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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 30 Aug 2007
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Sorry late reply, I have been away for a while..

Originally Posted by mollydog View Post
Is this a custom made system or did you start with a known company and improve on the existing design? I'd love to see pics of your system. And perhaps learn from your experience with a loaded bike.
I started with an older Jesse system. But had to change the locks on the lids, reinforce the boxes and change the way they mount to the frame. The boxes themselves are pretty robust with lots of bends – witch makes them stronger and keeps them away from you feet.
The old Jesse frame is thrown away, when designing a new one I would say the important factors are:
-Keep the boxes as close to the frame as possible
-Minimize the length of horizontal tubing for attachment points to the frame (remember Newton)
-Use rubber dampers to minimize vibrations
-Make sure that the boxes doesn’t flex inwards (solid tube from one side to each other and solid mounting to rear foot rest)
-Three mounting points at the top
-Use circular tubes (forces go in all directions)

I don’t have a lot of pictures, but here is one. The right side is a bit difficult to make on my BMW because the cardan is big

Originally Posted by mollydog View Post
I've ridden a lot of corrogations. My solution is to just go faster until they go away. At 80 mph things are very smooth. Watch out for potholes, emmbeded rocks and dips.
Yes I know, but sometimes it’s not doable.

Originally Posted by mollydog View Post
I am using a newer version GIVI racks and E-41 GIVI bags. I know this is not the ideal setup but I had them already and do not want to put any more money into a new system. Is this a huge mistake for Mex. Central Am, S. America? I am very careful about not overloading. When I have more money and time I would use the SW Motech racks with Pelikan panniers. The SW racks seem well made and strong....also heavy! Pelikans are light and strong
and as soon as you break one....you get another FREE!

I guess it depends on how you use them. A friend used some Givis (I think) on Iceland and they were far too wide. When he was leaning the bike over the panniers hit rocks. The mounting hardware was a bit flimsy and he had to secure the boxes with belts. The system lasted pretty good for the trip but I think it would have made a lot of problems on a longer trip.

Originally Posted by mollydog View Post
As far as BMW not causing problems or breaking....from now on I can only say
go see the Smellybiker website and read about Bob's F650 Simply unbelievable documentation of repeated disaster. An endless and extensive history of problems with his '05 BMW.
I don’t know Smellybikers problem, nor do I know much about the 650 or other “newish” BMWs. I stick to the older ones. Mine has 190kkm on the clock and will last for many years, I also have one with less then 30kkms and it will probably outlive me
Every bike has issues. We had to rebuild the top-end three times of a Honda XL on a trip, enginemounts break on the tiger when it’s stressed, a friend had to change cam-shaft on his DR twice a year and the list goes on forever.
Can you believe that on some bikes you have to remove the engine to do some top-end maintenance?

Next weekend I will drive an Ural with 2WD and sidecar…. That's fun!!!

I have to admit that I have started to think of building a touring bike based on the HP2 and the 900RR tank and front, but it will probably never happen….
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Old 30 Aug 2007
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Thanks Ali for the great pics and reply.

Pelikans on the way....GIVI racks going it for re-build! ($100)

Last edited by mollydog; 26 Mar 2009 at 07:10.
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Old 31 Aug 2007
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i dont know?

i've always travelled with soft luggage but i'm about to go for the hard stuff due to the fact that its just easier! with soft luggage it's easy to steal and everything has to go in waterproof bags.
anyway, whilst i'm out and about everybody seems to be using TT's on their bikes. i do 3ooo km's a week in my truck and i'd say 9/10 bikes that overtake me with alu panniers are TT's! so surely they cant be that bad!
i'm gonna try them out though as the price of €700 compared to £700 for MM's is a big difference! lets just hope that touratech in france are better than in britain! going in 6 wks!
if i'm wrong i'll cry and then let you know!
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Old 31 Aug 2007
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Givi crash test!

Note the lack off distance between the boxes and the ground:

Things are getting harder (note that the boxes have touched the ground close to the bottom of the picture)

The left box touches the ground and lifts the bike:

He is okay but the bike is wider then my BMW!!
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Old 31 Aug 2007
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Metal Mule don't make panniers or frames for the Dominator.
So that ended that.

Ortlieb make great waterproof and dustproof soft panniers (no need to put everything in bags in the panniers).

A Dominator friend (good work Davey) rode to India and had hard alu panniers custom hand made for him for 5 pounds. He still has them (post crash(es)).

Potterton's cases make a great option too (thanks to Lois's research).

Ammo boxes are also a great option.

I researched options for ages and really like the Metal Mule concept. But their lack of willingness to make them for Dominators put me off. Ortliebs worked perfectly for me.
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Old 7 Apr 2010
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Quick and simple question: Are MetalMule available outside of the UK. From what I'm reading they make a fantastic pannier, but can they deliver to North America??
We're here for a good time, not a long time...
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Old 7 Apr 2010
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Its funny no one has mentioned Berndtesch panniers. Racks
I have these fitted on my r80gs, In the past i have used soft luggage, plastic boxes (the Gobi stuff was excellent if not small and heavy but still excellent) and the Tesch stuff. The good points of Tesch - massive capacity (I have the larger ones as they carry more for two up travel) but still retains its narrow profile each pannier is 8 inches wide (my hole set up on the Gs is max 87cm wide total - narrower than handlebars and slightly wider than cylinderheads). additional toolboxes on inside - back of pannier keeps everything seperate, Lids are flat profile and have a good locking set up and remove easy and are also usable as table top etc. the panniers are very very strong my panniers (are second hand when I bought them and have survived trips to India, middle east, arctic etc and have covered in excess of 60 to 70,000 mile and are still largely unscathed. They sit on strong box section racks they are still waterproof and have survived a rear end shunt off a van (saving the bikes sub frame, back wheel and rear end from crumbling)along with being dropped on and off road which has had no real effect on them. The only bad points I can think of is they are fixed - ie not removable without undoing 4 bolts after emptying them- which you soon adapt to - I use soft bags inside so its easy to take what I want out of the pannier. but being fixed may be a small problem in some situations. They are fairly heavy with the racks - but also very substantial. I still think in many situations more so where vast dirt and gravel roads are going to be covered soft luggage is in most cases a better choice - but for a metal box the tesch panniers to me are one of the best.
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Old 20 Apr 2010
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For those in the UK

I can recommend Vern at worldbeater panniers (project DNV .com)

and have heard good things about 'ARD cases'. Both considerably cheaper than Touratech.

Vern especially is a top dude.

I bought some panniers of a guy in Leverkusen Germany for just over £200 and will report on quality when they arrive (end of the worl volcano permitting).

Military cases? Unfortunately the UK armed forces dont use the US styled mermite cans and all the ammo cases are proper heavy (6 kilos+). At least this is what I learned after hours of research. Do love thebadass ammo box looks tho.
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Old 21 Apr 2010
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Originally Posted by IronArse View Post
Quick and simple question: Are MetalMule available outside of the UK. From what I'm reading they make a fantastic pannier, but can they deliver to North America??
They are and they can !! BUT !! They're ludercrously expensive over here let alone when you've had them shipped, payed duty and done your conversions.

Really, they look lovely but they are NO WAY worth the money. Unless you have money to burn, look elsewhere.

They don't crash very well at all either. The mounting system is fragile and overcomplicated and the first thing to be torn off in a crash . Makes them easy to remove when they are straight though.
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Old 21 Apr 2010
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I had 2 pair. Totalled 1 pair and the other pair are sitting in my garage for storage. The locking mechanism kept 'adjusting' itself, and the straight edges at the bottom kept 'seeking' my lower legs through the difficult dirt stuff. If you want to seek dirt roads, stick to soft luggage. For a latte trip on the tar make your own narrow panniers. Any sheet metal place should be able to knock something up for the same price. Make a cardboard one, take it to the tradies and you get exactly what you want and waterproof.
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Old 22 Apr 2010
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Originally Posted by IronArse View Post
Are MetalMule available outside of the UK. From what I'm reading they make a fantastic pannier,
Where are you reading that?
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Last edited by colebatch; 22 Apr 2010 at 16:26.
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Old 3 Nov 2012
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alternative to Jesse bags

Originally Posted by MikeS View Post
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.
If you get a chance, may want to check out the Micatech line of panniers. They are made in New Hampshire, well designed and thought out and quite a bit cheaper than Jesses. They are waterproof and dustproof.
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Old 5 Nov 2012
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I've been very happy with Hepco Becker boxes on modified H&B racks using extra straps to lash them onto the bike. I've beat on this like no other and have been very happy with the build quality of the boxes with their rounded edges they are very strong.

Also like having crash bars for my legs and never having to lift the bike from it's side. I run pelicans up front on my little 650, works very well for me. Here's my setup from a nice spot in Cuba:

Easy to pop back out after the really nasty big rocks
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Old 13 Oct 2013
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BMW Adventure panniers

I rode Central and South America on a F800GS with BMW Adventure panniers. I take they are the most expensive panniers, or one of the most expensive.

On several occasions I dropped the bike a low speed. The amount and weight carried on the bike added to the impact. A few times the panniers took serious dents, like any piece of aluminum would. Once I tried to stop on a very steep incline and the tires couldn't provide enough traction...sliding backwards over 10 feet and gaining speed, the bike dropped 'high-side' deforming the shape of the right hand pannier to the point the lid couldn't begin to close. Like every other time, I pounded the dents out with a hammer & small piece of wood, and in this case I re-squared the pannier in general. If I kept working on it, it might be water proof again...

One important thing to understand about BMW Adventure panniers, they are designed to 'release' if you hit something. They will pop off and not totally destroy the pannier frame or the anchor/attachment point of the boxes.

I enjoyed the flexibility of having two lock/hinges (one on the front, one on the back) instead one fixed hinge along the length of the lid or a fix hinge on one end. There were times when I had spare tires on the seat which would stop the opening swing of a lid. I could unlock both 'hinges' and slide the top off...without having to loosen the tires.

I guess these panniers aren't for everyone, but I like them.
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Last edited by Peter Bodtke; 14 Oct 2013 at 00:15. Reason: typo
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Old 22 Dec 2013
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Originally Posted by AliBaba View Post
I had a pair of Mycatech bags on a previous bike that I really liked, well made in Northeast US. I have Jesse's on this bike, they have been pretty good,
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