Thursday, March 26, 2009

Wunderlich F800GS/F650GS Tank Bag

I just received the new Wunderlich F800GS/F650GS Tank Bag from Wunderlich America. I've been waiting since I got the bike in November for this bag and it finally came in. I even paid a bit less than I expected. Here's a few photos of some details that can't be seen from the Wunderlich publicity shots on the web:

This is a photo of the whole bag, assembled and ready to go on the bike--front on the left, rear to the right. It's rather big--larger than I thought. That's actually alright by me, as I like a big tank bag. The sheet of paper I have in the map holder is the 8 1/2" by 11" installation instructions. The map pocket unzips 180 degrees to allow for easy insertion of maps. It's also clear on both sides, so you can easily flip it over and re-fasten to the bag to see the other side of the map. Way cool.

This shows the front of the bag with the strap that goes around the front of the bike frame easily seen. You can see a handle, with "Wunderlich" sewn into it. The handle is very nicely padded. The zipper above the right strap has an audio cable access port behind it.

Here's the rear of the bag--the end that sits next to the rider. You can see the two straps that feed under the seat and attach to two slots on the bike. One of the main reasons I wanted this bag is that I can't stand long straps flopping in the wind. These are completely hidden from view once the seat is in place.

Here's the bottom of the bag and attached mounting "plate". This appears to be a slick vinyl that I'm sure is supposed to reduce scratches. Front on top, back on bottom.

Here I've taken the mounting plate off and the bag is on it's side. Front to the right and back to the left. You can easily see the padded handle. Even though most of the bottom of the bag will not touch the bike, it still has the vinyl surface. The funky flap sticking out is used to affix the bag to the mounting "plate". It slides into pockets in the mount and then clips into the front of the bag.

This is the mount, lying top up, front to the left. You can see the "pocket" that the flap slides into. It's rather a nifty design, I think.

OK. Here's the bag opened up. You can see the removable accessory bag slid into the flap on the lid. Also nifty.

Here's a somewhat blurry (sorry) shot of the accessory bag taken out of the lid. It can easily be removed and taken with you if needed.

Here's an interior photo of the front left corner of the bag. Yup. It sure is blue... You can see the audio cable port I mentioned earlier along with a mysterious zipper to access yet another pocket.

Unzipping the interior pocket reveals a very flat space, perhaps to store papers and documents, with a thin plastic stiffener. Looks removable if you don't want the bag to have stiff sides.

I think the map pocket is as well designed as it could be. It is opened by a zipper, which has that "waterproof" rubber cover. Very easy to load and move the paper around. As to the attachment, it won't budge once it's all strapped up. There's a long Velcro attachment in the front, a clip in the back, as well as four attachments on the side as you can see from these photos.

Lastly, the bag unzips around the circumference to expand upwards quite a ways. Because I don't have anything in it, it's rather scrunched down, but I would estimate it is twice the volume when expanded. You can also see the double-sided nature of the map pocket, which can be easily detached from the rear of the bag. This allows access to the space underneath.

All in all, I am very, very satisfied with this bag. Of course, I feel that way about all the Wunderlich farkles I've bought over the years. I think the quality, design, and price of this bag is better than the TouraTech bag I had with my F650GS Dakar. The letter "W" may come late in the alphabet, but it beats "TT" this time.

I got home, stepped out of the car, and immediately installed the tank bag. Here you go:

This is the under-seat fastening. You can see the two straps from the mounting plate that attach to the existing plastic loops on the bike. This is so straightforward that I can't understand why other bag manufacturers don't use the same method. The middle strap is used to attach the bag to the mount later on. You'll see that in a later picture.

You can see how tight the mount fits to the seat. I like it!

Here's how tight the front of the mount fits. Not much room for the key. Again, you'll see more detail on this in a later photo.

Here's the bag on the bike. Very secure and easy to mount. It turns out Wunderlich has designed two separate ways to fasten the bag to the mount. The easiest way is to just clip it on. Goes on and off in seconds. However, in my opinion, it's so easy to take off that I'd be afraid it'd get stolen. So, I used the more secure method that holds down all four corners of the bag using Velcro straps sewn into the mounting plate routed through D-rings sewn onto the bag. As we've seen, the two lower straps go under the seat (I didn't get a good picture of the D-rings here) and cannot be removed without getting under the saddle, which, of course, is locked. This seems much more secure to me.

Other side of the bike. I think it looks good.

A closer shot from the same angle. You can see how the center strap at the back of the mount runs up and locks the bag onto the mount. If I hadn't used the D-ring method, this would be all that holds down the rear of the bag.

Here's a close-up of the front mount. You can see the straps on both side holding the D-rings tight. This bag is going nowhere! The center clip is shown as well. Without the D-ring method, this is all that holds the bag on.

Yet another close-up of the key area. Yes, the power port will open...just barely. This is real tight in here. I've been using a key ring with two other motorcycle keys and one of those pocket-sized garage door openers. No longer. All this will fit, again just barely, but it's a hassle to turn the key. I'll have to pare down my key ring.

You might wonder how it feels standing on the pegs. Well, if I had any shorter legs, I'd be hitting this bag right where it'd hurt. As it is, the bag hits my thighs just under my crotch if I lean just the slightest bit forward while standing up. It doesn't bother me, but I'm not all that active while standing.

As always, your mileage may vary...

Friday, March 13, 2009

Took the Long Way To Work

I took the long way to work this morning, with a little swing out on the farmland flats to the west of town.

I've been commuting on the new F800GS pretty frequently since it's purchase last November. Only when the roads are iced up do I drive the car. I've been surprised at how little the temperature bothers me; I rode in one morning and noticed that the temperature was 7.7° at one point. I was glad my commute is only 20 miles that morning, though.

Today it was a balmy 27° and felt fine. It sure was nice to enjoy the early morning farm roads.

Thursday, March 12, 2009


Airgun shooting is a subject near and dear to my heart. I shoot airguns many evenings in my basement (6 meter range) or out in the garage (full 10 meters), sometimes with my boys.

In fact, I just got done with shooting 120 shots from my air pistol (FWB 103) on the 10 meter range.

Just to give you some idea, I shot a 541 and a 547 (out of 600 possible) for the two 60-shot strings this evening. This isn't too shabby, if I do say so myself, though not as good as the big boys that compete internationally (generally in the 570-590 range). The worst Olympic competitors (from countries like the Bahamas, Bahrain, or the Virgin Islands) regularly shoot about as well as my personal best of 563. The world record is 593.

Most air rifles that regular folk think of as accurate are likely to be fine guns. Most of them are excellent plinkers and good for backyard target shooting, but nowhere near being in the same league as what the big boys (read Olympic and World Cup level) shoot. Most of the rifles people think of as accurate will shoot in the neighborhood of 1 inch to maybe 1/2 inch groups at 10 meters. A few might even hit 1/4 inch groups in the hands of a really skilled shooter. As a comparison, high-end target air rifles have accuracies of about 1 mm groups, or .04 inches. Remember, the "10 ring" of a 10 meter air rifle target is actually a dot smaller than the head of a pin, and an Olympic caliber shooter will hit 58, 59 or 60 shots out of a 60 shot match directly on that dot. Many top level shooters have shot perfect scores: 600 out of 600 possible.

What if you want to get into air rifle target shooting with a budget? There are some entry-level target rifles for as little as $350, such as the Daisy 753, but these have really awful triggers and you'll soon outgrow their inherent inaccuracies. If this is all the money you have, though, they'll get you started.

You're going to have to about double the $350 for anything that you can really compete with, and at $600-$700 it will be an older, used (but not abused), spring gun like the discontinued FWB 300S, that was state-of-the-art in the '80s. A good shooter can still shoot respectable scores with a 300S, though likely not compete in anything higher than the state or regional level. I own one of these guns and compete in local matches against fellows with the latest and greatest rifles. Now, keep in mind, I'm primarily a pistol shooter, and am not as skilled with a rifle, but as long as I do my part, this rifle will shoot tens all day long. Trouble is, I can't shoot that well. A spring gun is just as accurate as the newer styles, but is considerably less forgiving of shooter error. If the shooter screws up in the slightest, the shot will go wide, every time.

If you want to shoot with the big boys, you need an SSP (single-stroke-pneumatic) like the recently discontinued FWB 600 series (expect to spend $800-$1500 depending on condition) or, better yet, a PCP (precharged pneumatic).

PCP guns like this FWB 700 will run you $1500 used up to $2500 new. Plus, you'll need either a high-pressure hand pump (think 2000-3000 psi) or a scuba tank to refill the gun every 200-300 shots or so. Both SSP and PCP guns are much more forgiving of bad shots than are springers. If the shooter throws a bad shot, it likely will go wide, but not always. Even one time in ten of not pulling a bad shot is enough to make a huge difference in match scores.

No top level shooters use spring guns anymore. The SSP guns are every bit as accurate and forgiving as the PCP's, but do require you to pump the gun one time before each shot. If you're shooting kneeling or, worse yet, prone, this is a real pain. Most air rifle events are standing only, though. The PCP rifles, by not needing a pump before every shot, also require less energy from the shooter, and thus you're less tired as the match wears on. All Olympic level shooters use PCP guns now.

You can see I'm an FWB (Feinwerkbau) fan. These are very fine German airguns that compete at the very highest levels. Anschutz makes equally fine rifles. Walther and Steyr also make top-quality rifles, though you won't see many at the Olympic or World Cup level. To be honest, there's not a whole lot of difference between these guns at this high level of quality and accuracy. It mostly comes down to which particular features you find desirable and how the rifle feels when you shoot it. The one that is the most accurate on any given day depends on who is shooting well, not the rifle itself.

If you want information from the experts themselves, get yourself to the TargetTalk forum at The guys, and a few girls, on that forum know all there is to know about target shooting, both air and smallbore (.22LR).

Air target shooting is surprisingly inexpensive, when you think about it. Any ol' Joe and go out and buy the very same equipment that the Olympic medalists shoot for about $5000 dollars ($2500 for the rifle and an equal amount for the clothing, air source, etc.). If you're on a budget, pick up a used FWB 300S from the TargetTalk forum's "For Sale" area for around $700 and begin with that. Even the most high quality pellets cost about $10-$15 per tin of 500 shots so ammunition is very cheap. Once you have the rifle and gear, the ongoing costs are very, very low.

Air pistol shooting, on the other hand, is even cheaper as all the expensive rifle clothing is outlawed by rule. All you need is a pistol and, if necessary, an air source. This will set you back between about $600-$2500 (depending on new/used, springer, SSP or PCP--just like the rifles) and a tin or two of pellets. By rule, you must shoot in street clothes and regular shoes, so no expense there. The absolute cheapest pistol I'd recommend is the Gamo Compact; it runs about $250, and is a SSP style. I have one of those for when visitors or friends want to shoot with me. It can shoot acceptably well and would be a good starter pistol. The trigger is actually pretty nice for that price range.

If you can step up to $350, look at an IZH-46M. It is also a SSP design. It's easily twice the pistol the Gamo is at only $100 more. I started air pistol shooting with this gun.

A fine example of PCP pistols is the FWB P44. It will run you about $1900, though.

Having said all this, be prepared to spend many, many, many hours practicing how to stand absolutely stock still. To my knowledge, shooting is the only Olympic sport that gives a gold medal to the competitor who can move the absolute least.

Any questions, just ask...