I am still rather a novice when it comes to riding my motorbike, very much a what’s the weather like? What’s the road going to be like? When do we stop and so forth… I am of much more of a four wheel person at the moment especially as I have just restored my 1964 Land Rover and everything in my life seems to be Land Rover this and Land Rover that. However, I do have a motorbike waiting for me to ride and I have indeed ridden it. This Honda CB500f is pretty easy to get on with, although a larger engine than the CBR125R I had been riding previously and not as big a cc as the NC750s that I had learnt on, so quite possibly this is a perfect balance for me as a beginner, and of small personal frame. The bike is intuitive and allows me keep my place on the road without too much of a decision as to which gear to be in and allows me to gain more confidence with time spent on the seat.
One factor that has stumped me however, was how do I carry my kit such as computer or camera, without me knowing I was carrying it? I am still not confident enough to take a pillion and a backpack is something I had also been concerned about. I decided I would try out a few variations to allow me to have the freedom to travel to and from work with more than just my essentials.
First up is the Alban – a waterproof canvas backpack made primarily for the bicycle customer, hand made in Britain, and very traditional looking. The Alban backpack is fashioned from 20 ounce coated canvas, oiled black leather and polished nickel buckles and hardware, it looks beautiful and seems like it can withhold the British weather. It has a chest strap to allow for cornering (dare as I might, go round a corner at slight speed at this stage) but it allows for movement on the bike.
It has one small felt compartment for a 17” computer inside the bag, and the rest is one large compartment. The leather Alban name tag is perfect to place a reflector or rear light. The canvas straps were comfortable and I felt super proud to walk along the Mayfair pavements with this bag when off of the bike. The three roll system at the top I think would certainly deter any water from entering.
Cost of £98 and worth every penny for the craftsmanship and style.
The next bag I tried was the Ortlieb Packman Pro2 a fluorescent yellow wet bag, again with the three roll down watertight system at the top and with his bag I did actually inadvertently leave out in the rain as I had forgotten to bring it indoors one night and I realised it had rained somewhat. All my books inside were dry and the bag loved being outside.
It is brash and not as good looking as the Alban however, it does have more straps and facilities for hiking and going fast, i.e. the straps are placed so that you can really make the bag hug you. It also has an internal strap system so you can attach your bicycle helmet, or in my case I strapped my motorbike water-proofs to it on the outside when I was walking through Mayfair. I may not have looked as cool as with the other bag but I knew everything was dry and I didn’t have to carry another bag for my trousers, as I was already carrying my motorbike helmet. One nylon compartment to separate the computer and another small pocket on the exterior for your phone or purse. This bag at £86 will last for quite some time.
My next bag was a very different one, being a photographer I love the Billingham system. They are strong, hard wearing and from personal experience I know they are very very waterproof. (I spent a whole night out in the rain at Nurburgring 24hour race with a Hadley Pro and whilst my trousers and ankles were rather damp my photographic kit and socks were bone dry, thanks to Brasher boots here too).
So my confidence in this brand regarding the weather front is confirmed and now to look at the back pack itself. I opted for the smaller backpack, the Billingham 35, with a small external pocket. It has all the padded interior that Billingham is known for to protect camera equipment. This is removable should you not be carrying camera gear and you are left with a tidy compartment. This is smaller than the other two rucksacks I tried, holding 5.6 litres, but I worked out that I actually would not be carrying all my camera equipment on the bike from being too frightened (still I doubt I will ever carry a full kit of cameras on a motorbike with me).
This red canvas waterproof bag with leather trims has a very padded shoulder system, and instead of the three fold roll over water proof system the zips are protected from the rain with a leather trim. Walking across the city my kit securely packed up behind me, I carried my motorbike waterproofs and helmet in another bag. This backpack for me is much more of another way to carry my photographic kit and I adore it for saving my shoulders. Slightly pricier than the other two at £280, it is made in Britain and has kept to the same high standards and traditional methods for generations in the same family. Whilst I know this bag is different from the other two I tried, I feel it deserves a look here for motorbike backpacks.
The three bags tested allowed me to figure out how to carry my computer or cameras on the motorbike in all weathers whilst still looking cool as a pedestrian in Mayfair London. I think I must go out on bike rides with other people and gain some confidence on the road, especially as now Spring is arriving and I am almost a certified fair weather rider, then perhaps I can really show off these three amazing back packs to my fellow motorcyclists.
Next time find out what I think about going off road on a motorcycle…