Hard Panniers vs Soft Panniers


My beautiful companion, “Bronte”

When It comes to choose panniers for your motorcycle, there are two main options available: hard or soft ones.
I was new to the infinite debate between the two parties, which it has been going on probably from before i was born; suddenly I found myself in the position to pick one for my trip around Australia, after years of using just backpacks and top box cases, for my shorts commutes around town.

For a long trip instead, this became an excruciating decision.
Fortunately, I had the choice made for me, since my 1190 Adventure came already with the hard KTM ones, directly from the dealer.
On top of that, around half of my trip, I had the chance to try the other party, getting some Giant Loop Siskyou soft Panniers.

Giant Loop soft Panniers vs KTM Hard panniers

Somehow, I tried to imagine what would push me to pick one or the other anyway; most of the times the criteria of your choice is strongly influenced by your  riding style, your  finances, or your parking location.

Before writing this article I felt also the need to read about this matter on various forums and websites. Many people were fancying hard or soft panniers for all valid reasons; this obviously caused further confusion in my head.
There are in fact several different opinions about those, which are related mostly to the different styles and level of riding of each user.
Because this choice is, at the end, so personal, It’s hard to standardise a perfect solution for everybody.

Although, after all this reading and riding that i’ve done myself with one and the other, i believe that the choice upon purchase, has to be made based on one factor:
The Style of Riding


Let’s talk about the HARD PANNIERS to start.
It’s a known fact, first of all, that hard are more expensive than soft ones.
This point does not apply only if you “do your own”; I’ve in fact seen lots of people using fuel cells as panniers, which are very cheap, durable and lightweight (if plastic), but certainly not completely waterproof (if not done properly) and secure for storing your personal belongings; plastic ones are sometimes flimsy and they will most certainly crack if you drop your bike.

custom made metal panniers. 20l fuel tank

Hard panniers in any case have to sit on a rack mount that has to be fitted separately, which can also be made ad hoc or bought for roughly USD $300.

I rode 20000 km using the hard KTM panniers (42 litres  the left one and 31 litres the right one), which are “not recommended” for off-road tracks.
It’s a more street oriented kind of solution, i have to admit, but I didn’t really experience any trouble at all (except the excessive weight), while riding on gravel and sand.

KTM Panniers back

KTM pannier protrude really a lot on the sides. Not the best idea if you love lane filtering.

Giant Loop Panniers back

Giant Loop Soft panniers (empty) are obviously narrower and lighter.

Overall, I have to admit that these panniers served me very well through all the long roads, bumpy tracks and torrential rains I encountered in the south regions of Australia.

Their waterproofness is certainly remarkable and you can rest for sure that your things are secured in there.

I would love to meet the locks engineers

Many people state and prefer hard panniers because of the capability of “protecting” the rider from accidental falls of the motorcycle, but It’s also true that once bent or damaged, those lids or hard structures fail miserably in going back the way they were, causing all the sort of issues like water leakage, vibrations and locking problems.
Repairs are then very hard to perform and users are most of the times force to replace the whole thing, which can be cost effective.

Ultimately, I appreciated my hard panniers for 3 main reasons:
– Waterproofness
– Easy to remove
– Valuable items protection 

Does size really matter?

It’s almost unbelievable that these ones can store more stuff than the others

My bike is significantly heavier than the other smaller Dual Sport machines, due mostly to the engine displacement and the fuel tank size (1190cc and 23 litres tank). Adding those bulky hard pannier was not an experience that I found rewarding while going off road, for sure.
On gravel roads and light dirt tracks, the difference was minimal though.

They are OUT THERE.

Once full, they do stick out a bit

Riding on sealed roads with hard panniers was certainly ok, despite of the strong wind resistance caused by the excessive protrusion of the boxes; even at regular speed in fact, their squared surface made consumptions sensibly higher, due to the intense friction with upcoming air.

Also, removing the panniers, when full, was easy but they were certainly not comfortable enough to be carried around for long, even with those good big handles on the side.
On bumpy or twisty mountain roads those were also affecting my riding style, excessively sticking out on the side of my bike, not allowing me to lean as much as I wanted.
Also, the lowered position on the bike, was making my riding not so pleasant, especially during short and hard turns.
On top of this, exceeding 140-150 km/h was causing problems to the bike stability; strong vibrations on the handlebar occurred, making riding quite dangerous.
Obviously, these last three points are very personal; this kind of luggage system is not meant to be used for “fast riding”.
They are indeed very effective instead for touring and nice cruisy rides.
Things felt definitely more secure when left in there, while leaving my bike unattended, or when parking my bike at night.
So, I was glad that I had hard panniers while I parking my bike in the street, in the city.

Let’s talk about the SOFT PANNIERS now.
When I switched to soft and rackless pannier system, using Giant Loop Siskiyou, my riding experience changed completely, I have to say.
I rode 20000 km with them and I went through dust, mud, water and sand; they behaved beautifully, as good as hard panniers, in terms of waterproofness and resistance, which made the transition between the two kind of luggage systems absolutely seamless, in this sense.

The position of the soft panniers was slightly higher than the hard panniers, since they hang from the passenger seat (roughly around 10cm above the hard ones), slightly moving away from the centre of gravity of the bike.

Even with this modification, my whole riding experience improved, especially while going off-road and really sharp twisty sealed roads.

Easy access to its content even with passenger handles fitted on the bike

Yellow watertight bags are inside each bag to protect your things from accidental water leakage

Surprisingly I found out that soft panniers were actually “bigger” than my old hard ones, regardless of the slimmer look that they had at first sight.
Being soft and “malleable”, I could in fact stuff them up until their physical structure allowed me to.
The size of each bag is 35 litres, which is plenty for storing everything I had in my hard panniers (42 and 31 litres instead).
Rain and water crossing were my main worry once i switched to this solution, but I have to say that the yellow watertight pods, placed inside each bag, protected my items completely from water leaking in.

Pillions can still ride sitting on the saddle and hanging on the handles, that I decided to cover with tennis racket grips to protect them from wearing and improve grasping.

 

 

Many people that bought these panniers, removed the passenger handles and pegs from the back of the KTM, to have better access to the bags, but I left those on, since they weren’t of obstacole to me at all. Actually, i regularly use pillion handles to lift my bike up, if needed.

 

 

Ultimately, I liked my soft panniers for 3 reasons:
– Lightweight
– Better riding experience
More storage capability

15 kg empty. WHAT !?

2.5 kg each. now we are talking!

A further note has to be made on the weight difference between the two; I personally felt that trimming on weight was somehow the best solution I could opt for.

 

 

It made my riding experience more pleasant and it felt more suitable to my riding style.

Being lighter and narrower means, less consumption on tyres, fuel and less friction against strong head winds, without considering the slightly minimised stress on rear shock.

No need for Muffler guard, since they sit quite far away from this beautiful WINGS Titanium Muffler.

So, in conclusion, the market offers a great variety of solutions for your long and short travels.
Going hard or soft with the choice of your panniers is just a little variable on the great equation that will be your journey.
Your riding style should be the only factor to take in consideration when making the choice.

If you are planning to carry with you very expensive items and you don’t want to take them with you all the times, you should better insure them, first of all, and never leave those in your bike unattended, in any case, in my opinion, even if you put them in a hard pannier.

So I think that ultimately, it does work as a deterrent for bad intentioned people to have a lock on your panniers, but still does not guarantee 100% safety against theft.
As a matter of choice between hard and soft, I don’t think that this is a strong enough point to opt for one or the other.

Make sure you take in consideration where you are going to ride and the way you ride.
I’m riding with soft ones.

Thanks for reading.
Please let me know what you think or if you have any personal experience about this never ending argument.

New year Revolution


motivational quoteHi!

First of all, I hope you all had a great holiday with your family and friends.
Christmas and New Year Eve are the first big occasions in the western world to spend some quality time with our dears.

I personally spend my Christmas at the beach, lifesaving with the other volunteers.
The weather was absolutely amazing and it was such a pleasure to spend some good time surfing, swimming and rescuing unexperienced bathers from the rough waters of our beaches! 🙂

But let’s talk about today’s post.
I have so many news that I don’t even know where to start from.

I know, it’s not going to be on national television for its relevance, but personally I had one of the most intense month of my life.

Let me sum it up for you.

First of all, I officially became an Australian Citizen!
Paolo suit(Apologies for the massive picture cropping).
That’s right! Wooooho !!
I can finally say that I’m Australian!
So happy to be part of this great nation and its people!!!

Aussie Aussie Aussie!! Oi Oi Oi !!

But, believe it or not, this is the smallest of the news i have to give you, dear friends.

As you may already know, I’m a keen motorbike rider. Matter of fact, my only possession is my motorcycle, which is my pride and satisfaction.
So, a couple of weeks ago, I decided to give a real good wash to my adored Pegaso.
This is how “my baby” used to look before:
DSC_0546-1
this is how she looks now:ktm 1190 adventure

I know, right?!?
It’s incredible what soap, a good brush and a year worth of saving can do. 🙂
Like a caterpillar becomes a butterfly, my little steel horse became a strong and powerful steed.
Such a remarkable event deserved a proper initiation, so I decided to give my motorbike a name. I mean, she’s going to be my companion for a long time so I should better baptise her with a proper appellative.
Well, ladies and gentleman, let me tell you that, there wasn’t any other name on the list other than….my beloved BRONTE.
She will always remind me of my “happy place” and the wonderful time I had here during the past 4 years. She will remind me of where I come from and where I feel most at home.

But let’s move on to the next big news. This is probably the biggest one.
So, what happened really?

Well, I quit my job.

Yep.
I know, right?
Well, It’s not over yet.
Starting from February 2015, I’M GOING TO RIDE MY MOTORCYCLE AROUND AUSTRALIA, solo and unassisted, for one year!
Yep, that’s right. I’m taking a 30000 km trip around one of the most beautiful continent in the world.
I’m so happy just thinking about it!
I can’t wait to start the engines and embrace my adventure!
Around Australia
Now, the question that comes spontaneously in everybody’s mind is: WHY?

Why leaving my beautiful life in Bronte?
Well, the answer is very simple.
My life here in Sydney is at the edge of perfection.
I live close to the ocean, I have a fabulous job, I live an healthy life, I do all the activities that i love and my weekends are spent mostly volunteering at the beach.
I’ve been working for the past 4 and a half years with no breaks, whatsoever.
I reached a point in my life in which I think I know what I really need to be “happy”, but somehow I felt that something was missing.
Something inside was telling me that there’s more to see, more to discover, about myself mostly and about this great place, that i can now finally call home.

I believe that a road trip of this magnitude can be done probably once in a lifetime; this moment in my life is the perfect time to do this.
Embracing a new journey, a road trip or a new adventure, has in itself more than meets the eyes. It often allows the adventurer to discover himself through new places and new situations which he has never been exposed before.

It’s a voyage, in which the obvious goal is not reaching the destination, but enjoying every step of it.
Sometimes, you are driven toward a new horizon by your soul not your desire, and there’s nothing you can do but listen to it.
You can try to fight that little voice that tells you to go, to do or to see…..but it’s like you know already that one day you are going to regret it if you don’t do what it tells you to do.
You know it’s right because IT’S YOU TELLING YOURSELF what it’s right for you.

Dropping everything from your life and sail toward and unknown destination is quite scary I have to say.

It requires preparation, determination and a bit of madness. 🙂
I had to ponder about it for a long time before actually starting to put pieces together.

The price to pay to achieve your dreams, sometimes it’s really high, like abandoning your “stability” and betting everything you have on yourself and the IDEA OF YOURSELF, that you have so clearly depicted in your mind.
It’s a BET.
It’s a CHALLENGE.
It’s EXCITING.
It’s SCARY.

IT’S LIFE.

I’ll keep you guys posted.

Happy new year, people!
This 2015 for me will be the YEAR OF THE REVOLUTION!

Me and Bronte

enjoy.

Happy “Happy People Day” !


Oggi, 27 Novembre, e’ la giornata internazionale delle persone felici.

Non cercate di googlare “happy people day” perchè probabilmente non lo troverete….ed il motivo principale è dato dal fatto che me lo sono inventato io 10 minuti fa.

Nonostante io confidi pienamente nelle proprietà onniscienti del web, non credo che “internet” sia così potente.

In ogni caso, volevo solamente postare, con un pretesto festoso, le foto fatte ieri mattina in questo bellissimo angolo di mondo.
Oggi purtroppo non è una bella giornata di sole come ieri, ma è sicuramente un giorno da ricordare per me….

Ed è per questo che voglio celebrare con voi l’ HAPPY PEOPLE DAY.
Se per caso siete anche voi felici di quello che siete, di quello che avete e di tutto quello che fa parte della vostra vita in questo momento, potete anche voi assolutamente festeggiare con me in questa fantastica giornata….
…ricordate….27 novembre….Happy People Day !
😉

Vi sentite poco felici?
Guardatevi intorno.

Il mondo è pieno di persone felici.
Come è pieno di persone infelici.

La vostra attitudine, determina in quale dei due gruppi finirete per appartenere. La linea tra i due mondi, nonostante le apparenze, è molto sottile.
A volte mi sveglio anch’io con le balle girate (most of the mornings i would say)….e sembra che il mondo, tra il lavoro, la stanchezza, 1000 cose da fare, ecc, mi vogliano tenere con  il sedere inchiodato al letto od addirittura buttarmi giù.
E’ capitato parecchie volte, se devo essere sincero.

Nonostante questo, cerco sempre di mantenere il mio mantra ed il mio essere in un tenore positivo.
Svegliarsi e cercare di trovare dentro di se quel sentimento di gratitudine verso la propria esistenza e verso quello che di più puro e sincero ci circonda, aiuta a ripristinare la felicità interna di ognuno di noi.
Facile a dirsi, direte voi.

Eggià. Un paio di metodi che uso di solito per riprendermi sono uno il riconoscere il puro e semplice fatto di essere vivi, in salute (chi più o chi meno) e di avere l’immensa fortuna di poter scegliere la nostra vita come vogliamo che sia, ogni santo giorno.
Nonostante tutte le scuse che si possono trovare, siamo sempre in grado di cambiare le nostre vite; abbiamo questa fortuna.

Il secondo metodo, sta nel riconoscere la bellezza nel mondo che ci circonda; non c’è niente di più gratificante nell’avere la fortuna di essere vivi e di poterci godere le piccole cose che la vita ci regala ogni giorno.
La lista è infinita. Si può iniziare dall’affetto dei famigliari, l’amicizia ed il supporto delle persone care; si può poi proseguire su argomenti più ampi come la possibilità di poter annusare i profumi.
L’infinito piacere che ci provoca sentire un odore che ci piace e che ci ricorda emozioni provate.
Il piacere della vista e dell’impatto che i colori hanno nel nella nostra vita; la fortuna di poter ammirare un paesaggio, le persone o solamente un albero accarezzato dal vento.
La musica….
La poesia e la bellezza, sono  ovunque attorno a noi.
Ci sono diverse cose che prendiamo per scontato ogni giorno e che invece possiamo usare come punto d’appiglio per ricordare a noi stessi di quanto la vita, in se, sia meravigliosa.

Quindi….happy HAPPY PEOPLE DAY, in caso anche voi stiate fondamentalmente riconoscendo il fatto di vivere un’esistenza felice.
Happy People Day, vuole essere un’ode a chi non si ferma all’apparenza delle cose ma a chi decide di dare un’occhiata a quello che di profondo e veramente importante ci viene regalato ogni santo giorno, quando ci svegliamo al mattino: la possibilità di vivere la nostra vita come desideriamo.

Happy Happy People Day !!