A lot of aftermarket companies make saddlebags and panniers for dual-purpose motorcycles. I’m a proponent of simplicity and softness—simple mounting and soft bags. I needed to give the Kawasaki KLR650 New Edition some luggage capacity for the Lost Coast story on page 36, and DBz Products has what I needed, with easily attachable metal brackets to keep the bags away from moving or hot parts, and 15-liter Ranger bags made of 1080 ballistic nylon. Soft is important because if I do fall over, and I try very, very hard not to, soft cushions the blow as the bike hits the ground.
That only happened once on this trip, and from a full stop. I had parked in front of a historical monument and wanted to take a picture. So I decided to get off on the high, or right, side and my foot hooked the 35-inch saddle. Over we went, and the only mark on the bike was a scuff on the metal end of the handlebar. All the Dirt-Bagz needed was brushing off.
The Dirt-Bagz are genuine saddlebags, as most of their weight is carried by two straps going across the saddle, which helps in keeping the weight inboard. To fit the brackets, I had to remove two extant bolts on each side of the KLR and the brackets fit in easily. The bags fit snugly to the brackets, with the front secured by a clip, the all-important rear having a pocket on the bag that hooks into a loop on the bracket—very secure. DBz calls it the loop and holster system, and there will be no bag flapping with this arrangement.
The bags have extremely strong seams. They are easily removable when checking into a motel in the evening. Bags and brackets weigh less than seven pounds, and DBz, staying on the conservative side, recommends you only pack 12 pounds apiece inside when in very rough terrain. However, that weight can be easily doubled when the going is smoother, and extra cinch straps are included if you want to carry wet sand or 50 pounds of hamburger from Costco.
The Ranger bags are 15 inches tall, 11.5 inches long, and vary in width from four inches (at the bottom) to seven inches at the top, with a big zippered opening making loading easy. Each bag also has a skinny front pocket with a nine-inch zip and 11-inch depth. The bags are fairly waterproof, although zippers have been known to leak, so DBz also offers waterproof bags ($23.95) that fit in the Rangers.
Cost? $270. DBz makes brackets for 30 different models, from BMW’s F 800 to Yamaha’s TW200.
For more information, call (623) 581-7080 or visit dbzproducts.com.
(This Gearlab review was published in the February 2015 issue of Rider magazine.)