The the custom-retro scene is encroaching on the adventure biking boom. Bonnevilles now have more spin-offs than a Hadron Collider, Klim have a Belstaff-mimicking retro jacket in the works and Kriega have come out with the Saddlebag Duo 36 throwovers, much like what we ran in the 70s and 80s, but not made of PVC-coated cardboard. Fittingly, the promo video features a Ducati Scrambler in a post-industrial, brick-and-iron setting.
More just plain unshaven than waxed and groomed, I used the Duos on a ten-day trail ride between the Colorado Rockies and Phoenix, slung over a KLX250S. No rack is not recommended (by me or Kriega) but that’s how my KLX swung.
Listed at only 18-litres each side (will actually be hold much more: see this) they’re on the small side so not pitched at long-range travel bikes. But throwovers are throwovers, whether outside the barbers on Shoreditch High Street, or fighting off pterodactyls in the Lockhart Basin.
They cost £289.
What they say:
Kriega Saddlebags are available in either SOLO or DUO options. Universal fit* to modern retro-styled bikes, combining classic design with modern performance.
They are 100% WATERPROOF and constructed from super-tough abrasion resistant Hypalon™ + 1000D Cordura®.
A roll-top closure guarantees total weather protection and the white liner makes it easy to find your kit and is removable for cleaning.
Aircraft grade anodized alloy strap connectors and heavy-duty cam buckles hold the bags firmly in position.
Mounting straps are included for single or double bag set-up, plus an adjustable shoulder strap for use off the bike.
*Requires saddlebag supports fitting to the bike. Not included.
What I think:
• Usual rugged Kriega built quality
• Durable hypalon panels
• Thoughtful locating loops on the base to attach to frames.
• Can be used singlely and convert into a large shoulder bag (strap included)
• Bags come folded inside a nifty zipped pouch
• Closure straps were a bit short once crammed to the max
• The throwover straps may be a bit short too
• For regular use, the closure system was a little convoluted
With nothing else at hand, at the last minute I grabbed the Duos Kriega had given me to try, to relocate my KLX via a scenic route to Arizona. This meant turning up at a remote house in the Colorado Rockies, getting the dusty KLX running, loading up (left) and hitting the road.
That worked out better than expected, but I was well aware that having the Duos resting on the 250’s side panels was not how they were supposed to be used. I’ve had enough throwover fires and melts, so loaded the Saddlebags as lightly as possible – probably less than 6kg each.
As I was heading straight for the dirt, I used some chunky Rova Flex cable ties (left) to stop them swinging around, using the handy loops sewn to the bags’ inner bottom corners. I admit this was all a bit of a bodge, but riding appropriately and in an underloaded state, they worked fine. I mounted them as far forward as possible to reduce inertia loads and pressure on the side panels, and only once I dropped down into baking Phoenix, AZ did the pipe-side side panel go soft on me and wilt towards the silencer (left).
Inside, the Saddlebags use Kriega’s signature white TPU-coated liners velcro’d to the shell – white means easy to see inside – copy that. The proofing on similar looking liners didn’t last on an R30 backpack I used a while back, but on this trip it was only dust that needed to be kept out. Mostly motelling, at night I just unFlexed the bags from the frame and carried the lashed-together bags indoors.
A big hypalon flap closes over the Cordura body roll-and-clip opening and connects a flat hook to a loop strap from below. You then tension down with a shorter alloy buckle on the edge of the flap. You need to stoop-and-grope a bit to catch the back strap to join with the flat hook. I’d have preferred the higher adjustment buckle to also be the connection, or a loop to keep the under-strap in place, but perhaps there are sound reasons for doing it this way.
All the straps also felt a bit on the short side, when you consider how wide a high-piped bike rack can be. Of course, your typical retro sled will usually sling its pipes low. Longer straps also enable tucking other stuff under them, outside the bags.
As it was I didn’t get into the bags much during the day; all my day stuff was in the included pouch strapped on the back on the seat. On the dirt I kept the pace down to reduce loads on the sidepanels – the thoughtful hypalon patches all kept wear to a minimum – or pretty much zero.
In case you don’t know, hypalon is the very durable rubber-based fabric they use to make white water rafts. And those things last 20 years. A bit overkill on panniers, but very few plastic-based fabrics such as PVC abrade anywhere as well.
There are other thoughtful touches like extra straps to make a shoulder bag, and another set to attach the bags directly to a rack and so eliminate the over-straps which may get uncomfortable for a pillion.
I didn’t use the Kriega Duos long and hard enough to really get a good impression, but a picnicking hipster will have nothing to complain about, providing the bags are solidly mounted. They demonstrate all the features you expect with Kriega gear and for overland travellers whose loads are modest, I’m sure the Duos would lap up some hard travelling. The simple, crash-proof design and rugged detailing will see to that.