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Now here's a great debate: soft or hard luggage?

Hard Luggage

Built like a brick shithouse (OK, some makes are, others are built like biscuit tins), waterproof, thiefproof. Can be used as camp furniture. Can put stickers on.

Weigh a ton, need a riveter to repair.

Soft Luggage

Cheap, will survive several light falls, can be wrapped in a pacsafe, stick a plastic bag inside to make waterproof. Weigh nothing, can repair with some gaffer tape and a bit of old string.

OK, not much of a debate.

I want stickers. And I'm a fool with my money. Where are you Metal Mule and your 38l S2 anodised boxes?

Pannier Mod

I assumed that the anodising would mean you wouldn't get any noxious aluminium rubbed all over your gear. I was wrong. I have ingrained black stains on stuff to this day.

I wondered what to do and saw that someone had lined their boxes with felt. Cue some double sided sticky tape (no kidding) and mine are now lined with Royal Blue felt from ebay. Works a treat.

Pannier Frames

What you will need regardless is something to prevent the panniers fouling the rear wheel, some sort of frame to attach the panniers and luggage to.

This is where there's another more subtle debate. How strong should the pannier frames be? In a high speed crash, the alu boxes/pannier frame combo might be more resilient than your subframe and it'll be your bike that breaks.

Hmm, tricky.

One thing you do know however, is that the panniers have to be strong enough. No proper adventure biker is complete without some tale of remote frame (pannier or sub) welding. Mostly pannier frame, to be fair. So make sure they're tough enough. After all, you'll be carrying far too much stuff that you'll never use which simply adds to extra stress on the frame every time you crash through a pothole.

18mm diameter, 2mm pipe looks like the tough stuff. And costs a fortune.

If you know a local pipe man, pay him instead.

Rear Rack

Some people opt for a top box instead of metal panniers although either way a rear rack means you have something sturdy to hook bungees onto as Yamaha don't seem to think that people might just want to put stuff on the back of their bikes.

Tank Bag


If nothing else it's a handy spot to put your map.

I've had magnetic bags before but you invariably get grit between the bag and the tank and very soon after you'll have a scratched tank. On top of which the XT doesn't have much of the tank's metal exposed.

This time, I saw one a Famsa Enduro Max and went for it.

Plus points are it looks good and holds my camera/camcorder and documents quite happily without being expanded. It's relatively easy to hang over your shoulder if you need to leave the bike unattended.

Downsides are the the map case is a funny shape which means you destroy your maps over time and the map case slurps moisture from the air (OK, a fairer description would be that after a torrential downpour (without the rain cover) it takes a few days to release the moisture). No rain seems to get in the bag proper even without using the supplied shower cap/waterproof cover. You do have to unzip it two thirds to put petrol in. I'm not so fussed about that, you just get into a routine.

Unexpected downside is that the base rubs against the tank...


Or more probably bungees. Lots of them. Several, at least. Including some spares as you never know when you might buy that carpet/rug...

And maybe some straps. I'd like some 1cm x 1m textile straps with one of those serrated teeth sprung clamps (am I getting too technical?). But I can't find them. Not even for bicycles.

Aha! I wasn't using the right terminology. I have now found them on ebay. The key is to include cam buckle in your search (tick the include titles and descriptions box in your search) which is the metal ratchety thing which is much more robust than the flimsy plastic "buckles" most luggage strap searches return.

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