Is soft better than hard?

[ Thursday - August 25, 2016 ]

So the question is asked.  Is soft (luggage) better than hard (luggage)?  As was mentioned on the BC, NV trip, I regretted using the panniers mid way through the trip.  This was mostly because the panniers are heavy and big.  Causing drag.  I've been planning on getting saddle bags instead of using the panniers.  Yes there are negatives to using soft bags instead of hard panniers.

One such consideration is there is no real way to lock bags.  Additionally, if a vandal wants to, they can slash the bags to get a the content.  The positive to the bags are: they're lighter and can collapse in side.  Oh the trade spaces.  In the end I decided to go for saddle bags for the versatility.  Oh and the other negative to panniers... you have to hammer than back out if the bike falls on them.   In the case of the soft case, the content needs to be packed in small hard cases if the content needs crush protection.  Other than that, no pounding out is needed.  I remembered that with my 8GS panniers when I dropped the bike on the trail.  Bang! Bang!  what a pain.

I notice that BMW came out with a set of their own soft saddle bags.  Atacama luggage system created by Mosko Moto.  It's nice an all, but it's a bit rich for my blood.  Plus I'm not that desperate to have BMW on my luggage.  I like the brand but I'm not that much of a fanboy.


So what did I do?  I went for a set of these instead.

At $500 shipped, it's much more economical.  Plus I know it will work with my TouraTech pannier rack.  It's a maximum of 30L but it can compress down to a smaller size.  There's a liner inside to keeps things dry.

[ Update: Thursday - Sept 1 ]

So I got the bags, figured out how to mount them on the Touratech rack and went for a commute ride test.  What is the result?


With the bags on, I can definitely feel a little bit of drag on acceleration.  It's ever so slight.  Once the monster is at speed, I don't notice the bags at all.  Because the bags are so light, I don't feel any weight changes and don't have to adjust the suspension at all.  Additionally, the bags don't stick out beyond the cylinder head engine guard so it's perfect for splitting.  The exhaust side sticks out farther than the swing arms side, so there is no need to consider the swing arm bag extrusion.

In terms of having the bags messing with the bike's mileage... here's the proof.

Without the bags.

With the bags.

It's a whole .9 miles per gallon difference.  That's a nit of a difference.  As a point of reference, when I put the Touratech panniers on, the fuel economy normally drops down into the 41-42 miles per gallon.  I'm sure it has to do with the weight and also the size of the pannier sticking out the sides to catch like a sail.  I'm impressed and I like this.  So I'll use the soft bags on the next trip.    In this way I'm ensured to have the necessary load capacity without killing the mileage.

I'm still going to take the bags off for the commute.  I like the zippiness.

Written on: August 25, 2016
Last modified: September 1, 2016