Monday, April 27, 2015

Wolfman Expedition Dry Saddle Bags & Rally Raid luggage racks

Wolfman Expedition Dry saddle bags mounted on Rally Raid luggage racks
Wolfman Expedition Dry saddle bags mounted on Rally Raid luggage racks

Based on my own experiences on mounting travel gear solely on the rear/top rack I came to the conclusion that I needed rear/pannier racks and some sort of saddle bags. My goal was to get the weight of the gear lower on the bike and keep the gas cap clear from luggage so I could refill with minimum hassle.

My first instinct was to get 2 waterproof roll bags and simply strap the to the racks and be done with it.

Couple of things had me reconsidering this option.
1. getting to gear inside the back would not be ideal as the bag would be sort of sideways.
2 all the weight of the bags would be on the racks unless I came up with some sort of strapping system to distribute some of the weight of the rack.

Number 2 could be solved easily enough, but why go through the trouble when better commercial options are available. Plan A was then dismissed.

Renegade roll bag by Wolfman

I then started going through bag options designed for enduro type bikes. Options are plentiful and companies like Wolfman and Giant Loop come up often.

Basically there are two approaches to the rear bags dilemma. There are the horseshoe shaped bags that can be mounted without racks if so desired and the more traditional two separate bags approach.

I found good alternatives for the horse shoe bag from Mosko, Altrider and Giant Loop but I decided I didn't want any gear on top of the saddle or rear rack. I didn't want to end up back in square one with the fill up problem.
Mosko horseshoe style saddle bags

One thing I am adamant about is that the bags must be waterproof. Rain covers never really work in real life. I found several viable options for the bags, but once I found out that my friend had a pair of Wolfman Expedition Dry Saddle Bags laying around I decided to look no further.

Once I got the bags in my hands it was mounting time. There were straps and loops everywhere and if there is a "proper way" of mounting the bags to the racks with the provided loops I sure could not figure it out. Yes, the bags can be attached securely to the racks with the provided hardware, but I would need to get the bags on and off the bike with relative ease and speed. That didn't seem a possible combination. If I had the Wolfman racks, the provided hardware would work beautifully, but since the RR racks really don't seem to be designed for the Wolfman hardware I needed to come up with something better.

I decided to remove almost all the straps from the bags leaving only the wide top ones that come across the saddle and the ones that actually keep the rolled bag mouths shut.

removed straps on the left vs. the 4 replacements on the right

Instead of a small bag worth of straps I now have 4 compression straps with metal buckles that keep the bags in place. The setup is easy enough for me to figure out / remember even if I'm not using the bags frequently. I hate to those how-the-hell-did.this-work-again moments. using existing loops on the bags the end result looks clean enough and I have a place to store excess strap if the bags are not full.

Metal buckles on the straps

backside of the rack


Wolfman Expedition Dry saddle bags mounted on Rally Raid luggage racks


Quickly after I got this stuff posted I got a heads up from Poland about my mounting method. It seems that the Rolling Hobo had done something similar with his bags and ran into problems when vibrations ate through the straps. The straps are now going through the rectangular cuts on the racks and while they are not very sharp edged I fully believe that this issue needs sorting. I'm certain it can be solved, it's just a matter of how. Gotta put on the thinking cap. UPDATE -> in here 

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