By Paul Drevenstedt
[This Moto-Sport Panniers and Cordura Motorcycle Luggage Liners was originally published in the July 2009 issue of Rider magazine]
My Cagiva Gran Canyon is a fun, fast adventure tourer, but I’ve tried and been disappointed with different combinations of bags for overnight trips and commuting.
Design is the problem: The seat’s subframe sweeps gracefully, but it is covered in plastic that is held in place with, well, more plastic. On a trip to Oregon’s Crater Lake, I learned the hard way that strapping soft bags to the Cagiva can result in busted side panels. And the underseat mufflers and form-over-function tail rack seem designed to thwart even the best tie-down efforts. Moto-Sport Panniers solved my problem with its cases, which are tough, utilitarian beauties.
The cases are available in two sizes, the Baja (with 26 liters of capacity), and the ones I chose, the Bavaria, which will swallow 37 liters worth of your essentials. These aluminum panniers are powdercoated in silver or black, and bolt to MIG-welded, powder- coated brackets constructed from sturdy 5/8-inch steel tubing. According to Moto-Sport, each pannier body is made from a single sheet of aluminum bent vertically four times for super strong, smooth corners, and riveted with aircraft-quality fasteners for superior strength and weight reduction. The cases open at the top, with a hinge on one end and a locking latch at the other. One key opens both bags, revealing an O-ring seal around the top of the case, for water resistance. Each case top has two D-shaped brackets, one at each end, perfect for strapping down more gear.
I couldn’t wait to get the panniers onto the Cagiva, but since I am not handy I was concerned about installation. No need for worry. A friend (with similarly limited mechanical abilities) and I mounted them in about an hour, with no busted knuckles. The instructions were terse but sufficient, and the mounting hardware was clearly marked, which eliminated head scratching.
Each case has a flange along the bottom, and holes for two Allen bolts. Mounting the cases is as simple as fitting the flange over the hanger bracket and tightening the bolts. Once the cases were mounted, I tugged them from different angles to test for “give” between the cases, the mounting brackets and the frame of the bike. No give. And the fit was perfect, with the cases mounting close to the bike’s side panels. The only problem I had was in removing the cases, which was my fault. I seem to have cross-threaded an Allen bolt during installation, and I stripped the hex head trying to unscrew it. Oops.
The Moto-Sport Cordura Pannier Liners are available in black and have an adjustable carrying strap. A zipper runs three-quarters of the way around the bag, allowing you to lay the liner on your bed and pack it like a suitcase. My girlfriend and I did just that as we prepared for one of our test rides. It is cliché, but I often whine about her packing tons of gear for short weekend trips. Moto-Sport Panniers to the rescue: she packed as much as she wanted and there was still room to spare. In fact, a friend joked that with the Bavaria cases on the bike, I could start a moto pizza delivery service.
Moto-Sport Panniers makes hard cases for BMW, Cagiva, Honda, Kawasaki, KTM, Moto Guzzi, Suzuki and Triumph adventure-style motorcycles. Prices range from $726-$960, and a set of liners is $65. If you like adventure touring, these panniers are worth the investment, and even more so if you actually get your bike dirty, as these panniers will help protect your gear and your bike if you go down.
For more information: Moto-Sport Panniers Inc., 5405 W. 56th Avenue #A, Arvada, Colorado 80002; (714) 850-0829; www.moto-sportpanniers.com