CARGO Basics Tailbag – Review

The princess and the blue ridge

Two summers ago I made the difficult decision to give up my first motorcycle.  It was a bittersweet decision though, because I was letting her go in exchange for a “big girl bike” – my 2008 Harley-Davidson Super Glide!  I chose this new bike because it was elegant yet simple, pure machine.  I liked the stripped down, bare bones look of the bike…as well as the stripped down price tag!

I knew I didn’t want to add saddlebags or even a pillion seat.  One day I would like to get some fancy “swoopy” pipes and replace the boring rubber footpegs with something a little prettier, but I definitely do not want to gear it all up.  Although I enjoy using Jay’s Low Rider as my pack mule when we go on trips, I really dislike “the look”.  I don’t even like when he rides around town with the sissy-bar T-Bag as he normally does.  His bike looks sexy when he strips her down and rides her naked!  THAT’s the look I want for my bike.

Geroge Washington Crossing Park

Herein lies the problem…  “stripped down” means no place to store or bring along ANYTHING.  No rain gear, no sunscreen, no extra layer for warmth after the sun goes down.  Heck, there’s not even a place to put my wallet & cell phone!  (I’ve already lost one phone flying out of a back pocket somewhere along the North East Extension; I’m not really looking forward to that happening again!)  As the chapter photographer, I MUST have a way to bring along my camera!

So I quickly decided that I would need to put a luggage rack on my rear fender and get a bag to strap onto it.  I searched high and low and found very few choices.  Oh, there are tons of luggage choices for motorcycles, but the vast majority have a vertical design and are made to slip over a sissy bar.  My bike has a solo seat and no back rest, so that was out of the question.  Besides, I didn’t want this stupid bag sticking up and ruining the artful flow and line of my beautiful bike!  My other options for tailbags were all designed for use on a sport bike (which, if ya hadn’t noticed, has an entirely different tail end design than my Harley).  Fitment would be a logistical nightmare, not to mention that the designs were just all wrong.  It would look about as out of place as Bobby Munson wearing a designer jogging suit!

My search was fruitless and downright frustrating, until my hero came to the rescue!  Jay found a sleek yet functional tailbag for my bike at Cycle Gear.  It is the CARGO Basics Tailbag and at $49.99 it won’t break the bank. Part# 61807. The bag comes with an assortment of attachment options including wrap-around flaps with a clip, bungee cords, a set of flat ribbed rubber straps, and lots of hooks and loops to weave straps or cords through.

CARGO Basics Tailbag

After about an hour of working many different options, we cut off the flaps, removed the bungee cords, and wove the rubber straps through several loops and around the fender rack.  It made for a nice snug fit so the bag would not slip and slide from side to side or front to back.  Only problem is that it is not going anywhere, ever.  So the detachable shoulder strap for carrying the bag into your hotel room for instance is useless. 

The bag also sports a zipper around the base perimeter which allows it to expand to near double capacity.  It is supposed to be able to hold a full face helmet when fully expanded.

rain cover

Another feature of the bag is the outside pockets.  There are flat pockets the length of each side.  I keep the included rain cover (aka “shower cap”) on one side, and my chapstick and sunscreen face-stick on the other.  There is also a small compartment on what I’ll call the “front” end of the bag which is a perfect size for my camera or a pair of sunglasses.

The main compartment is just the right size to carry rain gear or a hoodie along with throwing in my wallet, cell phone, house keys, and a bottle of sunscreen.  It closes via a top flap attached at the front with zippers running down each side that are connected by a short cord.  You pull the cord, and both zippers pull closed (or open, as the case may be) easy as pie!  When expanded, I can fit in a rolled up pair of jeans, t-shirt, tank top, nightie, underwear, socks, flip-flops, and a sandwich-sized ziploc bag filled with travel-size toiletry items…in other words, enough gear for a weekend trip!

Diana’s Bike at Harriman State Park

I do really like this bag, and have gotten a LOT of use out of it.  Over the past two years I have had many people ask me about the bag and where I got it.  My only real complaint is that it has faded quite a bit.  It would be nice if I could find a way to mount it that was easy to get on and off, but I need it on the bike probably 95% of the time so I am willing to give up that luxury.

Riding with tailbag

The bottom line is that this is a very useful, attractive bag.  It suits my needs and tastes.  Even after all of the use and abuse that it has gotten, it has held up well and the only sign of wear is the faded color.  I highly recommend this tail bag as an accessory for day & overnight trips.  If you are going to do more serious touring, you are going to need more serious luggage!  For your day-to-day riding needs, this little bag does the trick!