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Hepco & Becker SportStar Motorcycle Tail Bag Review

If It Fits, It's Good

Motorcycle Tail Bag
Motorcycle Tail Bag Review Summary
Review Summary
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The Hepco & Becker Sport Star is a basic expandable waterproof tail bag

But it might be slightly too large to fit on some motorcycles.

I’m giving this nice Hepco & Becker “SportStar” tail bag the “Quick Look” treatment.

That’s because, unfortunately, I couldn’t quite get it to fit either the Ducati GT1000 (Blog) or the Multistrada 620 (Blog).

So there’s not much I can say other than to provide a basic description.

I’m kind of disappointed, because I thought this would be the solution I was searching for.

That is, a small tail bag to hold a bottle of water and a couple of other small items that would work on both the GT1000 and the Multi.

I’m not sure who’s fault this is actually.

I guess I should have paid closer attention to the dimensions before I purchased it…that is, if there were any dimensions listed.

Basic information like length, width and height didn’t (and still don’t, as far as I can tell) appear on the Hepco & Becker website.

Nor are the dimensions listed on several of the retailer websites that I checked.

Actually, providing this type of detailed information is just what webBikeWorld is all about.

It’s amazing to me that, with an incremental cost of zero, the manufacturers or retailers generally don’t provide the kind of basic information necessary for customers to make a purchasing decision.

So, in effect, we take the hit and do the grunt work for you, and I hope you benefit by our hard work and expensive mistakes!

So just for the record, here are the dimensions of the Hepco & Becker SportStar (the official name, not “Sport Star” as it is listed on many retailer websites):

Hepco & Becker SportStar Tail Bag Dimensions

Does It Fit?

As you can see from the photos below, the SportStar does fit right to the edges of the rear portion of the seat on the GT1000.

But it doesn’t leave much room for the rider to move around in the small area in front of the bag.

I could not get the SportStar bag to fit on the Multistrada 620, which has a narrower seat that has a…well, shall we say an “interesting” shape?

It’s too bad actually, because the SportStar pushes all the right buttons otherwise.

Hepco & Becker claim that the bag is waterproof, and indeed the Cordura used for the exterior does appear to have some type of vinyl-like backing, so I’ll take their word for it, although the zippers seem utilitarian and they don’t appear to be waterproof.

Hepco & Becker SportStar Tail Bag - Reflective Piping

Straps and Attachments

The SportStar bag has your basic run-of-the-mill rubbery bottom coating to help it stay in place and protect against untoward paint scratching.

It includes 4 straps, each about 107 cm (~42″) long. These are permanently attached to the base of the bag, which is interesting, because a few of the motorcycle tail bags I’ve tried have removable straps.

The downside is that the permanently mounted straps can get in the way and the extra length will have to be folded up and secured underneath the seat to prevent it from flapping around in the wind.

The upside is that you don’t have to worry about losing the straps…

The straps are oriented more or less in a front-to-back (“fore and aft”) layout, which I find curious — don’t most tail bags usually have side-to-side straps that are supposed to slip under one side of the seat and up and around the other side?

The straps on the SportStar can be used that way with a bit of fussing, but the bag doesn’t seem quite as secure as I’d like when mounted on the back of the GT1000.

Perhaps H&B were trying to accommodate as many mounting situations as possible?

Hepco & Becker SportStar Tail Bag - Bottom

Hepco & Becker SportStar Tail Bag - Inside


More Features

The front, or wide end of the bag, also includes those plastic or nylon springy quick release strap attachment thingies.

There are no connectors at the rear, so the rear straps do indeed seem to be designed to run front-to-back, where they are threaded into one half of the plastic quick release and cinched up to hold by friction.

The SportStar mounting system probably all sounds confusing and believe me, it’s not easy to describe.

But the bottom line is that the mounting mounting functionality of the straps just doesn’t seem to be as flexible or accommodating as it could.

The only reason I can think of as to why Hepco & Becker would design tail bag mounting straps in the fore-and-aft orientation is to use the bag as a backpack, which they do advertise as a feature.

But who really uses these things as a backpack anyway?

And even if they do, the straps are nowhere close to the type of comfortable strap arrangement you’d find on a backpack anyway.

The SportStar does have an array of plastic D-rings sewn along the perimeter: four on the front (two top; two bottom).

There are two on each side along the top and one in the rear.

There are also two more plastic friction strap retainers in the rear; I’m not sure how or why these would be used.

I don’t know — maybe I’m a tail bag rookie or something and I’ll admit I’m cranky and fussy when it comes to motorcycle gear, but it should not be this hard, n’est-ce pas?

The bag includes a hefty and rubbery-feeling handle on the big end (the front) and a zipper covered pocket on the outside of the bag top that measures about 28 x 25 cm (11″ by 10″).

This pocket isn’t expandable, so other than maybe some papers and a thin pair of gloves, it’s a bit difficult to stuff anything else in there.

Inside the bag, under the lid, there’s a slipper pocket that I guess can hold more papers or something thin. Do H&B owners carry lots of papers or something?

Maybe passports and travel documents…

The main compartment of the SportStar is one large cavity, measuring about 33 cm at the large end (13″) by 23 cm at the small end (9″) and 14 cm deep (5.5″) unexpanded.

A full-length zipper can be let loose to pop the the top open to about 23 cm (9″) tall. Hepco & Becker claims the SportStar holds 18 liters unexpanded and 28 liters when expanded.

The bag has some reflective piping along the top, and the sides are relatively stiff.

Hepco & Becker SportStar Tail Bag - Side View


That’s about all I can say.

The bag really doesn’t fit on either the GT1000 or the Multistrada 620, so I sort of gave up on it.

And although the bag seems very nicely constructed and can hold a lot for a tail bag, it just doesn’t work for me. I wish it were maybe about 1/3 smaller.

I’m sure it works for some riders on certain types of motorcycles, so perhaps you can tell from the photos and my description whether or not it will work for you.

If so, and you want it, check out the webBikeWorld Sale Page — that’s where it’ll be.

More webBikeWorld:
wBW Review: Hepco & Becker SportStar Tail Bag
Manufacturer: Hepco & Becker List Price (2008): $130.00
Colors: Black Made In: Unknown
Review Date: May 2008
Note: For informational use only. All material and photographs are Copyright © webWorld International, LLC since 2000. All rights reserved. See the webBikeWorld® Site Info page. Product specifications, features and details may change or differ from our descriptions. Always check before purchasing. Read the Terms and Conditions!

Owner Comments and Feedback

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From “J.W.”:  “I just read your review of the tail bag. I think you may be missing something….

From the way the straps are mounted at the rounded corners of the bag, it would seem to me that they should be mounted in an “X” pattern running underneath the seat rather than a “II” pattern along the sides of the motorcycle.

From the tail bags I’ve used and looked at, a “X” pattern is pretty common for straps, bungees, etc.

Looking at the pictures, I’d be happy with the fit on the GT1000, but you’re you and I’m me. Just thought I’d throw in my 2 cents.”

Editor’s Reply:  I responded to J.W.:  “I’m not sure how I’d tighten it with the “X” pattern so that the straps wouldn’t just slide together in the middle?

J.W.’s Response:  “Well, if you were going to mount the bag where the straps ran underneath the seat, you won’t need to cinch the straps down super tight.

Once you set the seat back on the frame and latch it into place (being sure that the straps don’t interfere with your latch mechanism) the seat will provide some pressure to keep the straps and bag in place and sitting on the seat would provide even more pressure.

I’m sure if you look closely at the picture of the tail bag on the 999 (below) you won’t see any straps as they are probably routed underneath the passenger seat.

These should show the x-pattern arrangement the other guy was trying to describe. It hold my bag tightly enough to my pillion pad that the side strap isn’t really necessary:

Touratech Tail Bag Straps Touratech Tail Bag

From “J.D.”:  “You might want to check out the Touratech catalogue. It has several tail bags in varying sizes (and everything you’d ever want in the way of luggage for a BMW).

I bought (this one, photo below) for my 999 and continue to be pleased with it. Since the picture was taken, I figured out that I could use the side buckles by leading the strap in the opposite directions than it was intended, although it’s probably unnecessary and redundant.

(Also) unlike the lack of dimensions provided by other manufacturers/sellers that you complained about, the Touratech catalogue does provide the dimensions of their products, which enabled me to know beforehand how my bag would fit on my pillion pad.”

Touratech Tail Bag - Ducati 999