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Giant Loop Motorcycle Saddlebags & Motorcycle Tank Bags: Panniers, Soft Luggage for Adventure & Sport Touring

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  #31  
Old 19 Jan 2010
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Originally Posted by Dodger View Post
A thief would have your stuff before you could say "knife ".
I know cases of whole bmw panniers beeing stollen in seconds. I better pay attention rather than trust a locked pannier only because it's locked.

I'm happy with my bags, as most of us are with ours, soft, hard or whatever
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  #32  
Old 20 Jan 2010
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Metal Fool

MM have an advert at the top of this page - presumably they cared enough about their product and image to pay for it to be there.

Yet they have not the interest or concern to respond to my post numbered 8 on the first page in which I reported my experience with their expensive product.

Says a lot doesn't it?
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  #33  
Old 20 Jan 2010
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Originally Posted by Dodger View Post
If I was going anywhere risky ,I'd want hard panniers ,be they plastic or aluminum .
...
I haven't seen a set of soft panniers that I really liked yet ,the ones that I have used haven't been very durable or waterproof .The stuff inside can get mangled if you drop the bike
hmmm ... I am not trying to have a go, just to share my opinions and experiences (i guess that what the forums are for) ... but I think you (and others confronting this question) are basing your decisions on a lot of false premises and assumptions. (apologies to the O.P. who simply asked about choice of aluminium luggage but the thread seems to have morphed into a hard vs soft chat)

Firstly, metal boxes are only waterproof when in factory condition. The first time you drop the bike, they lose waterproofness as the lids no longer seal. The more you drop the bike the worse they get. Over a long tour, I can honestly say they will be far less waterproof than soft bags. If you have anything more that the smallest "off" the boxes will let in water like a paper bag. Lids dont seal properly anymore, loads gets in when it rains, and as soon as you drop the bike in mud or a puddle or a river, you have 50 kgs of water soaking through everything you own. Ask anyone who has done hard touring and had an ortlieb roll bag on the back. Its the ortlieb bag that is the most waterproof kit you will find, hard or soft.

Secondly, security. Over the last 16 years I have ridden across every continent but Antarctica, including places where everyone seems totally paranoid about thievery like Albania, Bolivia and Russia (and Liverpool). I have only ever used soft bags (but I have often ridden with guys who had hard boxes). I have NEVER had anyone steal anything from the bike or from my bags, despite about 20 months of "on road touring time" in that 16 years. That's enough time to say "knife" about 17 million times. (It's also enough time for a determined thief to wedge open the cheap lock on a metal box about 10 million times). A lot of that time has also been touring solo.

Thirdly, durability & protection. I always pack a mixture of thing in my soft side bags - including clothes, for the very purpose of keeping them "soft". Having flexible bags means the stuff inside does NOT suffer from the extreme vibrations that stuff inside metal boxes suffers from. As a result, stuff packed in soft bags is actually far less likely to suffer vibration damage than stuff in hard boxes. Further, in my experience, despite countless dropping of the bike on the soft side bags (and including a couple of high speed "crashes") I can say in completely good faith, that I don't believe ANYTHING has broken as a result of falls due to being packed in the soft bags ... in 16 years!

So I have to say, in my experience, empirical evidence for the arguments behind metal boxes just isn't there. In fact from first hand witnessing of friends who have ridden with metal boxes, the issue of waterproofness, and things being less likely to break inside metal boxes are not only not supported by evidence, but in fact the opposite is true in those two cases.

This isn't a recent view of mine, but it was well supported and further confirmed on the BAM Road ride across Siberia last year, when two of our three guys had soft bags and one had hard bags. It was the guy with the hard boxes who often ended up with a flooded pannier (to the brim), and the guy with the hard boxes whose stuff was breaking due to vibration inside the boxes (and the impact of very rough roads being directly passed on to the stuff inside the boxes).

I havent even touched the extra 12+ kgs the hard boxes added to his bike, or the great difficulty he had paddling the bike or even power walking the bike over hard terrain due to the inflexible metal boxes banging his legs. Or the worse handling suspension as a result of the weight being both higher up and further back than the soft bags. Or the extra 1000 pounds more a new set of hard boxes costs over soft bags.

While some guys pick soft bags because they are cheaper, I dont really care too much about that. I use soft bags because they are superior. The fact that I need to shell out 1000 quid less for the set up is a bonus, not a consideration in the decision making process.

Its pretty much a lay down misere if you ask me. But don't just ask me, ask the other guys who have been doing this for years...

Austin Vince uses soft bags
Lois Pryce uses soft bags
Chris Scott uses soft bags
Mac Swinarski uses soft bags
Ted Simon tried hard boxes and switched back to soft bags

I am quite amazed, with almost all the evidence stacked on one side, this debate actually still goes on.
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Last edited by colebatch; 26 Jan 2010 at 23:59.
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  #34  
Old 20 Jan 2010
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Pretty much sums it up! Nice write up mate! I've followed your wonderful RR on ADV, and bike prep thread of your X Challenge. Almost would convince me to get a BMW .... but ah, no thanks! Been there, done that!

But yours is sweet. I prefer the cheap & cheerful solution, the leave it by the side of the road exit, no regrets. Or buy a bike locally and wing it. But I can see you love engineering and have a talent for it and have talented friends. Problem is, your talented friends usually don't come along to Bolivia!

So, this gets me back to a question I already asked once on this thread. Perhaps you have an answer:

Why is it that we still see so many RTW travelers using hard bags? Surely they must work for some? Look at Ali Baba's set up. Looks pretty good. I guess he never falls off!? Seems more use hard bags than not. What is going on here? Why does the hard Alu pannier myth persist?

BTW, one caveat to your treatise would be that plastic hard bags usually don't begin to leak after a fall. If they don't crack then usually the seal holds. But once they crack ... well then you've got a project ahead. My GIVI bags have held up pretty well in many falls off road, but I still prefer soft bags. And what about Pelican cases?
These are pretty tough too from what I understand. Check out Crashmaster's thread on ADV. He is using them on his KTM. He started with soft bags but ditched them and now has hard Caribou/Pelicans. Not bad but too big for me.

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Traveling solo I am not shy about hiring minders to watch my bike if I have to leave it somewhere. And we all work hard to try and find safe parking for our bikes at Hotels/Hostels/Back packers.
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  #35  
Old 20 Jan 2010
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"--I am quite amazed, with almost all the evidence stacked on one side, this debate actually still goes on.--"


Who says all the evidence is stacked on one side ?

We can debate this for ever and I can assure you that we will never agree completely .

Having had my stuff vandalised in the UK [canvas bags and seat ripped and slashed ],I'll always prefer hard bags that are bolted to the bike and a bloody strong lock .Obviously Russia ,Bolivia and Liverpool are pretty tame compared to an East Midlands council estate .Not everybody wants to merely steal your stuff ,some people want to be arseholes as well as thieves .


Most of the hard panniers I see are crap ,being little more than flimsy storage boxes modified for bike use ,however some of the better ones are very good and are built to take knocks .
I built my own and I can assure you they are waterproof [even after the first fall ]and have taken some abuse .
Mine are also rubber mounted and don't vibrate much ,if at all.

I ride mostly on surfaced and gravelled roads , if I were to do more rough trails I would reconsider my choice ,but then I would probably be riding a smaller bike as well .

You mention several well known riders who use soft bags I could also list a large number who use hard bags ,but it wouldn't prove anything .

I haven't based my decision on any false premise or assumption ,just my own experience .

When I travel with my daughter on the pillion ,there is no earthly way that I could fit all our stuff and camping gear into floppy soft bags .

It's a shame that this thread has turned into a hard v soft debate ;the OP was asking about ally panniers for a VStrom .I have used soft and hard panniers on my VStrom and much prefer hard bags .

My son has a DRZ and loves soft bags ,is he right ?
Of course he is .
But then so am I .
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Last edited by Dodger; 20 Jan 2010 at 07:41.
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  #36  
Old 20 Jan 2010
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Originally Posted by vander View Post
I know cases of whole bmw panniers beeing stollen in seconds.
Ha ha ,that's really no surprise !
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  #37  
Old 20 Jan 2010
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Thumbs up

As the OP for this thread I just want to say that no one should apologise for expressing their opinion about the boxes/bags they prefer,I originally asked about Alu boxes but after receiving some posts concerning the merits of soft luggage it was me that encouraged the debate,I have found it very useful to hear the pro`s & con`s for both types & hopefully others will find these posts useful too.
To have first hand accounts of peoples experiences & how they came to prefer one luggage style over the other has been invaluable,exactly what the HUBB is for I believe.
A heartfelt thank you to everyone who has posted on this thread.
By the way after leaning very heavily towards Happy Trails Teton panniers I am now seriously considering Steel Ponys Gascoyne bags,the jury is still out at the moment though
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  #38  
Old 20 Jan 2010
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This Hard V's Soft debate is great.......

A bit like the "which is the best tool in the box" debate - Surely it depends on the job you are doing..... A screwdriver is no use if you want to loosen a nut!



I'm just wondering at what point Godwins Law is going to kick in......


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  #39  
Old 20 Jan 2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dodger View Post
"
Having had my stuff vandalised in the UK [canvas bags and seat ripped and slashed ],I'll always prefer hard bags that are bolted to the bike and a bloody strong lock .Obviously Russia ,Bolivia and Liverpool are pretty tame compared to an East Midlands council estate .Not everybody wants to merely steal your stuff ,some people want to be arseholes as well as thieves .
I think you can never protect against someone who is determined to be an arsehole, and I am sorry to hear lowlifes have done that to your bike. Would it have been that much more difficult though for such lowlifes merely out for a bit of vandalism, and wearing steel capped boots, to dent the crap out of metal boxes with a few well placed kicks, thus at the very least, taking away the waterproof seal?

Don't get me wrong, I think of all the arguments for hard luggage, security is the only one that (theoretically) holds any water. However, as mentioned above, I have (empirically) never had a problem, nor have the other people I know that ride with soft bags had a problem, and that's quite a lot of people. Of course that doesn't mean it never happens, (of course it happens, everything CAN happen) but it does mean (barring an enormous statistical anomaly) that at best (or should that be worst), it must be a very rare and unlikely occurrence.

That's also not to say I dont take precautions. I think when overnighting in "dodgy" or even risky areas, you have to minimise the risks. Sometimes involving spending 5 minutes longer to find a secure place to park the bike, or following an inn-keepers recommendations as to where to park the bike. Or in the case of no secure parking, spending an extra 3 minutes to take the side bags off the bike and bring them inside to be safer overnight. Twice in urban areas in Russia, I parked the bike in guarded parking lots, even if they were half a mile from the hotel we were staying in. This was a precaution deemed appropriate not only by myself, but by the guy with the hard boxes with whom I was travelling. He also didn't park his bike on the street, so the hard boxes didn't actually deliver any more convenience and "utility" in those situations either.
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  #40  
Old 20 Jan 2010
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you could try kicking my boxes with steel toe capped boots but i bet you would damage your foot more than the pannier! i think people are too used to rubbish panniers made from cheese!Honestly i think you are basing your contempt for alloy panniers mainly on the rubbish boxes like zega etc.
a well made pannier should not bend so easily and break the waterproof seal, my strom is a pretty heavy old girl and iv dropped her a couple of times on the boxes and so far im yet to have made a mark on them.

dont get me wrong mind... i can see where the attraction for soft luggage comes from, and depending on the trip i would seriously consider it, but i would also be using a more off road suited bike than a strom.

cheers
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  #41  
Old 20 Jan 2010
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wearing steel capped boots, to dent the crap out of metal boxes with a few well placed kicks, thus at the very least, taking away the waterproof seal?
Now that I would like to see! are you serious? I have dropped my bike on to my alloy boxes (home brew) more times than I would care to admit and they are still water tight. I have filled them with water and tipped them upside down with the lids on to check. that empirical enough?

I can see some plus points to soft luggage but my alloy boxes:
-stop my bike from falling as far
-do a good job of protecting it - empirically tested
-make the bike sit higher on its side making it easier to pick up
-don't scatter my belongings down the road when i part company from the bike on ice
-make it difficult for Jakey robbing bastards

Just my thoughts
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  #42  
Old 20 Jan 2010
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Originally Posted by PlasticMaggot View Post
Now that I would like to see! are you serious? I have dropped my bike on to my alloy boxes (home brew) more times than I would care to admit and they are still water tight. I have filled them with water and tipped them upside down with the lids on to check. that empirical enough?

I can see some plus points to soft luggage but my alloy boxes:
-stop my bike from falling as far
-do a good job of protecting it - empirically tested
-make the bike sit higher on its side making it easier to pick up
-don't scatter my belongings down the road when i part company from the bike on ice
-make it difficult for Jakey robbing bastards

Just my thoughts
Jim
Wish I could agree.... £1200 Metal Mules.. Classed as many to be the toughest, most waterproof boxes available.








Another gripe was that EVERYTIME the bike was dropped at walking pace.. The boxes would break away from the frame !!

Having to unpack the bike, open the boxes and reattach them with every sand tumble was a bloody nightmare. I spent more time putting the boxes back on that riding ! SEE BELOW



After this, I swapped to Cortech Softbags for the rest of the jouney and it was BLISS !!! Lightweight, easy to pack, totally waterproof, easy to load/unload and worked as a great buffer when the bike toppled !


You will never hear a stronger soft bag advocate than me lol
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  #43  
Old 20 Jan 2010
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Thats exactly why I made my own! They are considerably stronger than any metal mule, TT crap, they are welded together not rivited and are gusseted where appropriate to add strength. They also have a proper rim to stop the opening at the top distorting on impact - this is the weakest part of any box. they also only cost £350 to! Like I say, they have slid down the road and are still fine. I suspect that soft luggage would have ended up looking like my leathers!

Another weak area are the racks used, had some givi ones (they look similar to the ones in the pictures) which were utter shit so again I made my own, these will not break!

Its only my empirical evidence but hard luggage suites my needs. Think its very much a case of each to their own though... what ever works.

It seems that the crap some companies turn out for vast amounts of money is giving alloy luggage a bad rep though...
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  #44  
Old 20 Jan 2010
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Sorry, I just cant believe that people are paying 1000 for two boxes - it's just crazy.
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  #45  
Old 20 Jan 2010
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Sorry, I just cant believe that people are paying 1000 for two boxes - it's just crazy.
As long as it is hasslefree for more then 100kkm it’s okay for me.
I wouldn’t have bought TT, MM Zega etc…
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