Now if you ride a cruiser, itís fairly easy to find one of the several dozens of companies that make saddlebags, tank bags or sissy bar bags. And since most cruisers have the same basic layout, itís also fairly easy to find fitment brackets for a wide range of models, and many even have a quick release feature. But if you ride a sport bike, or ďstandardĒ, there are far fewer luggage options. Since sport bikes have a wide variety of tail sections and exhaust system placements, it makes it even more difficult to find bags that work. There is one company however, that has a wide range of products designed for sport bikes, standards, and even scooters.
Givi (pronounced gee-vee) is an Italian company that has been making high quality luggage for motorcycles and scooters for over 30 years. Perhaps they are best known for their hard luggage cases which have been fitted as original equipment on many different brands of sport-touring motorcycles such as Aprilia, BMW, Ducati, Moto-Guzzi, Honda, Triumph and Yamaha as well as for such scooters as Aprilia, Piaggio, and Vespa. In addition to their hard cases, they also make several different styles of soft bags to fit most sportbikes as well.
When I purchased my Kawasaki Ninja 650R in 2006, I knew that it would be a comfortable and versatile bike to use for a lot of things, including sport touring. I placed a call to Paul Collins, Giviís US distributor to see if they had soft bags for it. Even though the bike was a brand new model, to my delight, Paul told me that they just came out with a new flagship line of soft saddlebags and tail packs, called the Gold Line.
The Ninja 650R has the exhaust system mounted down low beneath the frame, so the muffler canít get in the way of the saddlebags, but Givi also engineered brackets to make sure the bags wouldnít get in the way of the rear tire or suspension. They also provide extra tie down points to keep the bags secure. The brackets mounted to the bolt holding the rear passenger peg and to another bolt beneath the tail section. Then each sideís bracket attached to each other with a small metal piece hidden behind the license plate frame. The flat black tubular brackets are strong and fairly unobtrusive even without the bags on. Once the saddlebags are in place, you can barely see them at all. Mounting the brackets took me all of 15 minutes, with no drilling and all necessary hardware was supplied.
The teardrop-shaped saddlebags (model T438) are constructed of heavy weight Cordura, and come with sturdy plastic inserts that zip into the top and bottom of the bags to give you the option of firm sided or soft sided bags. I use the inserts to maintain the shape of the bags whether full or empty. The bags are yoked to each other by a buckled strap and two hook and loop straps although different motorcycles will require different methods of attachment. I found it best to loop the buckled strap underneath the seat, and the hook and loop straps on top of the seat. Those straps are flat, so it allows for a passenger to ride on the back with the saddlebags fitted. Other applications may allow hiding all the straps beneath the seat. The saddlebags also came with two bungee cords to secure the bags to the brackets, although I found that a few zip ties from the D-rings of each bag was enough to secure the bags so they wouldnít move around while riding.
The bags are finished in a silvery gold pattern, which give them a Carbon fiber appearance. Each saddlebag holds 5.5 gallons and can expand to hold as much as 7.1 gallons, which means they hold as much as or more than most cruiser saddlebags. Givi uses heavy duty zippers along the top of the bag with a wide opening, making it easy to pack and unpack your gear. There is also a large zippered outer compartment that is perfect to stow the items you need easy access to like maps or your point and shoot camera. Each bag has a soft rubber handle on top, and also comes with a shoulder strap, so the bags can be separated and used as a shoulder tote if desired. Also included are rain covers with drawstring bottoms to keep all your gear totally dry in wet conditions. Iíve been caught in the rain and no moisture got into the bags at all.
A matching tail pack (model T439) is also available, and can be used in conjunction with the saddlebags, or used separately. It is Giviís first expandable tail pack and can hold up to 9.2 gallons when expanded. The main compartment has movable (and removable) organizing dividers which makes it easy to get to the items you need without rummaging around the entire bag. And there are three zippered outside pockets for smaller items. The tail pack comes with a bungee system built into the bottom of the bag for easy on and off mounting. It too, has a built-in rubber handle, a shoulder strap and rain cover.
Iíve been keeping the tail pack on the bike all the time for my local day rides. Itís perfect for stowing my glasses, rain gear, camera, water bottle, gloves and tire repair kit. It is firm sided, so it always holds it shape, and has a pouch in the lid to hold maps and scratch pads for easy access. When empty, it will hold a fair amount of groceries, as long as Iím not buying milk by the gallon, or trying to tote home a watermelon. All the bags feature Scotchlite reflective materials to make them visible to headlights at night for additional safety. With just the saddlebags, packing for a long weekend is no problem at all. Add the capacity of the tail pack and youíre good to go for a week.
All the bags and the brackets live up to Giviís high standards of quality, design, and utility while also being decently priced. The brackets retail for $58. The set of two saddlebags sell for $168.95, and the matching tail pack is $126.95. Thatís not a lot to pay to transform your sport bike into a sport touring bike, a daily office commuter or around town errand-runner.
You can learn more about all the Givi products by visiting http://www.giviusa.com/ or calling 1-877-679-GIVI.