The Roadgear tank bag, tail bag set is soft motorcycle luggage that works well for sportbikes.
The smaller capacity tank bag and tail bag are very easy to mount and remove from the motorcycle.
Simple design means that they’re easier to use.
But, they are not waterproof. Roadgear provides a 10-year warranty.
This is the “good old days” of motorcycling, no doubt about it. Technologies that were beyond the realm of imagination 20 years ago are now standard equipment on every bike.
But one thing hasn’t changed, and in fact has probably gotten worse. Can you guess what it is?
The ability to carry anything other than the rider!
A couple of decades ago, the ingredients for a motorcycle ride were pretty basic: a license, a Hamilton and a pair of shades. But in the 21st Century, even a short trip down to the local 7-11 means a cell phone, a water bottle, an MP3 player, ID tags, Power Bars and who knows what else. Not to mention a Jackson, which is now barely enough for a fill-up and a Coke.
Today’s motorcycles have less space to carry all this junk than ever before. There’s not even a place to stow my 113 gram (4 oz.), 90x45x25 mm cell phone on my bike. Someday – maybe – a clever designer will figure out a way to add a modicum of storage on a motorcycle without making it look like a full-dress tourer. Until then, soft luggage is about the only solution.
We’ve looked at other types of soft luggage for motorcycles in previous webBikeWorld reviews, including luggage that can turn a sportbike into a pretty decent tourer. But for short day trips, a small tank bag and maybe a tail bag are all that’s needed. The criteria? They must be light weight, functional, very easy to install and remove, and don’t get in the way of the rider.
The Roadgear Compact Sport Tank Bag and Sport Tail Bag score on all counts. We’ve used them on a variety of motorcycles for all types of rides, including a 2-day mini-tour of about 800 miles through the Mid-Atlantic states. We’re impressed by their simplicity and ease of use — in an age where bigger and more complex is always better, it’s a revelation to discover that smaller and simpler can actually be more useful.
We looked for the typical hidden pockets and removable modules on these bags and scratched our heads when we couldn’t find them, only to realize their absence helps to make the bags more user friendly.
Although known for its line of clothing, Roadgear also makes a variety of soft luggage for motorcycles, including saddlebags, tank bags and tail bags.
Even though the Compact Sport Tank Bag is one of their smallest, it has just the right amount of space to make it useful for the large majority of trips a motorcyclist is likely to take.
The bottom of the Compact Sport Tank Bag is covered with a product that Roadgear calls “Toughtek”, which has a rubbery and vaguely sticky feel. There are 6 magnets sewn underneath the Toughtek protective liner, and they work very well to secure the bag on a steel fuel tank.
Roadgear claims that the magnets are “polarized”, with 40% more strength than other magnets of similar size and that they are designed to resist cutting through the liner. Roadgear also says that the magnets have steel caps to prevent magnetically sensitive from getting erased, but we wouldn’t want to test that claim.
Two magnets are located under the base of the bag and two under each flap, which give the bag a solid grip on any motorcycle with a steel fuel tank. Roadgear also makes a similar version of this tank bag with a strap mounting system, but the magnetic mount is what makes this bag work so easily. It takes no time at all to throw it on and go, and it’s just as easy to peel it off at the end of the ride.
Using more but smaller 50 mm (2″) magnets makes it easy to unfasten the bag, and it just feels less bulky than bags that have big magnets. Big, heavy magnets can be clunky, because their power can sometimes make them tend to grab on to the tank whenever they get close. This can be tough on the bike’s finish whilst making it harder to precisely locate the bag in the desired position. But the Compact Sport Tank Bag’s smaller magnets make a softer landing, while still providing a secure connection to the tank.
When the bag is removed from the tank, the two flaps holding the magnets can be folded up underneath, making a nice tidy package. The entire bag weighs just short of a kilogram at 942 grams, or 2 lbs. 1-1/4 oz. For comparison, this is only about 2/3 of the weight of a light motorcycle helmet.
The bag has a useful map pocket with a crystal clear vinyl window. The pocket unzips at the back, towards the rider, and it has a big, wide flap that closes with “hook and loop” fastener to hide the zipper. Hiding the externals helps to give the bag a sleeker look. The map pocket opening is about 60 cm (6-1/4″) wide, 23 cm long (~9″), and it’s about 20 cm (8″) wide at the rear, which is large enough to hold printed directions or a folded map.
The map pocket can also be unzipped from the bag. It has a “secret” pocket hidden underneath that has the same dimensions as the map pocket and can be used to carry a wallet or other important papers. It even has an adjustable string-type carrying strap inside that can be used to carry the detached map pocket over the shoulder.
The cover of the main compartment is hinged towards the front. It unzips to reveal a single cavity of about 30 cm (12″) by 22 cm (8-5/8″) wide by 76 mm (3″) deep. The main compartment can be expanded by opening a zipper around the lower perimeter of the bag. The expansion panel gives about another 70 mm, or 2.5″ of height at the front of the bag.
The Compact Sport Tank Bag has no other internal or external pockets or storage devices, and none are needed. The single cavity works nicely for storing a variety of items like water bottles, a radio, windbreaker, gloves or whatever else will fit. Roadgear lists the capacity of the Compact Sport Tank Bag at 7 liters, expandable to 10.
The zippers for the expansion panel and the two zippers that open the main compartment have large hard nylon zipper pulls, which are easy to locate and use. The bag also has a nylon webbed handle at the top to carry it when it’s not attached to the bike. Also, the “Roadgear” logo is sewn on to a strip the at the rear of the bag and on the flap that closes the map cover. The fabric under the logo is the highly reflective 3M Scotchlite product.
We found the Roadgear Compact Sport Tank Bag to be a very useful device and it’s become a favorite for daily motorcycle trips. It’s simple and easy to use and it holds everything we need for shorter excursions. It’s very useful as an everyday tank bag, especially if the bike has no other storage capacity.
Tail bags are a relatively new type of motorcycle soft luggage. We’re not sure when they first appeared, but they’re probably an evolution of the original motorcycle luggage: a duffel bag strapped to the back of a motorcycle.
There are all sorts of different soft tail bags or tail packs available today, with capacities from small to huge. But as we noted above, bigger is not always better, and this is especially true with tail bags.
It’s not a good idea to get too much weight out over the rear of the bike, which can negatively affect the handling of the bike. Also, if the bigger tail bags lose most of their shape if they aren’t filled to capacity, causing the bag to flap around in the turbulence behind the rider. This can cause the bag to become loose, possibly either damaging the bike’s finish or causing the bag to fly off the back of the bike at speed.
The Sport Tail Bag is smaller than most, so it fits more snugly on sportbikes or when it’s not filled to capacity. It’s dimensions are closer in size to a tank bag than some of the monster tail bags that are available. It’s about 23 cm wide (9″) by 34 cm long (13-1/4″) by 24 cm deep (9-1/2″). The single cavity is big enough to fit a wide variety of items, including a laptop computer, which fits when placed at an angle.
There are no expansion panels in the base, nor are there any internal pockets, and again, none are needed for this style of tail bag with its intended purpose. The main compartment uses a dual zipper, each with big plastic or nylon zipper pulls. Roadgear lists the capacity of the Sport Tail Bag as 22 liters.
The flap that opens into the main compartment includes a hidden pocket, accessible via a zipper underneath one of the horizontal accordion pleats towards the rear of the bag. The zipper pull can just be seen sticking out of the top of the bag towards the rear in the photo above. This pocket is useful for carrying spare maps or a pair of gloves or other thin items that might need quick access without having to open up the entire bag.
The Sport Tail Bag doesn’t really have a front or a back, although the curved portion is probably designed to be at the rear of the bike. We thought that it made more sense to locate the external pocket towards the rear of the bike when it contained hard items like a radio or flashlight, because the bag was more comfortable with the softer, rounded side towards the rider’s back.
The front (rounded) side is actually a large semi-hidden pocket that opens to the width and height of the bag, and it expands to about 75 mm, or 3″. The flap at the top is one of the horizontal accordion shaped strips of fabric, which also help to give the bag a nice ability to expand while helping it to keep its overall shape when it isn’t full.
The front of the bag also has a sewn-on nylon webbed strap for carrying when not attached to the bike. Two plastic or nylon “D” rings are also located on the front of the bag. These can be used either as extra mounting points for locating bungee cords or for an over the shoulder carrying strap (not included).
The pocket at the rear of the bag (shown facing the rear in the photo above) is about 18 cm wide (7″) by 18 cm deep and expands to 70 mm (2-3/4″). This pocket has a zipper on top with a big zipper pull, and two thinner nylon webbed straps that form a ring, which can be used to locate bungee cords.
There are two more slim pockets, one on either side of the bag. They open with dual zippers; the zipper pulls can be seen sticking out the side of the bag near the top in the photo above. The 4 external pockets make it easy to store items that need quick access, and leave the main compartment to hold items that won’t be used as frequently.
The bottom of the Sport Tail Bag is also covered in Roadgear’s Toughtek material. The material is open at both of the longitudinal sides of the bag, and four double bungee cords are located within. These are each about 20 cm (8″) long to the inside of the nylon bungee hook, and they expand to about double in length.
The bag should be easy to secure to most motorcycles, although as you can notice from the photo at the top of this page, the rear of the Thunderbird Sport doesn’t have any good mounting points, so we hooked the bungees to each other under the fender, which isn’t the optimal situation. But there shouldn’t be any problems in locating the bag on most bikes, especially those with bungee mounting points installed as original equipment.
Roadgear’s Compact Sport Tank Bag and Sport Tail Bag are a good combination for all-around, everyday use on a variety of motorcycles. They have a large enough capacity for just about any occasion, and their simplicity makes them easy to mount and remove, which makes them more likely to be used on a daily basis.
The bags are both made in the U.S.A. and have solid construction. They’re not waterproof, so it may be a good idea to purchase a couple of bag covers for using them in the rain. Roadgear offers a 10 year warranty on all of their soft luggage.
From “M.M.” (December 2012): “Please note: The Roadgear Magnetic Tank Map Holder will blow off your bike if hit by a strong broadside gust of wind. I purchased one in August for my Honda VFR800 — the same bike Roadgear uses to display the map case on its website — and planned to use it for a trip from Los Angeles to Glacier National Park, in Montana.
The case stayed put at highway speeds for the first half of the trip, but was torn off the tank by wind from an approaching storm just before entering the park. Searched a cow pasture for it, but never recovered the case, which contained a Butler map and annual National Parks pass … very annoying.
I sent a note to Roadgear suggesting that they might warn buyers that the case can blow away. They offered me 50% off a replacement. I did not take them up on the offer.”
Editor’s Reply: I’m sure this will vary, depending upon the motorcycle type, shape of the fuel tank and other factors. But since steel fuel tanks seem to be going the way of the Dodo, I doubt we’ll be seeing many new tank bags with magnets (not to mention the effect the magnets can have on credit cards, computer media, etc.).