by Gus Breiland
After you have figured out what you will be riding you start leafing through catalogs and web pages finding the path that this bike will take with you. Some open the performance modification catalogs and check out pipes, billet, jets and nitrous. Some open the chrome catalogs with leather this and carbon fiber that.
For me, the addition of a KLR to my garage meant functional transportation. I wanted my KLR to take me to the ends of the earth and back, or at least work. The first part of functional to me is answering the question “How am I going to carry stuff?.” There are a few items that I need to take to and from work and with no way to carry them I would be reduced to having to drive a car.
Carrying stuff leads me to saddlebags, panniers, bungee cords and duct tape. I chose Moto-Sport Panniers because I liked what I saw in their aluminum cans. Simple, water proof, square and top loading. After talking with my sales rep however, I decided to go with the soft bags. They were less bulky and would give a little while carting the bike in and out of the garage or between cars. Why add one more hard point to a bike.
Soft bags you say? Now I realize that no dual sport rider in their right mind would admit to going “limp” right away. How are you going to get to Belize or Argentina or Duluth without aluminum cans? At minimum I should be trying to weld my own if not milling them out of a giant block of billet. Nonethe-ess, I chose the Yukon II’s.
Cost was a big reason. At a measly base price starting from $375 (uses the existing rack on R100GS/PD) to $485 with most finding themselves in the $450 area. Price is dependant on necessary hardware and the cost is simply one of the best aftermarket prices for bags to haul stuff. I realize that there are cheaper bags, but not of this quality.
The bags are ballistic nylon with an aluminum backing/mounting plate. Top loading for easy access and they come with a set of fitted liners for easy unloading. Unlike some systems, the bags bolt onto the rack with 2 screws and a support “L” channel. Easy enough to remove if necessary but not an instant “quick release” system like other saddlebags on the market. I replaced the liners with a courier bag in each side for some added water resistance and ease of use. Slick, Slick, Slick. Order a second set of liners to prepack them for standard camping needs or long trip essentials.
The bags are coated but not waterproof. This damp spring in Minnesota allowed me to test waterproofness. Is that a letdown for me? No. I expected it and took the necessary precaution of plastic bags and waterproof inserts.
Now back to the Hard vs. Soft. One other nice feature with this “system” is the fact that after you have run with the soft bags for a while and want to enter the world of hardcore adventure touring posing at the local coffee shop you simply order a set of aluminum cans from Moto-Sport Panniers and bolt them onto the very same rack. The choice is in the bag, not the rack, as both the aluminum and nylon share the same frame.
The rack was very easy to install with clear directions in the box. A minor modification to the KLR side panels and I was ready to ride. All in all, it took maybe an hour to install everything.
I would highly recommend a set of Yukon II’s for your commuting rig or your over the road bike. They are roomy and square. They are big enough for the essentials yet not unruly in tight areas. After you have saved up enough money, order a set of aluminum panniers, too and go through the dilemma of hard or soft.
You can reach Moto-Sport Panniers at www.motosportpanniers.com or at (303) 679-9316. They also have a dirt bike set of panniers called Dirt-Bagz for $200 for you lighter dual sporters.