Looking at a set of “panniers” (from the French panier, or basket), or hard locking saddlebags, most of us probably wouldn’t think of them as a “system,” like a suspension or electrical system. But with its Zega Evo Panniers, Touratech has indeed elevated a pair of motorcycle side cases to that level. Available for a number of BMW GS, KTM ADV and Honda Africa Twin models, I chose them for my AT because they sit a few inches lower and farther back than some others, yet still have plenty of ground clearance. But the quality and comprehensive features of the Zega Evos pleasantly surprised me once they arrived.
The primary Evo advantage is a slick but secure quick-release latching system, which allows you to pop them on and off the stainless steel mounting racks with a single locking lever outside, rather than having to unscrew and fiddle with a pair of knobs inside the bags. So the Evos can be installed or released quickly and easily whether they’re closed or open, and have fold-flat ergonomic handles on top that make them easy to carry.
Constructed of sturdy aluminum with no welded seams, the base of each Evo is secured with stainless-steel rivets and a silicone gasket, and the raised lid has a tongue-and-groove aluminum edge with an integrated, waterproof silicone seal that is recessed out of harm’s way. Both bags passed the hose test with nary a drop of water entering. A waterproof vent prevents vacuum from forming when changing elevation so they always open easily.
I went with the 31- and 38-liter pair of Evos (10 and 10¾ pounds, respectively) for the Africa Twin; the smaller one mounts on the exhaust side for a mostly symmetrical fit. Together they provide plenty of storage for a long solo ride, and the overall width is 40 inches – about 4 inches wider than the AT’s handlebar. There is still plenty of room for a passenger’s feet on the pegs, too. Touratech also offers a 38-/45-liter pair of Evos that it says end up 42 inches wide; the 45-liter bag can hold a full-face helmet.
The Zega Evo System comes with stainless tubular-steel mounts that are offset for the exhaust. They took me about two hours to install because the rear turn-signal extensions on 2018 and later Africa Twins have to be removed, an easy but time-consuming job, and the AT’s middle rack supports were a challenge to fit. Once they’re on, though, the sturdy, well-made racks provide solid support for the Evos or soft saddlebags.
Other nice Evo Pannier features include dual hinging latches, so you can remove the lids entirely or open them at either end – a detachable nylon strap holds the lids open. Lashing loops on all four corners of the lids – inside and out – let you utilize the inner lid space and secure additional gear on top. Integrated steel mounting pins are preinstalled in back for attaching Touratech accessories like water or fuel bottle holders.
After installing the Evos I loaded them up for a two-night trip to Lake Arrowhead, and gave them and the Africa Twin a good thrashing on some of the rocky, rutted forest roads in the San Bernardino Mountains. They held fast, kept the dirt and water out and popped right off at the hotel. At $1,799 for the complete Evo system you’ll pay about $450 more than Touratech’s Zega Pros for quick-release convenience.
For more information, call (800) 491-2926 or visit touratech-usa.com.
[…] Read their findings here! […]
Not entirely sold on my Touratech Evo Panniers. The latch mechanisms are extremely delicate. They are made mostly of plastic with a metal bail. I’ve had several issues with them so far and just from regular use, no crashes or anything like that. First, the lid has a tether that prevents the lid from flopping all the way open, which is good except the tether is magnetically attached and is easily dislodged by cargo rubbing on it…open the lid and if the tether is not secured, the lid will flop all the way open and it’s own weight will bend the the attachment point for the latch. Second, the latches themselves, being mostly plastic will not tolerate anything other than a perfect fit of the lid onto the box…if it’s slightly off and or the box is a bit overstuffed, the latch can easily break…I’ve not broken a second one, and I’m pretty damn careful. Fortunately, Touratech was kind enough to send me a free replacement the first time, now I’ll be calling for another replacement after my second failed latch. Compared to my friends Givi Outback Trackers, the Touratechs are no where near as robust. The Givi’s latches, lids and attachments are significantly stronger than the Touratech’s. I’ll be looking to buy a set of Givi’s and selling my Touratechs….I have no confidence that I can rely on them for long term travel.
Agree on the bad quality of the latch, too much plastics and also very thin/weak. Broke one of mine too, and are waiting for replacement. Touratech says is´s a newer and better solution and should replace all. Also have issues with the locks/sylinder but hope to fix that when replaceing the latch.
Extremely disappointed with the Zega Evo panniers and Touratech. I Would not recommend, and I will not be buying anything Touratech again. I lost the left 31L pannier while riding the Idaho BDR this year. From what I can tell the latch mechanism that locks the pannier onto the rack system failed and the pannier came off the bike. Unfortunately by the time I noticed that the pannier was gone I had ridden 68 miles from Yellow Pine ID to Warren ID. The next morning i rode that section of the BDR again at a pace of 10-15mph looking for the pannier. I did this a total of 4 times looking for the Pannier that contained my tools, shoes, riding gear, compressor and tire patch kit. I called Touratech when I got home looking for a replacement pannier and the short of the conversation was that they did not want to speculate on what happened and that there is no replacement policy or refund available because “these things happen”. The reason I bought Touratech in the first place is because with a fully locked pannier, costing $2K I was not expecting it to come off the bike while ridding. If anyone out there needs a 38l zega evo pannier contact me I will not be replacing the lost 31l or be buying Touratech again. I don’t trust their products and my sense is that they have had this issue before and are not owning up to it.