You guys have been asking, and it’s time for me to tell.
We picked up our brand new motorcycles from the Yamaha Store on a Monday. Everything was shiny and new. Bike new, crash guards new, handguards in place, two shiny hard panniers, one on each side. Did you watch our video with the very first ride? Outside the garage, before I even put the motorcycle in gear, I said “I hope I don’t crash on the first ride!”
We were so excited about the panniers, we had dreamt of them for so long. Now that they were in place and the motorcycles were ours, we could start imagining how we would pack. Which things would go in the left pannier, and which in the right? Which will sit at the bottom, and which will be fastened in the lid for easy access? We started packing the panniers before we even got the bikes. In our minds, that was.
So how come, when we left for our first long trip with the bikes, did I only have one pannier? What happened to the right?
In the video, before take-off I said I would explain it to you later. I didn’t. I didn’t in the next episode either. Truth is, I was pushing it out of my mind. I find it so embarrassing! It didn’t happen on the first ride. After our first ride, I went to work all giddy and excited. The sun was shining and I couldn’t wait to go out and ride!
After work, Kenneth picked me up and we took a ride. We rode for two hours, and it was awesome! We took some trips down a dirt road, Kenneth was practicing flying his drone. I was trying to get used to the mere size of the bike: only my tippy toes reach the ground on each side. It was working remarkably well! Towards the end of our ride, I had a sudden craving for beer. We pulled up at the grocery store, and I put a six-pack in one of the panniers. Now, all we had to do was go home!
Looking for a way home, Kenneth knew a short cut. Right before we pulled off, I had this great fall in energy and felt just exhausted. Tired, hungry, and still very excited. Kenneth´s shortcut had changed a bit since last time he took it, but no problem - I’m on a motorcycle, I can drive through narrow spaces! We were on a gravel road, and I was feeling insecure because I was so exhausted. I repeated in my head “when insecure on gravel, THROTTLE!”
And BAM! I forgot my rear-end was so much wider than without the panniers. Of course! The left pannier slammed into a gate, the bike got knocked over and I fell to the ground. If you wanted to learn a Norwegian swear word today, one of my favorites is FARSKEN (Swear words have to be written in caps.)! My body wasn’t hurt, I was wearing my protective gear as usual. There wasn’t a scratch on me. The motorcycle? Slight scratches to the right handguard, where it hit the gravel. No problem, it’s to be expected. The pannier? The lid had flown off and was connected merely by the rubber hinges. The hard plastic that made out the locking mechanism was broken, and some parts had fallen to the ground.
Don’t worry, the beer was in the right pannier and unharmed - although a bit flat.
But my PRIDE! Oh shit. After Kenneth had made sure I was okay, helped me raise the Tenere again, we rode home. That wasn’t the first time my tears have fogged up the helmet, and it won’t be the last either. As we got home and we were finally alone, I just melted together in an ugly cry. I was so sad, and so angry, first of all with myself. On the very second ride I broke one of the panniers! On the first day! I felt like all the excitement I had felt earlier, about getting the bikes and going on our trip, was wasted: I should’ve known better. We didn’t even leave our zip code, and I had already broken a significant part of the vehicle I would be living on for the foreseeable future. I couldn’t even make it out of my city before I had ruined it, how was I gonna get to Africa?
I was also very angry with Kenneth, because he suggested that route, where I wasn’t comfortable. Because he’s always pushing me to reach outside my comfort zone. Because he’s always telling me I can. Because he pushed me to get my motorcycle license when I wanted to give up. Because he continually pushes me to dream, learn, and grow.
You see where I’m going with this?
So this is what the pannier looked like after I forgot my curvy hind side.
Maybe it could be repaired? We thought.
Brought it to a repair shop, he hammered on it for quite a while. No chance of repairing it.
Replace it with a new one? 4500 NOK / 450 USD.
At this time, we’re not 100% sure what to do. My very short-lived experience with hard panniers and their ability to burst under pressure makes me skeptical. Plus, people keep telling us how soft panniers are much more forgiving, convenient and safer (if there is a crash and your foot is caught under the pannier you’d be in both pain and trouble).
There’s no more use crying over this anymore, I’ve just got to move on (and pay up for a new solution).
What do you guys think we should do? Should I go for another hard side pannier, or opt for the softer version? What’s your experience with hard panniers like?