~Since 2004~
A site about memories, thoughts, photos, and unrepentant opinions about motorcycles and motorcycling after four decades of twisting the throttle.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Review: Viking Luggage Seat Bag

 The nice folks at Viking Bags contacted me and asked if I'd like to do a review of one of their luggage items.  Given that my Gold Wing is bedecked with acres of plastic storage compartment space I couldn't find anything on the Viking website that would do much for me.  The luggage on the site seems very targeted towards cruisers or sport bikes rather than fully equipped tourers like the big Wing.  What to do?  I hate to turn down free stuff especially when it's good stuff.

I recalled that my buddy Keith, over in California, was looking for a tail bag for his BMW K1200RS.   I checked with him and "Why yes," he'd love some free luggage.  Go figure.  Anyway, He selected the "Motorcycle Tunnel Seat Luggage" from the Viking site and in due course it arrived here in Arizona for my inspection.   I looked it over carefully and once again was impressed with how much quality Viking puts into their products for a very modest price, in this case $109.   After some photos back into the box the bag went and off to California for Keith's evaluation and use.

At right, Keith's K1200RS out at Vasquez Rocks in the California desert.  If they look familiar, Vasquez Rocks has been a shooting location for many TV shows and movies including Star Trek.  If you remember a scene in Star Trek where Captain Kirk rolls a boulder onto a lizard-like alien called a Gorn, this would be the general location.


Keith is a former aerospace test engineer and and I'm a retired automotive test engineer so between the two of us we can raise pickyness to a fine art but we didn't find much to be picky about with this bag.  About the worst thing we could find wrong was that it has a strong "plastic" odor when you open it up but a day of sitting open in the sun took care of that.

The bag comes with a variety of tie-down options and tie-down points including a fabric base that can be secured to the bike so the bag can be quick detached and carried like luggage.   Keith still struggled to attached it well to his BMW.  The smooth, plastic design of the back of the Beemer didn't give a lot of tie point but with a bit of creativity he got it done.  The bag also has a carry handle and strap and Keith commented Once the bag was off, it has a good, comfortable luggage style handle much like a suitcase handle."

Mounting base, assorted straps, and a rain cover

The bag looks good on the BMW, it blends in about as well as can be expected.  No one ever accused Keith of being a style maven but he still didn't want something that looks like a big kludge lashed onto the back of an otherwise fine looking machine.



You can't see it in the photo but the bottom of the bag is tunnel shaped to allow it to slight fit over a normal seat.  This helps the bag stay more secure and less likely to slip off to one side.


One of the things Keith told me he really appreciated was the low profile of the bag, it makes it a little easier to get one's leg up and over when getting on and off the bike and doesn't catch him in the back or but even if the bag is over-stuffed.  


Space, the final frontier: 

The bag isn't a giant bag. From another company I have a tail bag that holds waaay more stuff, but then it opens higher and higher until it looks like you strapped the "leaning tower of luggage" onto the back of the bike.   For some people speed and traveling still require a bit of style.  Looking like the Joad family headed west from Oklahoma isn't an option.   The Viking seat bag had a good amount of storage and pockets, I'd say enough space all on it's own for a long weekend ride.  Further than that and you're still going to need some saddle bags.

The Viking bag has eight or nine different storage compartments for your sundries.  It's nice to be able to compartmentalize your travel junk rather than fish around in the bottom of one big cavernous bag.
Some, not all, of the compartments

I'll let Keith sum it up since he's been using the bag for a month or so now:  "For the money the bag sells for, the size, and versatility, I think it’s an excellent bag" and "...The more I used it, the better I liked it."

Monday, March 10, 2014

Review: Why We Ride - The Movie


Why We Ride is the first really good general interest bike movie since On Any Sunday came out more than forty years ago.  My friend Dave bought the WWR DVD and brought it over to watch on my big screen TV. 

WWR was a nice movie and more relevant for "modern" viewers than On Any Sunday is now.  We watched OAS right after it and the contrasts in style and storytelling were interesting. OAS came out at a time when dirt riding was still getting big in the US and flat track motorcycle racing was THE big form of motorcycle sport in the US, so it fit the times.   Dave, who had never seen On Any Sunday, saw it mostly as "a racing movie" and thinking about it, I believe he's right.

The big advantage of WWR over OAS is that it shows a much wider perspective of the motorcycle sport.  Why We Ride does give a broader looked the world of street riding, for instance, that was missing in On Any Sunday.These days the sport of motorcycling is different, perceived differently by the public, and so the two movies are decidedly different to my eyes.  

I found On Any Sunday was much more fun and more entertaining --I've watched it over 50 times now -- but I did enjoy WWR despite some tedious interviews that seemed to have no point and the movie's general lack of a storyline.  It was nicely filmed and the visuals were great eye candy. WWR drags a bit in places, the director seems in love with slow motion shots even when there is no purpose to them.  Motorcycles are often about speed and sometimes you have to really show that speed. 
 
So, despite it's few short comings, do take the time to see Why We Ride, you can find it sometimes in special theater screenings or you can buy the DVD or even download the movie.  Big screen would be more fun that shown on a TV, motorcycles are big enough for the big screen and often diminished a bit by the small one.   And if you have some non-riding friends or family who just don't understand why you ride, it's a good movie to show them, better even in that respect than On Any Sunday.

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"When my mood gets too hot and I find myself wandering beyond control I pull out my motor-bike and hurl it top-speed through these unfit roads for hour after hour." - T.E. Lawrence



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