Pros and cons of a soft tailbag

In May 2018 I bought myself SW-Motech’s Drybag 180. The bag is a soft tailbag with a capacity of 18 liters.

I bought the bag mainly because I wanted an alternative choice for my backpack. I had couple of longer trips in mind and I knew that backpack would wear my shoulders out in a longer trip. I don’t know if I should’ve bought a better backpack, but I really wanted to try out a tailbag.

Bikey and the stuffed up tail bag posing in front of a lake in Viitasaari

Easy attaching and detaching

I found this tailbag when I was looking for handguards from SW-Motech. I had also been browsing some Finnish shops, but this bag seemed to have the most reliable and easiest way of attaching it on the bike. I value highly the easy attaching because I want the bag to be there only when I’m making longer trips. Other times I’m using my backpack.

I attach the bag by removing the back seat of the bike and putting two straps underneath it. The straps are attached on the bag with clips. Then I adjust the straps so that the bag sits there firmly.

Two ways of putting the straps underneath the passenger seat:

The easy attaching has one downside: the bag can also be detached easily by just opening the clips. It feels like the bag is screaming please steal me so that’s why I’m not comfortable with leaving it on the bike when I’m taking a break and going for lunch for example. Luckily the bag came with a shoulder strap so I can carry it around fairly easily. Feels stupid to take it off everytime, but that’s what you get when you don’t trust people.

Cheap choice

Other reason I chose this bag was because it was cheap (around 50€). Of course I would have bought a bigger bag system (like side cases or/and hard covered tailbag) for my bike, but at this point I thought this soft tailbag is an easy way to get myself familiarized with bag solutions. A proper bag system would be quite a big investment.. and I don’t even know how long I will be having this bike or would I even make super long trips with this bike. Sidenote: I don’t really like the look of most hard cased tailbags. This tailbag looked very sleek on my bike so that was the third reason I chose this one.

Waterproofness

This bag should be waterproof. I haven’t gotten a chance to try it in a real pouring rain, but it kept a light rain outside so I’m confident that it’s waterproof for real.

Capacity

I have made several short trips and two longer trips with the bag during season 2018. And I’ve realized it’s bit too small (the bag has capacity of 18 liters). It fits couple of days clothes and necessities in it, but the problem is when I have to fit e.g. a towel and shoes in there. Luckily I’ve gone to places that have linens (sheets, towels etc.) already provided for me, otherwise I would have had to also have my backpack with me and the whole point of having the tailbag would be gone.

On May 2018 I bought a cargo net to get more stuff with me to Turku.

So what’s next?

I can manage with this one, but I have browsed for better bag systems with no luck so far. The bags have been way too expensive for me because I’m not ready to invest a lot of money on them (since I don’t know if I’m going to change to a bigger bike etc.). I will keep looking and maybe take a look at some better backpacks too.

Here’s some of my thoughts / criteria on my future bags:

  • They have to be waterproof… meaning the bags have to be hard cased, not sure if canvas etc. fabrics would keep the water out.
  • Side cases are my first choice. I can live with a hard cased tailbag if it somehow looks good on my bike (most of them don’t look good in my opinion). Tankbags are definitely a no no.
  • The attaching system / racks have to be quick / easy to install and to take off. I would only keep them on my bike when I’m having a longer trip.
  • Enough space. Have to fit clothes, extra shoes and some alternative riding gear. Possibly also fit towel, sleeping bag etc.

ps: I wrote this review in 2018, but posted it on 15th of June 2019. I have already ordered new bags and will review them later!


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