Hi-Pipe and Fastback Bags
Torrance, California, May 11, 2001
Traditional saddlebags work great on traditional motorcycles. Owners of sport bikes, however, understand what we mean when the words "melted crap" come into the picture. You see, too many times, saddlebags just don't sit up high enough to clear the exhaust cans of today's sports machine. The proximity of the saddlebags to the exhaust can results in everything from the mildly annoying hot luggage, to the aforementioned "melted crap" syndrome.
To alleviate those issues and present a stylish alternative to bulky, hard-mounted saddlebags, Wolfman luggage developed the Hi-Pipe saddlebags. Constructed out of Cordura nylon, the bags feature stable five-point mounting system. The system consists of two top straps that fit over the tailsection/passenger seat of your bike, a strap for each passenger foot peg, and a strap that goes behind the bike. All straps are adjustable and once you have them sized up, removing and placing the bags on the bike took all of one minute. Plastic stiffeners can be found inside and YKK zippers are used to keep the bags closed. The zippers feature plastic teeth meshed with a metal zipper. Overall, very high quality stuff.
Along with the saddlebags, we received the Wolfman Fastback tailpack. The pack was designed to look like the tail hump of race bikes and features the same Cordura nylon and YKK zippers as the saddlebags. Two zippers run down both sides of the bag toward a hook-and-loop flap.
The Fastback is mounted to the tail section via four bungee hooks. The bungee cords can be adjusted for length by simply tying a knot around the bungees attachment point to the bag. Although initially cumbersome, once you have the bag set up for your specific bike, its another "set-it-and-forget-it" affair. Like the Hi-Pipe saddlebags, plastic stiffeners are used to maintain the shape no matter what the load condition.
We used a year 2000 Honda RC-51 to test the effectiveness of this cargo carrying configuration. The initial saddlebag fitment took a few minutes of wiggling and prodding to make sure all the straps were at their proper lengths. Once completed, however, we found the lengths of excess straps to be a bit of a bother. Not to worry, a solution was found using zip-ties and a bit of imagination.
The Fastback went on much quicker. We used the forward mounting posts and the rear mounting straps, located just in front of the rear turn signal stalks. The forward bungee hooks were adjusted with approximately one inch of play. The rear bungee hooks were adjusted with about four inches of play. This setup gave the perfect amount of give for our application.
Once our cargo carrying hardware was affixed, we took the machine out for a few overnighters. Numerous rides with the bag filled to capacity (including a few runs on the race track) has proven the system more reliable than we initially thought. Our first trip saw us on the glittering strip of Las Vegas -- Or at least it could have been. Instead, we detoured from the strip and did a quick run down to Death Valley. There we were able to test just how well the bags stayed on. With speeds reaching an indicated 150 mph, there was no sign of the bags giving up their grip on our steed. Interestingly enough, on the way back from our trip, one of the forward bungees were freed from their hold on the mounting posts while engaging in relatively low speed activity. We inspected the gear and post and surmised that the tester didn't properly affix the hook to the post. A forehead was slapped and we carried on.
Our second trip took us to hills of San Francisco. Here, on this slightly longer trip, we were hampered by the relatively small carrying capacity of the system. At 16 liters for the tailpack and 11 liters in each saddlebag, that only adds up to 38 liters of carrying capacity. For comparison, the year 2001 Gold Wing 1800 sports saddlebags with over 40 liters of capacity, each.
But can you imagine how an RC-51 would look with the Gold Wing's saddlebags?
Thankfully, we didn't see any rain or inclement weather during both trips. However, accidentally parking next to a pair of enthusiastic sprinklers proved a reasonable facsimile of being rained on. We found the bags to be moderately rain resistant, but certainly not waterproof.
If you can live with the limited cargo space, we recommend this setup for all those that have sport bikes and like to travel with them. Just remember the rain covers for those that live in inclement territory.
The Fastback and Hi-Pipe comes in black, millennium and red. MSRP for the Hi-Pipe is $109.99, Fastback is $64.99