Giant Loop pioneered the horseshoe-shaped saddlebag in 2008, aimed squarely at the adventure and dual sport devotee, refining the design constantly. The advantages of the “biomorphic” horseshoe shape touted in 2008 still hold true today, the 2017 Great Basin Saddlebag Roll Top representing their largest capacity (68L) saddlebag of this design.
The saddlebag sits on the passenger position of the seat, placing the extra load where the bike’s engineers intended. The additional gear weight is carried low in the bag’s “legs” and is centralized, not hanging off the back like many rack-mounted bags, minimizing negative effects on suspension and handling. The soft luggage system doesn’t require a hard-mounted rack, thereby saving weight, width, complexity and leaving the bike bare when not in use. The soft baggage system is presumably safer than hard bags with no unforgiving components to crush limbs, and more pliant if clipped on obstacles. The bag can fit any bike capable of carrying a passenger, only requiring the passenger area of the seat and corresponding foot peg brackets.
The Giant Loop Great Basin Saddlebag seems built and engineered for the most extreme conditions. The water-resistant exterior is a heavy vinyl tarp material (available in yellow, white, orange, gray and black) with ballistic nylon reinforcements and reflective accents. The dry bag style main roll top closure completely seals out both water and dust. Add to this the three included RF welded Saddlebag Dry Pods, and gear is doubly protected from the elements. These Dry Pods are custom shaped to most efficiently fill the interior volume of the Great Basin, have one-way air purge valves to aid compression, and also close with the roll top feature. These liners are completely waterproof; I have used them to haul water from source to campsite.
The Great Basin Saddlebag quickly mounts to the bike with only webbing and buckles. There are three points of attachment at the rear bottom of the bag that work well with rear racks (Giant Loop recommends using at least one, but attaching all three has never been a problem) and one point of attachment at the bottom of each leg for the passenger foot peg bracket. All these points can be placed under high tension, sitting the horseshoe saddlebag vertically in the passenger position, the bottom contouring the seat and bike well. The main opening seals with a hook and loop before rolling closed and is secured on each side with buckled straps. The entire bag is compressed from the top by a “beavertail” and cinch ring flap secured by three buckled straps. The closure/compression system is completely separate from the mounting system. Giant Loop includes a laser cut aluminum exhaust heat shield with stainless steel clamp if there is a need.
The horseshoe shape and inner Dry Pods require careful packing. Evenly distributing weight between the two legs and making certain items fit the interior shapes demands some thought be applied initially. The air purge valves on the Dry Pods work great, helping maximally fill each bag, then compressing them to minimal size. The main bag’s roll top also compresses the load and is much easier to close than fighting a zipper around curves of a stuffed bag. The final compressing elements are the top beavertail flap and side compression straps on each leg, which further compact the contents into a tight and stable package.
No amount of aggressive riding on the roughest surfaces upset the bag or contents. All of the strap tension and load compression literally weld the load to the bike. I cannot foresee any water or dust getting anywhere near the contents of the Dry Pods, even if the bike were submerged (there are drain holes in the main bag should that ever happen). The Great Basin works best at simply transporting gear to the next destination, as accessing items needed while on route isn’t convenient; there are several locations on the bag to secure other Giant Loop products that would be better suited for this purpose. The passenger seat location of the bag also demands a certain way of getting on and off the bike, as swinging the leg just high enough to clear the rear of the seat will not suffice. The bag also may interfere with more aggressive body English, especially with taller riders.
The Giant Loop Great Basin Saddlebag Roll Top has proven to be a fully dependable means of securely hauling gear during even the most adventurous outings. The materials, design and functionality provide confidence that vital gear will arrive undamaged, no matter the conditions, successfully fulfilling the company’s mantra: “go light, go fast, go far.”
MSRP: $450.00 www.giantloopmoto.com