With a dash of minimilist thinking, a spot of urban destination, a warm, rain free forecast, and a new toy to play with... I had all the ingredients I needed for a fun, inpromtu, weekend camping trip in Eastern Florida.
I've had my eyes on a small lake hidden away in an abandoned housing development nearby for some time now, and thought this would be the perfect opportunity to get out on the CRF250L Project Bike and play with the new 2014 Giant Loop Majavi Saddlebag.
I spent some time in the garage getting the saddlebags fitted to the bike. They come with lots of extra webbing, to accomodate a wide variety of bikes I suppose, but for my purposes they present a lot of unessesary bulk and complication. After some some quick modifications, I came up with what I think is a clean, easy method to get them on and off the bike.
I am impressed with the build quality of the saddlebags, Giant Loop says they are manufactured with a kind of 'truckers tarp' that is extremly strong and durable. They seem well made to me.
After that it was time to experiment with what all could be fit inside them. One thing that was immediately apparent was just how suprisingly small they are. I guess this is both a blessing and a curse.
I was able to fit a camera tripod, my cooking utensils, food, some extra clothes, and a hat into them. My tent, sleeping bag, pad and chair all went on top. Not ideal for keeping the weight low on this smaller bike but all in all not too bad. The heaviest items that would fit, were down in the saddlebags.
In the past I'd had to have everything up on the seat, and on this setup I could definately feel the difference. Just pushing the bike around it was apparent that having a portion of the weight down low would be a big benefit.
It's just a short trail ride to get to the lake so I didn't get to go all wild, but the saddlebags seemed to ride fine, no unusually noises, swaying, or movement from the rear of the bike with them in place. They were very securly fastened when I left, and remained that way when I arrived.
When I awoke in the morning there was a very heavy dew covering everything. I checked inside the saddlebags and while they were dry, I could feel some dampness. I think anything that I wanted to keep dry I'd put in a ziploc or drybag on any extended trips. Giant Loop does NOT make them out to be waterproof, and recommend using a dry bag inside them.
Somehow packing for the return trip I actually seemed to have more space, and was able to put more into the saddlebags and end up with some space to spare. They have a wierd shape to them and to use the space effectively requires a bit of trial and error.
Before I use them too much more I plan on getting some kind of protection for the plastics. Any kind of fine grit that gets inbetween the saddlebags and plastic will act like sandpaper over longer rides and rub the shine right off any plastic. Giant Loop sells their brand and I may try that if nothing is available locally.