Best known for its off-road gear, in recent years FLY Racing has been branching out into providing gear and luggage for street riders. I was able to get my hands on a set of the new FLY Racing Saddlebags for some real world road-testing. With a small-ish 20L per bag and a budget-friendly price tag of $119.99, they looked like a perfect pairing for my wife's equally small-ish and budget-friendly Kawasaki Z400.

Features

The combined 40L capacity is plenty for your daily needs, running errands, or a weekend trip, and is further expandable via an expansion zipper. Handles are sewn onto the bags for easy carrying off the bike. The main compartment of each bag sports a red lining which makes it easier to see contents. There is also removable dividers for modular organization, and a large zipper opening, making it easy to get items in and out. Each bag also has an external pocket for storing small items. A convenient storage pouch (that even has slots for pens or tire pressure gauges) for further organizing small items is also included. Rain covers to keep the weather at bay wraps things up nicely. For $119.99, the FLY saddlebags pack a solid bang for he buck.

Mounting

I was diggin' them after a once over, so when I got home I dove into getting the bags mounted on the Z400 so they'd be ready to go for a weekend ride. The saddlebags can be used as simple throw-over bags and slung over the seat then cinched down, but for the purposes of a proper review and to fully assess their mounting, I decided to install the straps under the rear seat. For securing the bags to your bike, FLY includes adjustable Velcro straps that go over or under your bike's seat or fender (and the Velcro then attaches the bags to each other), as well as adjustable loop straps to feed through D-rings on the bags and attach to secure points on the bike. Also included are neoprene pads that you can feed the Velcro straps through which serve to protect the paint and bodywork on the sides of your rear fender. I appreciate the thoughtfulness toward protecting the bike, but the pads are rather bulky, and the teeth of the Velcro tear up the material, so they'll get pretty rough over time. Luckily, FLY understands this, and sells a replacement set of pads. I think integrating a better non-scratching material into the bags themselves, or having a sleeker, more streamlined option would be a huge improvement, but I understand it for the price.

Getting everything lined up and adjusted with the Velcro straps under the seat then getting the seat to lock back down with the additional bulk isn't the easiest task, but is manageable after some trial and error. The Z400's small rear seat was working against me a bit in this case, and getting the straps under the large single-piece seat of my Z900 RS was a lot easier. The tricky part came when getting the loop straps attached between the bags and the bike and getting everything cinched down. The bags do work without saddlebag supports, but mounting is kind of a pain, so I would strongly suggest getting supports on your bike if you plan on rocking saddlebags long-term. I found the included straps to be a bit too long for the Z400, even when taking the "long way ‘round” (which was to feed the strap under the subframe and to the bag on the opposite side) between the mount point on the bike and the D-ring on the bag. It resulted in a lot of excess tail to tie off, as no strap retention was designed into the straps. Adjusting the straps was also inexplicably difficult, as the straps didn't respond well to being tightened in order to fully secure the bags. It was a bit of a frustrating process and took more time than I wanted to spend mounting a pair of saddlebags. Removing the bags was easier than mounting, but was something I approached with trepidation, as removing them meant having to go through the mounting process again. Since mounting with the included straps drove me batty, I tried swapping them with some ROK Straps I have, and those worked a lot better.

Road Tested & Approved

Mounting frustrations aside, the bags were solid on the bike. They held in place well, and their capacity wasn’t lacking. The large entry zipper worked great. I was able to easily fit a large camera bag with a DSLR and lenses and a travel case with all my GoPro gear in one bag, and stuffed some clothes in the other. Even with a reasonable load, both bags had room to spare. It’s worth noting they are too small to fit a full-face helmet, so if that’s something you need, look elsewhere. For packing a few changes of clothes and backup riding gear, rain gear, some camera equipment, and lunch or some snacks for your commute or a weekend trip, they're ideal.

FLY did a bang-up job with its new saddlebags. They hit a sweet spot between size, quality construction, features, and price that is pretty hard to beat. I’m looking forward to getting some use out of these on longer day and weekend trips in the coming months.