In this review we’ll be looking at the Viking Bags V-Rod Solo Bag, a single-side bag for Harley-Davidson’s best-performing family of motorcycles. The Harley-Davidson V-Rod isn’t your typical Harley. It isn’t the kind of bike you just throw a pair of leather saddlebags over. A V-Rod isn’t going to have a big 1970’s-esque sissybar with a big roll bag on the back. It’s a motorcycle made for dark, profiling looks and hot rod performance. Harley-Davidson’s power cruiser was made to sleek, aggressive, and muscular. None of these traits have anything to do with the simple utilitarian need of hauling some junk with you when you ride.
The story so far….
Before getting my Harley-Davidson V-Rod, a magnetic tank bag was my default bag when motorcycling. They could mount/unmount literally in seconds. Unfortunately, magnetic tank bags don’t work for V-Rod owners. The V-Rod’s fenders and air box cover are made of aluminum alloy. It’s not a material which conducts magnetism well. I even tried adding 35 lb weight magnets under the air box cover, but nothing could make my magnetic tank bag stick to a V-Rod. I needed to find another solution.
Enter the $99 Viking Bags V-Rod Solo Bag
I was pretty excited when I came across the V-Rod Solo Bag from Viking Bags. I was really looking for somewhere I could put some small things. Ideally my gloves and a lock. Maybe even my Surface Pro 3 mini computer that I take with me on rides to work sometimes, or just a small tablet.
Build and design
The solo bag is designed to fit on the left side of the bike only. The left side was likely due to the fact that most of the V-Rods produced were with exhausts on the right side of the motorcycle. Having the bag away from the exhausts helps to prevent damage from heat to both the bag as well as your contents. The bag would be easier to access if it were on the other side, but ultimately it’s best on the left, and the 306 cubic inches (5 litre capacity) are easily accessed anyway.
You can find the installation instructions here if you’re interested, but they’re actually quite useless. That’s probably because the bag is fairly easy to install. There are two straps which go around the frame rails. You’ll have to get creative in how you do this. They then go through a push-down clip system that locks them in place, with added velcro wrap to make sure they stay locked tight.
The entire installation takes about 5 minutes and you can do it on your own, in fact, a second set of hands might just get in the way.
The instructions don’t mention this, but here are two things you can do to make the installation easier:
- Remove the rider seat. Not sure how? Watch this.
- Put a piece of 2×4 or any other flat service under your side-stand, to prop the bike a little more upright, and give yourself more space to work.
- You can’t actually run around the frame rail, so you’ll have to find a hole to thread the strap through (see pic).
The advertised dimensions are 12″ x 8.5″ x 3″, however, this is a bit of a touchy subject. However, internal dimensions are more like 11″ x 8″ by 3″. Moreover, due to the bag’s slant, it is 8″ deep on one end, but only about 6″ deep on the other. Because of this, I was disappointed to find that my Surface Pro 3 would not fit, however smaller Nexus tablet does, so I will bring that with me.
If you need to bring a laptop with you, this isn’t the bag for you. If you don’t need to travel with a laptop, the Viking Bags V-Rod Solo bag is a convenient place to shove a sandwich, a water bottle, a map, and a tablet, as pictured. Alternatively, if you swap out the tablet you can fit a camera and an external battery charger.
How does it look and function?
Perhaps the real test of a bag’s looks is whether or not you’ll keep it on daily. A bag adds more bulk to your bike. It can negatively impact the look and feel of your machine. I didn’t find this to be a problem on my V-Rod. The Viking Bags V-Rod Solo Bag does a great job of following the lines of my V-Rod, and once on, I would not see anyone wanting to remove it.
The bag itself is definitely not waterproof. The bag should hold up to top-down rain at city speeds, but if you face freeway speeds or sideways rain expect your contents to get wet.
- Keep a locking freezer bag, or a even just a sandwich-sized Ziplock bag in the Solo Bag, so that if you do get caught in the rain, you can quickly waterproof your stuff.
- This might seem like a great place to store your vehicle registration and insurance papers, but it’s also easy to break into. Instead, keep those in a ziplock bag tapped to the underside of your V-Rod’s seat. Mine has held up with some clear tape for thousands of kilometers including far too long in the rain.
- The Solo Bag does not work perfectly on V-Rods with mid-controls. Even at a slim 160 lbs, it was rubbing against the back of my leg and ankle.
- The Solo Bag is noticeable when you put your foot down at a stop, for both forward and mid-control models.
- The Solo Bag does not have a built in locking mechanism. It may be possible to use little suitcase locks though.
- The Solo Bag is not waterproof and will take in some water if faced with freeway speeds/sideways rain for extended periods.
We can’t address value without addressing the competition, but at $99, this bag is going to be hard to touch. LaRosa brings on at least three solo bags for the V-Rod on Amazon, but their prices start at $150 and go up to $230. LaRosa is known for top quality leather, but the rustic charm of their bags may not match with the V-Rod’s power-cruiser feel. At $99, Viking Bags is bringing a strong value proposition to customers.