Roll Out the Barrel Bag
Start with a piece of large-diameter PVC pipe. Wrap it in tough, water-resistant leatherette. Add heavy duty buckles and an integrated backrest and you've got a Biker's Friend, one tough, versatile biker barrel bag.
The thing that sold me was the backrest. I grabbed a medium Biker's Friend and it has lived up to all the maker's claims:
- Outstanding quality
- Water resistant
- Looks great
- Heavy-duty construction
- Nifty removable backrest
Since I ride a naked/traditional style bike - the backrest has really made a big difference, especially on long trips. The 'sit up and beg' riding position can be hard on the back and shoulders. Having a bit of lumbar support is a big help in the ergonomics department.
These bags are very well made. Everything about it is heavy duty, from the fabric to the hardware. It has the look of black leather - very sleek - but since it's really vinyl it's very water resistant. Between the construction design and the internal PVC barrel, I think you'd have to fully submerge this bag before you experienced any significant leaking. The maker also claims UV and mildew resistance and performance down to 20 below zero F.
The design is symmetrical, so either end can be opened. Each end cap includes several integrated buckle and zip pockets, handy for tools, maps, extra keys and other small doodads. The main compartment on the medium is just big enough for an weekend's worth of supplies for one or one or two plastic grocery store bags. It also comfortably holds a six-pack of bottles which makes it convenient for bottle store runs.
For more serious packing needs, Biker's Friend offers larger sizes that can accommodate helmets. The medium is perfect for everyday toting and the occasional weekend trip - and it looks great on my little 650.
The bag comes with two backrests which attach via two strips of beefy hook-and-loop. One is a mesh fabric for hot weather and the other is in the leather look. Each includes an cushie removable lumbar roll.
Installing the bag is an exercise in strategic thinking. Not difficult, but since the bag is designed to fit any bike, it's a trial-and-error affair until you find a combination that works.
The bag comes with extremely high-quality black bungee cords, with attractive chrome buckles. These in addition to some nylon straps and removable black nylon zip-ties will get you there, one way or another. The trick of course is mounting a cylindrical bag onto a flat motorcycle seat, but there are enough d-rings to make the job pretty straightforward and stable. The trick for me was to get the fasteners pulling in opposite directions. The zip-ties secure the rear loops and the nylon straps provide forward-pulling tension.
I tried two or three arrangements before settling on one that worked best. If you plan to use the backrest - you have to find the sweetspot. I have been impressed with the stability - having a backrest to absorb backward motion when accelerating has really given my bike a completely new feel - much more solid and confident.
The only drawback of course is that the bag must be moved when taking on a passenger - unless you forego the backrest and mount the bag way aft. Naturally, if you have enough rack or mudguard to handle it - your passenger will get the backrest benefit.
The website is excellent with lots of photos of various sizes and installations. Customer service has been terrific - all questions answered promptly and courteously via e-mail. We'll worth a look. Thumbs-up.
Please note that there is no relationship or affiliation between
Biker's Friend and Nuts About Bikes.
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