Back in the day, when a proper sport-tourer was an 1100 Katana or an FZR1000, the tank bag was indispensable for weekend blasts to San Francisco or Reno or wherever. The FZR in particular had a flat-topped steel tank that was the catbird seat for my old magnetic bag. If you packed soft t-shirts and undies on top, it was purrfect to lean on and unweight your wrists. Magnetic was good for me, since I was always riding different bikes. If you have one bike, an old-fashioned strap-on bag, invented before the magnet, is a bit more secure on windshieldless motorcycles.
Now that we’ve gotten old and soft, and motorcycles have become more specialized (I’m pretty sure saddlebags weren’t an option on the ZX-11 like they are for the new Ninja 1000), the old tank bag just doesn’t see much action lately. But I couldn’t help noticing the new Z900 tank looked perfect for a tank bag, and if you’re an old-fashioned rugged person who wants to go places in a hurry and less encumbered, a good tank bag is still a must-have accessory. Here are seven great ones to get your shopping started.
PS: If you’re worried about your paint, a layer of clear protective adhesive-backed coating like 3M Paint Protection Film isn’t a bad idea.
Table of Contents
Chase Harper makes a shed-ton of tank bags; this 800 is a midsize, ergonomically expandable tank bag with a circumferential zipper that lets it expand from 10.4 to 17 liters. It’s made of urethane-coated ballistic nylon for tear and water-resistance, sealed with big YKK black metal zippers. A non-slip rubberized polyester material covers the bottom and the magnetic wings to prevent scratching, which is chock full of neodymium magnets for secure mounting (a strap-mount version also available). It converts to a backpack, there are mesh pockets, a detachable touch-sensitive map pouch for map, cell phone, or tablet use, yada yada yada… very nice.
If you’re on a truly naked bike and moving at a good clip, something a bit more secure than magnets is in order. The SHAD people came up with an innovative Pin System that secures bag to bike by replacing 3 or 4 of the original gas cap screws with pins, for a positive mechanical connection that can be installed in minutes. There are applications for over 180 motorcycles, and counting. The E16-P is Shad’s largest bag, expandable from 11 to 15 liters, and packed with all the features you’d expect for the price, including a touch-screen friendly smartphone compartment and a pass-through port for your charging cable.
GIVI has its own Tanklock system, similar to some others, which involves a raised ring deal that also bolts into the tank filler holes and eliminates the need for magnets or straps. Natch, GIVI produces a plethora of luggage, and looks like nine different Tanklock bags on its site. The ST602B here is a smaller, 4-liter job, thermoformed in EVA laminated Polyester 1000D for an aerodynamic design. Waterproof zippers, a waterproof bag, shoulder strap and an internal pocket for carrying your phone is included – though the actual BF series Mounting Flange is sold separately.
Another one in the gas filler-mount category, would be the SW Motech line of bags, using SW’s proprietary mount system. This EVO Daypack, expandable from 5 to 9 liters, is on the smaller side of SW-Motech’s offerings, of which there are myriad, including bike-specific bags for tons of motorcycles and the EVO 2.0 Engage electric bag in our lead image. All of them can be attached to the EVO tank ring with one hand and just as easily removed for refueling. Ballistic nylon construction is tough, and carrying handle and shoulder strap are included, along with connectors for a GPS mount, map holder and phone or tablet drybag. It can also accommodate a cable lock for anti-theft protection. Made in Deutschland.
I’ve never owned a Wolfman tank bag, but I still use the Wolfman tail pack I got during the Clinton administration, and it’s still in great shape. The Blackhawk WP is Wolfman’s largest tank bag, at 10 liters (610 cubic inches), and attaches to your bike with a classic four-point snap harness. The yellow bungee on top is for storing gloves while you’re gassing up, or a jacket layer when you’re not. There’s a removable clear pocket, along with a removable waist belt pouch. The #8 YKK waterproof main zipper seals up the ballistic nylon shell quite snugly, and a raincover is included (like all these, I believe).
This one’s available magnetic or strap-on, with a non-slip, non-scratch mounting base under a shape that’s perfect for leaning up against. Constructed of ballistic polyester and 1800 denier twill Jacquard, with multiple mounting options including to yourself with backpack straps, this expandable 12-liter bag is one of many Cortechs designed in the USA. Comes with a removable map case that’s great for things besides maps, along with a built-In sip tube and headphone ports.
It’s not Nelson-Rigg’s first rodeo either; they’ve been making bags for 30 years. The Trails End’s anti-slip V-shaped base is designed to fit off-road, dual-sport and adventure motorcycles, with a main compartment measuring 12”L x 7”W x 9”H with more expandability to 16.5 liters as needed. UltraMax polyester construction gives the bag maximum UV protection, and a new quick-release system makes for quick mounting and refueling. Reverse coil zippers are claimed to keep out dust and dirt. You got your convenient side pockets for smaller items for easy access as well as a clear touch-screen-friendly map pocket. What could go wrong? If anything does, NR provides a lifetime warranty.
We are committed to finding, researching, and recommending the best products. We earn commissions from purchases you make using the retail links in our product reviews and other articles. Learn more about how this works.
Become a Motorcycle.com insider. Get the latest motorcycle news first by subscribing to our newsletter here.