SW Motech Messenger bag
18th May 2017
Shoulder bag | Tail bag | Laptop bag
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Chances are you're either going to love this bag or have no use for it at all. We're making no promises, mind. Humans are, after all, fickle creatures. And ultimately there's no telling what people might think. Or do. Or buy. But we've been trying this Messenger bag for size, and the conclusion is that like many things in life, its strength is also its weakness.
Put another way, there are either (a) too many on-board pockets and compartments, or (b) a bountiful supply of pockets and compartments ideal for stashing that 15-inch laptop, your books, your mobile phone, your passport, your manicure set, your paperback novel, your loose change, your spare toupee and all the other things you might need for that trip down to the shops, or even further afield.
We counted 12 pockets (or was it 14?), with most of those nestling within other pockets. And then there are external elasticated loops, presumably for holding pens and stuff. So if you're the organised type, this will perhaps fit your new-bag-needs. However, if you're the kind who prefers to dump everything in the same hole and figure it all out later, or maybe never, you're gonna be over-sold.
The bag is well-made enough. It feels strong and looks very durable. It features a generous and padded adjustable carry strap, and an optional luggage strap is available for attaching the bag to the pillion of your bike. And if you like the "briefcase look" (as opposed to the more casual shoulder strap style) there's a carry handle up top.
It's heavily padded too, presumably to help protect your laptop and cushion the bag against your hip, or when strapped to the bike. It's got a fairly stiff base, and all over it feels firm and secure. We looked hard for manufacturing faults, incidentally, and couldn't find any. We tugged it around, and we even threw it around a little (nothing nasty, you understand).
The bag is made from some kind of Napalon synthetic leather and waxed canvas. The "leather" part of it is reasonably convincing, from a distance. But ultimately, only leather really feels and looks like leather (so far, anyway). But the waxed canvas claim is puzzling because it doesn't feel or look like any waxed canvas that we've ever encountered. It's more like ordinary Cordura, or something very similar. And that could matter if you seriously want the waxed canvas look. We certainly couldn't spot it.
There are plenty of buckles on this bag. Some are plastic. Some are aluminium. And you'll need to spend a little time working out the adjustment and quick-release options.
One mentionable downside for us is the Velcro on the inside of the main flap. For astronauts in zero-gravity, Velcro is fantastic stuff. But here on Earth, there are plenty of us who can live without it, and we count ourselves among that number. No, that alone wouldn't necessarily stop us from buying this bag. But it would put a small black mark against it. Then again, Velcro is convenient. So it's your call.
The bag wipes down easily enough, so we don't see any long term problems in keeping it clean. And there's a creditable 24 months warranty on this item.
What will deter many potential buyers is the sales tag. The recommended retail price is £158.99 (including VAT). The optional tail bag strap is another £20.99 (also including VAT). The problem here is that while this bag might well be worth it in terms of durability, we're not convinced that most people are going to see it that way when they pick it up.
That's because we see much cheaper, and broadly similar, bags all the time, usually on market stalls. These cost considerably less, and yes, they often fall to pieces well within a year, or otherwise quickly look pretty scabby. This Messenger bag will be directly compared to the down-market tat, and SW Motech might not have done enough to separate its own product from the rest.
A very handy and well made bag for people who like to keep organised and pigeon-hole their travelling possessions (and remember that a laptop larger than around 15-inches might not fit). On the other hand, it's not a possession dump for the more habitually cluttered.
Note: see Sump Motorcycle News March 2016 for details of other Motohaus motorcycle luggage equipment
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