The choice of motorcycle panniers on the market is huge. It took me months of research to decide which ones were best for me. I was looking for something that was relatively light, durable, inexpensive and secure. In these categories, none of the available options seemed ideal.
I was about to give up and settle for a very expensive pair of aluminium cases when I came across Pelican Storm panniers (I used iM2600 model), which seemed to match most of my requirements.
Our bike is already under a lot of strain riding two-up, so every single gram counts. When it comes to weight soft bags would be the best option. We had some good previous experience with soft bags but they compromise a lot on security and don’t protect the content, so I ruled them out as our main luggage. We still use them to carry our food and less valuable things.
In this category, Pelican cases seem to be a better option than aluminium. For instance Pelican Storm iM2600 weighs 8 kg, where as Zega Pro 38 litres is approx. 5,2 kg. Every little helps.
Soft bags are made from a strong material that doesn’t break or twist under impact. If they do, it’s extremely easy to fix with just a needle and cotton.
Some people swear by good quality aluminium panniers, but others claim that they are a real pain to keep in the right shape.
Pelicans are made of plastic but are very strong and are steadily gaining a very good reputation amongst motorcyclists. We dropped our bike a couple of times and the boxes were untouched.
Any kind of motorcycle luggage is just an illusion of security. For a determined person with the right tool, it shouldn’t be a problem to break into the pannier, but we want to make it as hard as possible hoping that they will work as a deterrent. Both Pelicans and aluminium boxes are only as good as the locking system used.
A single Pelican Storm iM2600 box from American ebay costs from 83 USD plus delivery and tax (if ordered to Europe). In my opinion that’s a pretty good deal.
Pelican Panniers Cons:
- You lose the lifelong warranty once you drill holes in them.
- They are not specifically designed for motorcyclists, so there’s no specific racking for them.
- The flap opens sideways, not on top as in most panniers, so things can fall out.
The majority of motorcycle travellers use hard aluminium panniers. They became fashionable many years ago and many bikers see them as the only reasonable option. If you don’t mind paying a bit extra, weight is not a worry, and you want to look like Ewan McGregor in The Long Way Round, then maybe aluminium panniers are the right choice for you. Personally I don’t see any advantages of aluminium over good quality, strong plastic boxes, like Pelicans.
Like most things in life, choosing the right type of luggage for long motorcycle travel is a compromise. You can’t have it all. The best you can do is to decide what’s most important for you and go with your instinct. I have and I’m very happy with my Pelicans.