Think, motorcycle. Think, two up riding. Think, a 10-day road trip. And chances are, you’d either go for a 50-litre-plus top box or side-mounted luggage of some sort. The latter could include hard panniers or soft ones, or throw-over soft saddle bags. I am not a fan of top boxes. With the weight sitting high and behind the rear axle, it can get the bike to sway dangerously around fast, sweeping corners. I prefer small tail bags instead; these are handy and limit the amount of stuff I can pack in. However, on a trip we are imagining, these would be near useless.
So, side-mounted luggage it is. Now, hard panniers are a great option. They are waterproof, difficult to break into, and lockable. And they look more purposeful on a bike, especially ADVs. But, these are heavy. And, expensive. And I wouldn’t want heavy metal coming down on my or my pillion’s foot during a fall.
Soft saddlebags then seem to fit my bill. Yes, these are easier to steal from; these can suffer serious damage in a fast low-slide crash; and you need to carry them up to your room at every night halt. But then again, these are easy to carry; so there’s some respite there. More importantly, these aren’t as heavy or expensive as hard panniers, and with the right design, these can be completely waterproof too.
The Viaterra Condor 2up saddlebags seem like one such set.
The Condor can be had in two sizes. The 2up is the bigger 64-litre combo. But if you take short trips more often, or prefer riding without a pillion, the Condor Solo with a 42-litre combined capacity might be the better, sleeker, more manageable option. The two are identical in design, construction, and features. So whatever you read about the 2up here, holds true for the Solo too; except for the carrying capacity, of course.
In terms of construction, the Condor uses similar construction and materials as Viaterra’s other luggage. So, the outside material is 1200D high-denier fabric. The higher the number for the denier, the more resistant it is to tears and cuts. It runs triple stitching on all its joints along with bar tacked stress points for added strength and durability. There’s strong reflectivity built into the sides and the front of the bags (front is the part that faces following traffic). And the insides are light grey in colour to better identify packed luggage. Plus, the insides are padded to offer some protection to the said packed items.
Other features of the Condor include a large-sized zipper for the main compartment to make it easy to use with gloves on. The opening itself is reasonably wide, and the top-loading option should come in handy too. There’s an elastic rope weaved on top of this main compartment’s closing flap to secure something slim that you might need in a hurry.
It also has a decently sized side pocket for papers, charging wires, portable phone charger, wet wipes, and what have you; till the time it’s not bulky, it will fit. You also get a handy storage net towards the back of the bag (which is actually the side that faces the front of the motorcycle). It can hold small to tall items; from a cleaning cloth to a chain spray can; and even your coffee tumbler. Maybe even a tool roll. Additionally, the net storage comes with a thick base which should ensure that heavy items don’t tear through the bottom of the pocket.
According to Viaterra, the Condor 2up is all you’ll need for a fortnight when out riding with a pillion. The large main compartment, the reasonably roomy side pockets, and the large mesh or net pockets on the outside, should take care of that. The Condor, like other Viaterra luggage, also comes with a one-year warranty, and a lifetime repair support for whenever the bags begin to show their age. Condor’s maker also claims these bags are one hundred per cent waterproof. But, to get there, you must first pack your stuff in the provided white rolltop, and then cover the bags with rain covers that too come with the saddlebags.
Now, if you are wondering what motorcycles the Condor can go on, well, it seems almost any. From a Royal Enfield Himalayan to the KTM 390 Adventure; a Honda CB350 to the RE Classic 350; and even the likes of the Interceptor or Continental 650, the Yamaha FZ25, the Bajaj Dominar, and even the Versys 650, the Condor will fit on any bike. It’s in fact also designed to fit motorcycles with upswept exhaust pipes so you don’t hurt the bag’s base. However, the bike in question must have saddle stays installed. So, in that sense one must consider both the cost of the bags and the saddle stays when looking at the Condor.
Next time, we will throw the Condor onto our long-term KTM 390 Adventure. We will tell you how easy or tedious it is to install, how much the bags can actually carry, and if they are convenient to carry off the bike at the end of a long riding day, given these aren’t of the lockable variety.
Model: Condor 2up
Type: Motorcycle saddlebags
Price: Rs 4,499
Photography by: Kaustubh Gandhi