by Victor Wanchena
Earlier this year, I wrote about a new style of motorcycle bag from a company called Giant Loop. I was very impressed with the bag they had designed. It was a tough, versatile piece of gear that kept my essentials neatly and safely stowed for 1400 miles of gravel road shenanigans. The innovative part of this bag is that it combines saddle bags with a duffle. The large, inverted “V” is thrown over the rear seat and secured to the bike. My only criticism of the original bag was difficult loading and weather resistance.
Almost as if they read, my mind Giant Loop has now introduced a new bag that addresses all of my concerns and improves the usefulness of the bag immensely. The new bag is called the Great Basin and derives its name from the area of the Southwestern US where all rain flows toward the center, trapped in a “great basin”. This desert region is truly a dual-sport riders paradise and undoubtedly a good proving ground for their designs.
With a total capacity of 50 liters, it’s now equivalent to a pair of large saddle bags with a bonus. The shape of the bag means large or long items, like a tent poles, will fit. 50 liters might not seem like enough for the “where do I pack the espresso maker” crowd, but for most trips it’s plenty. I recently used the Great Basin on a 5-day trip with full camping gear and a wide range of temperatures. If it doesn’t fit, I don’t need it.
The Great Basin is made from a material Giant Loop describes as trucker tarp. It’s some sort of bomb-proof rubberized nylon; very robust. The entry into the bag is now through one large weather-proof zipper across the back. Loading is now much easier and more efficient. The bag is definitely weatherproof. Giant Loop warns that the bag is not completely waterproof, so don’t try and float your bike across a river with it. On the road, I never found any water inside the bag, even after an all day soaking rain. I trust it enough not to wrap my delicates in plastic bags.
The interior of the bag has several clever features. First, there is a padded cube in the center of the bag; a great place to keep fragile items. I instantly dubbed it “The Beer Cooler”. It may have been intended for storing sensitive electronics or Faberge` eggs, but for me it was just right for stowing a couple of campside beers. Second, there are two heavy bags that fit into the lower legs of the Great Basin. They make it easy to fully load those places. On either side of the center cube are two slots for holding a spare fuel bottle. These include hold down straps to keep them locked in place. A pair of lightweight nylon stuff sacks are also included to make loading the upper section easy. All the interior bags are lined with bright yellow fabric; this really aids finding something, even in low light.
The real winner is the new mounting system. To mount the Great Basin, you simply throw a strap around the passenger pegs and around the rear rack or passenger grab handles. The bag mounts in a minute and is just as easy to remove. It provides the security and convenience of bringing the bag to your tent or motel room. There are additional compression straps that help secure everything you’ve packed. They link together at a central loop that looks vaguely like a piece of leather daddy hardware. No matter, the straps do their job; nothing bounces or rattles around.
This mounting system makes the Great Basin perfect for almost any bike, from cruisers to dual sports. I tried mounting the Great Basin a several bikes and was always happy with the way it fits. The fact that no additional racks, mounts, other junk, is needed to fit this bag to almost any bike makes it a winner in my book.
Priced at $399 for the bag, the Great Basin seemed expensive, but the quality of the materials, the versatility, and the ingeneous design make it worth the money. A quality set of saddle bags and a tail bag will approach the cost of the Great Basin and lack many of the features. It’s available in white, yellow, black, and for you KTM freaks, orange. Visit their website www.giantloopmoto.com for ordering information and a nice video of a bike doing a decent jump with a fully loaded Giant Loop bag.
To go along with the Great Basin bag, Giant Loop now offers a tank bag. I’m fussy about tank bags. Like that brat, Goldilocks, I’m never completely satisfied. Some bags are too big, some bags are too small, and some bags are downright worthless. The Fandango Tank Bag from Giant Loop is actually just right.
My feelings on tank bags are that they should be large enough to carry the bare essentials for a day trip, or stuff you want quick access to on longer trips. Gigantic tank bags might hold everything for a proper high tea, but get in the way on the bike. Small bags are not worth the expense; they hold so little you might as well stuff your pockets. The Fandango is a nice blend of the two. At 9” by 8” square it will hold just enough for a day trip. It slopes from 4.5” in the front to 9” in the rear, matching the slope of most dual sport motorcycles. The sides have a built in padding that helps the bag retain its shape. And for the off-road types, it protects the contents in tip-overs.
So, not only is it well sized, but it’s made of the same bomb-proof trucker tarp as the Great Basin bag. No water proof cover needed. The interior is lined with the same bright yellow nylon fabric as found in the Great Basin. There is a small partial divider located at the back of the bag. It forms a nice spot to keep a tire gauge, maybe a lighter or spare change, but not a lot more. The top of the bag has a map pocket. A couple panels of a standard sized road map will just fit. But if the map pocket was bigger, the bag would have to grow as well.
My absolute favorite feature of the Fandango is that it zips on and off. The base for the bag is attached to the bike using standard nylon straps. The bag then zips to the base via a heavy-duty zipper. No more fumbling at gas stops to get at the fuel filler. Just unzip the bag. This is unbelievably convenient not having to constantly re-adjust straps. It also keeps the bag super secure and stable on the bike. There are few things more annoying than a tank bag that flops around.
The only critique I have of the Fandango is one small flaw. The stitching around the map pocket isn’t sealed. In an all day rain water will work its way into the map compartment. I didn’t expect a water tight bag, but wet maps are worthless. It a pretty easy fix with a little seam sealer, and in spite of the water I liked the Fandango enough to buy a second bag. In fairness to the Giant Loop, they do warn you to do this.
The Fandango Tank Bag is available from Giant Loop. They are for sale via their website www.giantloopmoto.com. The color selection is black, yellow, and red; much nicer than the usual “black only”. Priced at $149. Check out their website for specials on combnation deals and other products.