My first serious motorcycle luggage was a set of Chase Harper ET-4000 soft saddlebags that I tossed over my Kawasaki KLR650 in 1995. After packing them to the hilt I set off for 10 days of camping along the back roads of southern Utah. They were my reliable catch-alls for traveling for many years after that. I’ve used other bags since retiring them, many of them reviewed in these pages, but when it came time to outfit my Yamaha YZF-R3 I chose Chase Harper again. And for the same reasons I bought my ET-4000s—simple, effective design manifested in high quality materials and construction.
The first piece I chose is the Aeropac Tail Trunk ($92.25), with 19.6 liters of interior room. Sewn from industrial grade ballistic nylon with a urethane coating, the bag features a zippered top panel with a mesh interior pocket for odds and ends. On top is a bungee setup for spillover from the main compartment. The Aeropac’s shape, with slightly bulging sides to increase interior room, is held constant by a plastic insert. Chase Harper didn’t scrimp on the sewing for the Aeropac, double stitching the zipper, binding the inside seams and bar tacking stress points—just like my old ET-4000s.
The Aeropac attaches via four bungee cords with adjustable hooks, and it has stayed in place on the R3’s skinny tail over 2,000 miles with the help of slightly tacky, non-marring material on the bottom. I did have a bungee slip in its adjustable hook and have since made a practice of checking them regularly. Off the bike, the cords stash inside a zippered bottom panel and the padded carry handle comes into play. Reflective stripes on the sides enhance nighttime visibility and accent the bag’s pleasing shape. It has been providing handy storage on the R3 for nearly a year now.
Chase Harper creates the Aeropac II panniers ($150.95) using the same materials, quality sewing and general design as the tail pack, right down to the bulge. Capacity is 43.4 liters for the pair. Installation is simple: adjust two hook-and-loop straps to hang bags over the rack or pillion, then cinch up front and rear straps to snug the bags into place. Mesh pockets on the tops keep small things handy, and the coil zippers work smoothly. The contoured inner panels that would hug a more robust rear end were lost on the waspish Yamaha, but once rigged the bags stayed put. I used this setup on my tour test of the Yamaha YZF-R3 (Rider, February 2016, and on ridermagazine.com) and together the three bags had more than enough room for clothes, tools and sundries. I could have been on the road for a week or more by washing my unmentionables in a motel sink every few days. The bags are machine washable.
After all these years Chase Harper is still putting out high quality bags, backed by their lifetime warranty (return them for repair or replacement for any damage or failure), and makes them in the USA.