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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 28 May 2011
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handling of bike with hard panniers

hi all, i've never travelled on a bike with hard panniers and being very new to this kind of thing just wondered how they will change the handling of the bike if at all.maybe soft panniers would be better ,if anyone can help that would be great thanks
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Old 28 May 2011
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Hi Ben...

You will find more information than you can digest about this subject if you search some older threads. THOUSANDS of "hard vs soft" debates out there..

In a but shell, hard metal panniers are HEAVY, expensive and dramatically effect the handling and centre of gravity of a motorcycle. That doesn't mean you won't get used to them, but it's something to consider if you intend to take dirt roads, gravel etc or don't want to be breaking your back lifting the bike up.. Depending on where you travel too, you will potentially have to have them welded, repaired etc because the frames and boxes DO break in falls.. They are far from bomb proof.

Soft bags are cheap, light, don't require heavy frames and can be repaired by anyone with a needle and thread. On average you will save about 15kg of weight going soft (A LOT). You can get waterproof ones too so don't worry about that. The ONLY disadvantage is that they don't give the "illusion" of security that metal boxes do.. I've never seen a metal pannier that I couldn't open with a large screwdriver though..

Don't dismiss plastic "GIVI" style boxes. They are an in-between solution. I've traveled loads with them and they actually crash better than my metal ones (they flex rather than just crush and split).

Where are you going ? What type of riding will you do ?? What bike are they going on ??
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Old 28 May 2011
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thanks for reply,my bike is a 660 tenere and not sure where i'm going as very new to all this but europe and maybe north africa are calling i think,
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Old 28 May 2011
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On that bike, keep the luggage soft and light..

Theres a lot of sand in north Africa


My mate Craig who I rode part of Africa with used some ex army panniers on his 660 Ten.... The same ones I used on my DRZ too... Mine were already 30 years old and I crashed, smashed and battered them and they didn't even fray anywhere. Fantastic...

VERY tough and strong and only £40 NEW from Silvermans..

GREEN MOTORCYCLE PANNIERS









Not waterproof though so you'd need inner dry bags. Ortlieb make great motorcycle panniers too but they're not cheap.. Depends on your budget.
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Old 28 May 2011
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thanks ted,think your right as i;ve just seen your beat up metal panniers on your site,great pictures and good to see i'm not the only one to fall off .
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Old 28 May 2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by big ben View Post
thanks ted,think your right as i;ve just seen your beat up metal panniers on your site,great pictures and good to see i'm not the only one to fall off .
If you're not falling off, you're not trying hard enough !
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Old 28 May 2011
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that's good news and makes me feel much better about being s--t on a bike
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Old 29 May 2011
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Ted's right. But just to add to that. I've done 2 bike trips with hard luggage now and being from the same corner in the work as you (just across the channel though) I've only just now given up on the European ideal which is all based on ideas from people from the same block where proper dirt riding is next to non existent. So it all depends on what type of riding you want and whether you end up enjoying riding dirt and start pushing it. If the answer is yes stay away from hard and even stop looking a single stitched soft bags which I'm guessing the cheap ones are. The Andy Straps are a little step up and in the bush here in Oz they're know to tear at the seams. Even from securing straps.

I've tried both zega and matal mule boxes. Ended up taking the metal mule through Asia and they failed to some extent. Fine for putting up with things, but if you want to start getting a bit sporty on the dirt bits they're gone.

Then designed my own with that experience in mind with the attempt to keep the COG as close to the bike's COG but my skill had improved past their usefulness (which isn't very much skill to have that happen) and the investment was a waste. Then I tried saddle bag type soft bags (Steel Pony) with a light rack but I started riding trail bikes through tight trails and they didn't do any more either. It's the same weight distribution as hard luggage but with a weight reduction. So I'm using the Giant Loop system now which forces you to pack like a smelly lightweight backpacker (not the blokes and galls carrying a 80l bag at the back and a 30l back on the front through Khoa San Road which I used to be one off) and is a setup that gets the weight to the bike's COG as close a possible when packed correctly. So far so good.

It's whatever it is that you want though, and sometime you can't predict what you want until you try something. I reckon the biggest mistake is to try on the trip which most including myself do even though it's a well know advise. And be willing to ditch something when you're not happy or have doubts. Everyone's different.
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Old 29 May 2011
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thanks for the reply
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Old 29 May 2011
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Just a note on the hard panniers, yes they are expensive, but with proper padlocks they can be secured properly.

I have been using the Happy Trails system and with them, when I crash on hard rock stuff, they end up protecting my legs and even give me a chance to slide out from under when the bike is on me

I have carried a laptop in one for over 250,000km so far with no damage and no leakage.

I have since upgraded to the HT quick release system and am far from happy. mainly because even crashing in soft sand rips them off the frame and leaves me waiting for a passerby to get the bike off. I intend to revert these back to normal release system which will give me better protection.

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Old 29 May 2011
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There are good hard panniers out there as well as bad ones ,similarly there are good and bad soft bags .
Any weight added to the rear of the bike will affect handling , if you want razor sharp sports bike handling , leave all your luggage at home .
If you want to carry stuff then you have to adapt ,very simple huh ?

The problem with hard bags is that most people go for huge ones , when they simply don't need that much room .Also the prices are out to lunch .
Soft bags can also be a pain in the arse if they aren't secured properly and leak.

I've used both and don't really have any preference ,but tend to use hard bags for long distance road work .

It's important to keep the weight as far forward as possible and as near the centre of gravity of the bike as you can get . - If you are not carrying a pillion ,then why have the panniers sticking out behind the rear wheel ?
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Old 29 May 2011
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if hard panniers give some protection then they must be all good?
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Old 29 May 2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by big ben View Post
if hard panniers give some protection then they must be all good?
That's a toss of the coin mate .....

They either stop the bike crushing you or they crush you themselves...

I got my lower leg/ankle trapped under mine after a gravel crash. If it wasn't for my mega big Tech 10 boots, I would of had broken bones for sure...
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Old 29 May 2011
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If you are on rough trails and will have to put your feet down often ,then it's better to go with soft bags to avoid the bags hurting your legs .
On the asphalt it can be a different story and the hard bags could likely save your legs in a slow speed tumble .

A high speed tumble is a gamble with either kind of bags .
Motorcycling is a dangerous business , we all know that - don't we ?
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Last edited by Dodger; 29 May 2011 at 20:28.
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Old 29 May 2011
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The trouble with most hard panniers is they are slightly wider and much lower than your bars so if you don't allow for this you can inadvertently knock car wing mirrors whilst filtering, or worse, explode a pannier against a bollard, causing the bike to be fired in to railings.......Damage to bike and pride....
If you are carrying weight on the back it's worth considering increasing the preload which will help keep the steering geometry something like standard, and maintain ground clearance.
You could spend a small fortune on an after market shock with remote pre-load adjustment so you can easily change it to suit the load and conditions.
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