Dual Star Kawasaki KLR 650 Tank Bag
For me, the tank bag is my
most important piece of kit - I'm in and out of it many times a day, and most
importantly - it has to hold my cameras, so that I have quick access to them.
Its the piece of gear that has to work, or bug the hell out of me for as long as
I have to use it...which is a while if you're going around the world. It also
has to be durable. I have sad memories of the first tank bag I took to Central
America; having no money, I bought the cheapest high capacity bag I could find
and was paying the price inside weeks.
On the KLR I have now used 5 different tank bags in my search for the right
Before Dual Star's, I used one sold by Touratech - a reasonable bag but with
rigid side pockets, small zips and an annoying zip on mount system, and the
Wolfman Explorer. The Explorer is not a terrible bag either but is lacking in a
lot of points that add up to make it an also ran. Its build quality is not in
Dual-Star's league, and having it hanging off the side of the tank in Alaskan
cross winds was a pain. Dual Star's mounting system is designed perfectly for
the KLR, tensions very easily and is rock solid even when the bag is full and
This is really important to me, I fill my tank bag with a lot of heavy stuff to
counteract the weight at the back - very important on the KLR with its light
steering. The mounting system takes a little getting used to but is worth it.
NOTE - Corbin owners should check with Dual-Star as to its compatibility, mine
took a bit of work.
The material its built out of it is bombproof, and has survived fuel soaking
after I laid the bike down several times. The zips are all YKK and oversize
compared to what you would normally find on other tank bags. The pockets are
designed to be as big as possible, without bulging out in lumps, using all
available real estate on the sides. The map case is solid and fits every map
I've tried. The map case on bags like the Explorer are so small as to be
I had Mike and the team build me a rain cover that facilitated putting the
map case on top of the rain cover. I prefer this - if its raining, you can get to
your map without having to pull your cover off. Also, now that I am
I use the rain cover full time. It is the perfect theft deterrent. Out of sight,
out of mind - most theft I have come across is opportunistic rather than being
malicious. It takes a different frame of mind, and a lot more time, for someone
to approach a bag, work out how to take a cover off, take the cover off, and
then see whether it was all worth it (they have no idea what is under there),
than for someone to just slide by and casually unzip a side pocket and grab a
handful. Touching wood, I haven't had a problem yet. This setup means I can
tear my map off its Velcro mounts, and go and ask the locals for directions
knowing the crowd the bike often draws aren't so bold as to start pulling covers
The rain cover is built strong enough that it can be used everyday like this -
others I've seen wouldn't work for long like this - and it really adds no time
to getting into the bag once you're used to it.
Best is the setup for the cameras. I have the cameras (one 35mm, one digital)
closest to me, pointed down; if I see a shot I just lift the rain cover (I don't
cinch it down unless its raining, or really dusty - works fine at all speeds),
grab the two zips with their easy to find little dangly things, push them back,
grab whichever camera I want and start shooting. If I'm wearing summer gloves I
can shoot with them on, and my MX helmet means the opening is big enough for me
to get my eye up to the 35mm in landscape mode. The Quickstraps I use were a
recommendation from Mike Walburn and I can't say enough about how useful these
things are. If I want to shoot portrait ie vertically with the 35mm, I've found
I can get close enough to the eyepiece to compose quickly. A quick release on
my helmet buckle makes it easy to get off if I have time.
The bag expands to an amazing amount of room, I don't use it all normally; you
can't carry heavy stuff in the top fully expanded and expect it to remain
stable, but I have used it around town when I suddenly found my self with a
package or a fleece that I had to stash somewhere.
The map case has built in pockets that you can put a light in for night map
reading. I've used this a couple of times and can say it definitely works - the
light will stay firmly in place but not stable enough to read on the move - this
is actually a good thing, as riding while trying to look at a map and find
street signs etc at night is asking for trouble.. Ask the guys who crashed while
looking at their GPS in the Paris Dakar the first time GPS was introduced about
riding and navigating...
The Dual Star Tank bag costs more than other bags on the market but in my
opinion this little difference is worth every cent, in build quality and
functionality. At the time of writing, I have put 20,000kms on mine, including
heavy rain and some of the toughest sand I have ever been in with a KLR, and can
happily recommend it.
Rich Kickbush 25 May 2002
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