 45 seconds; putting them back on, perhaps a minute or so. If only one bag needs removing, just disconnect the crossover straps.
With the EXP saddle bags mounted up on the GS Adventure frames, the right side clearance (exhaust to inner side of bag) wasn’t that bad and in use, the removable outer heat shield pad does a good job. For more permanent use, however, a good exhaust mounted heat shield or side frame plate is seen as a good thing to have.
Mounting Exercise No. 2 – GS Adventure Frames with Kriega OS-Platform Kits
Installation of the Kriega OS-Platform kits is a story left for another review perhaps. Sourcing and getting the pieces was seen, as a potential issue. However – thankfully, it didn’t develop into one.
As a fellow rider wanted a set for his F 750 GS and with the Kriega USA site not reflecting stock, the individual submitted an order for two kits using the UK site and, the two kits made it across the pond within the week.
And in less than an hour of effort, the kit ordered for use with the F 850 GSA is securely installed and awaiting the Wolfman Expedition Saddle Bag WP set. Listed as a special edition, the OS-Platform BMW GS ADV FIT kits provide a stainless-steel adapter to offset the differing tube frame profile along with two lightweight OS-Platform pieces.
The 10mm thick Nylon-6 OS-Platform pieces are 39.0cm wide x 30.0cm high and 1.0cm thick (15.3 x 11.8 x 0.3in) and populated with cut-outs and various sized holes providing multiple mounting options.
The centre of each piece is drilled for RotopaX mount fitting (non-exhaust side fitment please).
The saddle bags are placed over the seat and the cross-over straps lengthened a bit to centre the bags over each OS-Platform. As with the initial GS Adventure frames, the four G-Hook and loop ends are up first.
Pass the G-Hooks through the upper back and front vertical cut-outs on the Kriega OS-platforms and bring them back around on the outside and slide them over the loop webbing (strap).
Note – placement and shape of the upper front and lower mounting arms on the left side and the lower right side of the GS Adventure frames vary slightly between the ‘G’ and ‘F’ series motorcycles. You may find that access to the cut-outs on the Kriega boards is difficult or blocked, preventing the G-Hooks from being fitted in the described manner.
If this issue is experienced, it is a relatively simple matter to lengthen the perimeter straps a bit and loop the G-Hooks through or around the mounting arm or tubing of the side frames and come back around on the outside to slide the G-Hooks into place, then tighten the straps up again. These workarounds are done without impacting fit or security of the EXP bags.
Once all four of the mounting points are in place, connect the two halves of the top and bottom perimeter straps together, compress the bags slightly and tighten up the straps; the bags should be sitting securely in place. Make sure the straps are secure and then wrap or fold up the excess and secure them with the elastic strap retainers.
Mounting Exercise No. 3 – Without Side Frames (Throw-Over Fitment)
In acknowledging that the Wolfman Expedition Saddle Bag (WP) set is not meant to be and should not be mounted without some sort of side frame or side supports, this option had to be given a look and the 2020 F 900 XR is a good candidate for this.
With the cross-over straps shortened up, the bags sit over the seat and outer edge of the passenger grab rail (being replaced with the OE rear luggage piece in two weeks); layout and size are good on the XR. Depending on load and with cross-over strap adjustments there should be about 8cm (3.2in) of clearance between a loaded bag and the exhaust system.
Now it is just a matter of getting a side frame kit. Hepco & Becker is offering a standard tube-based frame kit for the F900XR, but it is not yet available from a NA reseller, so the kit is now on the short order list from DE, although shipping costs will add another 40% or so to the bottom line cost – ouch.
Mounting Exercise No. 4 – KTM 690 and KTM 790 (a pending activity)
Function & Performance Observations
Outside of the Mosko Moto Reckless 80 v3.0 Revolver here (Jim Pruner and I both have the system so a joint review is ongoing) that is proving to be a very good fit on every motorcycle tried so far (six), including the F 900 XR, drybag and waterproof pieces on hand are limited to some Kriega Drybags and an early set of the SHAD Zulupack Saddlebags.
As such, getting a chance to review the new for 2020 Wolfman Rocky Mountain Expedition Saddle Bag WP set is timely, for lots of reasons, even though mid to long-distance travel with the pieces isn’t a reality, yet. So close to home it is, with lots of local exploring and opportunities to check out spots that were always put on hold.
With Wolfman redoing their whole line for 2020 and moving over to a completely waterproof build using high quality materials and RF welding there was some question as to how the new products would look, feel, and perform.
I need not have worried. All three of the new for 2020 Wolfman products received – the Expedition Saddle Bag WP set, a Blackhawk WP Tank Bag and the Wolf Bottle Holster WP are outstanding representatives of Wolfman products.
The Expedition Saddle Bag WP set has great capacity (30+ Litre per side) with excellent form thanks to the removable internal stiffeners while providing excellent flexibility and compressibility.
Wolfman takes a horizontal perimeter-based approach to secure the EXP SB pieces to their mounting points and between these upper and lower straps with G-Hooks and the large cross-over straps, the bags fit and sit securely when everything is tightened up. If you want or need more strength and rigidity, a solution like the Kriega OS-Platform pieces will work.
Opening the bags is a bit of an experience – a clean uncluttered bright yellow interior greets you. The hook-n-loop sealed inner perimeter envelopes holding the back and outer perimeter stiffener pieces do not intrude at all.
A full wide mouth, interior shaping, and colouration makes easy work of packing, (searching) and unpacking. Sealing the deal once packed and with a minimum of three rolls of the top done are the two top and front and back compression straps – connect them, adjust them for optimum compression and tidy things up with the elastic strap retainers.
When not fully packed, the EXP Saddle Bags are left on the host motorcycle with the compression straps tightened up fully to minimize movement – never an issue given strength of the materials used. With the stiffeners removed and the base folded up the bags can be compressed so they are about three inches wide on their mounts.
Warranty & Support
Wolfman has a well defined and detailed Returns, Repairs & Warranty page that identifies many situations and issues that customers might experience and provides coverage along with repair and/or return conditions and instructions. From the information found on the link above, it’s obvious that their goal is to make sure customers are taken care of.
I’ve never had to utilize any of their return, repair, or warranty services but in browsing through a number of forums and motorcycle review related sites, Wolfman Motorcycle Luggage has a great track record in looking after customers. This site provides them with an 85.1 Rating Score.
Take note that the often heard and seen argument about hard VS semi-rigid VS soft side bags has not been raised here and it won’t be.
No matter what type of motorcycle luggage you are considering or use, just make sure that it addresses requirements, fits properly, and can be used safely…which is a factor that always seems to bring up the arguments of course.
As of late, I have indeed been more intrigued by and inclined to use soft luggage, with or without shape support depending on the piece and intended use. If the products are well made, durable, waterproof, and have a whole whack of adaptability for lots of different motorcycles and riding applications, it gets my interest.
And the Wolfman products get my interest, not just because I miss my original faded Wolfman tank bag with equally faded Wolf logo; but because their products have always been very (very) good and my assessment for 2020 is that the new for 2020 Wolfman products are outstanding.
Yes, I am looking forward to getting back on one of the motorcycles for some ADV travel soon and the Wolfman Rocky Mountain Expedition Saddle Bags are ready to be packed.
The Bottom Line
All three of the 2020 Wolfman products reviewed are equally impressive in their own way, with the Rocky Mountain Expedition Saddle Bags among the best soft side-bag luggage ever used. Strong, durable (so far), waterproof (presuming proper rolling of course), equipped with multiple useful straps and connectors for outstanding adjustability the bags protect contents while remaining compressible, and cushioning when needed.
- Great size, shape and build with strong 840d nylon with TPU laminate
- Fully waterproof, RF welded seams
- 30+ Litres per bag (60 to 64 litres typical for set)
- Secure 6-point mounting layout per bag
- Wide multi-point adjustable cross-over straps
- G-Hook mounts provide direct four-point attachment to side frame or adapters
- Adjustable flat strap perimeter, top and end compression layout extremely effective
- Smooth uncluttered bright yellow interior
- Interior back and perimeter stiffeners provide rigidity and protection, fully removable
- Removable exterior back heat protection pad
- Less than a minute to remove/mount both bags typically
- Fitment versatility and adaptability
- Elastic strap retainers good for some areas, not for others – end-stitched retainers with hook-n-loop wraps would be better overall, appreciating some added cost