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Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Panniers and Tank Bag

With a rare day off work today, I had planned on exersizing my muscles in my home gym but instead ended up giving my soul a workout with some motorcycle maintenance.

I changed the oil on my 250X dirt bike, made some suspension and handling changes and cleaned and lubed the chain. I then re-installed the Givi adapter plate on the VFR... I wasn't happy with the way I had it attached so I repeated the process with some different hardware. Looks much better now.

Right around the time I finished that up, the UPS man rang my doorbell and dropped a big box from David Silver Spares. Remarkable... It only just shipped out of England on Monday.

The box contained my genuine Honda tank bag and panniers plus all the hardware and instructions. I'm very impressed with David Silver. I'll definitely continue buying from them for as long as the exchange rate favours it.

The panniers are superb. They clip to the VFR's mudguard in seconds. They're latched in place and removed by folding the bag handle and they're opened and shut with an additional latch underneath the handle. Everything works very well, fitment is perfect. Somewhat unsurprisingly, the paint finish isn't immaculate like the bike, but these weren't painted in the clinical conditions of the Honda factory. They look great.

The same is true of the tank bag. A cover goes over the centre exposed strip of the gas tank and the bag clips to the cover. I like that the exposed part of the tank is covered because it is painted a very deep glossy black and shows scratches readily. The bag isn't very big, but it looks smart and it's very functional. I'm quite pleased with it so far. Besides, I don't enjoy riding with a bulky tank bag. It lacks a map pocket, but the designers probably figured that the owners of this bike would have a GPS.

It is now quite clear to me that Honda designed the accessories at the same time they designed the bike. Everything just integrates so perfectly. Smart move on their part... They knew what people would use the bike for but they didn't pigeonhole it as a touring bike. That's why I bought it... it is a sport bike and a touring bike. It looks and works well in either role.... as BIKE magazine describes it: "The Definitive Sports Tourer".

The panniers are designed to be "mono-keyed"  to the bike, meaning that they are locked and unlocked with your ignition key. Included with the kit is a semi knock-down lock cylinder and instructions on how to pair it to your key. It comes with several tiny bags of lilliputian lock tumblers and microscopic springs in different varieties. It was a little intimidating at first for someone who doesn't know a sniff about locksmithing. The instructions were good though, and I had the first cylinder banged together in about 10 minutes. The second one took a fraction of the time. As a bonus, I learned something new today: how the hell a lock cylinder works. I'll bet I could also figure out how to pick them now! ... but I promise to only use my powers for good, never evil.

A few photos:

Here is the lock tumbler kit:

This is the base pad for the tank bag. It's anchored at the back to the axle for the tank hinge.

The tankbag mounted:
The tankbag opened:
With included rain cover: (it also includes a shoulder strap so you can carry it around like a metro Euro man-purse)
Easily unclipped and lifted up to allow re-fuelling:

The Definitive Sports Tourer:


  1. I quite like the tank bag and it's one of the accessories that doesn't seem overpriced, but I do like the possibility of being able to put other bags on it so I'm looking at the GIVI tank ring solution. I'll certainly get back on that on my blog on how it works out.

  2. I have gone and purchased a VFR1200 (to complement my 5th gen) and love it. This was based in a large part upon your writings. Also have a GB500 in the garage, so we have similar good taste in motorcycles!

  3. They pair well together. VFR1200 for longer rides, GB for shorter rides. I'm planning on picking up the new Africa Twin when that comes out next year.... which may mean selling the GB.