Thursday, March 22, 2012

Can Your Gear Ever Be Secure?

One things that bothers me about motorcycle travelling is the feeling of insecurity I get when leaving the fully laden bike in a parking where I can't see it.  I felt  reasonably comfortable with my old BMW because it had lockable saddlebags and trunk, but the Vulcan's only lockable area is under the seat, and that holds the small toolkit and nothing more.

I found a security device that I plan to try out, it is a "Pacsafe Anti-Theft Backpack and Bag Protector".

The packsafe is basically a wire net with a cable drawstring and padlock. I found one at Mountain Equipment Coop in London, Ontario. I have to give the store credit for three people helping me out with my purchase, this was a Thursday afternoon.  I was undecided about the size to buy. My main duffel bag is 90 litres.  The bag protector comes in various sizes, the closest being 85 litres and 120 litres.  I was tempted to round off to the nearest size, but usually it is safer to go to the larger size, so I ended up with a 120 litres size after the sales assistant demonstrated the entire packing process, using a 100 litre bag, and both nearest sizes of Packsafe nets.  I suppose I would have not got this kind of service for a $5.00 purchase, but these packsafe meshes run to about $85 US.  I also like that MEC sells the bag for the same price  in Canadian dollars that Packsafe suggests for US dollars.

When I got the wire mesh home, I tried to wrap up my bag without reading the instructions, which was not very successful. The packing job looked so sloppy I would not really like to travel with it. But after reading the instructions, I realized that, although it does not look like it, the mesh has specific dimensions when expanded.  The long dimension of the duffel bag must be oriented to match the long dimension of the wire mesh.  There is a thoughtfully placed tag on the mesh to let you know where the long end of your duffel must be centred.  I tried again, following the instructions, and ended up with a much neater finished job.  Then the cable drawstring can be tightened, looped through the motorcycle frame (in my case the sissy bar), and then doubles back to lock the drawstring so that it cannot be loosened.

The wire itself is not plastic coated, but it didn't seem to chafe my skin like some wire sailboat rigging I have worked with in the past.  The mesh comes in its own bag, with a padlock and three keys.  It is not horribly difficult to put on, but I will keep the in and outs to a minimum.

In all my previous trips, I have felt fairly secure either because my luggage was lockable, or because was driving at high speed most of the time.  This trip is going to have more parking, some of it might have to be unattended.  I thought the Packsafe motto might be appropriate: "When your gear's secure, you can do more".  I assume this rhymes to the people who thought it up.

Quoted from Wikipedia:
"Outpac Designs Limited, makers of Pacsafe, was established in 1998 by two Australians.[1] Their inspiration behind the original Pacsafe product and travel security products came while travelling in South America, where they saw chicken wire put around bags to protect them against thieves. Shortly afterwards, they created the slashproof wire cage system eXomesh, the Pacsafe 85L"
Pictures: My bike, but the 90L bag is not really full here the way it will be on the trip. But I did put another bag in the wire.


  1. You write, 'But after reading the instructions' ... LOL! ... RTFM ;-)

    I'd never seen one of those rigs before, but that's a brilliant solution to the problem. Of course, nothing will actually stop a determined thief, but this should discourage the 'opportunistic' and just plain curious.

    What's still not clear, though ... this outfit is intended to be wrapped around the luggage when the bike is parked?

  2. I think it will be too difficult to wrap the wire around the luggage each time I park, then unwrap it to resume riding. I plan to leave the steel mesh on while we are travelling. If we are at a motel with secure parking, I may also leave the mesh and pack on the bike all night, as we will have only camping equipment in the red bag. But for camping, it definitely has to be unwrapped, then wrapped again for the next day's travels.