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Tank Bags Revisited

Tank Bags Revisited

February 21, 2015

Thanks again for all the tank bag ideas!

We spent a lot of hours this week going through all the advrider, blog, and email comments in detail, reading every single one and taking notes.  There are a ton of awesome ideas, and many truly thoughtful and interesting posts which clearly took some time to write. We can’t respond to each one individually, so please accept a collective THANK YOU to the ADV community from Andrew, Nicole, and me.  Looks like we’ve got our work cut out for us.

We consolidated all the ideas into a single list, stripping out the extra text and commentary.  A couple things jumped out:

– People are passionate about tank bags.  Love or hate: the feelings are strong.

–  Certain ideas came up again and again.  However some of those ideas are directly opposed to others.  In other words, they wouldn’t be possible on the same bag.

– No single design will work for every rider, every bike, and every riding style.

– There’s an opportunity to make a “better” tank bag.  Which is great.

After accumulating all the posts, the final list was 7 pages long and 1,652 words.  Here it is in its entirety, unedited – typos, repeats, and all.

Things we store in tank bags
Spot tracker/inreach
Spare glove storage
Cell phone shade – for overheating issue
External waterproof camera storage
Folded map storage in addition to map pocket
Snacks storage
Small camera pocket near rider side
Handgun CC pocket – this has been requested a LOT
Water bottle spot
Cable storage
Tire gauge storage
Wallet storage outside main compartment
Ear plug storage
Swap map pocket for: Tool – cell phone – tire gauge, document storage
Wallet storage
Ability to fit a pair of shoes and lunch
Should be able to fit a full size A4 piece of paper
Jacket liner storage pocket – or d ring – or molle option
Dedicated glasses pocket with crush-proof design
Smartphone storage with cable access
Spare key and house key storage – little strap with snap on it or clip
Pen storage
Flashlight storage
Earphone storage
Some tool storage
Snack storage, came up several times
Battery storage
Quick-access to camera
Headlamp storage
Big enough to fit a small tablet
First aid kit storage
Face shield cleaner (small bottle storage)
Lip balm
Maps/guide books
Spare gloves
Ear plugs
Silicone lube
Sun screen (again small bottle storage)
Another vote for water storage
Leatherman/multitool storage! And or knife storage?
Ibuprofen! *again, small bottle storage
Hydration bladder in tank bag
Garage door opener

Storage Ideas
A loop or other outside option for tucking gloves when not in use, like maybe when filling up gas. So you’re going to wear them again and don’t want to put them away
String connected pocket that can come out easily with documents/credit cards etc
Handgun/camera pockets with thick foam insert with precut punch-our blocks to customize for different shapes
Phone pocket, possibly detachable, and ideally waterproof. Consider expanding cell pocket for anker power pack.
A way of attaching the helmet to it so it hangs from the bottom of the bag when carried on the back.
Microfiber shammy for google cleaning in easy to access spot
Side compartments outside of main bag
Large main compartment important
Fold-down/removable dividers
Expansion panels on the side instead of on the top, so the bag gets wider not taller
Internal molle for strapping things down
Everything is a mess inside, lots of small things in there
Adjustable internal compartments so everything can be customized
Camera bag style internal Velcro walls
Light color inside for finding things
Main open compartment, keep it simple, not too many organizers
Hate jumble of electronics and charger cables
Multiple internal zipper pockets
Adjustable internal compartments
Camera bag system needst o attach at bottom in addition to sides, small items slide around underneath. Like batteries for instance
Tri-fold bag
Dislike black inside
Elastic cargo-net style dividers that store on bottom bag, stretched up when needed
Internal tool wrap concept but for small items that always fall down in bag. Wrap attaches to inside of bag. Clear material on compartments so you can see what’s where. (love this idea – bag inside bag) maybe have molle on there so it can be connected other places.
External coin slot!!! That goes to coin storage compartment. Cool idea.
Very small external pocket for ear plugs
Not wanting to carry water there due to weight
MOLLE on sides/top for attaching extra storage
Keep main compartment undivided and simple, with different inserts (maybe with molle) to customize storage inside.
Structured lid with compartments on both inside and outside, lid zips over expandable main compartment
White inside liner in every pocket. Waterproof pockets.
Velcro bottom to tank bag and a variety of organizers with bottoms (as opposed to camera bag dividers) that attach to the Velcro bottom. Offer many different types of compartments
Stash spot for gloves/earplugs/eyeglasses when stopped for fuel/photos.
Dedicated storage slots inside bag to hold devices while riding so they don’t float around inside the bag while charging
Shock cord holder, lots of attachment points on top, where things can be stuffed/attached
Like the idea of lighter inside liner for visibility, but not white because of dirt. Light grey or orange maybe.
Side molle panels in place of tank panniers, where various molle pouches can be connected
Tear-away tank panniers
Aerostich tank panniers
Modular tank panniers
Zip on/off tank panniers
Maybe some kind of tank pannier be a water storage bag.
Removable side pockets
Power distribution point with multiple outlets inside for charging
Power switch to cut off charging when bike is stopped
Simple pass-through for wiring is fine
I’ve tried wired bags, but I end up resenting the power connection taking up precious real estate in the bag, I like my power source on the bars, so all I want is pass through ports

Mounting Ideas
Wunderlich slide-on mount
Like the harness that stays with the bike style vs clip on
Dislike zipper connection system to harness, go with buckles
Non-magnetic attachment for plastic tanks
Like bags that pivot up toward the handlebars for refilling
Like magnet attachment with buckle (note magnet probably not an option due to plastic tanks)
Easy to switch bike to bike
Side strap connection systems are annoying. Pain in the ass to reset straps every time. Esp if having to put them on/off every time (note: harness system addresses this)
Dislike flimsy and small connection zipper, such a pain in the ass to connect (Amen to that!)
Using clips not zippers/magnets for harness attachment (come up several times!)
No magnets, could damage digital media equipment
Easy fueling 0 clip connector not zippers, whole bag tips forward
Very modular bag, traditional harness system with several mounting points for side panniers, and MOLLE under bag to connect other accessories when tank bag is not in use.
Prefer harness over straps, no magnets
Zippers – high quality
MOLLE base/harness for the tank bag with various shaped foam wedges to contour to different tank shapes. Bespoke wedges, and riders with different bikes would have the ability to swap them out and use the same tank bag.

Design/Shape Ideas
Ortlieb tank bag too big
Like Altrider waterproof system
Focus on form factor, not a toaster style
Problem with taller tank bags when riding standing up – no contact with legs
Wing base with side pockets that stay on bike
Wide rather than tall
Camelback Hawg 621 Mil Spec as tank bag
Dislike oval/teardrop shape
No flapping straps, strap control.
Marsee tank bags?
Like the bag to retain shape when empty
External side pockets should be small enough not to interfere with knees
Lower, wider at front of bike profile (sting ray) for standing
Expandable gusset. Option to connect another bag to expand. (two bag concept, maybe the second bag goes underneath and is one large compartment, for longer trips)
MOLLE base/harness for the tank bag with various shaped foam wedges to contour to different tank shapes. Bespoke wedges, and riders with different bikes would have the ability to swap them out and use the same tank bag.
Modular heights for main pouch. Have a setting (or modular addition) for standing vs sitting
System to keep lid propped open when unzipped
Two different TB concepts: one for touring and one for enduro
Needs to fit goofy sloped tanks and not hit the bars at full angle
MOLLE expansion
Needs to be highy versatile because it goes on every ride, whether commuting or longer touring
Fitted to GS tank shape
Don’t forget tankless bikes like 690
MOLLE on bottom for connecting harness and other attachments
Reflective logos and striping, plenty of reflective

Map Pocket
Tankbag window for paper maps and also toll pass
Hate that map pocket opens at bottom – open from inside?
Easy to get into compartments with gloves
Top clear map pockets have right side access zippers. Bottom velcro seems very silly,
I want the top map pocket to be big enough not to do map origami every 20 miles
Don’t use map pocket, not truly waterproof, dangerous to look down
Map pocket not a priority
Modular top pocket
Map pockets are a pain in the ass to load new maps into
Still use paper maps in addition to GPS
Another comment on frustration of getting maps in/out of pocket. Problem that maps won’t fit in any tank bag that is small enough to want to use it.
Like clear pockets on top, but use for other stuff besides maps
Detachable map pocket that has enough room to actually hold a map
Map cases: useless if they aren’t at least the size of a 8.5×11 with opening of equal size
Make map case removable/optional
Check out Sealine and Texsport map cases, tri-folding the map case and stuffing in easy access spot and pull it out to check when stopped, adding Velcro to keep tri-fold in place. (trifold/storing map case with Velcro hook/loop… like this idea)

Off-Bike Carry
Good carry handle/carry options off the bike
Removable backpack straps
Backpack straps as part of the connection system
Comfortable backpack straps for all day hiking
Way to carry on front of torso in addition to back
Way to connect to BC duffle or other Mosko bags
Like the GL buck & roll, works as fanny pack too
Like backpack concept
Would be cool if it could convert to a tail bag when needed, or when going through terrain standing
Quick and easy way to connect tank bag to duffle or panniers so all luggage can be carried together at once
Issue with backpack straps taking up internal capacity when stashed. Would be nice if they are removable

Waterproof & Rain Covers
Way to charge electronics while riding
Raincovers get lost after first month
Please no rain condom, I never want to carry it till I forget it when it starts to piss-pour.
Waterproof without putting the plastic bag over the top
Not waterproof, dislike separate covers
Roll-up waterproof cover lid that can be rolled up and stored on the front when dry out, fastened to front of bag
Integrated rain cover with its own stash spot.
Waterproof, not a fan of raincovers

It’s a lot of information.  Andrew’s advice: study the list, internalize it, then tuck it away and start designing.   We’ll revisit it again later once the designs are taking shape.

The first decision: welded- vs sewn-seam construction.  Welded seams make a durable, 100% waterproof bag.  It’s how kayak dry-bags are made.  However welded seams also dictate a very simple, basic design, with minimal features and functions, which is not really what we’re going for in our first tank bag.  Also unless we make it a roll-top (not ideal for a tank bag), the zippers can still fail, which would affect the waterproofing.  Sewn seams, on the other hand, provide a lot more freedom to design an awesome bag.  However even with sealing/taping, they can’t be relied upon for long-term waterproofing, which means we need to use a rain cover, which nobody is all that crazy about.

Here are some pics to illustrate.  This is a sewn-seam bag by Arc’Teryx:

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And a similar-size welded bag by DaKine.  You can see how many fewer seams it has:

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Here is an example of the things you can do with a sewn bag that would be much harder with welding:

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And here’s an example of the more basic type of organizational features on a welded bag:

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Andrew and I feel like for our first tank bag, using welded-seam construction throughout the bag is not going to work.  We want to organize a lot of small things – like headlamps, cameras, tools, sunglasses, wallets, batteries, phones, change – and it sounds like a lot of other people want that too.  Sewn-seam construction is the answer.  However, it leaves us with the challenge of how to make the bag 100% waterproof, which is also very important.

We want to try a hybrid welded/sewn approach.  The bottom and sidewalls of the bag would be made from 4 separate layers: 1) an outer layer of sewn fabric, 2) foam to add structure and shape, 3) a welded-seam inner drybag layer made from PVC, and 4) an interior fabric liner with sewn construction.  That gives us an outer and an inner layer of fabric to work with, but still provides welded-seam water protection on the bottom of the bag.

On the top of the bag, to achieve full waterproofing, instead of scrapping the rain cover concept altogether we’ll focus on how to make a “better” rain cover. Traditional rain covers are pretty crappy.  The one on my Touratech bag is sewn-seam (so not truly waterproof, the waterproof coating is peeling and flaking off), baggy, floppy, and easily lost.  For our rain cover, we’re picturing something that stashes neatly out of the way and rolls out when needed, fitting over the top of the bag like a clamshell and clipping to the bottom of the bag or maybe directly to the mounting harness.  Similar to the top of a typical clamshell/toaster tank bag, but with welded seam construction, and made from a heavier weight material than a typical rain cover.  It would overlap the welded inner layer on the sidewalls/bottom of the main bag, making for a totally waterproof seal.  We could attach it to the bag so it won’t get lost, and give it a pocket where it hangs out when it’s not in use.

For the main body of the bag, we want to experiment with moving away from the “toaster/clamshell” style and more towards a “backpack for your tank.”   The bag would have less altitude than a toaster, so it won’t rub on your legs when you’re up on the pegs.  The DaKine Nomad I used in Vietnam actually worked out really well.  That was a total experiment, and a last minute idea/addition when I was there at the factory, but man it worked great, and it gave us some ideas.

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Back home in the shop this week, we messed around with putting the Nomad on a couple of bigger bikes just to see how it would fit.  The dimensions are definitely wrong for a tank bag, but for brainstorming purposes it was a cool exercise and helped us generate a general direction to kick things off.

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Instead of a big open bucket with horizontal dividers, we want to experiment with multiple layers of vertical storage that zip open and peel back, each with its own series of organizational features for a variety of smaller items.  This seems like it would work better than horizontal dividers, because most of the things we put in our tank bag are not actually all that large, there’s just a lot of them.  We’d preserve the bottom layer as a single main compartment, just not as large as a typical toaster-style bag.

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Andrew’s off on a backcountry ski trip in British Columbia, and Nicole is in Seattle for the weekend.  With nobody else around, I headed into Portland to stock up on fabric and supplies for the tank bag protos.

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In Portland, I also stopped by the laser cutters to pickup the first 5 “production” sets of our BMW F800GSA adapter, as well as the latest prototypes of the BMW R1200GSA Liquid Cooled and the older version R1200GS racks.  We’ll have to wait for Andrew to make the call on whether these are ready for prime-time, but I mounted them on the racks we have in the shop and they look pretty good.  Really hoping these are finally done.

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More updates coming on the Apparel and Reckless designs, as well as the overall status of our production order for spring.  It has been a hectic but fun first week back in the office.  I miss kick-starting the Minsk every morning, but it’s great to be home, catching up with friends, sleeping in my own bed, and working on Mosko stuff.  Plus the weather has been great here in the Pacific Northwest, which never hurts.

My career started out 20 years ago in a high-rise office building in downtown Seattle.  If someone told me back then that in 2015 I would start my workdays with an axe, chopping wood for heat, I would’ve thought they were nuts.  Or maybe predicting an apocalypse.

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