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Equipping the Bike - what's the best gear? Anything to do with the bikes equipment, saddlebags, etc. Questions on repairs and maintenance of the bike itself belong in the Brand Specific Tech Forums.
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Giant Loop Motorcycle Saddlebags & Motorcycle Tank Bags: Panniers, Soft Luggage for Adventure & Sport Touring

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  #1  
Old 16 May 2006
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Best soft Luggage - UK based

Hi guys
Any ideas on the best soft bags to get for an Africa trip?

There seems to be a lot of Oxford stuff out there but not sure what else I should be looking at...

Any recomendations at all?

I'm based in Bristol.

Last edited by ianbaker; 16 May 2006 at 12:56.
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  #2  
Old 16 May 2006
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One of the most versatile bits of luggage we've bought recently is an Oxford tail pack for about £20. They seem to on sale at various shows for that price at the moment. Its about 12" square and 12" high, but unzips to nearly twice that height if you need it. Comes with loads of different straps to hold it on to the pillion seat or rack yet is easily detachable and can be turned into a rucksack or carried as a shoulder bag when off the bike. Big enough for a helmet on top of other gear when unzipped, with different pockets, internal and external for paperwork, waterproofs spare gloves etc. Also comes with a neat rain cover.
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  #3  
Old 16 May 2006
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Ian, give us some more info...
Like the make of Bike your on, single or pillion, how much gear are you taking, are you camping, do you need the luggage to be secured etc etc....

Cheers
Grif
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  #4  
Old 16 May 2006
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more info

Hi guys

I'll be riding a KTM Adventure 640. No pillion and trying to keep the gear to a minimum. Will be taking camping gear along as well.

regards
ian
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  #5  
Old 16 May 2006
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I used Oxford soft panniers and the Oxford tail pack for my African trip on a 640 Adv.

In hindsight it wasn't a particularly good choice. The panniers ripped constantly, particularly around the zip area. I found that every day I rode I would have to use one or two rolls of electrical tape just to seal everything together. The tailpack also badly ripped around the zip area as well. The rain system is really cumbersome and requires you to stop everytime it looks like rain to put on the the covers, as otherwise everything gets wet. I also found the covers to be complete crap and I spent countless hours ensuring they were taped together to get any sort of rain protection.

I have sinced used an Ortlieb dry bag, strapped to the rear half of the seat and this is significantly better and has much bigger volume. The abrasion and rain protection is far superior and it is a lot easier to lug around than the Oxford tailpack.

I think Oxford may be fine for road orientated trips in Europe, but I would be extremely reluctant to take them through Africa again. I am still looking for the perfect soft panniers which are waterproof and will handle constant wear, so let us know if you find them.
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Old 16 May 2006
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Thumbs up

Got to Agree with Matt, the Ortlieb stuff seems very sturdy, I did the 'soak test' with by bag - filled it full of gear and a brick, and left it overnight in a bath full of water. Dry as a bone, but not cheap.
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Old 16 May 2006
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As the guys have mentioned Ortlieb are good, but a bit pricey - you get what you pay for though.
The roll top panniers are not a huge capacity but they are very sturdy and with no zips to break, simple and very waterproof. You can also run a thin cable lock through the plastic loops on the clips to prevent people opening them up, and lock the end onto the rack, so they cant be removed easily.

Ive used these for a while and think they are great,I still use Touratech pannier rails on the KTM to keep the soft bags held firm - this really works well.
I keep the tent in another ortlieb long dry bag strapped to the rear end of the seat.

Ive also used a Peli case - bolted to the rack as a 'top box' on my old Dr650 (which got stolen in UK) which worked pretty good, and I would reccomend as a secure case on the bike - if you need one.
I currently have a Gearsack tailbag which is bombproof and has side pockets for some spares and puncture kit, but cant be secured to the bike easily.

on top of that - I have a small Touratech tank bag for lunch and odds and ends.

Another piece of gear worth considering to replace the traditional rack sack/bag/top box is a North Face Duffle bag, (small or medium size - I have the small size)

It is VERY tough, waterproof, you can lock the zip, and the alpine cut shoulder straps mean you can carry it as a rucksack or a duffle - its also got daisy chains on it - so easy to strap and lock it to the bike - and end haul loops - excellent bit of kit, and easy to live out of.

Remember, the more room you have, the more stuff you will take....

If you want a photo of the set up on the KTM, let me know.....

Cheers
Grif
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  #8  
Old 17 May 2006
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Cool

I used the same set of Ortlieb throwovers for two lengthy trips through North and West Africa, both times on a KTM. I gave the bags away to a friend to use on his old BSA and they went on to survive a lengthy trip through Europe and AFAIK they're still in use. I'm about to order a second pair.

The only problem with fitting them to an LC4 (Adventure or E) is preventing the weight of the LHS pannier from pressing the LHS side panel on to the silencer.

I'm currently working on a solution to this based on a pair of large hose clamps threaded through lengths of radiator hose and then clamped round the silencer in appropriate positions (thanks to Swampy at Marsh Performance for passing on this idea). I'll report back when I've tested this.

Other than that, I found the the bags worked fine - the top straps fasten with velcro across the seat, the lower front straps thread through the passenger footrests (care here as they'll pass very close to the exhaust pipe) and the upper rear strap threads through the small luggage rack that's standard on LC4 Adventures.

Really cutting down on the luggage, I managed about 4 months on the road with just these bags, a Camelbak HAWG and a rally engine guard as my luggage system. Only downsides were rarely having clean clothes to wear, and not much space for food.
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  #9  
Old 17 May 2006
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Ortliebs are the ones for me

I use an ortlieb bag for all my soft stuff, and it's been fantastic. I even chucked it down the tarmac at 110 kmh when a small fire freed it from its mooring, the bags fine, it just picked up some of the road!

Plus totally waterproof, and fairly cheap compared to Oxford stuff, which I've found to be over-complicated and very heavy (their tank bag at least)
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  #10  
Old 17 May 2006
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Ian has an excellent point about the left hand pannier and the exhaust on an LC4. I ended up burning a hole through both the exhaust guard and my LHS pannier when I fastened it too tightly. The only real solution I found was to mount the panniers very forward and close to the centre of the bike. This makes it impossible to take a pillion, but it does keep the weight very low and central.

I also don't believe it is necessary to have a rack for soft panniers provided you are travelling light and strap them down properly. Others may disagree, but if you keep the panniers light, they don't move too much even over really rough terrain.

Keep us posted on your solution Ian!
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  #11  
Old 17 May 2006
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Ian,
if you are looking for soft luggage you should concider bycle panniers. You may have to make a frame for the KTM but that should'nt be to hard. bycle panniers are fairly robust, they have some which are waterprooof and you may be supprised how cheap they are. If you do a google on cycle panniers you will find some, here is one site to give you an idea.
http://www.cyclexpress.co.uk/search....cle%20panniers

Steve
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