I recently tried out a motorcycle tool bag from Viking Bags. Here’s my honest opinion of it.
The motorcycle tool bag arrived within days of being ordered, so Viking Bags gets points for prompt shipping.
What I found when I opened the box and removed the packing material was just what I expected, minus one thing. The photo on the website showed a medallion of the company’s logo: a stylized Thor’s hammer with horns, encircled by the company name, on the flap. Mine has no such medallion. Pity, too – it could’ve provided them with free advertising, plus it’s a pretty neat image. It’s not exactly a deal breaker, but it would be nice if the online photos matched the product.
The bag is made of what seems to be good sturdy, thick leather, backed by an inner plastic liner which helps maintain the shape of the bag when it’s not full. It won’t get that sad, saggy look that a lot of tool bags develop after a few months of hanging half-full on a set of forks.
You won’t have to worry about a Phillips head screwdriver wearing a hole in the bottom and letting your tools scatter on the road, either. It also has flaps on each end that will prevent screwdrivers and wrenches from sliding out if your tools are stacked too high or if they bounce when you don’t notice the speed bump and hit it a bit too fast.
To be honest, I don’t carry tools on my bike on a regular basis because it’s been very dependable. (Hopefully the motorcycling gods won’t notice this comment and strike me down to keep me humble…). I usually try to do my routine stuff before leaving home, but I have some long trips in my near future, so I thought a tool bag would be a good way to save space in the saddle bags and tank bag and still be able to maintain my chain while on the road.
The website claims dimensions for the Vikings Bags Twist Warrior Large Tool Bag bag are 10.5 X 5.30 X 4.50. My tape measure showed closer to 11.5 long, with the other dimensions being right on. So the bag is actually slightly longer than claimed. I can’t imagine this being a problem, unless you’re planning on mounting it somewhere odd, like frame rails. I was able to put my tool roll containing all my routine maintenance tools inside it and still have room for other items.
Mounting was pretty easy. There are two square bases on the back of the bag, each with a slot on each side, allowing the straps to be used horizontally or vertically. The hard part was actually my bike, a Suzuki SV1000. When I ordered a tool roll, I totally forgot that I have a factory mounted steering damper under my headlight. It’s too close to the bottom of the triple tree to hang the bag from there, and it’s too close to the headlight to be able to hang the bag from the headlight brackets. What to do? I pulled the passenger seat off my bike, and ran the straps around the rails of the subframe, leaving enough slack to allow for reinstallation of the seat. It required a couple of tries to get enough slack to leave room for the seat, but make it tight enough that it didn’t flop around.
If you’re a sport bike rider, I actually recommend this over a tank bag if you’re just carrying a couple of smaller items. It’s a lot more convenient, and it can be used to carry more than just tools.
One of the problems with any soft luggage, including tool bags, is theft. At most you have a buckle and a strap between your property and a thief. Viking Bags solves this problem. At least, as much as it can be solved with soft luggage. This tool bag fastens shut with a good amount of hook and loop fastener, and also has a twist latch. The twist latch has a small hole in it that I’m pretty sure is just the right size for a suitcase lock (although I don’t own one to be able to test the theory). Of course, a determined thief is going to get to your stuff no matter what, but this will do a good job warding off the incidents of “crimes of convenience”. (Incidentally, all of their saddlebags come with a key lock system. See their website for details.)
On that first day, immediately after mounting the bag, I took off to attend an event about 80 miles away. The straps held the bag steady – no flopping around in the wind. On the way home, I ran into some moderate rain. It was raining just hard enough to feel like my arms were getting tattooed all over, all at once. Luckily, it only lasted about ten miles or so. When I checked, the inside of the tool bag was totally dry. Now, I don’t think I’d trust it to be waterproof in a downpour, or for extended periods, but it should be pretty water resistant for commuting, at least.
Nearly two weeks and several hundred miles later, the bag is looking pretty good. The leather is holding up well, the twist lock is still working. The one issue is that the hook and loop is starting to come unstitched at one end of the flap. I don’t know if this is typical of Viking’s products, or if the sewing machine operator was just having an off day when he or she assembled my bag. $34.95 (U.S.) is a pretty good price for a good leather bag with a plastic liner and redundant fasteners, so a corner cut here and there in the quality control department probably shouldn’t be unexpected.
I dig the bag. I’m leaving it on the bike and wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it to friends. I’d just let them know about the medallion and offer to loan them my tube of super glue if the hook and loop comes unstitched.
Special thanks to E.T. for this post. If you want to read more about him, you can check out his Q&A session on YouMotorcycle. Much thanks to Viking Bags for the hookup!
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