Sunday, May 3, 2015

Viking Bags - Classic Sissy Bar Bag Review - Long Term Test

Viking Classic Sissy Bar Bag

Long Term Test – Viking Bags Classic Sissy Bar Bag

Can we find a better term than “sissy bar” for the back rest on the rear of a motorcycle?  I like to think of mine as the “Don’t Leave the Wife Behind When You Accelerate Quickly Bar”…  It has other useful functions as well, especially when you’re taking a longer trip and need a way to secure all your stuff. 

I have an older tour pack that has served me well, bought second-hand from the Klimas Kollection, but this one had so many features that I liked that I just had to upgrade.  

To that end, I looked for a bag that I could tour with all summer long and came up with the Viking Classic bag from Motorcycle House (  There are lots of dealers clamoring for your hard-earned dollars but these folks have everything you need in one place.

Where to begin?  For starters, it looks like an expensive piece of luggage, with heavy duty leather and a hard shell. Look at all the straps that come with it!  The only thing that’s missing is wheels on the bottom and a pop-up handle, which no doubt will be on NEXT year’s model.  Seriously, this is tough stuff. My last bag was Cordura nylon which is good, but not as tough as this waterproof leather.  It feels as rugged as my Vanson competition riding jacket!

When it arrived, I couldn't wait to unpack it all and have a look.  The chrome buckles look great and have quick release snaps hiding underneath, so I don’t have to fiddle with buckles when I have gloves on.  The feature that sold me on this particular model, besides the black leather and chrome, is the side-opening zippers on both sides of the main bag.  On my old bag, I would invariably find one more thing to bring on a road trip, and have to unpack it all just to drop said item into the main bag from the top.  Here, as you can see, I can leave this bag mounted and easily open and close to my heart’s content.   Which is another reason I am leaving this on my bike all summer:  there’s simply no reason to remove it! You’ll get the benefit of occasional updates and commentary as I use this to commute, ride and tour all season long.

The mounting system adjusts to whatever size pad you have. This is critical now that Harley-Davidson offers the WIDE backrest, as an option.  Hey, if your old lady is comfortable back there, she’s likely to ride with you more often.  Mine came set to the narrowest opening, which was perfect for the smaller back rest on the VTX.  No adjustment was needed.

The bag system also comes with a roll bag also made of heavy leather.  This affixes to the top of the main bag using two of the provided straps.  I won’t use the roll bag day-to-day, but it provides additional volume, when you need it.  There are shoulder straps to carry this bag, and back pack straps to make carrying the main bag easy.  If you’re dragging all your gear to a hotel room at the end of a long day in the saddle, this will make that part of your day a little better.

If you don’t ride in the rain, then you’re not a rider.  The bag has a waterproof cover, for those days when you have to ride through foul weather to get where you’re going.  Any biker worth his salt spends more time riding than polishing. The riders who never cross state lines won’t be looking into a tour pack system like this anyway.

The main bag zips open from the sides, as I mentioned above.  It also contains an adjustable shelf unit.  I can see how this would be helpful if you had to carry a wet pair of boots, and didn’t want all your other stuff to get soaked too.  With 4 hook and loop straps, it divides the main bag into an almost infinite number of spaces.  Inside the bag “doors” are small mesh pockets, to carry stuff you want quick access to (sunscreen, etc).  The outside of the bag is COVERED with pockets.  I’ve got the rain cover permanently stashed in one, but I have a lot of others to choose from.

When packing a bag this big, remember to keep all the heavy items low, so as to not affect your Center of Gravity too adversely.  The bag mounts securely on a luggage rack or on the rear seat, if your bike doesn’t have a rack.  If you DO have a rack, follow the weight guidelines and don’t overload it, if you want your gear to arrive at your final destination along with you!

Here are a few pix I took today after mounting the bag on the VTX.  It looks good!

Tomorrow will be Day 1 of testing and I’ll write again about my impressions and how the bag holds up to use, sun, bugs and weather.  I can’t wait to sling my backpack into the new bag and get some feedback from the other riders at work.  I’m sure they will have something to say!

A low, slow wave,

Joe Rocket

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