SW-Motech EVO Trial 12v Tank Bag: reviewed…
Adventure-stylee bikes are a bit of a bummer when it comes to ‘simple’ storage like Tank bags. On my previous Suzuki SV1000S, it was doddle – with a large steel tank, a quick trip to Lidl’s and £19 later, I had a piece of luggage that simply stuck itself to the tank via the inbuilt magnets… I had that simple, cheap bag for 7 years.
But the rules changed with my new addition – a Suzuki V-Strom 650XT. As plastic surrounds the slim-topped tank, it means that generic tankbags are out and so I’m in the market for another… Hunting on the Internet I find that the choices are more limited but then again, I came across a product that not only fitted practically and visually, but also appealed to my sense of ‘modernism’; with it’s capability of charges devices on the move, SW-Motech’s BAG CONNECTION Quick Lock EVO Trial 12v.
Integrated map holder
2 outside pockets
4 internal net pockets
Rain cover (separate)
15-22 Litre capacity
12v ‘Top Ring’ and neccessary cables included
£172 – eye-opening! But I ‘man-up’ and carry on…
Further; I need to purchase a bike specific tank ring that can supply the power to the bag from the battery, so that too goes on the list at £27.99.
(SW-Motech dealers will have all the main flavours, here’s a pic with the relevant bit ringed)
Moving on, I now need something to actually provide the power from inside the bag to my intended devices. I am planning on my emergency portable jumpstarter/charger and my camera battery – both come with bog-standard car cigarette adapters so THIS at £18.99 will do the trick.
So there I was, just shy of £210 lighter – got to say, my original excitement was waning a little – this was a fair chunk of cash and a feeling of trepidation was starting to creep over me…
But one glorious day, a courier arrived with the goodies and I laid out all the stuff and read the German inspired instructions carefully:
Remove the hex screws from the existing tank ring and fit the new plastic Quick Lock over the top. Pleased to note that SW-Motech had supplied various lengths of screws as replacements (they would need to be longer with the additional ring on top).
NOTE: No need to remove the top screw!
Next is to flip over the lower tank ring, and using the supplied Torx driver, remove the two (very) small screws underneath so that the blanking plate can be removed and replaced with the electric connector. Screw this in and place on top of the bike’s tank ring; find and fit replacement hex screws to keep it secure.
Just leave the wire at the back dangling for the moment, more on that later…
Now I need to fit the Top Tank ring to the tank bag and this requires a drill and some courage. But before that, I thought I’d check that it all actually worked as intended before I started down an irrevocable route:
There was a 8mm drill bit supplied (happiness!), but the wrong size according to the instructions (sadness!) but whether that makes much difference, I’m not sure, but I sure as hell wasn’t going to take a chance since it’s a one-off situation and I’m drilling 200 quids worth of gear! Fortunately, I had one anyway so I moved on…
There is a plastic template supplied to give the correct position, but primary is to rough mount it all on the bike, with the bag in place to adjust the position forwards and backwards. This is important since if you set it too far forward, you will run the risk of the handlebars clashing with the bag when heading for full lock; so please be careful and remember the old adage of “Measure twice, Cut once”!
SW-Motech want you to leave at least 25mm at the top of the template to allow the power cable adequate room and doesn’t get crushed…
NOTE: Before ANY drilling, flip the bag over and un-velcro the cover on the fixing block, otherwise you run the risk of unsightly drill marks through the cover!
Find a block of wood or similar to act as a buffer to the drilling that is about to ensue and drill in the required spots in the template (the 5 outer ones, the 6th in the middle is if you have the optional anti-theft device).
Remove the template and tidy up.
Get the top ring and find the supplied cable to fit to this hole – screw in.
Get the top ring and CAREFULLY thread the cable through the 5th hole then align the other 4.
Flip the bag over and using the supplied screws screw the ring to the bag, re-velcro the cover and there – all neat and tidy 🙂
It is worthy of note that I wasn’t overly happy with the exposed connectors from tank-ring to battery (they hang down over the top of the tank) – I couldn’t see any supplied covering, and I am convinced that they would be very exposed to the elements; I didn’t feel like taking the tank off, so I ended up wrapping a lot of electrical tape over them.
None-the-less, clip together the various cables and you are ready to slip on the power outlets of your choice – mine are the big cigarette lighter style, destined to power my Drift camera batteries and the combined USB charger/jump starter…
LIVING WITH IT
I’ve had this bag for about six weeks now and it was taken on my 4 day, 1100 mile ‘Scottish Blast’ recently, so a good amount of time was spent using it in real life…
To re-iterate, this is not a ‘floppy’ bag. It is deliberately rigid and that stiffness not only helps keep it out of the way of the handlebars (and general bike operation) but has the downside of you just simply not being able to ‘squeeze’ something in. Your item either fits or it doesn’t, and as far as I can see, the reason is this:
The solid block at the bottom of the bag (where you drill through to get the fixings in place) is wide in comparison to the overall width. Couple that with the kinda ‘teardrop’ shape of the bag and I found that I couldn’t fit ‘normal’ shapes like my rectangular emergency jumpstarter down the side without sacrificing what was in the rear internal net pocket. If I moved the jumpstarter to the front (the bit nearest you as you sit) then whilst it’ll fit, it’s easy for it to move around and let’s not forget the power cables that are prerequisite in the storage space.
The external side bags are very slim. Again the deliberate stiffness means that these pockets in practical use, whilst not useless, but minimal use…
There’s plainly a technique to actually getting the thing on the tank ring, it doesn’t appear to ‘slide and click’ more sort of ‘align and push down’. I guess that it’ll be easier with practice…
Overall though, it has enough room for the devices I want to charge and several other bits and pieces (my Leatherman, emergency socks, plastic bags etc) but it is rather difficult to organise and I can well imagine that I was a ‘proper’ explorer where every inch of space is paramount, I’d be disappointed.
You must remember to either disconnect the devices from inside the bag or take the bag with you every time you leave the bike! The power is not switched, it’s directly connected to the battery, and therefore will charge any attached items irrespective of whether the ignition is on or not! (Maybe a FUZEBOX would help here).
I think it’s fair to say that it does what it says it will. It’s a removable tank bag (with security option) that will hold a fair amount of your ‘stuff’ and charge most devices that you’d like to take out on your jaunts; but I did feel that overall it’s a little pricey for what you get in return.