Coffee shop heroes can stop reading here. But for those of you who travel more than 10 miles at a time, you will appreciate our findings...
Let's start with the tankbag. Bikeland's tried a number of tank bags over the years and Marsee's "10 Liter Teardrop" offering is the nicest we've tested to date. Marsee's products are well thought out and extremely cool. Their multiple compartment tankbag has a clear hard plastic cover that allows you to keep lots of useful stuff close at hand (ie: camera, cell phone, mp3 etc). Intuitive entrances and exits for cables allow you to route, for example, sound out of the tankbag, and through a set of watertight passthroughs, run power into the tankbag. Our tankbag was equipped with the optional "Powermate" kit that, when connected to the bike, gave us a cigarette lighter socket and other outlets stored within.
With the 1098's unconventional key placement, we had to trim the base you attach to the bike to mount it in the correct position to be able to ride, and still allow access to the ignition switch. Our only other concern, which proved to be unfounded, was the slightly "loose" fit of the bag to its base where it zips together. We logged a good 8000 miles in total using this bag with no problems whatsoever, so it's really more psychological than anything.
This bag is a 10 out of 10 and worth the money.
Marsee "Zipp" Bag
The Marsee 50 liter Zipp bag is honestly over-engineered. It features layers of additional stitching in every seem, it unzips and, for a lack of a better term, "origamis" completely flat, and it comes complete with built-in hangers for dress shirts in case you're a business traveler. The Zipp bag also features several smaller detachable bags on its sides, including two laptop sized bags. Two small detachable sidebags on either end worked well for storing our tools and other travel accessories.
The downside of this bag was attaching it to the bike, especially one with an undertail exhaust. The bag has three tie down points on either side, however they're located on the base of the bag. This gives you next to no purchase when securing them to your bike, and only (in our opinion) served as a safety or backup, and not a main tie-down point. The bag would be absolutely perfect if these tie-down points were mounted high (at the top of the back) so that you could cinch down the entire load. With a bag so well thought out, we're not sure why this wasn't done. Regardless, the fabric, stitching, zippers, additional linings, and detachable elements make this bag worth every penny. You'll just need to think long and hard about how to attach it to any bike with hi-mount pipes.
Faced with the problem of mounting a bag to the 1098, we looked up Ventura Rack, veteran makers of model specific sportbike racks. The 1098 rack is about as unobtrusive as you could hope for on an Italian sportbike, and it provides a solid and stable mounting platform for your gear should you decide to take your bike anywhere farther than your local Starbucks.
Made from tubular steel, the Ventura Rack fit our 1098 perfectly, with some minor fiddling. Ventura supplies an optional set of bags that give you an enormous amount of storage space and are designed to work beautifully with their racks. They slip over top of a giant "sissy bar" (well.. that's the right term, isn't it?) that you fit to the back of your rack.
Though the storage space of the bags was excellent (51L + 35L), however the overall build quality was poor. After only one day's riding the seams and the zippers began to come apart. The Ventura bag has lots of unfinished fabric edges inside that begin to fray and get caught in your items. Though the Ventura bag is a perfect fit to their rack and well thought out mounting wise, there's simply no comparison to the Marsee bags in quality and finish. After 5000 miles of use the Marsee bags looked brand new... the Ventura bags - not so much!
Ventura sells their product direct order and their rack provides a fantastic solution to touring on your sportbike. We recommend that you purchase their rack, but use the Marsee bags instead.
Put them all together and whadda ya got?
Combine the Marsee tank bag, and the Marsee Zipp bag on a Ventura rack, and we feel you have about the best soft bag setup you'll find. Great design, excellent quality, and proven in practical use... it's a trifecta of wins for the long haul biker.
10L Teardrop Tankbag: $151
Powermate Kit: $81
50L Zipp bag: $248
More info on Marsee can be found at www.marseeproducts.com
Ventura Aerodynamic Bike-Pack System rack: $215
Aero-Spada VII bag: $165
Aero-Delta VI bag: $135
Ventura racks are available in North America through www.cycleventure.com