Dowco Fastrax Backroads Tank Bag Review

Aren’t tank bags about the handiest piece of luggage you can put on a bike? They sit there, out of the way but within immediate reach, holding all the things you need to keep at hand. Dowco’s tank bag from its Fastrax brand’s Backroads collection did just that for me on a three-day, 1,600-mile California/Nevada tour aboard our long-term Kawasaki Versys 1000 LT. With a host of stops and starts for photos, meals, gas and such, I was into the Fastrax bag at least 20 times a day via the waterproof zipper.

Dowco sews the tank bag from the same 1680 denier polyester fabric it uses in the Backroads brethren: a 28-liter tail bag, 8-liter small tank bag and 28-liter (each) saddlebags. Inside is a neon-bright lining that facilitates finding your belongings, unlike the black holes that many bags offer up as a user interface. There are enough small organizer pockets in the bag and in the underside of the lid that it’s your own fault if you can’t keep your stuff organized. And the interior pockets are mesh so you can see what they hold. The Backroads uses a hybrid mount system comprising strong magnets and fore/aft straps to secure the bag. It worked well on the steel-tanked Versys, keeping the bag in place through punishing crosswinds and over a bumpy dirt road. At gas stops, it’s a quick operation to unclip the front or rear mount and lift the bag away for filling.

With a generous 19 liters of space, the Fastrax Backroads hits a sweet spot for me in size and function, holding everything I normally carry with room to spare for small purchases. The expansion panel bumps capacity by another 9 liters if I need more space. Dowco’s sleek design has no side pockets—something I can live without if it means my horn won’t beep when I crank the bars to the left. Topping the Backroads is a clear panel with room for a phone; headphones connect via a weatherproof port. A removable teardrop-shaped map pocket that holds two folds of an Auto Club map installs over the panel when needed. Beneath it is a stash zone with bungee web that’s large enough for a cap or scarf.

The Backroads holds an attached rain cover in a small front pocket, ready for deployment at the first sign of precipitation. The cover is both handy and waterproof, but it billowed and threatened to dislodge (though it never did) no matter how tightly I tucked its shock-corded hem in at the bottom of the bag. I used it for several hundred miles on a wet, windy day, and while it kept the bag dry, its spinnaker-like antics were distracting.

Other than that, the right-sized Backroads bag is a pleasure to travel with. It comes in basic black with Dowco’s limited lifetime warranty for an MSRP of $159.95.

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