First, this is a great report. I recently bought the Timbuk2 large messenger bag (custom colors) and am really happy with it but I ride an R1150RT so I don't really need it for the bike. I use it for my daily commute into Manhattan on the train and the walk to and from stations. I couldn't be happier with it. Very confortable to wear and it stays where I want it even when dashing across 42nd Street trying to keep from becoming roadkill. Awesome bag.
I can only envy people whose lives are so elegantly structured and uncluttered that they can carry their daily needs in a shoulder bag. I'm one of the people carrying a work bag with laptop, soft sided cooler with two meals, and a gym bag in my 3 bag Givi setup.
I discovered there are some upsides to the hard bags after getting knocked down in traffic. First, the bags kept my bike off my leg and saved me lots of bike damage. Second, the bags protected my stuff quite nicely. My laptop suffered no damage, my cell phone still worked so I could call my office, and my digital camera still worked so I could quickly document the circumstances of the accident leading to eventually reaping a full payout from the offender's insurance company.
Until I am owned by less stuff, I'll stick with the hard bag and just envy you cool folks who can get by with one of these messenger bags. But I'll also be secretly thinking "my stuff is safer than their stuff."
Oh, and Consumer Reports would have been proud to have published this review.
Most (all ?) tank bags have magnets which are a bad thing if you want to carry a laptop. I have a Tourmaster tank bag for just about everything except the laptop which then goes on my back with a messenger bag.
I use a back pack made specifically for my iBook by STM, and it can carry other stuff as well and works well. They make a messenger bag, but I would have to get a protective sleeve for the laptop, which is an extra cost and makes things more cumbersome.
I've been using the Timbuk2 laptop messenger bag for a few months. It has been a great bag, carrying everything with ease. Only had one heavy rain with it and it kept everything dry. Not sure how long the strap adjuster will last, seems to slip when carrying the laptop. I usually keep it adjusted long enough to rest on the passenger seat.
A tankbag on my little Triumph 600 causes annoying air flow over the tank at speed. There is a sort of low pressure created that tends to suck me down on the tank, which is just the opposite of what I want, which is a little pressure on my chest to hold me up and take a little pressure off my arms.
I've resorted to a rear carrier and tailbag, which is ugly, but then my bike is the Speed 4, so funky is the style.
Interesting article. One of my kids found a single strap backpack that she thought was cool for a while. I got it just before it was split to pieces and have used it as a carrier bag on my old Brit bikes where there is almost no space to mount bags. It's much better than a backpack when I'm wearing my Kilmanjaro jacket, which has pads that make it near impossible to put on a backpack without dislocating a shoulder first. The drawback is the big wide padded strap (good) is held together with velcro (bad). That makes it very convenient to put on and take off, but makes me worry it will strip off and sail behind me into the jaws of traffic. I had my wife install a smaller strap to keep the bag from sliding around in front of me. It's not the best execution of a courier bag but definitely proves the concept and it was free. Now if I could just find out where my wife put it.
Excellent Article. Yep Backpacks are hard to get on and off with any protective motorcycle jacket. I have considered a tail bag but these messanger bags are an alternative I am going look at... I have a tank bag but it doesn't fit my laptop. Thanks for the excellent analysis Gabe.
Try a Kriega rucksack , you can take it off with a gloved hand and it straps to your body across the front. Also has back protection in it. Looks like a parachute with the "harness" and rings & keeps the weight very close to your body and evenly distributed.