After my little incident with the left-side pannier on the VERY FIRST DAY that we got the bikes, I´ve been on the look-out for another solution. We bought the Explorer pack with our Tenere 700s, which included crash bars (glad I got those!), a thicker bash plate, and a center stand, as well as the aluminum side cases.
When we first started planning our trip, the hard side panniers were what struck us as the best solution. It was simply what we imagined when we closed our eyes and imagined ourselves on the road. They offer a lot of storage, lock onto the bike and appear to be the secure option because of that.
What´s your experience with hard side panniers?
Since then we´ve become aware of the more negative aspects of the hard aluminum side panniers, a matter of personal security. If (or in my case, when) the bike falls over on its side, a lot of people have experienced that their leg has become stuck between the pannier and the ground. With the weight of the bike crushing their leg underneath it. Not a good situation for any leg, and not something we would like to experience. Our big trip certainly would not be the same if we were forced to have a lengthy rehabilitation period!
The aluminum boxes also get bent out of shape. If (and again, when), the bike tips over on the side, or there is a crash (like what I experienced on my second ride), the force has nowhere to go but to bend and crush. Whereas with the soft cases, the force is distributed throughout and the cases just bend. Your foot could still get stuck under it, but it wouldn´t be as tough on your leg as the hard cases would.
We discussed the issue with several people, and also got a lot of comments on our YouTube videos about the subject. They all said one thing: soft side cases! It felt silly of me to ditch the right-side aluminum pannier to buy soft cases, and it also felt silly to ride around with one hard case and one soft case. Not because of how it looked, but because of weight and stabilization issues.
Before I knew it, the decision had been made for me.
The right-side pannier fell off during a ride! That was the final drop. I was lucky enough that it happened while I was pulling in to a gas station to fill the tank, and not while doing 110 km/h on the freeway. If that had been the case, the only trip I´d be making for a long while would be a helicopter ride to the hospital. If there´s one thing I don´t need, it´s a trip to the hospital on my day off, right? Jokes aside, I could also have fatally injured people if that had happened. I heard a strange sound and Kenneth, pulling up behind me, noticed the pannier had fallen to the ground. With no obvious reason. Why? I´m not sure. Was it damaged when the other pannier was broken? Is there a production error in the pannier itself? Has the rack been damaged? Whatever the reason, it became clear to me that I´m done with it. It´s simply not safe to ride with.
I´ve had several episodes of the bike having a little lie-down on the ground, but it´s an adventure bike. It´s bound to happen. And I need to trust my pannier. So it goes in the trash. I bought the bike and panniers from Yamahastore Trondheim, a local business we know and trust. They´ve taken very good care of us in the past, and even taught us how to change a tire! Always ready to help, he´s trying to figure out the cause for it not latching onto the rack properly.
Meanwhile, I´ve been looking for alternatives. There are days when our big trip seems miles away and other days when November feels dangerously close. The decision of which soft bags to get was a big one, as it´s an expensive one. The side cases should last the entire trip and longer, and I´ll be using them every single day. I had a few demands. They need to hold space for everything we need. Be waterproof - it´s enough of a hassle to have to get off the bike to get the rain gear on! It should attach safely to the bike, and still be quick and easy to remove. The fabric has to be durable. I didn´t want to buy a new rack, so it had to fit the Yamaha rack I already have.
What do you value in your motorcycle luggage?
For logistical reasons, I wanted to buy it from Norway. COVID has increased shipping times tenfold, and I didn´t want to risk them being lost in transit. I considered a lot of alternatives from different manufacturers and finally landed on Kriega. I got their OS Adventure bags! One is 32 l and the other 22 l, to leave room for the exhaust. I can´t wait to try them!
I wasn´t prepared for how quickly they would get here! I asked them to order it for me on a Wednesday at 3.30, and 24 hours and 7 minutes later it was there! Once I had just made my decision about which ones to get, then BOOM! They were there. I´ve picked them up and am almost ready to start assembling them. I´m so excited to be on the road with them!
We´ll show you more in an upcoming video! How hard is it to attach them to the bike, for two people with very little experience? And how will they perform? We´ll certainly put these babies to the test!
Do you have any questions about these? Let us know, and we´ll answer it in the video.