MO Tested: Wolfman Blackhawk Tank Bag Review
Big enough to be useful and small enough not to get in the way
Motorcyclists can be divided into two groups: those that love tank bags and those who don’t. Personally, I’ve had at least one tank bag for every bike I’ve owned. So, you don’t have to guess which camp I fall into. However, the trend towards tanks that slope sharply towards the rider has made using tank bags a challenge. Throw in the need to stand up on the pegs when riding an adventure bike in the dirt, and the sizing of a tank bag becomes even more difficult. Wolfman, a manufacturer long known among the adventure and off-road set, has come up with what I think is the optimum tank bag for the style of tank most commonly found on the current generation of adventure bikes. The Blackhawk tank bag offers a good compromise of carrying capacity and the need to move freely when standing.
The Blackhawk tank bag is constructed of 1680 denier ballistic nylon, which means it’s incredibly tough. Sandwiched in between the tough exterior and the liner is a layer of semi-stiff foam that allows the bag to flex around its contents while still holding its shape when empty. The liner is silver to aid in seeing the bag’s contents, and although I didn’t use it on our adventure tour, an adjustable and removable interior clear divider pocket will hold little essentials on daily rides. The top of the bag features a zippered mesh pocket that is also good for holding small items that could get lost among the other things you’re carrying.
The Blackhawk mounts via a four-point mounting system that can be affixed to almost any motorcycle (though KLR owners will need to order the special harness). I had the harness installed on the Super Tenere in less than 10 minutes. Adjusting the bag to suit my desires added a couple more minutes before it was ready to hit the road. A cool feature of the Blackhawk is that it uses the same harness as Wolfman’s other tank bags. That way, if you need a larger or smaller bag in the future, you can retain the same mount and simply switch bags.
While 8 liters of storage sounds like a lot, the shape of the Blackhawk needs to be considered when packing it. The dimensions are, when viewed from the top, 9 in. x 7 in. The height is tricky because of the slope of the tank. In the front, its 3.5 in. while it extends to 8 in. at the rear. I carried my clear visor in the bag and then packed the remainder of my contents, mostly snacks and other small essentials, like sunscreen, in the center of the bag. The small zippered exterior pocket was a tad hard to access, but it was useful for carrying items like my earplug case, glasses cleaner (for my visor), and a tiny cleaning cloth. Since I used my phone as a GPS, the clear map pocket on top of the tank bag stored important papers, such as my campsite receipt and campfire permit. The map pocket does have a hook-and-loop strip across the interior top that is perfect for holding a Spot or a dedicated GPS.
Because we carry so many items that need electricity on our big tours, I converted about half of the bag’s interior into a charging station with two cigarette plugs of which one could be used to charge three USB devices. I simply zipped one of the two heavy YKK zippers to the front of the bag and ran the power cable to the interior. Then I used the remaining zipper to access the bag’s contents. The heavy storm flap that covers the zipper was a bit fidgety to zip closed. So, I usually left it up instead of down. I’m sure that, when closed, the flap would keep out the elements in a brief shower, but for longer rain protection, you’ll want the $19.49 accessory rain cover.
One clever design touch on the top of the bag was the little bungee strap across the map holder. This was a perfect place to tuck gloves so that they didn’t blow away during a gas stop. Since the Blackhawk covers the tank filler, accessing it was as easy as unhooking the two forward straps and folding the tank bag onto the seat.
Although I’ve only had the Wolfman Blackhawk tank bag a short time, it has proven itself useful on the Tenere and any adventure bike with a similarly sloped tank. The Blackhawk is made in the USA and retails for $169.99 directly from Wolfman.
For more information or to purchase the Blackhawk tank bag click here.