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TRAVEL Hints and Tips Post your TIPS to travellers - all the interesting little tidbits you learned on the road about packing, where to get stuff, and how to cope with problems. Please make sure the subject describes the tip clearly!
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Old 14 Aug 2007
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I have riden my R1150 GS from London to India. I bought the very expensive Touratech paniers believing the sales pitch that they were water-tight. The slightest ding breaks the silicone seal at the base, and the flimsy aluminium bends by just looking at it. The top box rattled so much due to the bad design of the locking device that i had to send it home lest the small 'bendy' lugs which were meant to hold it rigid snapped. The paniers are over priced, badly designed, not waterproof, and hell to try and get on and off. General rating: very poor. Mine are going in the bin when i get back!
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Old 14 Aug 2007
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I popped in to Metal Mule on my way to Brighton last week, and was very impressed with their panniers, top-boxes and their very quick, secure mounting system.

They looked very well thought out, superbly made, rigid and strong - I particularly liked the inset base that gives increased strength and protection to this vulnerable area.

There have full rubber seals on all joints/sections which makes them 'totally' water and dust proof.

Considering the total costs of properly equipping an 'adventure bike', they are relatively only a very small amount more than other makes. I cannot now understand why anyone considers other pannier boxes. They even do them in shiny eye-catching ali finish for the posers!

My own order will be going to them shortly. I only hope my endoresment here does not cause an increase in the order period!
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Old 14 Aug 2007
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Can't go past Jesse panniers - more space than anyone else and completely waterproof.

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Old 14 Aug 2007
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Originally Posted by michaeltharme View Post
Can't go past Jesse panniers - more space than anyone else and completely waterproof.
Yeah, they seem the best and I really wanted a set, but the company and its owners themselves are rude, unreliable and lie, unless you own a BMW. I have been waiting a year for them to make me some panniers, I just ordered Happy Trails as I got sick of waiting.

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Old 15 Aug 2007
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I really like the Pelican cases - tough and no sh--- water and dust proof. Have just ordered a set for a '08 KLR. Pack em like a suitcase - no need to dig through everything to get at something buried on the bottom.

Caribou Luggage Systems
www.cariboucases.com - World's Toughest Motorcycle Luggage Systems
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Old 15 Aug 2007
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Originally Posted by TravellingStrom View Post
Yeah, they seem the best and I really wanted a set, but the company and its owners themselves are rude, unreliable and lie, unless you own a BMW. I have been waiting a year for them to make me some panniers, I just ordered Happy Trails as I got sick of waiting.

It's pretty much the same if you own a BMW:


ADVrider - View Single Post - BMW bags - failed crash test
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Old 15 Aug 2007
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Initially I had the BMW vario plastic cases on my 1200GS but decided to change to aluminium for larger capacity and looks.

I've never liked the look of Touratech's Zega cases. Jesse was my first port of call. I loved the design of the lids, but the panniers leaked and the company never solved the problem with the silencer clearance, plus the compartment below the top box came off twice. Oh, and the key I had (and still have) appears to fit every other Jesse case in the world! Anyway, back they went.

I refitted the vario cases which survived several falls off road and were still waterproof. The panniers were eventually sold with the bike.

When I got the 1200 Adventure I went for the BMW luggage but found it marked easily with road salt, left marks all over the contents, and also leaked. They were replaced under warranty but I decided to sell them whilst still in 'new' condition to get something else. Also the top box is too small for any use.

I briefly considered the BMW vario cases but wanted to retain the Adventure rear rack. I decided to try Metal Mule, and I have a complete set of panniers and top box being fitted Friday.

"For sheer delight there is nothing like altitude; it gives one the thrill of adventure
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Last edited by Tim Cullis; 15 Aug 2007 at 09:00.
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Old 15 Aug 2007
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Metal Mules - The BEST

As I have said on a number of occasions, Metal Mule panniers are by far the best engineering solution. Stong, water and dust proof and just so easy to get on and off the bike, yet secure. And they don't mark your clothes with aluminum dust! The frames are constructed to the same exacting standards as the panniers, just bloody brillant.

Mine have done in excess of 20km, I have had two accidents (a shunt from the rear and another from the side), plus a couple of heavy falls - fully loaded! All of which I think would have terminated Touratech panniers, but have only left minor marks on the Metal Mule panniers and frames. But the big bonus is that they still function and fit perfectly.

I must admit to a little snigger when I watched both the Long Way Round and the clips from the Long Way Down, when I saw them bashing panniers back into shape to make the tops fit. Sorry.

Not sure if this is right place to ask this question, but down here we see a lot of bikers travelling through with Touratech panniers. A large number of them appear to have straps running horizonally round the pannier and frame. Not sure if this is for 'peace of mind' or there is a problem with the mounting system. Could someone give me an answer to this?

Plus there is one other thing you do get from Metal Mule that you won't get from at Touratech - Customer Service. These guys fall over backwards to help.

Buy the panniers, frames, plus the extras (feet, side handles, etc) it may be more than buying from Touratech, but you will get realistic delivery dates and a far superiour product to boot. Trust me it will be worth it.

If you do buy Metal Mules, be sure to mention Dakota and the Smokin' Lizard from the south of Spain. Very satisfied customers.
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Old 15 Aug 2007
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I wouldn't say TT panniers are flimsy - both MM and TT use 2mm aluminum. I've been travelling over 50,000 kms with my TT's, dropped the bike several times fully loaded, did lots of rough dirtroads, corrugations, sand etc. Except for one dent at the front outside corner on one box I haven't had any problems them not being dust- and waterproof.

Still - if I need new ones I'll go for MM. I reckon they are quite a bit sturdier and, what I like most is that you can get them anodised.

The strap around the panniers is IMO not really necessary when travelling on good roads. But when doing real rough stuff I feel a bit safer with the straps because the boxes are often quite heavily packed.

Basically I prefer panniers to be made from material that isn't so brittle as to break when banging it into form again after an accident. There I haven'T got any experience regarding MM, but yiu sure can clobber the TT's when necessary.

My two cents worth.
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Old 15 Aug 2007
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Jesses' are nice but..

My Jesse bags have been great, surviving a few falls and getting hit by a taxi. Never have a problem with water getting in (or sticky fingers!).

My only gripe is the locking clips on the inside. The stick out and catch on whatever you are trying to pull out. I keep my sleeping bag in one and had to make up a little plastic cover to stop them ripping my stuff bag. Idealy they would be totally smooth on the inside like the TT's but obviously with more strength.

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Old 15 Aug 2007
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Another big thumbs up for Metal Mule - do you see a common theme here?

I've only had mine a few weeks but very happy with them. Everything about them is first class. Mounting to bike is so simple and effective, as all the best solutions are. I went for plastic coated and this is great as they look good and doesn't mark any contents. Locks are strong and substantial unlike flimsy catches on zegas. Carrying handles on top and sides are well designed and balanced.

I managed to get a couple of inner bags from a market stall that fit perfectly for each pannier for £5 each.

Even my wife is very pleased with them. We went away last weekend and she was impressed with the amount of stuff she could easily drop into them. The hinged lids work very well and are strong and 100% water proof as tested in English summer.

Re comments above about thickness, I think Mules are slightly thicker than zegas. My friend had just fitted new zegas to his bike and it fell over at walking pace off road. The lids on his zegas were bent over an inch out of line and couldn't be re-fitted so all his contents was soaked by the time we got to destination.

Interesting when you compare the costs in detail and add in the features missing on the zegas then the Mules don't look so expensive any more. Like most things in life you get what you pay for.

And lastly, the service from the company couldn't be better and Stewart makes a nice cup of tea.

Well done Tim, you'll enjoy your new Mules.

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Old 16 Aug 2007
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At least I not the only one...

..that is pleased with their Metal Mules.

As for MM's being stronger than TT's, I think it is purely in the design and manufacturing process.

As for the price, I think Sid is right. There really isn't a whole lot of difference, especially when you consider the extras and how usuful they are.
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Old 16 Aug 2007
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I'm a memeber of a few other bike-related forums and I see a common thread about panniers:

TT's generally, get an average rating - nothing to write home about. The UK franchise get a massive thumbs down for their service and aftercare. I can vouch for that and I would never do business with them again. One order I was chasing in desperation (over 1k's worth of kit) I was actually told I wasn't helping by ringing them to find out where my order was!! Sadly, their leader has his head too far up in the clouds with professional rallying to give any serious consideration to running a successful business.

Jesse - always seem to get a good write up with few problems. I suspect Jesse are to USA what MM are to UK.

MM's. I haven't read one complaint about the panniers or racks themselves. Not one. The only niggles I read about is the price of them and that you can't fit them onto the XT660's without fitting a MM exhaust, making it a very expensive option.

My panniers have done about 10k miles in 10 months and are still like new (apart from a couple of scratched corners where I've dropped my bike). I'm the first to complain if something isn't right, but I can't fault MM's or the staff. I've never dealt with such an accommodating company and you only have to look at their background to see they know what they are talking about. I keep telling Stuart I should be on commission for them (two bash-plates please).

If you want a closer look at the panniers, I uploaded some photos:
Picasa Web Albums - Dakota - Metal Mules

They may be expensive, but at the end of the day, you get what you pay for!!
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Old 16 Aug 2007
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talking of anodising the cases, i dont remember ever seeing any with colour anodising. you can get ali anodised in lots of colours but nobody seems to bother.

and a feature of metal mule i always liked, being an aircraft man myself, was the rivetted construction. this doesnt affect the metal like welding and you dont get fatigue cracks, you get a much tougher joint thats simpler to repair in the middle of nowhere.

Last edited by DAVSATO; 16 Aug 2007 at 17:25.
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Old 16 Aug 2007
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Weight Comparo?

They are so air tight they come with pressure relief valves.

Last edited by mollydog; 26 Mar 2009 at 07:07.
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