Debra Chin, founder of San Francisco based MotoChic Gear, borrowed her boyfriend’s backpack to use on a ride. It didn’t fit her very well and looked too masculine so she designed her own intended for use by women. The result is “The Lauren” (named for Lauren Hutton) which first gained exposure through a successful Kickstarter campaign. The Lauren is intended to be utilized as BOTH a backpack and a tote – making the transition from riding to off-motorcycle/scooter functionality. MotoChic was kind enough to send a Lauren to us for review.
OK, looks like a cool idea. Now I like to think that I’m comfortable enough with my masculinity to test a “women’s” backpack and tote, but that wouldn’t be the point. This product is made for women who ride, NOT full-figured old men who ride. Yes, I admit to trying it on in the privacy of my office and can tell you The Lauren is not just a shrunken men’s backpack. The sizing and fit of the shoulder strap and waist belt is suited to the female form. Luckily, local scooterist Karrie agreed to check out The Lauren for us. Karrie has been riding a Genuine Buddy scooter for many years as regular transportation and has a fine sense for fashion and design.
The Lauren is made from polyester fabric and leather with corrosion resistant YKK zipers. The bottom of the bag is reinforced with 1000 denier polyester. It’s 16 inches tall, 12.5 inches wide and expands to about 5 inches deep (exterior dimensions) and has an interior capacity of 915 cubic inches or about 15 liters. Karrie is an ardent vegetarian and environmental activist and was, as such, not happy about the leather utilized in making The Lauren. The water-resistant lining has a motorcycle pattern. The storage pockets are well thought out and include a compartment large enough to accommodate a 13 inch laptop or a piece of additional protective padding/armour. The MSRP is $325. I thought this was high but most every woman I mentioned it to (especially my wife) laughed at me. Apparently a good Tumi backpack/business tote runs about $675. Yes, more verification of my cluelessness.
There are some clever design features of The Lauren – both the shoulder strap system and tote carry straps hide away when not in use so the bag looks like whatever it is configured for. The water-resistant cover has a reflective logo on it and also tucks away when not in use. I only had a couple of issues with the bag: the tab for the cover unraveled right away and the bonding of the two tote strap materials was rough and uneven. I’d suggest a sealed end on the tab and piping or other edging on the straps.
The MotoChic backpack/purse is attractive, durable, has concealed reflective material and is the perfect size to fit my 13” laptop into the inner side compartment. In addition it can hold a lunch, blanket and the multiple zipper compartments fit everything a purse would carry so you can eliminate an extra bag. The tote straps are hidden until you need them and the backpack straps tuck nicely inside their own pocket.
The side open pockets can hold a reusable water bottle on one side and your cell phone in the other or a compact umbrella. I had fun discovering all of the places to hide my belongings.
The waterproof attached cover is ingenious. It is easy to pull over the bag and fits nicely in a bottom secret compartment that closes with Velcro. It stays attached to the backpack at all times so there is no chance of it falling off. There are even clips on strings so you can attach your keys to avoid loosing them in the spacious bag.
The interior motorcycle print is a fun highlight.
The shoulder straps are very comfortable. I love that the bag snaps together at the top to collapse slightly for smaller loads. The MotoChic is the perfect size for those of us that want to be prepared for any scenario. It is not too small and not so large that you don’t want to carry it into a restaurant.
The only drawbacks I have found is that the straps to carry it like a purse are not nylon on both sides and should be thicker. They feel flimsy as is. I had difficulty adjusting the waist and chest straps to make them smaller. Also, it is made with leather and I will only purchase Vegan items. I would love a vegan version in black and a white version for the hot summer days.
From just about everything I see in the powersports industry, female riders are a rapidly growing segment of the market. I believe there is an existing and growing need for riding accessory products specifically designed for women like The Lauren by MotoChic Gear. If you are looking for a good do-it-all storage accessory that will fit your motorcycle/scooter needs, check out MotoChic Gear at www.motochicgear.com
Twin Cities scooterist David Harrington owns and operates JustGottaScoot.com