Wolfman Expedition Motorcycle Luggage Review
[This Wolfman Expedition Motorcycle Luggage Review was originally published in the January 2007 issue of Rider magazine]
You’ll never get caught with your zipper down using Wolfman’s new Expedition series motorcycle tankbag or saddlebags-among the three bags here there’s only one short zipper to be found. Roll-top panniers like the Expeditions aren’t new, but the zipless tankbag is a first for me. Sewn from heavy PVC material like the rest of the Expedition line, the tanker has a sloped bottom to fit adventuring bikes like my Kawasaki KLR650. The bag/tank interface is Tough-Tek, a rugged material that’s kind to painted surfaces; the base includes generous flaps to protect your scoot from the four 1-inch plastic clips that secure it to the bike. An internal plastic stiffener gives the Expedition its rounded shape.
This bag isn’t for the impatient adventurer, as it takes some effort to get inside. Two plastic snaps hold the top on one end, and a hook-and-loop fastener joins the other, allowing you to raise the top for more space. A drawstring closes the nylon inner bag over a large dust flap, then a cross strap clinches the sides together. The lid has a snug fit and slipped on much easier once I applied some vinyl treatment to both bag and lid. On top is a map case that just fits two folds of my AAA maps, while a removable (zippered!) sleeve pocket rides on the interior. Reflective trim lights up the bag at the touch of a headlight.
The Expedition looms large on the KLR tank, but without pockets it’s not as wide as Wolfman’s Explorer. It passed the hose-down test with no water penetration—even the map stayed dry—so a rain cover isn’t necessary. The four-point mounting system (with KLR-specific front mounts available) keeps it centered and secure even on bumpy backroads. Wolfman offers it in black or black/yellow for $159.99.
Wolfman sews the Expedition saddlebags from the same reinforced PVC and Tough-Tek materials as the tankbag and stiffens the bike side with plastic panels to give the bags some shape and prevent close contact with hot exhausts. The universal mounting system uses two wide straps across the seat, a narrower one that connects the bags at the rear, and front straps that connect to passenger peg mounts to keep bouncing to a minimum. Installation was easy on my KLR. The roll-top saddlebags close with adjustable side straps; an over-the-top strap further secures things and can be used to scrunch things down tight. It’s a simple system with one flaw—the top strap dangles to the ground when unsnapped and could find its way into a wheel or sprocket if forgotten. Running the strap under a gap in the reflective trim strip would prevent this.
The 28-liter bags hold a lot of gear. I tested this outfit on a three-day camping trip in the mountains above Big Sur in California. The Expeditions swallowed most of my camp/tools/spares/food load, leaving just my tent and a small duffel riding on the KLR’s rack. The hose test found no leaks from the top, but my road spray simulation penetrated the bottom seams of the saddlebags. That could be trouble if you pack your tent, clothes or sleeping bag deep in the bags; since I pack heavy stuff low, only my spare tubes and a water bottle suffered the dampness. Besides improved water resistance over typical Cordura luggage, the PVC bags are easier to clean, trap less dust and have no zippers to jam with grit. I liked the easy-access roll closures, but missed the flat tops that let you strap even more gear onto a standard saddlebag. The bags are in black or the extra-visible bright yellow I prefer for my dark KLR. Wolfman’s Expedition line also includes two rear bags, tank panniers and a duffel.