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Anatomy of a Proper Tank Bag

Anatomy of a Proper Tank Bag

First I was all about the tank bag. Then I modified my tank bag by adding power outlets. But a couple of years ago I felt the need to eliminate the tank bag. I even wrote about it here, and I wrote about modifying what took its place here. Unfortunately nothing I did made the wrong tank bag right. There – I said it – I had the wrong tank bag to begin with so no amount of futzing and modding would make it right. You might recall that I eventually found a proper tank bag for Outs and wrote about it here. As I tend to do, I got excited, snapped a picture, wrote a little, and then went for a ride.

Recently I’ve been thinking that I need to better explain why my new tank bag made me reverse my decision to completely stop using a tank bag. Here it is – in pictures and words.

How The Bag Mounts

This tank bag works because the base is formed specifically to fit Otus’ tank. The way the base attaches to the tank ensures it stays tight and the nifty cut out in the center allows me to refuel without completely removing the bag from the bike. Check out the following pictures to see what I mean.

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The Storage Compartment

This tank bag works because the storage compartment is tapered to match the contour of the tank while creating a flat top. While the slope to the back tends to allow the contents to slide down into a pile, the flat top allows you to see whatever you put in the map pocket. An optional divider and rain cover were still with the bag when I bought it from the original owner. The next set of pictures illustrate why this bag is the right accessory for Otus.

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What’s In My Tank Bag

The contents of a tank bag are generally quite personal and based on the rider’s needs and tastes. The collection of goodies in my tank bag include the following:

  • The latest version of the MOA Anonymous Book
  • Maxpedition E.D.C. pocket organizer
  • two pens
  • tire pressure gauge
  • Moleskine notebook
  • ear plugs
  • AA battery powered head lamp
  • AA battery storage box (before anyone says anything about the battery box being empty I had the batteries in the charger during this photo shoot!)
  • Wunderlich Folding Oil Funnel
  • zip ties
  • side-stand foot
  • Olympia cold-weather gloves

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The actual contents may vary from time to time but this is what I generally carry in my tank bag now that I use a tank bag.

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Refactoring My Camping Gear

Refactoring My Camping Gear

This rainy camping weekend reinforced something I knew all along – my tent is too small for me to use for anything other than a sleep shelter. Time to consider refactoring my camping gear. The weather this Memorial Day weekend made it more obvious because there was no place other than my tent for me to go during the thunderstorms. The refuge I had counted on was also closed during thunderstorms so my only option was to retreat to my tent. I had my Kindle and was able to read but, because of the limited interior height I couldn’t bring my chair in and just sit.

Upon my return from the weekend I decided to look for a tent in which I can stand but would not be so heavy that it would dramatically increase the weight of the gear I haul. I made a decision and ordered a tent. Once it arrives I’ll provide an update along with a refactored Touring & Camping Gear list. I learned some other stuff too so the list will end up with more than just a tent upgrade. The updates to the gear and page will be glorious!

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proper tank bag

proper tank bag for a proper Airhead

I’ve had several tank bags on Otus but I’ve never been happy with any of them. In fact, two years ago I swore off the idea of using a tank bag entirely and started storing everything in my top case. While fuel stops were much easier, I had to develop new habits and places for my gloves, ear plugs, etc. I adapted and even got used to not having a tank bag. Today, however, my opinion changed. Here’s why.

A Purpose Built Bag

The reason I’ve disliked every tank bag I’ve ever owned is a simple – I’ve always used “universal” tank bags. Today a friend pointed out that a couple of genuine BMW tank bags purpose built for Airheads were listed on the local Craigslist. I pondered the listing, talked to the seller, and decided to go have a look. To ensure this would be no impulse purchase I didn’t stop at the bank to get the cash. I went to his house to inspect the goods and I was impressed with what I saw. The bags are purpose built for the shape of the Airhead tank and the one I ended up purchasing clips to the “seams” on the bottom edge of the tank. And to get to the fuel filler I simply unzip the bag and I can add fuel! This is a very nice tank bag and it solves the fitment issues I’ve always had with universal bags. I should have figured this out sooner but thankfully I have a very stubborn friend who likes to remind me that my opinions are wrong when they don’t match his.

All kidding aside, this is a very nice tank bag and it looks so very proper on Otus.

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shinguards as forearm protection

arm protection?

We got an invitation to a Halloween party and I did a little thinking about what costume to wear. My research (well, actually it was more like image searches related to some of my favorite movies while I drank beer) led me to some pictures of a character from Mad Max – Jim Goose. The Goose was Max’s Kawasaki 1000 – riding friend who (spoiler alert!) died rather gruesomely. Regardless, he was a cool guy with some costume-worthy accessories that I figured could be bought on the cheap AND provide arm protection as I returned to the road.

One of the coolest things about Jim’s “costume” is that he used what appear to be baseball catcher leg guards as forearm guards. This got me thinking about channeling The Goose this Halloween. I ventured down to the local used sporting goods store and scored a set of previously enjoyed leg guards for $18. I figured I’d go from there and start assembling the rest of the costume. Then reality set in; my riding gear isn’t leather, my helmet is modular and black, I didn’t have any of the pins or badges, and – worst of all – I didn’t have a Kawasaki 1000 to ride to the party! Thus ended my quest to pay tribute to The Goose.

But some good came out of this project – I have my own leg guards I can start wearing as forearm guards. I have seriously thought about this since breaking my arm this spring. Dirt bike riders get to wear armor so I might just wear my leg guards as forearm guards while protecting my freshly-healed right arm and paying tribute to The Goose himself!

In preparation for next Halloween, I have tracked down the appropriate Jim Goose pins and badges so all I need now is full leathers, costume-correct boots, a silver helmet, that cool face protector, and a Kawasaki 1000! Happy Halloween!

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the mobile man cave w/lens flare

camping gear redux

A couple of weekends ago I did some car camping to see if I could remember how to set up camp. There’s a Fall rally coming up soon and I didn’t want my first post-crash attempt at setting up camp to be a festival of challenges in front of strangers so I decided a 4-wheeled run would be a good first step. I drove a couple of hours west, found a secluded spot, and set up the Mobile Man Cave. I’ve attached a few pictures and I’ve also updated my gear page to reflect changes to what I learned and what plan to take with me in October.

Overall the trip was a success. I was able to set up camp, sleep, drink cold beer (car camping allowed me to take a cooler with plenty of cold water and just enough beer to get me through the weekend), eat, read, sleep again, and break camp without incident. I’m not going to lie – the whole set up and tear down thing was a challenge. My pace setting up was slow but I still got the tent up before sundown on night #1 while still allowing time to have a beer before turning in for the night. All-in-all it was a happy Labor Day Weekend!

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nerdy neck wallet

what to do before you crash

At the end of March 2016 I had an accident on my beloved 1977 BMW R100/7, Otus. When the first responders showed up, they cut my motorcycle coat off. At that point my wallet was separated from me and I entered the healthcare system I was an uninsured patient. This has been a festival of physical, emotional, and financial pain as every healthcare provider chased me for payment simply because I was separated from my wallet and, therefore, my health insurance card, by the scissor-aggressive first responder who cut off my coat and pitched it in the nearest ditch. Fortunately my riding buddy scooped up the coat (along with all the motorcycle bits scattered around the accident scene) and I was reunited with my wallet.

To prevent this issue going forward, I am going to do two things:

  1. Try like hell to not crash again!
  2. Put my important documents in something like this.

I’m going to prepare for the worst by putting my important documents and information in my neck wallet and then try like hell to not crash again.

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tracking my travel with stickers

travel stickers

One of the things that’s become more and more important to me is tracking accomplishments. I’ve always had a completist tendency as I’ve begun venturing out of the central time zone on Otus, and I’ve gotten more confident in my ability to keep Otus running, I’ve realized that I can put Otus in all of the US Continental states at some point. I’ve started a page on the site to show where we’ve been and today I tracked down a set of stickers I’ll place on Otus to show people were we’ve been when we’re out and about. I googled around until I found and promptly ordered up a set for Otus. I also ordered up a set for my Cherokee because I actually do have to travel by car from time to time. We’ll see how these look when they get here and get installed. Assuming these work out well I’ll order another set for the newest member of the family!

Continue reading “travel stickers”

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Wolfman enduro tool bag

tank bag elimination

After the 2015 riding season, and with the addition of another motorcycle, I’ve decided that I need to eliminate the tank bag. There are several contributing factors:

  1. each fuel stop required removal of the tank bag.
  2. because I electrified Otus’ tank bag I have to do a bit of unplugging to get the tank bag out of the way when refueling.
  3. a tank bag on the oilhead – at least the one I settled on – looked kinda stupid on the bike.
  4. the bag on Otus didn’t look right on Strix either.

Continue reading “tank bag elimination”

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