Mosko Moto Tank bags compared – Nomax and Hood

About a year ago – or was it two? – I bought my first piece of Mosko Moto kit, the Nomax Tank bag, for my then new KTM 790Adv. When it arrived, I was surprised, maybe a little disappointed, that it was so small, and not only small but divided horizontally into compartments that made it even smaller. This was not the tank bag that you could dump a small supermarket shop, or your large DSLR into and ride off. It encouraged or rather forced you into organising the number of necessarily small items that you might want to have at hand. Even the additional map holder was so small I had to search for an A5 size road atlas to fit into it. But then the KTM, and other off-road-ish bikes, are smaller than BMW R1200s that my previous Touratech bag perched on. Touratech tank bags are described as being 15L in volume, compared to a third of that for these MM bags. That’s got that out of the way.

I think it was the influence of a Youtube motorcycle traveller that brought the Hood tank bag to my attention first. I liked its simple design and the fact it seems to be one large compartment and one that’s meant to be highly waterproof too. So I shelled out and it arrived from somewhere in Europe without me having to pay any extra tax. I wanted to know whether it had the carrying capacity of the Nomax so tried this experiment:

Soundtrack inspired by David Lynch

Pretty much all of those small tools for minor maintenance and some personal things like Ibuprofen and folding cutlery fit into the two separate pouches that fit inside. That leaves the centre of the bag for the usb charger and the tangle of wires and battery chargers that most motorcyclists carry around on their trips. The bag has some waterproof holes and routes for a charging cable to reach the bike’s usb charging socket installed now by the new tower. And that’s just about it. So just like the Reckless 80 that I also have, instead of opening it and reaching for the item you need, you have to take a bunch of things out first to find what you want – maybe not so much fun if its raining and you are by the side of the road. That’s the price of the ‘light is right’ approach, I suppose.

The real test is to try it out on the bike which I haven’t done yet.

From Portugal up the coast to Galicia

Monday 29th August 

I’m up and dressed waiting for the sounds of breakfast being prepared so I can eat and start off and leave this oasis back into the real world of camping and cooking. Yesterday, searching on Google, I found what looks to be a good campsite about 3 or 4 hours north from here on the Galician coast called Rio Ulla – because it is sited next to that river. The temperature there is forecast for mid 20s so no heat the struggle with. And reviews are good. I’ve noticed that for probably most campsites reviews are very mixed. Unwelcoming owners and neglected facilities are common themes, and often written about so strongly that they definitely put me off. Let’s see if this one works out. And I mustn’t lose track of what day it is. When  I got out my itinerary the other day I was surprised to see that my boat for home leaves on Sunday and not Monday as I had for some reason in head. 

Later. I’m now at Rio Ulla. I rode for over four hours without a break to get here. I made a point of choosing not to ride on any motorways so definitely made the longer journey here, though much more interesting to ride through towns and see people sitting or walking around. Typically for me, I didn’t stop for lunch in case I missed that last camping space though as I can see there are at least two spaces next to me so I could have been more relaxed about the journey. Now that I’ve told the gps to avoid motorways it really does avoid them and took me through towns and around amazingly twisty and up and down country roads. There was some beautiful riding on tarmac in some places looking like it had just been laid. A very different pleasure and concept to dirt roads. But it is getting dark here quickly so I will write more later. 

This campsite is in a beautiful location and has a swimming pool which I visited to try my developing front crawl.

At Camping Rio Ulla, Galicia Swimming Pool
River Ulla

Spain is very family orientated and the campsite is packed with families and children, so you have to be happy to have a constant level of noise very close to you.

At Camping Rio Ulla, Galicia
I took this picture by accident

Now is a good moment to add some thoughts about the soft luggage that I am using for the first time, the Mosko Moto Reckless 80 setup. It involves heavy duty carriers for panniers and a roll top bag that sits on top of a rack. This set up cost me around €700. On the top it has two large flaps and straps and buckles that fold over and hold down a 22 litre tailbag and other bags that you can squeeze in and tighten down – like shopping. Without a system of pannier racks, the design trick is to keep the side bags from rubbing up against a hot exhaust and melting. The set up just about manages that though I checked a few times just in case. It features two tube like waterproof rolltop bags that slide into the side pockets and can then be strapped down. There are two smaller 4 litre similar bags, same shape but on a smaller scale that fit onto the back of each pouch. Coming from metal panniers and quite square shaped inners, the first thing to notice with this soft system is that the quite narrow cylindrical shape of the side bags means that a lot of the time you have to empty everything out to get to some item that has slipped to the bottom. They have transparent panels which are helpful to show you what’s inside but obviously don’t help with access. Secondly, when even just reasonably full these bags are difficult to push into the holster type structures that hold them. You have to do a lot of pushing and pulling or emptying a few things out first. You can see from the picture above that I resorted to leaving them on the bike to avoid having to do this. Because I was lucky enough to completely avoid any rain on this trip (this must be a first – it was a drought after all), I can’t say how waterproof the system is. I don’t doubt that it is. In future I will buy another tailbag, smaller than 22l to also stash under the top to use to put in shopping or the odd item that didn’t fit in the 22l bag that I used for camping equipment – tent, footprint, sleeping bag, Thermarest, inflatable pillow by Aluft and a Sea to Summit silk sleeping bag liner. My new Helinox camping chair had to be stashed outside this bag. It was a life-saver by the way, though one of the campsites had an old table and chair so I didn’t always use it.

Reviewing Mosko Moto Nomax Tank Bag

In 2009 when I bought a 1200GS adventure, I discovered Touratech in the same breath. It was the obvious go-to place for accessories, and for me this was firstly luggage. Touratech were promoting a vision of the world, as Lois Pryce pointed out in one of her books, of squadrons of identically dressed middle-aged European men colonising Africa and other ‘third world’ regions, surrounded in the photos by young black boys admiring the German technology of their motorcycles (see the Touratech catalogues). It was a vision that was at best corny (and old-fashioned) and at worst contributing to a racist view of the world.

That was then – this is now. What came first? Me discovering that a 1200cc bike with metal luggage was pretty much unmovable when in narrow situations – or even on the stoney or sloping carparks of campsites – or the commercial promotion of ‘light is right’ from other companies like Adventure Spec and Mosko Moto? I’m not sure. Touratech, like most companies, was selling more than just products. It was selling a lifestyle or fantasy – of a certain way to be in the world with a motorcycle. Mosko Moto does exactly the same with their well-curated videos of the team off camping somewhere on their dirt bikes. Its quite a different style to Herbert and Ramona’s trips to test Touratech gear, its more down to earth, much simpler and they are a younger, perhaps more innovative, agile bunch.

Mosko’s luggage is, of course, ‘soft’. But its also cleverly designed. Here’s the tank bag. Many other tank bags are bigger and have one large compartment and maybe a couple of small pockets on the outside. The Nomax takes a different approach and splits the available space, which is not large to start with, into four narrow layers, the bottom-most being designed to hold a hydration pack – supplied with the bag. Where the spaces coincide with the owner’s intentions things work well of course. In mine I have one layer devoted to a clever new USB device that charges up to five different devices (batteries, iPhone), running from the single USB socket on the bike’s cockpit. If you have many small or flat items that you want to carry with you then this is perfect. If you want to drop your grocery shopping in there or want to keep your DSLR in it, you will be disappointed as neither will work. You need to think of another solution. But it is small which works well for me on a bike significantly shorter than my 1200GS and, in my view it looks good. You can buy a separate map holder, with transparent top (obviously) as my previous tank bags have had – this is almost their most useful feature because as well as maps and instructions you can keep a passport or cabin ticket there at hand. All my luggage shopping was delayed by post-Brexit fiascos so the map pocket did not arrive for my holiday. In fact neither did the map I ordered from Stanfords. The problem with it, now that I have it, is that it is too small to fit the A4 sized road atlas that so usefully fitted into my previous holder. So, again, I will need to think of another solution. Unlike Touratech who had the budget to develop luggage specifically for different motorcycles, MM have to design a fitting that is versatile enough to work with a range of bikes. I think this makes them a little more fiddly to take on and off – but not by much. Finally, their products are well made, using what definitely feels like high quality materials. The factory in Vietnam must have hugely strong needles in their sewing machines. Buckles, straps and velcro are supplied in generous qualities.