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Photo by Igor Djokovic, camping above San Juan river, Arizona USA

I haven't been everywhere...
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Photo by Igor Djokovic,
camping above San Juan river,
Arizona USA

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Old 9 Feb 2013
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Join Date: Jan 2012
Location: Bristol
Posts: 67
Hard vs Soft Luggage - Our Metal Mule and Enduristan Review and Solution

So Sam and I are currently on our charity round the world motorcycle trip (Chasing Horizons - you can follow us on www.facebook.com/chasinghorizons)! Wheee! Whilst we were planning it though we both had a maaaajor hard time figuring out what kind of luggage to take with us... soft... hard... which ones and why...! We finally ended up with the below set up which as you will read is working out pretty mega for us both and hope that the following review and on going updates on their handling and capabilities will help others make decisions in the future for their own luggage solutions!

Clare: Metal Mule UTE Panniers
2 x Hard Luggage Panniers:

1 x 31 Litre Powder Coated
1 x 38 Litre Powder Coated
1 x Stainless Steel Pannier Frame
1 x Rear Rack

Secure (can remain on the bike)
Water tight (not let in a drop yet!)
Hard core and strong (takes a beating and does not warp!)
Slim Line design
Easy to load
Pannier Frame reinforces the rear subframe (weak spot for the KTM 690 Enduro R 2012)

Heavier than soft luggage
Can be bulky to carry

On my bike we have mounted the famously superb Metal Mule UTE Panniers - a quality hard luggage system. We had originally thought to take soft luggage only but after reviewing the delicate and expensive kit we are having to take and the areas we were going to be travelling through we decided that we ideally needed to have something that could take a bit of a beating and remain locked, secure and waterproof. Sam has previously had hard luggage panniers (the zegas) which were, as he put it, made of chocolate! After an off his zegas were completely warped out of shape and then for the rest of the trip were leaking. So with this in mind we were unsure as to what to really look for until we discovered Metal Mules. They are just far far superior in quality, feel and strength.

The panniers themselves are cleverly designed by Metal Mule. Taking into consideration the slightly extra girth and weightiness of the exhaust side of the bike, one pannier holds up to 31litres and the other 38litres to help establish an even balance and width to your bike. If you prefer you can have two of the same sizes but we opted for this system.

They are beautifully fitted onto a stainless steel frame specifically designed for the KTM 690 Enduro R 2012. Metal Mule also provide framing for various other motorbikes varying from BMW to Yamaha - check it out on their webby! The actual workmanship of both the panniers and framing is top quality. The panniers are powder coated to a stunning finish which to date remains in perfect condition despite some heavy usage. The actual welding and composition is smooth and sleek. The width when mounted on the bike is just a smidgen wider than the handlebars making it very slim and easy to judge when weaving through traffic or tight spots! Having been through Alexandria, Egypt in rush hour at night with them fully loaded on my KTM 690 Enduro R 2012 I can vouch 110% that they are easy to ride with and certainly not bulky at all!

To mount them to the bike, the panniers have sturdy metal holders on one side which then hook over the framing and are secured by two bolts from the interior. It literally takes a few seconds to remove them which is pretty mega! The inside lids are rimmed by a form of rubber so when they are closed it provides a perfectly water tight seal. We have ridden through weeks of torrential rains and have thrown the bikes heavily onto the panniers and yet still they have remained water tight! It’s phenomenal and just shines with absolutely awesome quality. Strength wise, as said above they have taken a bit of a beating and remain completely solid. Check out this youtube clip to see how hardcore they are: Youtubey Metal Mule Tractor Test Linky!

On top there is a twist shut and key lock - again very simple and smooth to do. On many occasions we have left the panniers secured on the bikes overnight without concern for their security.

The panniers we have opted for is the standard set. You are able to purchase additional features (top boxes, handles etc) but for us these were not a necessity as they are rarely carried and we tend to keep them remained locked on the bike! What’s kind of awesome about these panniers are if you do decide to unmount them they make awesome seats to dine on around a camp stove!

We carry all our electronics, including laptop, spares and camera equipment in them and for us the peace of mind that they remain secure and safe from being nabbed or taking a bash (I do have a habit of hugging trees with the bike when offroading) it’s just magnificent. Being a girl and slightly less muscular than the boys I was initially nervous they would be weighty but they’re actually fairly easy to carry if you are required to and I find they only a positive impact on the handling of the bikes!

A great investment. Overall, the Metal Mule Utes are a fantastic and most awesome quality hard luggage system and we are so glad we have them for our Chasing Horizons round the world motorcycle trip. Take a peek at the Metal Mule website for more information. If you need to find out more details or have any specific requirements, drop Metal Mule an email or give them a call, they are stupendous there!

Sam: Enduristan Monsoon Saddle Bags
Soft Luggage Panniers

30-60 Litre adjustable volume per bag
Total Weight: 3.0kg

Water Proof (not let in a drop yet!)
3 Protective Layerings
No Rear Rack required
Light weight
Easy to remove and load

Potential vulnerability to slash and stash thieving (frequent occurrence in some of the third world countries we are travelling through)
Not lockable (must remove and take with you when visiting insecure areas)

On Sam’s bike we have the superbly constructed Enduristan Monsoon Saddle Bag soft luggage system. Having never travelled with soft luggage panniers before other than roll tops we were unsure how it would work with our style of travelling but so far the Monsoon Saddle bags have proved to be absolutely perfect! As the carrier of our camping equipment and food it is important for our panniers to remain watertight and easily accessible/transportable. With the roll top design the Enduristan panniers have worked a treat, snugly fitting varying amount of bits and bobs we use daily and remaining 100% waterproof despite enduring weeks of horrendous weather.

What is particularly awesome about the Enduristan Monsoon Saddle bags is their construction and usability. They are neatly shaped by a tough but light weight impact plastic running from the front to the back of the panniers. Not only does this provide additional protection from stones flicking up but it also gives the panniers a decent yet flexible shape to help you organise your gear inside as opposed to a floppy like bag. As well as this you also have separators on the inside and rather cleverly they have a bright red lining making it pip squeak to spot your bits and bobs you’ve packed no matter the light conditions!

They have so far endured a couple months of constant usage which has included some heavy riding, severe sand and rain storms and the odd brush with the chaotic traffic in and around Egypt. Due to their cordura material and awesome design they have remained unscathed, waterproof and shapely.

The unique design requires no rear rack although we have ours seated over our Adventure Spec Rack for the KTM 690 which pulls the panniers a bit further back and enables us to then rokstrap additional luggage on top. If you are to use no frames and have a rather toasty exhaust we would recommended purchasing a heat shield just to keep it lifted off and prevent damage! Fortunately for us our new KTM Basel Quest 690 bike kit has moved the exhaust into a position where this is not required!

They are held on with adjustable velcro and ROKstraps making them reasonably quick and easy to clip on and take off. With rubberised handles they are very comfortable to carry around too!

Overall they are a superb design and are proving to be rock solid! At such an affordable price they exceed in quality and well considered construction, particularly when in comparison to leading competition such as the Giant Loop. It is very evident they have been designed by a well seasoned motorcycle travel enthusiast who is incredibly helpful and friendly in every way if you have any enquiries.

As an addition, both Sam and I have the Enduristan Tornado Roll top bags and the Sandstorm 2S tank bags which again are just supremely fantastic quality and are surviving a good deal of use and abuse! A top quality brand! Check out their website for a full list of their products: Enduristan: Wherever you ride

We will upload some videos and pictures whilst we are going along! If you have any questions in the meantime though don't hesitate to pop us a message at clare@chasinghorizons.co.uk ! If we do delay in responding it's only because we're in the middle of no where with no wifi so hang in there with us or alternatively contact Enduristan and Metal Mule direct - they've been really superb with helping and advising us!
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