Panniers on the new Z1000 SX
Before I bought my Z1000 SX in May I had never stopped for a moment to think about buying a bike with a luggage system as standard.
The practicalities of a hard bodied pannier system had never been on my list of priorities at all.
In fact practicality and bikes were not two words that I ever really associated with each other. Having now bought and used the Z1000 with its hard bodied luggage I thought I’d write something about how I got to that decision and what they are like to use in practice. It’s not like I have never had the need to carry luggage on my bike(s) – I do and apart from numerous weekend trips in the UK I’ve now done around 13 or 14 European trips.
My first trip into Europe was to the Moto GP at Le Mans in 2003 and I made that trip using just a backpack (and not a very good one at that). It didn’t take me long (about all of 30 minutes) to realise that it wasn’t going to be the most comfortable way of taking the bits and pieces I needed for a five-day trip, there is nothing quite like experience for pointing the way!
Subsequent trips saw me using a Kriega backpack and tailpacks, sometimes on their own or sometimes a combination of both . To be fair I really rate Kriega luggage and it did me for many trips and many thousands of miles. I have traveled across Europe on a variety of bikes that have included a couple of GSX-R 600s; GSX-R 750; GSX-R 1000; Honda Fireblade and Honda CB1000R.
You would hardly put any of those into the sports/tourer class, but to be honest I found them fantastic for my trips and apart from the first trip in 2003 never really had any problems with the luggage … but as good as the Kriega gear is it just isn’t quite as convenient or quick to take off the bike at the end of the day or to fit to the bike when leaving for the next destination as you might like it to be.
My only previous and fleeting brush with panniers was when a friend lent me his soft Oxford pannier luggage to use on a planned 4,000 mile trip across Europe – but after a trial fitting in my garage I couldn’t get them to sit/hang right on my 2008 GSX-R 1000 and just didn’t feel confident that they were as secure as I thought they should be – so it was back to the Kriega for that trip.
Prior to the Z1000 I had made the move to hard luggage on my CB1000R. After being shunted from the rear and coming off on the A55 in Italy in 2011 one of my Kriega tail packs had been damaged – it was still usable but a hole scorched through it as it slid along the tarmac had seen off its waterproof integrity. This meant I needed some sort of replacement for the next road trip.
My solution was to go for a Shad ‘sport rack’ and 37 litre box – maybe not the most elegant of solutions (in fact friends referred to it as ‘the shit-box’) but in a way it was OK and it was certainly an eye opener for me in terms of practicality.
Changing to the Z1000 SX was motivated by a couple of things really. Firstly it was just sort of time for a change and I was looking for something that wasn’t as full on as superbike but that had performance on tap to ‘enjoy myself’ AND at the same time offer me similar levels of comfort to my CB1000 BUT with more wind protection than my naked CB1000.
Secondly I’m off on another solo trip next year and wanted something that was as suitable as possible for plenty of miles combined with easy carrying of my gear.
The Z1000 ticked the boxes and I was more than taken with the luggage system on the 2014 model. I have used it a couple of times the first on a short trip to Cumbria and the Lakes and then in July when I covered a couple of thousand miles in Germany.
So what are they like in practice.
Well the official words from the Kawasaki web site describe them as integrated panniers that offer increased touring potential … and a revised mounting system that ensures the Z1000’s sporty looks are maintained when the panniers are removed.
And do you know what – I agree 100% with those words. They are an absolute breeze to take on and off the bike with locks that secure them on the bike and that allow them to be opened and closed all using the same key (the ignition key).
They are a decent size and can hold 56 litres of luggage. I was a little concerned at first about the width of them and what that might mean when it comes to filtering through traffic. In use you just don’t notice they are there and in terms of width they are only really a shade wider than the mirrors so it really isn’t an issue at all.
I have read some articles commenting on their lack of practicality due to the shape, but to be honest I haven’t found that an issue at all – I think it’s more to do with how you go about packing them. Each pannier comes with a Kawasaki branded nylon bag – shaped to fit neatly inside. They come with shoulder straps and carry handles and the pannier has a sort of interlocking elastic fastener to hold them in place.
I removed the shoulder straps as I found they just got in the way when packing into the hard body of the pannier and I’ve found the elastic straps to be an unnecessary waste of time and so don’t use them.
I’ve got a couple of other smaller bags that I use for holding the inevitable chargers and cables for phone, cameras etc and also for bits and pieces and I have found that they allow you to make full use of the space inside the panniers.
The nylon inner bags can actually hold loads and have plenty of room for clothing and to make best use of the rest of the space I’ve used the small bags in one of the panniers (see pictures below) and shoved my waterproofs, maps and anything else I might need quick access to in the other.
Some of the pictures show the panniers complete with an odd selection of contents … don’t ask me why it’s just what was to hand!
And as for the important question/consideration of will they keep my kit dry … well after a mornings torrential rain on the way to the tunnel and across Germany I can certainly vouch that they are waterproof – no problems at all with that.
They are really easy to put on and take off – and some sensible packing for the journey home meant I could simply lift out an overnight bag and leave the panniers secured to the bike for the overnight crossing from Zeebrugge to Hull and no messing about having to lug gear up the and down the stairs on the ferry home … that wasn’t always the case in previous years.
The only thing I might change for my solo trip next year is that I will probably take the seat cowl off, put the rear seat back on and strap a small Kriega (US10) to it and use that for my waterproofs – other than that it’s top marks from me for the luggage system on the 2014 Z1000 SX.
This book might be worth a look at, its one I wrote after traveling around 5,000 miles on a European trip on the Z1000S. The book is called What if You Dont Break Down? and is available on Amazon and by clicking this link
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