A thought occurred to me that I could probably draw a graph comparing the increased use of non-metallic motorcycle fuel tanks with the decreased availability of magnetic tank bags.
The graph would look like a big “X”, with the non-metal fuel tank curve going way up and the use of magnetic tank bags going way down.
There’s an irony for sure involved, because many motorcycle owners who remember the tank bag strap and buckle days were thrilled when magnetic bags arrived, freeing them forever (or so they thought) of those hokey-looking straps.
But…they’re baaaaack! Yep, plastic and roto-molded or whatever they are fuel tanks have moved us one step forward yet another step back, so to speak.
I like tank bags; especially when small and simple. They’re handy and useful and I like to see my stuff right up there in front of me. But strapping one to a fuel tank is a pain, not to mention the problem of paint damage from the straps and the hassle of peeling off the bag at the next fuel stop.
I’m not sure what the ultimate solution will be, but in the meantime, at least the good ol’ Airhead still has a nice metal tank with lacquer paint and, unlike most modern tanks, it doesn’t even have seams along the bottom edge. And it still attracts magnets — or vice versa.
Now I’ll admit that not everyone likes to use a tank bag. Now that I think about it, I haven’t seen a motorcycle with a tank bag in a long time and I’m not sure why. But if you don’t want a hefty tank bag perched in front, but you’d still like something to hold a map or maybe an MP3 player, the Roadgear Magnetic Tank Map Holder may be just the ticket.
This is an absolute minimalist piece of motorcycle luggage; in fact, to call it a tank bag is crediting it with abilities it doesn’t have. It’s designed to hold a map and directions, printed on paper, like in the old days. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve duct-taped some hand-written directions on a windscreen, fuel tank or handlebar, so the Roadgear Tank Map Holder is a perfect solution for my anti-GPS bias.
It has four big (2.5″) magnets underneath, protected by Roadgear’s “Toughtek” rubbery-feel tank bag coating that covers the entire bottom. Magnet overkill for sure in this application, but the magnets are strong enough — and the bag is flexible enough — to hold it down if it’s stuffed with something of an unusual shape.
The Tank Map Holder measures about 25cm across (9-3/4″) and 30.5cm long (12″) and it’s pencil-thin, only 8mm or so over the magnets (~5/16″). That means when it’s not in use it can be easily stored in a saddlebag, maybe under the seat, folded up and stuffed in the tail or even in the pocket of a motorcycle jacket.
The magnets make it a touch heavy (or light, depending on your point of view) at 422 grams (14.8 ounces), but I found that it can be folded over once the long way and again side-to-side to bring it down to a small package of about 4.5″ by 6.5″ by 2″ thick.
The straight end of the Magnetic Tank Map Holder uses a full-length Velcro attachment and there are two fabric tabs sewn in the middle to split it apart. I think it would have been nicer to offset the tabs so they could be more easily grasped with two hands, but this is a minor quibble.
Inside, the Map Holder is divided into an upper and lower pocket, which allows map or document storage underneath and only the current directions on top, to be viewed through the clear plastic.
Here’s how I use the two pockets: I print out my directions in large 18 or 20 point font and split up the “going” from the “returning” directions. I only put the “to” directions on top, under the clear vinyl and store the “return” directions underneath. Then I swap them when I get to my destination. This keeps just the easy-to-read directions on top and minimizes the distractions.
I also found that I can put my Sandisk MP3 player in either the upper or lower pocket and the long earphone cord easily reaches up through my helmet. I use it to either record thoughts while I’m evaluating a product for webBikeWorld or to listen to music, although if it’s the latter I usually store the player in a jacket pocket.
The Roadgear Magnetic Tank Map Holder is available in Red and Black; Yellow and Black; Silver and Black; Blue and Black and all Black.
There’s not much more I can say about the Roadgear Magnetic Tank Map Holder other than it’s simple, it’s well-made and it works. It also has the nice reflective Roadgear logo along the bottom. If you own a bike with a metal fuel tank, the Map Holder is a very handy product. I think it would make a great gift for someone also!
From “D.A.” (05/11): “I purchased one for my 2007 triumph Bonneville. I was very impressed with the quality and it was exactly what I needed for my two week trip to the north rim on the grand canyon. Unfortunately, it blew of my bike the first day in west Texas. I was unable to recover it, losing both my directs and some other important documents.
When I called Roadgear upon my return, they stress that the particular document holder you reviewed was for “sports bikes only”. They classified my Bonneville as a cruiser.
When I pressed them which bikes it was for, the representative would only gave the example of a “Moto Guzzi with flat tank”. At first not wanting to issue a refund or replacement, we finally came to an amicable agreement of store credit.
It honestly didn’t feel like it would come off on the highway. Loading many papers in the holder combined with a very strong crosswind could be an issue.”
From “S.S.” (9/09): “I also wanted to comment on the Roadgear small magnetic tank bag that you reviewed a while ago. I just purchased one, and it works great on my Triumph Legend. It was so refreshing to purchase something that was actually manufactured in the USA!”
From “E.D.”: “I was at Americade in Lake George this past Thursday. I stopped by the Tour Expo indoor vendor site and saw this magnetic map holder for sale ($25 rally price). I spoke with a Roadgear rep about your offset tab suggestion and she said that was a good idea. Perhaps it will be redesigned in later production runs.
Unfortunately, this map holder won’t work on my H-D Road Glide because the intercom/CB console is too high. The map holder isn’t long enough to lay over the console and allow the magnets to adhere to the tank surface. A shame, because the map holder seems really well made.”