Sep 11, 2014

Product Review: Wolfman Enduro Tank Bag

All Rights Reserved © 2014 Thomas W. Day

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Stock Wolfman photo of the Enduro Tankbag mounted on a KTM's plastic tank.

I have almost owned a couple pieces of Wolfman luggage. For one reason or another, each previous shopping trip ended up with me deciding that something else was a better fit. Early spring, in 2007, I made the journey to Duluth and RiderWearHouse to see if I could find a tank bag that worked on my V-Strom. My faithful Chase Harper bags were either too wide (the 1150) or too unstable (Sport Trek Magnetic) thanks to all of the plastic surrounding the V-Strom's tank and the wide bars. For remote touring, the Sport Trek was also too small to hold my extra fuel bottles. After a few uncomfortable experiences, I lost patience with either of the bags hitting the horn or the kill switch every time I made a tight maneuver.

It turned out that finding a bag that would fit that bike was a lot harder than I'd expected. During a visit to Riderwearhouse, I tried out almost a dozen bags from various manufacturers, ranging from $60 to $200. They were all cool, but all but one provided no improvement over my Chase Harper problems. The coolest Wolfman bag, the Ranier, not only hit the V-Strom's bar controls but one of the side envelopes managed to tangle itself with my throttle lock. The only bag that worked better than what I had was the Wolfman Enduro Tank Bag.

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Unfortunately, this is what a real Enduro Tankbag looks like after a couple of rain storms. Not nearly as perky.

A feature of the Enduro that I initially liked a lot was the "laminated foam sides, bottom, and rear," since the side reinforcement was what prevented the bag from sagging into my bar controls. Unfortunately, the laminated foam permanently loses its rigidity after exposure to rain and heat. On a June 2009 North Dakota tour, I was soaked for 8 straight days and the bag lost it's narrow vertical shape and buckled into the very controls I'd hoped to avoid. I still like the bag, but I'm back to honking my horn on tight left turns and hitting the starter button or kill switch when turning right.

The foam bottom means you can store items like tools, spare levers, and other hard items without banging up your gas tank. The rubber non-slip base adds a little more protection for your paint job, but you still have to keep the space between the bag and the tank clean, if you don't want to bag to turn into a sanding block. The attachment system, 4 plastic quick-connect buckles is reasonably stable but doesn’t provide easy access to the gas tank filler when the bag is full. Your choices are: 1) disconnect the bottom (near the seat) buckles and flip the bag up toward your console, 2) disconnect the top buckles and flip the bag down to the seat, 3) take the bag off altogether. Choice #1 is usually the easiest option, since those buckles are often hard to reattached, especially if you are wearing gloves. The downside is that the bag is less than stable in that position and might come down suddenly either knocking the gas nozzle out of the tank or, as happened to me on the Dempster Highway in the middle of nowhere, busting the ignition key off in the gas cap. #2 is a pain in the ass if you are wearing gloves, since those two buckles are somewhere between the tank and the steering head/console. #3 doubles the pain the ass of #2 and gives you the opportunity to forget reattaching the bag and leaving it at a filling station.

For the most part, the Enduro Tankbag has several redeeming features that keep it on my V-Strom. The large back pocket is really high on that list. The rear pocket conveniently holds camera gear, keys, wheel locks, gloves, or practically anything a motorcyclist is likely to need to get to quickly. The map pocket lies more-or-less flat to the world, thanks to the shape of the bag, making a map readable even for my geezer-decaying eyesight. Wolfman calls the mounting system "three point," which is a little tough to explain since there are four attachment points, but it is a fairly stable and very durable bag mounting system. The bag is constructed of heavy-duty nylon Cordura. The zippers are also nylon and equally heavy-duty. There is a reflective strip woven into the reinforcement webbing on the sides and back of the bag. Even the Wolfman logo patch is retro-reflective. Expanded to full height, the Enduro Tank Bag is large enough for quick grocery stops, including a gallon of milk and a loaf of bread. However, stuffed all the way to the top with gear, the bag can become unstable, so you need to think about how you're going to pack it and where you're going with all that gear before the road gets rough and you get busy.

The Enduro bag costs $85 and, for another $17, waterproof it with a rain cover that retains the use of the map pocket. You can buy Wolfman products from our friends in Duluth, RiderWearHouse.com, or direct from the company (wolfmanluggage.com). Obviously, I can’t give this product an overwhelming endorsement. In comparison to the Giant Loop Diablo Tank Bag, for example, the Wolfman bag is downright lame.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

This is the first review I've ever read that said something bad about a Wolfman product. You must be nuts or an asshole.

Thomas Day said...

Could be both. However, magazines are almost desperate to only say good things about products they review. For one, they usually get the products for free and if they bad-mouth the stuff they review, they won't get any more free stuff. Two, you should notice that advertisers tend to advertise more in a magazine that is reviewing one of their products. That is powerful incentive to say nice things about the people who pay the bills.

I almost always buy the stuff I review and I have no incentive to say something nice about a product that has let me down. Even if I got it for free, I'm old. The chances that I'm going to be building a long-term relationship with anyone or any thing are nill. I don't buy green bananas.

Anonymous said...

I had and gave up on one of these, too. Same reason, the bag support collapsed and, in my case, tangled up with the bars and nearly caused a crash.