Tankbags are some of the most useful pieces of kit you can add to a motorcycle, offering streamlined cargo capacity that’s quickly accessible. The trouble is, many of them use magnets or other attachment options that just don’t work for aggressive dual sport riding. Speaking from personal experience, both my Yamaha WR250R and Suzuki DR650SE have plastic high-capacity fuel tanks, and my streetbike tank bags won’t stay in place. Most tankbags won’t physically fit these bikes, either, as they have sloping fuel tanks that differ greatly from street bike designs.
There are a few companies that offer solutions for dual sport riders, though, including well-known names like Kriega and Wolfman, both of which I’ve tested in the past. Over the past year, I’ve run two Giant Loop tankbags. Before I left for Labrador last year, Giant Loop sent me a Diablo tankbag, and this spring, they sent me the updated Buckin’ Roll tankbag. They’re similar, but they’re designed for slightly different roles. Both bags attach via a three-strap harness; two straps at the back attach to the frame (one on each side, in front of the seat). The strap in front circles around the motorcycle’s steering stem. The tankbags then zipper into these harnesses.
Giant Loop Diablo tankbag ($255)
Looking at its profile, it’s easy to see the Diablo tankbag is designed to fit dual sport fuel tanks. Once you handle the bag in person, you can also see it’s well-put-together kit that’s made to last a lifetime of riding. Like everything else from Giant Loop, the Diablo is made from heavy-duty vinyl-coated polyester, reinforced with foam in key areas. The main part of the bag is water-resistant, including the zipper, but not waterproof. Giant Loop includes a waterproof rolltop bag that you can use to keep electronics, notebooks or maps from getting soggy. The internal main pocket features Velcro on the sides; you can use camera bag dividers to sub-divide this compartment.
The Diablo tankbag does have a see-through map pocket on the top that’s waterproof, with a snap closure on the rear. There’s a 7×9-inch clear panel here, so you can read maps or electronics, even; Giant Loop included a pass-through port on the tankbag, so you can put a GPS or smartphone in this see-through pocket and power it off the bike.
There’s also a mesh rear pocket on the back of the tankbag.
The Diablo tankbag has a four-litre capacity. That sounds like it could be too bulky for a trail-friendly bike, but the three-strap harness system does a good job of keeping it in place, even on bumpy terrain.
How well does it work?
Installation was quick and easy, and after a year of use on-road and off-road, this tankbag looks none the worse for wear. Giant Loop uses quality components, and it shows. I definitely would have liked it if this bag was waterproof, but it isn’t, and at least Giant Loop doesn’t pretend that it is. I did have condensation build up inside on a humid day, but generally speaking, that wasn’t a problem (can hardly blame the tankbag anyway, if you’re riding in a fog bank). I’d just advise anyone using this tankbag to make sure you have secondary waterproofing, either via the included rolltop bag, or your own Ziplocs, if you’re riding in the rain. Get lazy, and you just might ruin some expensive gear.
Obviously, the mesh pocket on the back of the tankbag is completely open to the weather, and I only used it to store things like waterproof cameras.
I will say that $255 sounds like a lot of money, but at least this tankbag comes with a lifetime warranty
The Giant Loop Diablo is trim enough that it stays in place for adventure-style riding (gravel roads, light dual sport action). However, I did find the harness would work itself a bit loose over time—it didn’t affect anything, practically speaking, but an OCD rider might not like it.
The zipper closure wraps 3/4 of the way around the tankbag, so it’s easy to access all the contents, unlike some tankbags that are simply rolltops strapped into a harness. Those bags are waterproof, but if you want something at the bottom of the bag, you’ve got to empty the whole thing out.
Overall, it’s obvious this product is designed by dual sport enthusiasts, and I feel this bag is a good compromise for riders who need a bit of carrying capacity (say, they want to haul a camera and a GoPro). It’s got “just enough” room for a couple of gadgets, without being too bulky.
The Buckin’ Roll tankbag has only 1.5-litre capacity. Unlike the stitched-together Diablo, the Buckin’ Roll has waterproof RF-welded seams, and a waterproof zipper. It still zips into a three-strap harness, like the Diablo, but it’s intended to sit back of the fuel fill cap, not on top of it.
Like the Diablo, there’s a see-through pocket on top of the Buckin’ Roll tankbag. It’s much smaller, so you can’t realistically put much of a map there, but you could put a note with basic turn-by-turn instructions, or a cellphone/GPS. I suspect most people are using this as a cellphone mount. There’s a pass-through port, allowing you to run a charging cord into the tankbag for your electronics. On the Diablo, you can access the map pocket without opening the main tankbag, but on the Buckin’ Roll, you must open the main pocket first, then access the map pocket from underneath.
How well does it work?
You can get condensation build-up inside the tankbag, but I’ve only seen it once or twice. Considering I live in a fogbank on Canada’s east coast, it’s unsurprising. For the rest of the world, I think this is about as weatherproof as you’re going to get.
I’d used borrowed Giant Loop tankbags before they sent up the Diablo, so I was familiar with them—but I’d never run one as small as the 1.5-litre Buckin’ Roll tankbag. I’ve seen them advertised and was always a bit skeptical, since that’s a pretty small space. But Giant Loop has kept it in the lineup for years, and just updated it for 2020, so someone must like them, I guess? They offered to send me one, and I was keen to see if it really was usable, or just a gimmick.
I was surprised to find the Buckin’ Roll actually seems to be the “just enough” tankbag for most everyday dual sport riding purposes. I can jam my phone, a pocketknife and some other small hand tools, a wallet and a half-litre water bottle in there. For a day’s ride around gravel roads, that’s really all I need. I even took it on a recent tour around Atlantic Canada, figuring it would prove insufficient for longer rides. Turns out, it’s actually nice riding with something so small. It keeps everything you need handy, nothing more, nothing less. It basically allows you to take everything you’d normally accumulate in a jacket pocket and store it on the bike, so you don’t have gadgets and your wallet digging into you when you’re hunched over the tank.
As for tighter dual sport riding, the Diablo is fairly easy to work around, but can get in the way eventually. Not so with the Buckin’ Roll. I never notice it’s there.
Which would I buy?
I liked having the extra capacity in the Diablo tankbag while I rode Labrador on my WR250R—it does fit camera with a smallish lens quite handily.
I don’t like its price—$255 is a lot to only add four litres of capacity. I don’t like that it’s not waterproof, especially at its price point, but it sheds most weather, and the rolltop liner will cover you in a real downpour. However, if you absolutely need the capacity, this is a good option for dual sport bikes. If you have a plastic tank, it’s a great option. And while it is expensive, this is a piece of gear that will fit just about any dual sport motorcycle, and should last the rest of your riding career, as long as you periodically maintain the zippers.
If you don’t need the capacity, I think the Buckin’ Roll bag might be a better choice. It’s $155 less than the Diablo, and the waterproofing is better. You have a lot less space, but it’s big enough to take all the junk out of your jacket pockets, at least. If you like going dirt biking in offroad pants and jersey, this is a great way to carry your kit, even allowing you to use your phone as GPS. Even if you’re on a much larger motorcycle, this allows you to keep the essentials handy without adding too much bulk over the tank. It would also fit a greater range of motorcycles. While $99 is a lot for only 1.5 liters of storage, this bag is waterproof, comes with a lifetime warranty, and serves as a cellphone mount. How many cheap $30 cellphone mounts will you go through over a lifetime? Looking at the long term, the Buckin’ Roll doesn’t look so pricey.