Pulling the fuses under the seat is the easiest way to disable the ABS on a Suzuki V-Strom 650XT, but I found out you can also do it by crashing in 4th gear. Such was my fate when, cruising down a gravel road in Death Valley, I hit a pit of deep sand and started swapping bars, failing to keep the “gas on and brain off.” My ignominious get-off, which created a dust cloud like a meteor strike, also gave me a chance to crash-test the Hemisphere adventure-touring soft luggage.
Made in the U.S.A. by Seattle-based AltRider, Hemisphere is tough stuff. Heavy-duty 1050D ballistic fabric, mil-spec stitching and rugged straps make the 11-liter Tank Bag ($189.97) ready for anything. Accessing go-to gear is easy thanks to a large clamshell lid with single-snap closure, and the 11-liter main compartment is lined with hard-plastic stiffeners, foam padding and a waterproof stuff sack to keep everything safe and sound. The lid has a clear map pocket and a small mesh stash pocket. For convenient refueling and removal, the entire bag can be unzipped from the base and carried with a handle. Compatible with nearly any motorcycle, the universal harness has no exposed buckles to interfere with stand-up riding.
AltRider’s Waterproof Soft Panniers ($569.97) have an ingenious design, with five separate compartments that provide 126 liters of waterproof, dustproof storage. Designed to mount to a hoop-style metal pannier rack (available as an OEM or aftermarket accessory), the panniers drape over the passenger seat and down the sides of the rack and are secured with heavy-duty straps and metal buckles. Each pannier has an upper compartment with a roll-top closure and a removable 34-liter drybag, and a lower compartment accessible from the back with a removable 15-liter drybag. The dual-compartment design allows lighter items such as clothing to be stored up high and heavier items such as tools to be stored down low. The fifth storage compartment is a removable 28-liter drybag atop the passenger seat.
Installation of both pieces was straightforward. We recommend using clear adhesive shelf liners to protect paint on the gas tank and bodywork. Some fiddling was required to make sure all of the straps were tight (I used zip-ties to secure the excess), but everything stayed in place, even after my crash. I wasn’t able to test waterproofness, but all of the roll-top drybags did a superb job of keeping dust out. AltRider’s Hemisphere luggage gets high marks for durability, versatility and ease of use.
For more information, call (206) 922-3618 or visit altrider.com