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Avid motorcyclist & freelance writer, specializing in motorcycles & motorcycle related topics, with a healthy dose of good humor, good vibes & general advice on simply being a good person.
Showing posts with label Stratoliner. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Stratoliner. Show all posts

Saturday, May 4, 2024

MotoReview- Viking Bag’s Dagr Sissy Bar Bag

MotoReview- Viking Bags’ Dagr Sissy Bar Bag

Well, MotoReaders, as promised, I humbly submit to you, my review of the Viking Bags 22L Dagr sissy bar bag! 

Okay, first off- in the interest of FULL disclosure- I did not buy this bag, I do not work for Viking Bags, I am not related to anyone (that I know of) that works for Viking Bags and I do not own any stock in Viking Bags, nor will I benefit from a positive review of, or suffer from a negative review of, this bag (or any other items I review on my site). That said, let’s get to it, shall we?

Initial impression

 When I arrived home from work today, I was excited to see a decent sized brown box, waiting for me at my driveway. I anxiously picked it up and noticed that it had a little heft to it… again, a wave of pleasant surprise and satisfaction washed over me. Once inside, I opened the box to find a nice sized bag wrapped in a clear plastic bag that was tied. Had it been raining, I’m confident that the cardboard box’s contents would have been safe and dry inside. After plucking the bag out of the box and unwrapping it like an impatient child at Christmas, I removed the hefty, well made and very sturdy bag from it’s plastic cocoon. 

I, gratuitously, decided that the best place to take some photos of the bag was on my work bench, where I’ve been working on resurrecting the MotoWriter Dyna, which, if you haven’t heard (or, read about here on the site, yet… click the link here —>>) I crashed a few months back. Yes, I must also admit that the MotoWriter wall sign, that my good friend Nick over at The Wood Shop made for me, makes for a nice background detail… again, I know it’s gratuitous, but hey, I’m grown and I do what I want! 

Digging in

Hearing a distinct rattle when handling the bag, I feverishly began unzipping the compartments to see what goodies the bag contained. I was pleasantly surprised to find that the two side pockets are big. Not, “hold a pair of jeans” big, but definitely “keep your phone, GPS, keys, wallet, Snicker bars, and maybe even some miscellaneous H-D poker chips or challenge coins” big. The best part is, that there are two of them and they are equally large, not like some of those bags that have the random sized compartments that make no real sense. The main compartment held the culprits of the rattling sound- a rain cover, a shoulder strap and two (2) smaller straps for tying the bag to your bike in, probably, any way that you might want. 

In this photo, I’ve got them propped open with a marker (on one side) and a roll of painter’s tape (on the other side). The main compartment is big and has plenty of room for a couple of pairs of socks, underwear and maybe a t-shirt or two if you pack them tight enough (disclaimer- I wear a size large t-shirt, so I can make it work… if you’re bigger than that, it might get tricky for you). Viking also claims that the bag will hold “31 cans”… but I’ve yet to try that, as I’m more of a bourbon man. The “flap” (if you can even call it that) opens up and it has two detachable straps on either side to keep it from flopping open and dumping it’s contents. They are adjustable, so if you only want it to open a little bit, you can. If you want it to open all the way, adjust them out or simply unclip them. I, very loosely, refer to the flap as a “flap” because it doesn’t “flap” at all. There isn’t anything on this bag that is “flappy”, actually. The “flap” is very well made and semi-rigid to keep the contents of the bag safe, while helping to maintain the bag’s shape. On the inside, it has a mesh, zipper close, compartment that could be used for any small items you don’t want falling out of, or getting mixed up in, the main compartment. Did I mention the security? No? Well, I will. The main compartment can be closed and secured with a small padlock- think, “TSA approved.” It won’t keep anyone from stealing your bag, but it will prevent anyone from rooting through your bag and gawking at your weird under britches that have the hearts printed on them. 

Inside the main compartment is another zipper that runs along the entire inner wall. Snooping around and unzipping it, reveals the inner plastic “wall” that gives rigidity to the outside of the bag and maintains the overall shape. The plastic is thick, maybe 3/16” or just a tiny bit thinner and its made of a nice flexible ABS plastic that really looks like it can take a beating without shattering or cracking. The top of the bag has a sewn-in, and riveted, nylon strap handle that has a plastic “comfort strap” (that’s what I’m calling it… maybe the folks at Viking Bags can use that). The handle is well made and will, no doubt, be able to easily hold up to all of the weight that can be crammed into this bag- be it 31 cans of your favorite beverage, or all of those “heart” boxers that your aunt Susie gave you for your birthday.

The intelligent design didn’t stop at the back of the bag either. The strap to attach it to the sissy bar is wide and thick and will easily fit over most sissy bars (or back rests for you folks that are offended by the word “sissy”). It comes with something that, if I’m being honest, I’ve never seen before- two vertical, and removable, metal rods. The rods are used to adjust for the width of your bike’s sissy bar- a very cool feature and one that was very well planned and, from what I can tell so far, very well executed. There are D rings on the rear of the bag that can be used with the straps provided, to secure the bag to your bike, or, convert the bag into a backpack! Very cool! 

Overall Thoughts

My overall first impression of the Dagr bag is that it is very well made. It has what I like to call “smart engineering and design” all throughout. It’s obvious that whoever designed this bag, did so intentionally. The name, Dagr, is an old Norse word meaning, basically, “day” and that’s exactly what this bag is perfect for (although, I can see myself using it on overnight trips, too). 

Quality is top notch- the stitching is sturdy and the materials are very nice- a mix of nylon rip-stop and a rugged, rubber composite that blends very well into the design, making this bag not only functional, but attractive. The size is perfect for holding a variety of necessities on a road trip- sunglasses (and reading glasses for those of us who are getting a little older these days), sunscreen, gloves, snacks, and whatever else you want, or need, to bring along to make your trip a little better. 

While the MotoWriter Road King has big, cavernous saddlebags and a detachable trunk for my longer trips, I plan on using this bag on the MotoWriter Street Bob, once it’s put back together and ready for road trippin’ again, that is.

Durability, longevity and affordability 

I can’t, personally, speak on affordability, as I didn’t actually buy this bag, but I can tell you that, for the msrp of $69.99, and a current promotion (as of today) of $59.41, I think it’s a steal. This is a bag that you will keep from bike to bike until your significant other or one of your kids (or grandkids) decide to “appropriate” it for their own use. It looks good and is well made. 

As for the durability or the longevity of the bag, I obviously won’t be able to speak on this yet, either, as I just got this thing today. I will honestly be surprised if it doesn’t outlast some of my other gear (and maybe even one of my bikes), but I’ll do a proper follow-up review in 6 months, and another one at a year, to give you some updates on it, in case you’re still not convinced. 

Final thoughts

I’ll leave you with this to ponder- how much do you spend at the coffee shop every month? How much do you spend on fast food? How much do you give to your co-workers’ kids that are always selling cookies or doing some other kind of fund raisers? If you’re an average person, I’d be willing to bet that you could buy two of these bags a month, every month, for what you spend in coffee and fast food alone. So, why not take a chance and get a bag that will, absolutely, last longer than all those McBurgers and Starspressos. Go check out Viking Bags (by clicking the link at the top right of this page) or by clicking here and check out what they have to offer. 

Instead of spending a hundred bucks a month for some overpriced drinks or some, potentially cold, fries that will only give you joy, happiness or satisfaction for a few moments, take a break from the drive-thru line for a few weeks and buy yourself a bag that, I suspect, will give you years of service. Hell, what’s the worst that could happen? If you only use it for one year’s worth of road trips, it will still have given you more use than those deep fried fart sticks and that chalky ass, coffee flavored, sugar water. Make your coffee at home and brown bag your lunch for a month and get something that will actually bring you some joy- the Viking Bags Dagr sissy bar bag. (<<— shameless plug, but click the link and check it out for yourself!)

Now, I better get back to working on the MotoWriter Street Bob, so I can put this bag to good use before the next review!

Until next time, MotoReaders… ride safe and make good choices!

Wednesday, July 20, 2022

A Star is born... and then it's gone.

A Star is born

The year is 2006. The motorcycle under my carport is a 2001 Honda Shadow 750 American Classic Edition. It's raining, so I'm on the couch, watching T.V. A commercial briefly teases an all-new motorcycle under an all-new motorcycle brand- Yamaha introduces it's new "Star Motorcycles" and the all-new, 113ci air-cooled, pushrod V-twin lineup- The Roadliner, The Stratoliner and the Stratoliner Midnight. I'm intrigued. Very intrigued. The motorcycle has neo-classic styling taken straight out of the 1930's automobile design handbook, a big, pushrod V-twin and classic American styling. The Midnight edition is an almost all black bike and it is nothing like any other bike on the current market. It is a stunning machine and I love it. 

The test ride

After going online and visiting the Star Motorcycles website an obscene amount of times, requesting brochures and promotional DVDs, then reading the specs and watching the DVDs until my eyes hurt... I decided to make a trip to a dealership to check it out in person. I brought cash. The bike was huge, especially compared to my 750 Honda. It was fuel-injected and fired up instantly with a low rumble. I slowly eased the bike out of the dealership doors, feeling like a little kid on his first bicycle. The bike was huge, but it was beautiful. I slowly pulled onto the service road and eased into the throttle, carefully upshifting to get used to the gear ratio of each gear. The bike was huge, but it was geared well and easy to control. I took it up through 4th gear and then downshifted to start slowing to turn around. I pulled into a parking lot and began my u-turn. The bike was huge, but it was nimble and well-balanced. As I headed back to the dealership, I got a little more comfortable and twisted the throttle and let the 1900cc engine roar. The bike was huge... and it was powerful. If you didn't catch it... the bike was huge.

I bought it that day.

Miles of fun

It was on that Stratoliner Midnight, that I became more adventurous on my moto-journeys. Having the reliability of a brand spanking new motorcycle (the first new motorcycle I had ever had) gave me the confidence to travel further, longer. For the most part, I still stayed in my local area, but my rides were longer. I used to only average a couple thousand miles a year on my bikes- the Shadow 750 was a reliable bike, and I loved riding it, but it was small and got a little cramped after a while in the saddle. The Strat, as I came to call it, was big and roomy and had plenty of power to pull me down the highways easily and pass traffic effortlessly, so I more than tripled my yearly mileage, averaging over 6k miles a year. The only real problem I ever had was caused by an uneducated tech at a local dealership. Turns out, the all-new 113ci engine on the 'Liners had 3 holes to drain the oil, but when I brought it to the local dealership for the break-in oil change and inspection, the tech only dropped two, then filled the engine to spec without checking. That ended up blowing an O-ring inside the engine, near the base of the pushrod tube. After fighting with every "local" dealer about it, with each one refusing to fix it, I ended up bringing it back to the dealer that sold it to me (almost three hours away) and he was able to fix it at no cost to me. He even put me on a used Road Star that he had in stock, while my Strat was down. The bike was great and I was totally happy with it... until I got the fever.

Harley fever and the death of a Star

Just a few short years later, in 2009, I caught the Harley fever. With too many reasons to list, and in an attempt to not get distracted from the original story, I'll save my tale of getting Harley fever for another day and simply say- I used my beloved Stratoliner Midnight as a trade-in, on a cold winter night in South Louisiana, and rode home on a sweet new Harley-Davidson Road King Classic. Even though I left the triple tuning forks behind, I never trash talked Yamaha, the Stratoliner, or the Star brand. On the contrary, actually. I encouraged several of my friends to buy Star motorcycles because of their styling and their nearly bulletproof reliability. Once I started riding Harley-Davidson motorcycles, I never went back. Over the next decade, I went through a few different Harleys, added a couple extra to the garage and settled in on my current bike- a 2017 Road King Special. It has the all-black styling of my beloved Stratoliner Midnight, but with the performance, features, rideability, vast dealer network, history, lineage, reliability and styling that I have come to know and love with the Milwaukee USA Motor Company. Fortunately for me, switching to a brand that had been in constant production for over 100 years was the right choice, because not long after, the eventual death of Star would come.

Unfortunately for Star and Star owners, after only ten years as it's own brand, Yamaha decided to scrap the Star brand and fold the remaining bikes back into the lineup under the Yamaha moniker. 

The company you keep

It makes sense, I suppose. Yamaha Corporate is a huge company with products ranging from musical instruments, to motorcycles, to factory automation equipment. To say that they have their hands in several different industries is an understatement. While the Star brand was a popular one, I think that Yamaha recognized that there is only so much room in the motorcycle market for an American made motorcycle. You see, a lot of people probably didn't realize that Star Motorcycles was operated out of the Yamaha USA offices in Southern California, and that the motorcycles were designed in the good ole US of A. At their core though, much like many of the V-Twin cruiser motorcycles, they were replicated versions of original designs from the original American-born motorcycle companies, Harley-Davidson and Indian. My Shadow 750 was, literally, named the American Classic Edition (or ACE, for short). It was designed to look and sound like a Harley-Davidson FL; The Kawasaki Drifter was a blatant... umm, let's call it... "tribute" to, the original Indian Chief; The Yamaha Road Star was designed based on the Harley-Davidson Softail models and the 'Liners were designed to take on the Harley-Davidson Touring family. The biggest difference in how the designers did this, was to give it a fresh, new design that, in my humble opinion, was one of the most elegant and unique designs that, while it was still American inspired, still had it's own individual look and personality.

What made the 'Liners so popular was the size, the power and the styling. While the styling was still very retro-American, it was unique to the Star brand, as no other American motorcycles had such unique, sweeping lines and movement-inspired shapes. No other bikes had a big speedometer inspired by a "grandfather clock" and no other bike had a big, chrome strut on the front fender (just for looks) and most of all- a big fuel tank, devoid of any names or monikers, just simply adorned with 3 elegant chrome strips. But, at their core... with their big, air-cooled, pushrod V-Twin, prominently displayed in the frame, a big headlight with custom nacelle and leather covered saddlebags, the Stratoliners were easily mistaken for Harley-Davidsons. While that's not a bad thing, with a price tag similar to that of a comparable H-D and a limited aftermarket (by comparison), the Star brand was fighting for it's place on American soil. I believe that Yamaha saw the writing on the wall, when Polaris bought the rights to the Indian name and introduced their first models in 2014. Market analysts surely predicted that Polaris' Indian brand would re-ignite the battle for supremacy in the US market between the two iconic American brands and, after watching the decline of Victory Motorcycles' sales, they were proven right. 

In 2016, Yamaha discontinued the Star moniker, absorbing all of the most popular models back under the Yamaha name. Shortly after, in 2017, Polaris discontinued Victory after years of waning sales. It made sense for Yamaha. The name recognition of Star just wasn't there, not compared to the household name of Yamaha, that is. After all, everyone knew Yamaha. From jet skis, to dirt bikes and ATVs, to your kid's keyboard or saxophone... Yamaha was a brand name that was in practically every household in America. 

The end of the road

Unfortunately, 2017 not only brought the end of Victory, but it also marked the end of the line for the prestigious Stratoliner. Yamaha discontinued the big cruiser to focus on the Star Venture. The Venture is not a new name for Yamaha's touring motorcycle line, far from it, actually. The Venture name first saw production on the 4 cylinder Royal Star as it's luxury lined version, but Yamaha is now using the name on their only "Transcontinental Touring" bike- the Star Venture. The motorcycle is still basically a Stratoliner, but with a full, frame mounted fairing, new bodywork and of course, saddlebags and tour pack. Basically, Yamaha combined most of their big, heavyweight cruisers into one bike to compete with the venerable Honda Goldwing and Harley-Davidson's Road Glide Limited and Ultra Classic Limited. Yamaha has always had a long history of very successful sport and off-road bikes and, it's obvious by going to their little corner of the interweb that, they are clearly focusing more on that market instead of the heavyweight cruisers.

Hope is in the ever changing market

While I wish this story had a better ending, at my core I am a motorcycle optimist and I choose to see the best in every motorcycle story and this one is no different. The Star brand may be dead, but the enthusiasm of it's owners is alive and well. Thriving, actually. Yamaha still makes the 113ci, air cooled mill and, as such, they are still building parts for it. That means there is still factory support for the big machines. There is also a growing aftermarket for those that saw the light of the Star, long after it was already burned out. Stratoliner and Roadliner enthusiasts are now finding these amazing motorcycles in the local ads for a fraction of the prices they used to demand. That means more and more of these beautiful machines are being seen on the roads. 

While I may have moved on from the giant Japanese companies' offerings, riding my beloved Harley-Davidson Road King along the interstates, highways and backroads of this beautiful land I call home, I still get a little excited to see a Stratoliner or Roadliner on the road. As a matter of fact- I have several friends that have moved up to 'Liner ownership and I couldn't be more proud for them. The 'Liners are amazing bikes, with lots of power and plenty of style to bring a smile to any real motorcycle lover's face. 

As a genuine motorcycle enthusiast- I don't really care what you ride, as long as it brings you joy, fuels your sense of adventure and gives you a deeper appreciation for this journey we call life. 

Ride safe and enjoy the ride, no matter what you ride. See you out there, MotoFriends!