Kriega Urban bag

Kriega, the small British firm whose range of motorbike bags and luggage has become the market leader, spread its wings this year with new additions aimed at at capturing the custom and urban bike scenes, Mr. Clark investigates.

The new lines were launched in conjunction with the excellent Sideburn Magazine, the UK’s dirt-track bible and one of the hippest bike mags out there – so there’s no doubt where Kriega are pitching these things.  The new bags aim to offer an option to anyone seeking an alternative to a full rucksack, as well as those looking for something which doubles as a work bag when they get off the bike It seems like a natural progression from Kriega’s dominance of the sports and sports touring sectors, so how’s it gone? Has new style come at the expense of the acclaimed quality and practicality on which Kriega products built their reputation or have they pulled it off? We think the answer is “mostly”, but let’s come back to that. First things first.

The company launched two new bags, both in the messenger style, with cross shoulder straps: a 16ltr “Urban” bag (£125) and an 8ltr “Sling” bag (£94). We’ve chosen to review the bigger 16ltr bag, which we think will be the one most punters will go for, given it’s big enough to be an everyday and all-year bit of kit. First impressions are great (and you’d hope they would be given that, at the end of the day, this is £125 worth of bag – Kriega has never been a budget brand). The new bag maintains Kriega’s trade-mark “unfussy” look of black 420D ripstop nylon, 1000D Cordura and HYPALON abrasion resistance; no fancy flashes, nothing which isn’t necessary to get in the way. Kriega claims the main body of the bag is 100% waterproof and, like its smaller brother, it comes with Kriega’s standard 10 year guarantee.
It’s pleasingly solid out of the packaging, weighing in empty at 1350g, and feels like it has the robustness which has made the firm’s existing range such a success.

But this thing’s aimed at a different audience to the usual R35 on a ‘Blade crowd. Kriega wants to see these on riders of everything from new skool customs to scooters, urban supermotos to British classics. Basically all the bikes its previous range didn’t quite sit comfortably with, in terms of style.

We think they’ve pulled it off looks-wise. Firstly, in terms of core shape and style, a messenger bag is a messenger bag. Kriega’s is no different, it’s just that it bucks the fashion for leather or canvas. Nothing retro or hipster here whatsoever. This looks like what it is, a modern bag in a classic style.

Within this, close examination reveals the levels of quality you will expect if you’re already a Kriega customer: ultra-strong stitching and doubling up of material in areas likely to be in regular contact with the ground or rider. Kriega’s greatest strength has always been that its bags were designed for riding motorbikes first and foremost, and designed by riders too (the core Kriega team is around six strong and all ride both on road and off). Nothing’s changed with the messenger range…at least at first glance, of which more later.

Functionality comes in the form of a single inner pocket (no dividers) with a roll and clip top (under the main cover of the bag), a thin, clear zipped area inside the lid for documents and then a secondary “outer” section behind a water-proof zip which is accessible when the rest of the bag is closed. This is the area where you’d store things you might want quick access to, or to get to without taking the bag off and undoing the main section. There’s also a top carry handle which means you can put the straps inside and use the bag for work meetings without looking out of place.

Another core Kriega trait is also present – enough loops, tags and clips to add further Kriega products such as its “US5” bag, wallet or phone pouch. The usual Kriega “adjust on the move” functions in both the shoulder and waist straps are there too, including high-quality materials used for buckles and d-rings.

So how does it wear/ride/work?
I’ve been using mine on a big twin bobber, about 40 miles a day, plus (usefully for this review) on trains and busses between rides too, and then for work.

First it passes my key bike bag test: can you squeeze four tins of beer in to it on the way home however full you think it is? Answer – yes. Enough room thanks to the inner roll top and long straps on the lid, combined with the flexibility of the materials, means there always seems to be space, and the bag can be packed with a surprising amount of gear. That said, when it’s very full, especially of anything heavy, the shoulder strap can be a little uncomfortable, especially on rough roads. To be fair, it may be better on a plush bike with more forgiving suspension than that found on my bob, where my arse is about 18 inches off the deck, but the point stands that if you’re going to carry big weight regularly, this ain’t for you.

Generally it’s very comfy and the positioning of the bag, low down at 30 degrees or so in your lower back, leaves it almost un-noticeable. I use the waist strap on the bike, which stops it pushing out in the wind, and then pop it off at the train station.

How about practicality? Well, it’s waterproof I can tell you, having ridden through some torrential stuff (I know, a Harley in the rain; wonders will never cease etc). Practicality is where my only gripe comes though. The waterproof zip for the outer section pocket catches in that section’s lining. Not occasionally, but pretty much every time I use it. Now this sounds trivial, but it surely ain’t. This is the section where you put things you need regularly, quickly or want to get to without all the faff of removing and opening the main bag. Instead of getting those things, I’m often kneeling down huffing and puffing and swearing and turning the thing over in my hands trying to unbung the black lining from the black zip in the internal gloom (this section doesn’t have the white inner lining of the main bag).

If I’m very careful and use my teeth and one hand to pull the zip as taught as possible when operating it with my other hand, I can sometimes avoid this happening, but only sometimes, and using the quick access section whilst actually wearing the bag is a complete no-no. The issue is that the inner lining of that section becomes too baggy and loose when the bag is compressed by the weight of what’s in it and is then picked up by the zip. Being Kriega, it’s a seriously robust zip – great in the main but not when it gets jammed.
End result? I soon learned to put everything I might need in the main section because I’d rather have to take the bag off and open it all up than spend twenty times as long fighting the thing like a man wrestling a cat.

This annoyance (and it’s quite a fundamental annoyance) aside, the bag looks great and works very well, true to Kriega’s design standards. Everyone at Moto DLX is a fan of the brand, and between us we own most of what it makes, but Kriega has chosen to be a premium manufacturer so we think they need to sort the zip issue out with the new bag to justify the premium price.

They have a reputation for listening to customers, so we hope they’ll address this. At that point we’d say this was about the perfect urban/middleweight bag. As it is we can say it’s great, but flawed.

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One comment

  • In the review of the Kriega urban bag, a lot of the points would have been made so much stronger with the use of a picture. Good review, I would consider such a bag and will look out for the concern areas raised. I have learnt in the past that Kriega do indeed listen but do they implement change? Not often and if they do its years. Don’t hold your breath for a version 2.

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