Monday Q&A: Saddlebags for Ninja 250

I’ve been getting a fair amount of questions lately to my blog/email, and I think a lot of the things people are asking me might be useful info for other motorcyclists out there. To address this, I’ve decided to start a Monday Q&A where I post questions I get from readers and my responses. If you’ve got a question, use my Contact form to send me a note! Or you can just leave a question in my comments and I’ll get back to you – and you might just see it here on a Monday Q&A!

Monday Q&A: Saddlebags for a Ninja 250

Last week, I got a question from a reader about this picture of my old Ninja 250, wanting to know more about the saddlebags on the bike:

wpid-Dachary_1-2010-08-30-17-11.jpg

I can’t claim credit for that picture. That’s a pic from when Masukomi had the bike, and she took a two-week tour around the United States on the Ninja 250. The saddlebags on the bike were Fieldsheer Expander Saddlebags. Here were my responses to the guy asking the questions about saddlebags on the Ninja 250:

“In that picture, you’re looking at Fieldsheer Expander Saddlebags:

http://www.newenough.com/parts/closeouts/luggage/fieldsheer/expander_motorcycle_saddlebags.html

Honestly, I can’t recommend them. Those saddlebags actually belonged to my roommate when she had the Ninjette, and she had trouble with the rain covers (one actually blew off while she was riding), the zippers weren’t large enough to enable her to fully access the contents, and she found that it was tight and she had to take a lot of things out to get to what she wanted. Plus, over the two-week tour that she took with those saddlebags, they started to sag closer and closer to her hot exhaust pipes. She said she wouldn’t use them again.

For my trip, I got some saddlebags from RevPack:

http://www.revpack.com/motorcycle/products/SaddlePack.html

The ones I got are listed on a different page – they’re the super deluxe expedition saddle bags and they’re huge. They actually turned out to be a bit too large for the Ninjette – I was able to do some creative things with the handles and the strap mechanism to keep them high enough to stay off the pipes, but it required a little finagling. For most traveling, I think the Deluxe Saddle Packs would be a better choice for the Ninja in terms of size (and they’re also $100 cheaper than the ones I got). They’ve got a wide top open so you can easily access the stuff inside, and I found them to be good quality and full of thoughtful design details.”

And a subsequent response after I exchanged some emails with the reader, and got more details about the trip he’s planning:

“The Fieldsheer bags are inexpensive if you’re looking for a cheap option, but they’re annoying and I was happy I spent the money on better bags for my trip. So if price is a concern for you, the Fieldsheer bags would work – just put something flat/hard in the bottom of each bag (like plexiglass or something lighter) so the bags won’t sag onto the pipes and you should be good to go.”

So there you have it. I wouldn’t recommend the Fieldsheer bags – in fact, I spent precious farkling money on replacing them immediately, even though my roommate offered to give me the Fieldsheer bags for free. I decided they’d be too annoying and were too poorly designed for me, so I shelled out close to $300 for the RevPack saddlebags I’m now using on my BMW. If you’re looking for a cheap set of saddlebags for the Ninja 250, the Fieldsheer bags would work (as long as you correct the sagging problem with some sort of structural reinforcement). But for my money, I’d rather have something better designed that won’t drive me crazy while I’m on the road with my bike.

Bring it on, readers! Send me your questions! What do you want to know next?

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