I’ve never really been much of a gadget guy. Yet, thanks to the demands of our on-street training tours, I rely quite heavily on electronics these days.
Minimally, my bike is equipped with an intercom, a broadcasting radio, a GPS unit, satellite tracker, cell phone, iPad and video camera. As a result, I had so many handlebar mounts that the bike had a strange resemblance to an eight-point buck from the front. I’m sure you can imagine the volume of cables required to run everything. As I tried to streamline by moving more items to my former tankbag, it quickly became a rat’s nest of wires, many of which were trailing out of the backside of the bag through the zippered opening, limiting my ability to close it. In short, it was a mess—especially when all of the wiring was mixed in with the other items I needed to carry with me. I then saw what appeared to be a really smart solution for device-oriented riders: the RKA IN-Charge communications tankbag. According to Richard Battles (the “R” in RKA), the idea behind the IN-Charge bag was to eliminate the “octopus” of arms and attachments on the handlebars, especially for the serious rider who wants GPS and music and wants to communicate with fellow riders.
The RKA IN-Charge communications tankbag is designed with a sturdy metal track-mount system at the top leading edge that accepts multiple electronic devices. A clean cable management system neatly routes wiring from the front edge of the bag into a full-length fabric channel. Cabling promptly disappears into the bag’s interior, where it enters a compartment designated specifically for electrical connections and additional electronics, separating electronics from other bag contents. A bright silver lining is a nice detail that makes it easier to find items inside. Powering everything requires a single power cable. On my setup, one power cable exits the rear of the bag and simply plugs into a battery power lead I’ve positioned between the seat and the tank. Riders can just as easily access power at the front. Either way, fuel stops are simplified since everything is mounted on the bag and there is only one cord to disconnect. At day’s end the entire tankbag—complete with mounted electronics—can be easily removed and carried inside. It can also be moved from bike to bike without the need for redundant handlebar mounts and cabling.
It wouldn’t be a tankbag without a map window, and this bag has a nice sized one that is always flat, thanks to a lightweight aluminum plate designed to support the mounting system and keep the bag’s top from drooping when less than filled. Under that map window is a zippered flat compartment suitable for map and document storage. My iPad fits perfectly in this compartment and can be charged right there in the tankbag.
The IN-Charge bag (pricing varies) can be purchased from RKA as a complete package, including all of the mounts and selected electronics ready for the new owner to install. Or, for a small fee, RKA can professionally install everything and
provide a fully outfitted bag ready to mount on the bike straight out of the box. A third option is to get the IN-Charge bag with the appropriate mounts and accessories for a rider’s own devices (that’s what I did since I already had all of my own gear).
OK, so maybe I have become a bit of a gadget guy. The RKA IN-Charge communications tankbag kinda does that to you. And that’s not such a bad thing after all.