Have you ever purchased a piece of gear that looked great on the shelf or in the catalog, only to find that it seemed to have been designed by someone who had never seen a motorcycle?
The Wolfman Explorer tank bag neatly disposes of such nonsense with smart features and excellent build quality, not to mention a reasonable price, which make it a pleasure to use.
Designed primarily for dual-purpose bikes such as the KLR650 and the BMW GS series, the 26-liter bag has a sloping bottom intended for tall and steeply angled tanks.
Rave reviews from the KLR community prompted me to try the bag in the first place – Wolfman supplies it with a mounting harness specific to the KLR – but it also looked right at home on the tank of my Speed Triple.
A call to the factory produced a “universal” harness consisting of four straps with buckles that should serve to secure the bag to any tank that’s mounted upon a remotely conventional frame.
Handy, as the Triumph has a distinctly non-conventional plastic tank, ruling out most other bags on the market.
The universal mounting harness lived up to its name and installed in less than five minutes, most of which were spent removing the seat and front tank cowl to access the frame.
Once in place, it’s a simple matter of fastening the four buckles at the corners of the bag to the frame harness, positioning the bag on the tank, and cinching down the straps.
The soft, grippy rubber coating on the bottom of the bag stays put and extends onto flaps beneath the buckles to help protect the paint.
The whole works holds its shape when empty thanks to foam and plastic stiffening panels, which can be removed from inside the bag. Even at supra-legal velocities, the bag didn’t move an inch – no flopping, no buffeting, just rock solid.
I found that the Explorer can be mounted forward or backward on the Triple’s tank with no problems – the conventional forward mounting gives a flat viewing angle to the map pocket, or the bag can be turned around for a more angled view. Neither position presented a problem with the mounting straps, nor did the bag interfere with any controls or the view of the dash panel.
Besides being easy to install and looking sharp, the Explorer is packed full of really useful features. Atop the bag is a clear map pocket sized to accommodate two unfolded panels of a standard-sized map. Inside the pocket is a divider for storing additional maps, and the whole works can be easily removed by ripping it from its Velcro mount.
Two additional strips of Velcro hold the pocket closed and prevent the front edge from lifting in the wind. A small loop provides a place for mounting a map light or pen right where it’s handy.
Wolfman also offers a slightly larger map pocket designed to hold a sheet of computer paper for those who like to make their own maps, and standard replacement pockets are available should yours become damaged, or if you’re a map geek.
The outside edges of the bag are covered in pockets, the large end incorporating a sewn-on “crescent” zippered pocket big enough to hold all the necessities – wallet, phone, earplugs, Powerbar, iPod, and then some – while the other three sides mount removable pockets which secure solidly with Velcro panels, straps, and loops. Each is large enough to hold a 12-oz. can of soda.
A reflective nylon strap forms a handle around the large pocket and is repeated on the side pockets for enhanced visibility after dark. If you find yourself running out of room, an optional set of larger side pockets is available.
The main compartment of the Explorer is secured with a huge YKK #10 zipper that looks and feels like it will last longer than your bike. Every zipper on the bag has a pull cord, making all compartments usable while wearing gloves, and all zippers operate smoothly and easily.
Grab tabs on the outer pockets assist opening and closing. Just beneath the main zipper is the expansion panel zipper, which lets the top panel hinge at the forward part of the bag for an extra 3.5” of storage capacity.
The expansion panel material is rubber coated inside for extra waterproofing, a nice touch. Fold the top open and nothing impedes access to the cavernous interior, which features a key clip and a zippered mesh pouch for documents, as well as access to the foam and plastic stiffeners.
As if these features weren’t enough, Wolfman also offer a rain cover, an insulated hydration reservoir, and a set of straps that fasten to the mounting clips and D-rings and turn the Explorer into a practical and comfortable backpack – perfect for wandering around with your gear when you reach your destination. Now I just need to find a place to stash my riding suit…
What’s not to like? This might be the perfect tank bag – capacious without being overly large, nicely styled, well built and priced right – and despite lacking the convenience of magnetic mounting, the strap system is so fast and simple that I don’t miss my old bag.
There’s enough capacity for a short weekend or overnight trip. The only problem I’ve yet to overcome is what to do with the loose ends of the straps if I’m not using the bag, as they are difficult to remove without taking off the seat and tank. I suppose the best solution is just to keep the bag on the bike at all times – I can’t see any reason to leave it at home!
Product Comments: Large capacity. Uses big YKK zipper on main compartment. Includes a key holder, internal mesh pocket with zipper and a pen pocket. Also has reflective trim and foam stiffeners in sides. 26-liter capacity.Dimensions: Width: 8-3/4” front and 10-3/4” rear. Height: 10” front (13-1/2” expanded) and 6-3/4” rear. Length: 11-3/4”.
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Not all comments will be published (details). Comments may be edited for clarity prior to publication.
From “J” (2/09): “The Wolfman Luggage, Explorer Tank Bag was recently replaced with the Rainier model. I purchased (February ’09) the new Rainier at www.sporttour.com that combines features from both the Explorer and Denali models. I agree with most of the information provided in the webBikeWorld review concerning the Wolfman tank bag with the following exceptions:
The rainfly ($15-20) is not of the same quality in design as the Rainier tank bag. While the Gortex material is indeed water resistant and effective on tents, or in some instances on a jacket, it loses its effectiveness when not kept taunt and vertical.
Water will saturate the water resistant material, especially in puddles, folds, wrinkles or when it comes into contact with another object (such as the included map envelope). Worse, seams that form the cover are not taped creating a condition whereby water will be drawn into the cover here as well.
The price for the Rainier seems fair enough considering the thoughtful design of the tank bag itself and because the bag is custom fitted to specific motorcycle models with unique tank designs.
Wolfman could also sweeten the purchase experience by offering step-by-step installation instructions with illustrations that depict how the bag should be properly installed. The poorly photocopied instructions I received appear to be duplicated from a binder insert shipped to an authorized dealer.
I had difficulty because the images were overexposed with too much contrast. I could find no other references to the installation at (Wolfman Luggage) or elsewhere online. A .pdf download available at the Wolfman website that covers the essentials of an effective installation would be classy and further the industry standard.
Fortunately, I was able to figure out a way to secure the rear leads to my bike by wedging the D-rings (sewn into the straps) between the tank and the body where the two overlap.