Tank bags are awesome. They take the weight off your back and let you enjoy the asphalt rather than wallow in pain. I took the Rynox Optimus M tankbag to Ladakh and it performed exceedingly well, better than I expected. Now it’s time to check out another tankbag from a reputed brand, the ViaTerra Fly. I took it on my epic 1000km a day journey from Bombay to Bangalore, so here’s my ViaTerra Fly review!
ViaTerra Fly review: Capacity
First things first, if you are buying a bag of any kind, you want something considerable to fit inside it. At 16 liters, ViaTerra Fly isn’t the most spacious thing out there. Unlike Rynox Optimus tankbag, you can’t increase this capacity either. Apart from the main central compartment, you get a zipped mesh pocket inside, 1 zipped pocket on top, 2 very narrow zipped pockets on the left and right, plus one zipped pocket up front that contains the rain cover and a zipped pocket inside to keep a telephoto lens.
The side pockets can hold only some documents, pens and keys. The mesh pocket is nice for keeping memory cards and extra batteries. The top pocket is small too, only good for bike documents etc.. With your camera, lens and a few undies, the bag will be quite full. Overall, the ViaTerra Fly is barely sufficient for a single day ride.
ViaTerra Fly review: Camera comfort
The USP of this product, and the main reason I bought it, was the promise of keeping your DSLR safe and at easy reach. The ViaTerra fly is really good at this. 2 elastic straps hold the camera in place. There is ample protection on all sides against any bumps. Another zipped pocket can carry most medium sized telephoto lenses.
When mounted on the tank, it is really easy to just flip out your camera, take a shot and put it back in. As far as camera comfort is concerned, the ViaTerra Fly is a delight.
ViaTerra Fly review: Rider comfort
It’s good to know that your camera is safe and sound, but how comfortable is the ViaTerra fly to mount and carry?
ViaTerra named this bag the Fly because it can easily be mounted on the tank, the rear seat, or you can carry it on your shoulders. It uses 3 straps attached to D rings for the mounting process. On my recent 1000km a day ride from Bombay to Bangalore, I took the Fly with me.
It takes a while to mount up the bag, about 3-5 minutes of effort. Even after it is mounted, the bag does move around a bit. Only the perfect balance between all three straps will keep the movement in check.
What I found lacking in the mounting system was velcro strips at the end of the straps. Once you have mounted the bag, the extra length of strap keeps flying around. You can try to nudge it under the bag, but at high speeds it comes out quite easily. You can wrap them around the strap itself, but it them becomes even harder to unstrap the whole thing. Needless to say, this is quite annoying.
Also, ViaTerra uses metal zips on this bag, unlike the rubber ones from Rynox. This is problematic, as it scratched the tank on my Duke 390 on the Bombay to Bangalore ride. Also, the bag coated the tank with some sort of black dust, which took some effort to remove. Not sure if it is the color from the bag or something else.
All in all, the ViaTerra fly isn’t comfortable over long distances. This becomes especially apparent when you stop for fuel. You need to undo one strap to push the bag aside, then fill up, then redo that strap again. Quite frustrating when you are tired and hungry from riding 10 hours straight.
ViaTerra Fly is a unique offering, but it is not the best tank bag available in the market. I took the Rynox Optimus M to Ladakh, and it performed exceedingly well. Its new version has a capacity of 22 liters, which can be expanded to a mammoth 31 liters. The Rynox Optimus M can swallow a whole full face helmet without a burp. There is a transparent pocket up top that can keep your route map and keep your on the right track. It also uses very simple and effective magnetic mounting system. A suction system can be used if you have a fiber tank.
ViaTerra have recently announced a Fly GT tank bag, which nothing but a Fly without the straps and extra padding. It costs only 1700 bucks, but in my opinion is not a good choice, as it takes away the only good thing about the Fly, its ability to keep your camera safe and easily accessible.
If you are a photographer who likes to ride, you will be better off with a Rynox tank bag. Wrap your camera in a thick towel and you will be good against any bumps. This ViaTerra Fly review leaves me wanting for more from the guys who make awesome stuff like the Claw and the Marine.
RiderZone DOES NOT recommend the ViaTerra Fly tank bag.