– Durably made. The bags are constructed of a thick Cordura-like material. I have put something approaching 1,500 miles on them thus far and the material still looks brand new. It has suffered rain, high winds and countless exploding insects at motorway speeds without rip, tear or fade. I have had a teeny tiny bit of stitching start to come loose on one of the side strap loops, but I think that is the result of my deliberately overloading the bags once by stuffing them with a week’s shopping.
– Simple, good look. If you’ve ever bought an Oxford product, no doubt one of your greatest complaints was that it was clearly designed by someone whose sense of style became frozen in time somewhere around 1986. Generally their stuff is pretty good, but it looks awful. It declares to the world: “I am a cheap bastard.” This is not the case with the Viking AXE Saddlebags. All black, and decorated with little more than a VikingBags badge, they look good on any bike.
– Expandable. As is, each bag offers about 22 litres of storage space. They can be expanded to provide 26 litres, giving you a whopping 52 litres of space. When I went to Scotland, that was enough to hold all the clothes I needed for eight days (save two pairs of jeans I put in a different bag), as well as a pair of running shoes, a pair of hiking boots, and various small things for bike maintenance.
– Relatively easy to put on. The first time you put these bags on your bike, you should allocate roughly 45 minutes for you to stand around swearing, contorting and trying to figure out the best way to ensure the damned things are on your bike securely and without causing damage to your bike. This is because there are no instructions. Once you work out a system, however, you’ll find that getting the bags on or off the bike takes closer to 45 seconds.
– Passenger friendly. As evidenced by Jenn’s joining me on the 60-mile ride to the Gower, the straps that go over the passenger seat do not prevent you from carrying a passenger. Jenn says she cannot feel the strap when she sits on it. And on my Honda CBF 600 SA, at least, I am able to push the bags far enough back that they don’t have any effect on how she places her feet on the pegs.
– Affordable. Certainly one of the initial selling points of the Viking AXE Saddlebags is that they are incredibly affordable, usually cheaper than any comparable bags I have seen. As with a lot of Viking products, such as the Viking Cycle Hammer jacket, the quality is better than the price would suggest.