My luck with evaluating luggage continues to hold.
The Giant Loop Coyote Saddlebag may not be the largest capacity piece offered up by Giant Loop.
But fitted on the motorcycle it was designed for, it will do just fine, thank-you.
For those who have struggled over the years in adapting more traditional bags or motorcycle luggage for off-road and adventure-touring use, the Giant Loop saddlebags will make perfect sense.
Despite requiring a relatively lofty initial investment, I am willing to bet that its functionality, usefulness and durability makes the investment worth it.
The Giant Loop Coyote bag was provided by AltRider, a manufacturer and retailer of Adventure Touring gear.
The origins of Giant Loop is a story unto itself and available for reading on the website.
Based in Bend, Oregon, the company is small and run by a dedicated group of serious off-roaders and adventure-tourers.
It becomes readily apparent that the development of the original Great Basin saddlebag (now updated and marketed as the Coyote) and subsequent products was based on real-life requirements refined by the founders, with ongoing validation by loyal users.
This might seem reflective of what many would view as a niche market within the motorcycle luggage industry, but if it is, then it’s a very positive one.
In the eyes of this enthusiast and traveller, the Giant Loop products have a much wider range of applications on an equally wide range of motorcycles and the “Go Light, Go Fast” company motto is appropriate.
Giant Loop luggage is named after the shape that the bags take when wrapped over the back of a motorcycle.
The company offers several different sizes and types of purpose-built motorcycle luggage, from the minimalist “MoJavi” to the maxi-sized Great Basin bag.
The Great Basin would probably be a better choice for my BMW F 800 GS, but the Giant Loop Coyote is “the best choice for hardcore off-road expeditions on dirt bike or dual sport model motorcycles”, according to the company.
After physically determining that the only way the Coyote bag would fit on the F 800 GS would be to lay it flat on the back rack and seat — which is an option — an alternative host machine was located instead.
This is a Suzuki DR-Z400 owned by a friend, which became the candidate for mounting the Coyote. It didn’t take much to convince him to help out with this one!
Similar in shape and purpose to its larger Great Basin sibling, the Coyote Saddlebag is designed to fit many popular dual-sport and off-road motorcycles.
It allows essential kit for the beyond-urban trips to be tightly and securely packed in one easily removable piece of luggage.
With a simple design and compact shape, it is also ideal for use on super-moto or motard style motorcycles which typically (note I said typically) see more urban or short distance travel and where a change of clothing, notebook or rain gear might be the largest but essential items carried.
The basic features of the Giant Loop Coyote bag are as follows:
30+ litres of storage space.
Large self-sealing waterproof YKK zippers with double pulls
Made from “Bomb Shell” waterproof material reinforced with 1050 nylon ballistic Cordura.
Two standard and one contoured stuff sacks for packing use are included.
Four stitched compression straps with cam buckles for securing the bag to the motorcycle.
Two stitched daisy chain straps on back edge for interconnection use.
A fender grip tension strap.
Seam-sealing kit and instruction sheet in case of emergencies.
For comparison purposes, the material used to make the Coyote bag feels similar to heavy-duty exterior tarps used for transportation purposes and older North49 bags, of which I have two — both pretty much indestructible.
The underside of the Coyote bag has additional reinforcement, being comprised of high-density foam, more 1050 ballistic Cordura and “GL Grip”, a high-friction material that helps keep the bag in place on those bumpy rides.
All of the edges are finished with polypropylene webbing and everything is sewn with military-grade thread.
The four exterior compression straps are made of one inch webbing the company calls “Nylike” and also steel/aluminum cam-style buckles. The additional two daisy chains on the back of the bag are also made of the same one inch webbing.
For mounting and maintenance purposes, the company provides something called a “Hot Springs Heat Shield” kit, comprising a 5.5 inch pipe clamp and stainless steel heat shield for use on the exhaust system.
The bag also includes the seam grip sealer and an applicator.
Although it appears that perhaps only the most recent Coyote bags have the full Hot Springs Heat Shield kit, the package I received did have the pipe clamp tucked down inside one of the legs.
But unfortunately it did not have the stainless steel shield unit, nor the seam grip sealer and applicator, so I can’t comment on those.
Form and Shape of the Coyote Bag
Of biomorphic design, the saddlebag has a distinct shape, reflecting its “Giant Loop” name, but without an internal sub-frame or stiffeners. So it doesn’t stand on its own two feet — those being the lower leg or saddlebag sections of the Coyote bag.
The most resilient part of the bag is the underside; its thickness and cut of the material, reinforced areas and right-side heat shield provides some “backbone” to the bag when empty.
In addition to the 100 cm or 39.3 inch adjustable mounting strap at the end of each leg, a fender grip strap about 60 cm (23.6 inches) in length is stitched to the inner curve.
This strap is meant to be looped over the fender, although I have seen it looped around the fender — something not recommended given wheel travel and critical clearances.
For over-the-fender use, two free-floating metal lips or hooks on the strap provide the necessary bite or pressure against the edge of the fender as the strap is tightened up via its plastic slider buckle.
The lower compression straps are 52 cm (20.5 inches) long and the upper compression straps are 80 cm (31.4 inches) long. The extra length allows them to be used for securing other items on top of the bag or for interconnection purposes.
Fitting the Coyote Bag to the Motorcycle
Intended for use on smaller and typically narrow-framed motorcycles, the Coyote saddlebag is quite narrow in the inseam, providing a tight and stable fit in most circumstances.
As such, the rear fender grip and lower leg section straps should be all that is needed to secure the saddlebag to the motorcycle for most configurations.
The end or leg mounting straps are a bit long to say the least.
The excess strap needs to be tightly secured out of the way (I use short hook-and-loop straps) or if the bag is dedicated for use on one motorcycle, the material can be cut (and then heat finished) to the desired length.
While the fender grip tension strap works well depending on the width and shape of the rear fender, the adjuster buckle for this strap can be very hard to access once the bag is thrown over the rear fender for mounting.
On the DR-Z400 host, the Coyote bag really does go on and off in seconds. It took a couple of rides to settle on the optimal front-to-back placement and to find the best lower mount point (passenger peg frame) to use, but that was as complicated as it got.
Fitted just ahead of the Suzuki’s stock fender mounted tool bag, the Coyote sits on the rear portion of the seat and the front of the fender. There is lots of room, sitting or standing, for the rider.
As mounted, the combination heat shield/side panel of the DR-Z400 keeps the right leg of the bag well away from the exhaust system.
The owner of the bike is thinking of removing the stock tool bag and installing a small accessory rack and if this gets done, the Coyote can be shifted back a few inches without any problem.
But this shift to the rear will likely highlight the fact that the Hot Spring Heat Shield is missing.
Aside from this consideration, once the initial adjustments are made and the strap issues taken care of, there isn’t much else to do. There is nothing to drill or mount from a hardware perspective — unless the shield is needed (something for the follow-up list).
The Giant Loop Coyote bag is designed to fit many serious dual-sport motorcycles, including the BMW G 450 X, the F 650, G 650 GS, X-Challenge, Cross-Country and HP2.
Most KTM bikes are included, as are the Honda XR and CRF series; the Suzuki DR and RM-Z series, Yamaha WR and YZF series and the Kawasaki KLX and KLR bikes.
Hard vs. soft luggage arguments are plenty and sometimes exchanges get pretty heated.
But one thing that can be stated is that soft luggage can be safer, and more versatile, under some riding conditions, especially where concerns regarding hard panniers and body parts are paramount — something I can acknowledge from first-hand experience.
As always, common sense, safety and requirements should prevail in choosing the proper luggage to use for any specific activity.
So speaking of safety, with its shape specifically tailored to fit over the rear seat or rear section, the Coyote saddlebag and its load is, by design, closely integrated with the motorcycle: well-positioned for weight distribution, security and rider accommodation.
Once it’s loaded and strapped in place, it just does not move around and is virtually undetectable by the rider when the motorcycle is in motion, on the ground or temporarily off.
After the first use on the DR-Z400, the owner had washed the motorcycle and this included the Coyote bag, which meant I didn’t get any trail-grime photos.
There is no missing the fact that the outer shell is tough, so between the materials used and its construction, the bag is built to take some serious abuse. It should last for a long time.
Smaller than the Great Basin bag by a good margin, the Coyote still holds almost everything needed for overnight or weekend forays.
As illustrated by the photograph at the beginning of this review, I had all the essentials for camping, including a stove and small lantern, packed into the bag. Just remember to pack the heavier stuff low and protect fragile items.
Although the Giant Loop Great Basin saddlebag would probably be better suited to the F 800 GS, getting the Coyote turned out to be a good opportunity.
I hadn’t seen one of the bags first-hand for quite some time, so this was good chance to get (re-) acquainted with the products.
Get beyond its unique but totally functional shape and my nits are few.
Personally, I would like to have (replaceable) plastic fasteners used, but it is hard to argue the strength and durability of the metal clamp adjusters — just keep them secured as they will quickly mar up any surface if allowed to flail around.
About the only other thing noted is that the lower compression straps are cut exactly for the expanded diameter of the leg — there isn’t anything left for contingency mounting purposes.
I really like the high-visibility yellow and the bag is available in orange, and several other colors. A suggestion: a couple of retro-reflective straps or strips on the back side would be a worthwhile improvement.
The Giant Loop Coyote and Great Basin bags are not cheap, in any sense or aspect.
But when the opportunity presents itself to get away from civilization, for short or extended periods of time, rationalizing the cost of one quality piece of luggage that could be the only piece needed is likely to be easier.
And I know come spring time that both the DR-Z400 owner and I will be coveting the Coyote bag — he for the DR-Z400 and me for my latest BMW acquisition, a G 450 X.
From “B.C.” (12/10): “I purchased a set of these bags last summer to be used on my ’08 KTM 450 EXCR. I also owned one of Giant Loop’s original bags, but the hassle of having to bolt them on and off caused me to buy the Coyote bag.
I used the Coyote on my Transamerica Trail tour last September and they worked great. No issues at all, except on ’08 and later KTMs you have to be careful when mounting the bag that it does not get melted by the hot muffler.
I solved that problem by just wrapping the muffler with heat tape. I also used a couple of large hose clamp over the tape to keep the right side panel from touching the muffler. Worked great. The bag mounts quickly and hassle free.
Between the Coyote bag, a small tank bag and a back pack, by packing minimalist style there is enough space to hold enough to survive out on the trail for at least a week.
I did not camp so I did not have gear for that along, but had everything else…spare parts, tools, first aid kit, clothing, sandals, personal kit, etc. I highly recommend this luggage system!”