What’s the fastest way to convert your sportbike into a sport tourer? Tank bag. A nice tank bag stuffed with clothing atop the tank is the effective equivalent of putting a big pillow right where you can lean forward on it and take most of the weight off your wrists as you cruise along. Bliss. And a magnetic tank bag you can instantly whip on and off is best of all, as well as being sweet compensation for having an old-school bike with a steel gas tank.
I needed a new one; my last magnetic bag saw so much use in its 15-year lifespan that the sun had turned it from black to gray. The zipper on one side had almost completely pulled away from the cordura, and when the zipper on the other side stopped zipping, it was time to find a replacement. I did quite a bit of online shopping before ordering up this Rapid Transit Recon 19L, largely because of its shape: That sloping rear continues the shape of my 2000 R1‘s tank, and looks like just the thing to lounge upon.
R1s aren’t made for long voyages, really, and neither is the Recon. But both are excellent for overnight getaways and scurrying about the maze with meager possessions. At about 16 inches long by 9 wide by 7 inches deep, it will carry a pair of flip-flops, a t-shirt and a sweater, a pair of shorts, bottle of wine, a toothbrush, comb and a condom that expired five years ago — which must be about 19 liters worth of stuff. A 13-inch laptop will just fit, but strong magnets and vibration mean you really shouldn’t. Unlike some, the 19L is not expandable. When it’s full, it’s full.
There’s a clear zippered pocket for your phone on top with a rubber-sphinctered hole to pass earphones through, and a 7×5-inch map pocket forward of that, topped with the kind of clear plastic that, based on experience with other bags, often turns yellow in about a year and opaque brown in about two before completely disintegrating. Two padded pockets run along either side to hold glasses and small items; the more you stuff in the main compartment, the less you’ll be able to squeeze into them. A rain cover is stuffed in the bottom front in its own zippered compartment and secured with an elastic strap, which is pretty smart because otherwise it’s the first thing you’d lose. The Recon also comes with removable straps that make it a backpack; I carry only one of them, for the one-shoulder carry, which works fine.
The part that sits on your tank is scratchguard rubberized contact fabric, which appears to be the same stuff my last magnetic bag used, which never scratched a tank may it rest in peace. The Recon uses just three magnets — one front and center and one each in its two flip-out wings– but they’re powerful ones, and repeated high-speed blasts on the old R1 never budged the bag in the least, in spite of the fact that the bike wears nothing but a flyscreen where its full fairing once was.
The Recon 19L is made in China, and uses no-name nylon zippers. Time will tell as to the sturdiness of its construction, but the online reviews are generally positive. It sells for about $85. It’s so convenient I almost think if I had a plastic gas tank, I’d glue chunks of metal on for the magnets to cling to.
Go to www.rapidtransit.com to order yours.