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.