One great aspect of motorcycle riding we don’t often hear about is the never-ending search for gear. I’ve sampled a lot of gear to find my perfect setup for a given ride or commute, and I want to share brief overviews in this ongoing series.
I’ll explain why I loved or hated the gear, and even why I’d keep it on after a ride — if only we could hurry up and normalize wearing helmets and leathers at our desks.
I’ll start with backpacks from Kriega, specifically the R15 and R20. These are not new to market, but Kriega made an impression on riders with a broad range of packs. The R15 (about $139 at major moto gear sources) and R20 (about $159) have a 15-liter and 20-liter volume, respectively. They make great daypacks, but I would want something bigger for an overnight or two-day ride.
Motorcycle storage is no trivial concern. There are myriad ways to carry gear while riding, and almost all of them involve attaching a bag to either bike or rider. This sounds simple enough; backpacks can’t be hard to figure out, right?
Straps. Snaps. Done.
But riding represents a demanding physical task. At speed, a moderately loaded, loose-fitting bag will feel like a cat in a burlap sack. Sure, you can adjust a backpack, but you can tighten the straps only so much before they constrict your movement, let alone blood flow.
During any ride you are constantly adjusting your body: As you head-check, shift weight in turns, drop your shoulder to lean or stretch your neck at a stoplight. These shifts engage your torso, against which a backpack rests.
Kriega packs use a harness instead of straps. The company calls it a Quadloc System. It distributes the load over your shoulders and chest evenly. It’s adjustable so you can dial in your fit, and the pack itself is curved to follow your body in a tuck. It even has a pocket for a back protector. Please, always remember to protect your spine. Overall, the packs are more complex than a backpack but plenty comfortable.
The Kriega doesn’t hang on. It attaches to you and integrates your load with your upper body. The caveat to any Kriega is that its construction makes it less useful off the bike. If I am riding somewhere very close by, I’d use something that split the difference. Maybe a messenger bag.
I’ll hear riders say that gear is so comfortable, it feels like it’s not even there. But I don’t want to feel like my pack isn’t there; I want to know it is while being certain it will not impede my ride. Kriega packs fit this requirement to a T.
I often describe motorcycle riding as free-falling forward. The vector is horizontal rather than vertical but it’s a little like skydiving. Don the Kriega pack and its harness almost completes the sensation. You’re harnessed in, moving at high-speed and exposed among the elements. Just you, your motorcycle, the road, and whatever gear the ride needs.