Home > REVIEWS > GEAR > An evolution in motorcycle luggage

An evolution in motorcycle luggage

By Michael Mihalevich

Route 66 Rigid Roller Bag and Saddle Roll


Route 66 TBU47: MSRP $299.95
Saddle Roll TBU650: MSRP $131.95

Fourteen years ago my wife gave me an original expandable T-Bag for Christmas. I know you’re thinking that it was a hint that she wanted me to get the hell out of the house. Not true at all; it was actually on my wish list.

My wife and I cruised Route 66 from Missouri to California, toured the Pacific Coast, rode Nevada’s Loneliest Highway, traversed Colorado’s Rockies, and suffered across Kansas in the heat of the summer, returning home to Missouri with our T-Bag loaded to its max. During the ensuing years of motorcycle touring, it seems that the T-Bag kept getting heavier, and the motel rooms were always much farther away from the parking lot. (Or was I just getting older? No way!)

Recently, we had the opportunity to upgrade to a new Route 66 roller T-Bag that is even better and more versatile than the original. The new Route 66 rigid roller bag is about the same size as the original expandable one. The Route 66 measures 20″ high by 16.5″ wide by 9.5″ deep, which complies with any airline’s carry-on restrictions. Its rigid construction means that it keeps its shape whether empty or fully loaded, though it does weigh in at nearly 11 pounds empty. Best of all, it has a telescoping handle and ball bearing wheels, perfect for your fly-and-ride adventures, or for the more senior members of the motorcycling community, such as myself, who don’t enjoy carrying heavy, bulky luggage.

The Route 66 features an “exclusive self-mending coil zipper mounting loop that adjusts to fit all backrests from 7″ wide to 14″ wide, and no Velcro or elastic to wear out.” Speaking of zippers, the YKK zippers on the Route 66 are much more substantial than the zippers on my original T-Bag. Since I had no zipper problems with my original T-Bag over the past 14 years, I don’t foresee having any zipper problems with the new T-Bag. The zipper pulls on the new T-Bag are larger, and therefore you could use larger luggage locks for a little more security for your goodies inside your bag. T-Bag also incorporated a nicely padded carrying handle on the top of the Route 66, yet the handle tends to be a bit snug for a large hand in a leather glove.

The basic design of the Route 66 T-Bag is still the same as the original: One large luggage compartment with four external side pockets. The major difference is that the front (or back, depend-ing on your point of view) of the Route 66 bag zips fully open for easy access packing or un-packing. T-Bags has also added internal organizer pockets for keeping smaller items more accessible. There is also an “instant access bungee bottom rain cover” attached in a compartment on the side of the bag—a much more professional solution than my “heavy duty contractor clean-up bag,” for keeping your clothes dry during a downpour.

Securing the bag on the bike is essentially the same, as well. The ad-justable mounting loop fits over your sissy bar backrest, and four quick-release tie-down straps attach the bottom of the bag to the motorcycle.

The optional Saddle Roll (TBU650) sits on top of the Route 66 bag and adds an additional cubic half-foot of luggage space. The new Saddle Roll features two large zippered side pockets and a carrying handle on top. T-Bags generously give you an internal rain liner that the company claims can be used for ice and soft drinks. (It’s not a federal offense to transport cold beer across state lines, is it?) The Saddle Roll is held in place with the Route 66 top net that has four quick-release fasteners. On the other hand, this new Saddle Roll can be used as stand-alone luggage since it has its own adjustable backrest-mounting loop similar to other T-Bags.

My wife and I have used our Saddle Roll as an overnight bag for toiletries and a change of socks and underwear, etc. Occasionally we would stuff jackets or chaps under the net holding our old saddle roll on the T-Bag, but with the new rigid Saddle Roll and the shorter straps on the new net, there is not as much leeway for storing much more under the net. According to T-Bags, they don’t want us to unsafely overload our bikes.

Along the lines of safety, T-Bags has added a strip of reflective piping across the back of the Route 66. I go a step further. I wrap an extra large, high-visibility, reflective safety vest around my T-Bag for increased visibility. I guess I’d rather look a little strange and be a little safer than look cool in all black and possibly end up crumpled.

Back on the road again, with our new great looking Route 66 Rigid Roller T-Bag with optional tough nylon Saddle Roll, we can maintain our cool, and not look like third-class tourists when we check into a second-rate motel. We could even put on the Ritz and roll our Route 66 into the first-class section to fly away for an international adventure. (But we would have to win one of the major lotteries for that to happen.)

All T-Bags products come with a lifetime warranty.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *