Those who rode with me on overnight trips this summer may remember that I was using some smallish, black soft-luggage that I have used for years on various bikes. These were made of pack-cloth nylon and were not waterproof. They came with slip-on rain covers that always made me nervous as they flapped in the wind. While riding in a heavy downpour near Coeur d'Alene this summer, one of the covers finally blew off on the freeway and was gone. I needed a better luggage solution.
I have a bulky, armored coat for cool-weather riding and a mesh jacket for hot weather. We often encounter both on these summer trips where morning rides over a mountain pass can see temps down close to freezing while afternoon temps on the same day could reach 90. In the past I would often leave my heavy coat at home for mid-summer rides and layer-up with my heated jacket-liner and PVC rain gear if things got really cold. I often wished I could take both jackets but had no way to carry the big one in my minimalist luggage while wearing the small one. I needed a better solution.
Last Spring, while I was considering the possible purchase of the Triumph Tiger 800, I investigated the available luggage options for that model. A problem with most of these Adventure-type motorcycles is the protrusion of the high-mounted muffler into the space we would like to use for saddlebags. I could either buy hard bags mounted wide enough to clear the muffler or buy a more expensive set with a reduced-capacity, right-side bag formed to clear the muffler. The wide-mount solution is so absurdly wide that I find it unacceptable on a skinny little bike like the Tiger. The total assemblage ends up being wider than any full-dress touring bike. The expensive bags, on the other hand, are still pretty wide, as well as grinding against my sense of economy. There must be another solution.
On our group rides I have noticed how handy a tail-mounted hard-case can be as we make a quick stop along the road. They are waterproof, hold their shape, and make it so easy to access a map, water bottle and snack, or a change of gloves. You could put a bag of fragile potato chips in there without fear of them being reduced to crumbs. I swear one of my friends had half a mini-mart in snack foods in his. Unlike some of my riding buddies, I like to pack pretty light. This is especially true when I have chosen a motorcycle for its lightness and sprightly handling. The problem I saw with the tail case is that its high, rear-mounted placement is the worst place to carry much weight on a motorcycle. Being so far from the rotational axis of a cornering bike, this is the opposite of mass-centralization and not conducive to nimble handling. I decided I could only give in to the convenience of a tail case if it was small and light.
I discovered that Coocase (sold by Twisted Throttle) makes a small, 28-liter tail case that appears to be equal to the popular Givi products and is considerably less expensive. It is very light and I will try to avoid placing heavy items in it when I am going to be chasing corners. It snaps on and off the rear rack in a flash. It doesn't look very racy but I like having it. I've even used it occasionally to haul tools and parts on my electrical service calls.
To carry my cold-weather coat while wearing the mesh jacket, I bought a waterproof, roll-top duffel bag, of the type used on canoe trips and such. It's big enough to hold the big coat plus a few more articles of clothing that I don't expect to need until I get to the motel. It sits on the seat behind me, tied down with those groovy ROK straps every motorcyclist should own. I won't always need more capacity but when I do I can use a small, end-load waterproof bag strapped to the left side of the bike. This seems to compliment the muffler residing on the right side. I also have my trusty map-top magnetic tank bag, good for holding rain gear, gloves, camera, etc.
Of course these bags are not lockable but they come inside with me overnight and can be secured with cable locks in the unusual paranoid circumstance. The Coocase and waterproof bags together cost less that $200, which gently massages my sense of frugality every time I think about it. The whole package is very light and compact, leaving my skinny little Tiger skinny still, and carving corners like a scalpel.