Tank Bag Comparison: Cortech Super 2.0 18L vs Tourmaster Elite 14LDaily commuting on two wheels presents various challenges beyond simply dodging...
Daily commuting on two wheels presents various challenges beyond simply dodging texting drivers. Trying to remain cool in high temps is a priority, and increasingly, I’ve wanted to lighten my load. Working out of two offices in Southern California means I have to carry a great deal of equipment with me. The weight of a laptop, backup drive, cables, notepad, clear faceshield and more means I’m carrying too much in one backpack.
Aside from a relative lack of movement that comes from strapping on a heavy backpack, I had a secondary concern: A colleague had been badly injured in a serious collision and blamed extensive back injuries on the contents of his backpack. This kept nagging on my mind, so I started looking for solutions.
Riding a Yamaha R1, I don’t have access to saddlebags and would shy away from this solution since it makes lane splitting even more challenging. I had considered a tail bag, but was unable to find something sufficiently capacious. So a tank bag seemed like the best option.
Finding a tank bag for a R1 capable of swallowing a 15” MacBook was impractical. There were also concerns about increased vibration by placing a computer directly onto the bike, which could undoubtedly affect the laptop’s reliability. Furthermore, most tank bags use a magnetic securing system, and I wondered what the magnets might do to the computer. So I decided to double up and keep the sensitive Mac in a backpack and put most of the ancillaries in a tank bag. This would mean more bags to lug around but greater safety, which was my goal.
The helpful team at Helmet House were kind enough to provide us with two tank bags from Tourmaster and Cortech for comparison, as well as both magnetic and strap systems to secure the bags. Having both options would enable us to see how securely the bags can be mounted, especially since many new bikes have plastic tanks. Using straps instead of magnets might also make it safer to carry portable hard drives, thumb drives and credit cards, etc without the presence of powerful magnets.
Both bags have excellent features that make them indispensable on short and long rides. They’re also small enough to not hinder the rider, yet could accommodate a spare pair of shoes, shirt and faceshield.
Tourmaster Elite 14-liter tank bag with magnetic base is slightly taller thanks to more pockets on the lid, as well as phone pocket.
Constructed from heavy-duty ballistic polyester, with some stiffening panels in the sides, the Tourmaster Elite 14-liter tank bag feels sturdy and looks smart. Festooned with external pockets, pouches and cable pass-throughs, the Tourmaster appears high-tech and incredibly versatile.
One of the features that jumps out at you is the built-in, adjustable GPS pocket. This can be raised to find the ideal viewing angle, and has a number of foam sections inside that can be removed to accommodate a variety of different size phones or GPS devices.
For technophobes, there’s a map pocket allowing you to place printed directions behind its clear panel. This pocket is removable and replaceable–while positioned too far back to read with a full-face helmet while riding–is still another useful feature.
Tourmaster interior not quite as fancy as Cortech, but it gets the job done, nonetheless. There are also fewer interior pockets than the Cortech offering.
Additionally, there are external zippered pockets on the top and sides, with zipper covers to prevent them from opening in a strong airstream and to provide rain protection. There are also a couple of headphone ports in the bag to allow wires to pass from the interior to exterior.
The main zipper around the top allows the lid to hinge back, giving access to organizer pockets on its underside, including pen slots, etc. The interior has a black/grey soft lining to prevent the contents being scratched, as well as a soft faceshield pouch to allow you to swap out a tinted visor at night or in rain.
You won’t run out of places to store stuff with the Tourmaster bag.
The bag has a carrying handle at the front as well as a rain cover with a clear window to ensure you can still use the GPS or map pouches.
Measuring 14x10.5x8.5” with a 14-liter capacity, we loved its hideaway backpack straps, which can be tucked away when not in use, but makes it much easier to carry the bag and a helmet.
The bag can easily convert from the strap mount to magnetic mount using the optional mounting bases by simply zip one off and replacing it with the other—if you decide to change mounting systems.
Cortech Super 2.0 18-liter tank bag with magnet base has a low profile, large map pocket, lots of additional storage and generous interior capacity.
These two tank bags have a great deal in common including the rugged ballistic polyester construction, which is reinforced to ensure neither bag collapses when not full.
On top, the Cortech Super 2.0 18-Liter has a simpler arrangement with a large map pocket that is removable and replaceable. This is well suited for people who travel with paper maps or written instructions rather than looking at a device screen, but it’s large enough to accept either option.
Map pocket can be removed to insert map, phone, etc or for cleaninng.
The exterior has Phoslite reflective piping as well as two pockets on either side of the bag, and a third on the front by the carrying handle, which is designed for eyeglasses or miscellaneous storage.
The lid of the Cortech Super 2.0 models features lots of additional storage for oddments, keys, pens, etc.
All zips have “garages” that cover the zipper when closed to prevent accidental opening and improve water resistance. There are also two built-in sip tube/headphone ports as well as a water bladder holder.
Plush red interior is soft, so won’t scratch contents. All tank bags tested include a faceshield pouch to protect while in transit
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The main compartment has a one-way zipper and is expandable to increase storage. Lifting the lid reveals a number of small pockets and pen slots on the underside for oddment storage and organization. It also reveals the plush black and red soft lining as well as a matching visor pouch.
Having a slightly larger capacity than the 14-liter Tourmaster tank bag, the Cortech Super 2.0 18-Liter measures 16x11x7.5” and is available with either a magnetic mount or straps. In fact, the strap system appears to be identical to the Tourmaster system (see below). Similarly, it has concealed backpack straps for greater portability once off the bike. Finally, there is a stowaway rain cover that includes a clear window to ensure the map pocket is still visible.
All the tested tank bags come with a securing strap that simply wraps around the yoke and clips in place.
Straps vs Magnets
This has been a longstanding debate among riders as to which system is preferable. Magnets are undoubtedly more convenient because they can be fitted or removed in seconds. However, magnets bring several pitfalls, such as the prevalence of plastic fuel tanks as well as the potential danger to sensitive electronics. There is also a slightly increased risk of scratching the paintwork when the bag is fitted or removed, simply because the frequency increases the chance of introducing contaminants.
Both tank bags use the same mounting method. One strap goes around the frame below the seat. To access this, there are two allen key bolts on the Yamaha seat that need to be removed. The only place we could find to wrap the strap was around a bracket that supported the rear of the fuel tank.
In their favor, it's far easier to refuel with magnetic fixings. You simply lift the bag and turn it 90˚ to place it out of the way (I try to avoid putting it on the ground in case the magnets attract foreign objects that could scratch the paint once the bag is replaced.)
It’s also worth pointing out that both Cortech and Tourmaster include a safety strap with the magnetic base. It loops around the top yoke and clips to the bag, ensuring your belongings won’t fly across the freeway if the bag should be dislodged for some reason.
With the rear strap in place, it simply clips to the bag, over a wide piece of nylon that protects the paintwork.
If you can’t use a magnetic base, the tank bag strap systems are a great solution. They use a simple strap arrangement to ensure that fitting and removal is quick and painless.
The front of the bag is secured by a “U” shaped strap. It passes under the yoke, around the head stock and back over the yoke. It then clips into the bag, again with nylon to protect the paint. Our R1 had limited space around the yokes but we made it work.
Installing the straps is straightforward—with seat removal required to wrap the rear strap around the frame. The front strap fits around the top yoke, Velcro-ing together for easy removal, and has two clips to secure the bag. Once everything is in place, it’s just a matter of clipping the bag into place each time.
With my R1, there was limited space around the top yoke to accommodate the straps and buckles making it tricky to secure the bag tightly. The bag couldn’t be positioned as close to the handlebars as I’d like. However, it was workable and each motorcycle will be different.
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Both bags offer very similar features with map pockets, side pockets, grab handles, cable pass-throughs and zip covers on both. The Tourmaster has a more sophisticated lid, providing a phone/navigation pocket with removable foam sections to hold it snugly.
As I mentioned, there is also a small map pocket, but it was placed too far back to glance at a map or directions in a full-face helmet. Inevitably, most people will prefer the phone window anyway (obviously, you should pull over when looking at directions, but we all know what happens in reality…)
The Tourmaster Elite tank bag has a 14-liter capacity, while the Cortech Super 2.0 holds 18-liters. This small difference was unnoticeable in daily use, with both easily accommodating the work items I needed to carry. Both bags served as a good companion for work or weekend use.
Choosing between the two bags was difficult because both are extremely versatile. The Tourmaster’s adjustable phone pocket will probably swing the decision for most people, although I found the 1” lower height on the Cortech made it a better fit when riding.
Some riders don’t like the feeling of restricted movement created by a tank bag between their arms and under the chin. In reality, it simply requires acclimation to the different body positioning. Tank bags were made with the prevention of movement obstruction in mind, after all. The lower Cortech bag had an advantage in this regard because you made less contact with it.
On the question of straps or magnetic mounting, I thought my R1 was going to have the final say. The front of the tank has a plastic cowling, which means the magnets could only adhere to the back of the tank. Yet to my surprise, the remaining magnets were strong enough to hold the bag in place, even at high speeds. Obviously, I ensured the safety strap was attached but the bag stayed put.
The strap system is very easy to install and clips on or off the bag in a matter of seconds. It also means you can feel more confident about carrying personal electronics and credit cards in the bag. However, I found myself favoring the simplicity of the magnetic base, remembering to wipe it off each time before placing it on the tank to avoid scratches in the paintwork.
With so little to choose between them on price and specification, the final choice comes down to two simple criteria – space and features. The Cortech is ever so slightly bigger, yet lower; therefore, tipping my choice in this direction. If, however, I needed to refer to navigation devices more often, the excellent phone pocket on the Tourmaster is easily worth the extra investment.