Written by Lisa Morris. Posted in Gear
As a location-independent moto-traveler who’s ridden from the planet’s bottom to the top, I’m all about light and tight. Particularly as a female rider at 115 pounds, I loathe the idea of a full-size luggage system comprising three 45-liter panniers. Why? Because given half a chance I’d fill them!
Having honed a “less is more,” streamlined approach to packing over the last four years on the road, coupled with a mounting desire to ride more dirt, I was curious to field-test Aerostich’s tank panniers. They’re ideal for those who value load and weight distribution.
Installation was speedy and straightforward. No crash bars required, the black bags (also available in hi-viz and a roomier 8.8 liters), at the more compact 6.6 liters, slotted over the gas tank without an ounce of fuss. Stabilizing each of the bags upon neoprene pads with a sturdy hook and loop webbing strap stops any shifting, flapping or sagging while riding. (Keeping the paint job pristine, too.) Made nice and taut by adjustable bungee cords for optimum fitment, the tank panniers articulate well astride the bike. Double duty, they also offer up some protection for your legs in windy conditions and the gas tank itself.
While there’s still sufficient space for a tank bag, function meets performance. The convenience of immediate access to anything you don’t wish to rummage for in your main luggage, without even getting off your steed, is biking bliss. In fact, each bag will accommodate absolutely anything up to 12×7.5×4.5 inches, but consider only stowing items you don’t mind making contact with the ground should you drop your bike, or getting wet unless a dry bag (not included) is used. Mine are used predominantly as a grocery getter although there’s available room in which I can also stow another pair of riding gloves, a hat and mid layer, spare bungee cords, visor cleaner and a microfiber lint cloth.
Thoughtful details include outside pockets I use for pens, spare zip-lock bags and a shopping tote. There’s a storm flap over the zippers, web straps for attaching further items, and reflective accents to enhance visibility at night. Although there are cheaper solutions on the market, I’m not confident they would possess the same fit and finish, nor the standard of construction employed, or the 1,000 Denier Cordura nylon, all of which really showcase the experience that have gone into them. The panniers are practical, neither pretty nor stylish, but they are resilient.
Over a year-long assessment, just about all weather conditions have had the nonstop pleasure of hurling abuse at these tank panniers through North America. Impervious to the elements, they perform as effectively in cold and ice as they do in the blazing hot sunshine. Despite multiple slow speed crashes, they bear no tears or scuff-marks. Surprisingly, they look like new to this day thanks to their durability and resistance to abrasion, leaving the integrity of the bags intact.
Undeniably, they err on the gaucho more than macho but because they’re built simply with endless supplies of endurance, I don’t doubt they’ll be part of my luggage ensemble for many years to come. Unreservedly, I’d recommend the bags to any rider seeking a highly serviceable addition for their cargo. And let’s face it, when I’m throwing the DR650 around off road, I’m never going to wish for an overladen bike dragging me down and holding me back. Those days are gone. MSRP: $177 Aerostich.com
|▲ Simple design and operation||▼ Less of a good fit astride the bigger adventure motorcycles equipped with crash bars|
▲ Herculean strength in construction and materials throughout
|▲ Keeps cargo low and distributes weight to the front||
|▲ Lifts strain off the bike’s rear suspension
|▲ Easily accessible to grab/ditch something quickly|