In the loop

In the loop

BY DAN MCMILLAN

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Bend-based Giant Loop makes saddlebags, tank bags and other motorcycle accessories.

Giant Loop’s founders set out to make motorcycle saddlebags that are functional and rugged, that look good strapped to a motorcycle and that would find an immediate audience among motorcycle adventurers worldwide. So far, the founders are three for three.

The Bend company’s line of saddlebags, tank bags and other accessories are made of a 22-ounce, extra heavy-duty vinyl coated polyester wrapped in ballistic-strength Cordura nylon and held together with highstrength straps and clips, says co-founder Dave Wachs. Wachs and co-founder Harold Olaf Cecil took their inspiration from the gear used by outdoor enthusiasts in Central Oregon. In fact, friends at Bend-based Metolius Climbing, which is best known for its rock climbing harnesses, helped the pair design and build their prototype products.

The goal, says Olaf Cecil, was to make “an internal-frame backpack for a motorcycle.”

“Everything available looked super dorky, but motorcycles are really cool,” Wachs says. Rather than big, bulky bags, Giant Loop focused on slim, sleek bags that don’t affect the performance of the motorcycle.

As for sales, the company went live with its retail website in September 2008 and sold its first bag within two hours of opening. Today, the company has 120 dealers nationwide and another eight international distributors. Giant Loop, which takes its name from the term for a long-distance motorcycle tour that begins and ends in the same place, now has eight products and has added two full-time employees.

Giant Loop was profitable from the first day by necessity as much as by choice. The company has no line of credit, no loans and no outside investors. What it does have is an enthusiastic customer base that inspires Wachs and Olaf Cecil to keep coming up with new ideas. Just don’t expect anything dorky.