Well, I’m joining my wife’s family on a summer vacation, but work kept me in town for the first couple of days. I’m leaving Wednesday morning and returning with everyone on Saturday; everyone else left first thing Monday morning. So while I get some work done and get ready for the trip there’s a few things that need attention.
First, loading the panniers is a bit of a nuisance. The cables on the lids only allow them to open about 70 degrees, so they won’t stay open while laying flat on the bed. You have to hold the lid open with one hand and pack with the other – or hold it open with your head and pack with both hands, your choice. I’ll be making some longer cables for the lids. Also, you need to tighten the mounting pucks from the inside. Doing that becomes a little tricky when the pannier is packed full.
Second, once the panniers are on the bike, the front is tilted down. This means that everything inside slides forward while riding, and when you open the panniers the contents will probably succeed in preventing them from being closed without some poking, quickly closing the lid, and eventually some swearing. Longer cables for the lids won’t fix this, I think the fix for this is to have pannier liners or perhaps small stuff sacks. Not sure which just yet, but one or the other is a definite future purchase.
Third, the tankbag is very nice for things like gloves, helmet liners, phone, camera, compact tripod, earplugs, ipod, earbuds, and a cable lock. I’ve got a 12v cigarette lighter socket inside mine, to charge the phone or the ipod. This means I’m not dependent on finding 110v power while on a longer trip. Also, there’s a nice little compartment with a couple of pens in it that can hold gas station receipts for later entry into the record system. I keep close track of gas mileage and maintenance items – they add peace of mind on a long trip as you know that maintenance has been done and also the gas mileage you’ve been seeing. I also have an elastic cargo net if I need to carry additional items on the cargo plate; it can also be used to hold down a waterproof duffel bag for longer trips.
Fourth, I used a Camelback MULE with a 3L bladder to provide drinking water while enroute. On the Goldwing I have a mug on a handlebar mount, so I admit I’m spoiled. The camelback worked very well, and I have zero complaints or issues with it. Definitely worth the price.