For sheer versatility, it’s hard to beat the Aerodynamic Bike-Pack System from Ventura Motorcycle Accessories. The mix-n-match system has three basic parts. L-brackets ($159), which are designed specifically for more than 1,800 motorcycle models, provide a mounting point. Next, add a rack: tall Pack-Rack ($90), shorter Sport-Rack ($80) or Grab-Handle ($39). Then pick one or more packs: 56-liter expandable Euro-Rally ($159), 51-liter Aero-Spada VII ($173), 35-liter expandable Aero-Delta VII ($138) or 10-liter Sport-Pack ($61). The Grab-Handle is just that and isn’t used with a pack; the Sport-Rack works with the Sport-Pack; and the Tall-Rack is compatible with the other packs.
Most L-brackets and racks come in powdercoated black; for cruisers they are usually chrome. Illustrated instructions and all hardware are provided. Installation on my 1998 Kawasaki KLR650 was simple and straightforward. It would have been more so if we didn’t have to remove the aftermarket pannier rack already on the bike. Many panniers and the Bike-Pack System can’t be used at the same time, at least not without some engineering. Call before ordering to inquire about fitment issues.
The racks and grab handle consist of arched steel tubing that attaches to the L-brackets with special lock nuts. Racks have a metal “shelf” to support the weight of the pack. The rack’s arch fits snugly inside a special pocket in the pack, and adjustable straps with quick-release buckles secure them in place (plastic D-rings can be locked to the rack for extra security). With a passenger, the pack sits on the shelf behind the rack; when riding solo, the pack can be flipped around to sit on the seat and bring the weight forward. Though very sturdy, Ventura advises against using the rack or pack as a back rest.
We installed the Pack-Rack and tried out the Euro Rally, Aero-Spada and Aero-Delta packs (Aero packs can be zipped together for more carrying capacity—see photo). The roomy, durable packs are made of water-resistant PVC laminated ballistic fabric, and they have internal and external pockets, rubberized molded carry handles and polypropylene inserts to retain shape. The Aero-Spada includes backpack straps; add a shoulder strap to the others for $15.
On the bike, the packs stayed in place without any shifting; even when full, I hardly knew they were back there. When the ride was over, I just popped the buckles, lifted the pack off the rack and carried it inside. The racks are also good anchor points for securing a tent or other gear. Being able to quickly and easily choose the rack or pack that suits my needs for a short commute or a long tour has been invaluable.
For more information, visit ventura-mca.com