Finding the right tank bag can be harder than you think. Over the years, I’ve used just about every type, from small day bags to huge expandable tank bags big enough to carry a week’s laundry. The problem is, they all seem to have built-in limitations. A small tank bag is great if all you’re carrying is your wallet and a few necessary items like keys, phone, glasses and the occasional extra from the store, but you can run out of room so fast a small bag suddenly becomes as much hassle as help. Big tank bags are great for long trips, or when you need to transport groceries — or laundry — but they’re usually bulky and sometimes less than secure, especially large bags with magnetic straps. Enter Joe Rocket‘s Rapid Transit Recon 19 tank bag.
An 18.7 liter capacity means it actually holds quite a bit, but its profile — longer than it is wide — makes it look much smaller than it really is. I’ve been using a Recon 19 on my 1973 BMW R75/5, and it’s literally a perfect fit. Most bags I’ve used tend to be too wide for the BMW’s somewhat narrow “Toaster” tank, over-extending at the sides and prone to shifting side-to-side in motion, leaving me forever nudging the bag left or right to keep it centered.
Helping keep the Recon 19 stable are six magnets, one in each of the three flaps and three more sewn into the bottom of the bag, and once on the tank it’s absolutely secure. It’s also hugely versatile, with two generously sized waterproof interior side pockets, a wallet-sized waterproof interior pocket, two exterior pockets running the full length of the bag, a small front pocket, two zippered pockets for toll cash, and an exterior pocket for your cellphone, although it won’t hold phones any larger than an iPhone 7 or similar. There’s also an access point for headphone cables, a map window, and a built-in rain cover tucked into a small zippered enclosure at the front of the bag. That last bit is pretty cool, made even cooler thanks to a tether on the rain cover so it can’t get lost.
The Recon 19 also comes pre-equipped with an inner bag for an optional water bladder ($21.99), held fast with a hook-and-loop strip running its full length. The Recon 19’s double-zippered, dual-closure system — the main top panel opens to the front, with a secondary panel opening to the rear — gives easy access to the toll pockets and the interior. The zippers, each set pulled with a single strap, seemed clumsy to me at first, but I quickly warmed up to them because the system works. Not too big and not too small, the Recon 19 is just right for daily use. Price: $94.99.