Touratech Zega Pro Pannier System Test
Not a single person within 50 miles, and there’s my V-Strom, seat-high in water.
The car-sized puddle appeared shallow, but midway through the Suzuki DL1000 and I began sinking.
I cranked the throttle in hope of obtaining traction, but the Kenda Big Block tires wouldn’t bite, the puddle turning into a soupy black mix of mud. In seconds the entire rear of the bike was under water, including the side bags that were loaded with top-dollar electronics.
Thankfully I had added the Touratech Zega Pro Pannier System to my V-Strom build. The system’s leak-proof design helped save about $3000 worth of camera and computer equipment. The only dilemma I had? Not being able to grab such a devastating shot of my bike as it sat engulfed by this mammoth puddle.
This proved Touratech’s word that the aluminum panniers are 100-percent leak proof, even if submerged in water for almost 10 minutes as my bike was during the above incident. The secret to this waterproof security is a deep grove around the lid that is lined with a silicone seal, which not only keeps water out, but also dust and moisture.
And it seals air tight; when you unlatch the lids after a ride, you can hear that air-suction sound. This noise was a comforting sound multiple times, especially after long tours in the rain.
But though the Zega Pro luggage system’s lids secure tightly, it’s not a task to close them due to the easy-to-operate spring-loaded latches. These latches, which can be upgraded with key locks for secure storage, also have a dual-function design.
Want to grab something quick? Just unlatch one side of the Zega Pro and open the lid as the other latch acts as a hinge. Need to tightly pack or unpack the bags? Unlatch both sides and completely remove the lid.
The latter is crucial due to the many purposes these lids have for the adventure motorcyclist. To name a few, I’ve used the lids for a tool organizer when broken down, a tray for camping purposes, a seat while fishing on a muddy bank, a shelf on a tree for tri-pod purposes, and as a lever to unwedge my rear tire that was stuck between a tree and a rut. The lids also feature an indentation in the middle that is a perfect holder for a 12-ounce beverage.
The panniers themselves also assist with many things besides storage. While on tours I’ve used them to prop up the Strom when changing a tire or performing emergency maintenance. An empty pannier also has many purposes around the campsite, including collecting firewood or a storage place to keep food from not smelling too good to outdoor creatures.
And regardless of what abuse you put the Zega Pro Pannier System through, the lids and panniers remain sturdy. This strength arrives from the use of 1.5mm aluminum with a construction of welds and stainless steel rivets. The lid and side bags are durable, but flexible enough that when you do dent them, you can easily pound them out to the original shape.
This reshaping process quickly becomes an art. While riding back to Seattle from the Pacific Northwest Rally this past spring, I got a pinch flat on the KTM 950 Rally I “borrowed” from Touratech-USA. While changing the flat, I used Touratech-USA’s General Manager Paul Guillien’s Zega pannier lid to hold some tools, but forgot to latch it down before getting back on the road.
Seconds later the lid popped into the air, bouncing along the road. It got all mangled, but Guillien quickly fixed it with a flat rock. At the time, Guillien was using an older Zega bag. This type of incident won’t happen while using the new Zega Pro panniers, though; the Zega Pros feature a thin aluminum wire that attaches the lid to the bags via an easily removable plastic grommet. Sure, it’ll fly off if you forget to latch the lid (as I did…twice), but the cable prevents it from bouncing down the road and possibly becoming a hazard for you, your fellow riders or other motorists. The wire is also short enough that if the lid does fly off, it won’t get stuck in a tire or chain.
For further protection against the inevitable fly off, or those trees and rocks that seem to suddenly appear out of nowhere, the Zega Pro hard cases feature replaceable plastic protection on all eight corners, the most vulnerable parts of the cases. These corner pieces are also available in a wide variety of colors to match your motorcycle.
The Zega Pros mount to the bike via a steel-tube “hoop” that’s attached to the bike’s rear subframe. The easy-to-install mounting rack, which is created of 2mm steel, provides a minimal look when the bags aren’t used, and also acts as rear crash bars. The mounting system features a cross-brace that bolts directly to the motorcycle’s subframe, allowing luggage weight to evenly distribute onto the chassis.
Attaching the bags to the mounting racks is simple. The back of the bags feature two bottom and two top mounting brackets. Position the lower ones into the bottom of the mounting-bracket loop, and push the bags down and rearward into place. Next, flip the steel latches contained on the upper brackets up and over the top part of the mounting-bracket loop, line up the latches with their corresponding grooves, and twist a huge dial inside the bags to tighten the panniers into place. This process can be completed in a few seconds.
The Zega Pro panniers are available in three sizes – 31, 38 or 45 liters. I have the 38-liter bags, which have more than enough room for my gear (note…a helmet doesn’t fit). And if you can’t cram everything inside, the lids feature low-profile anchor loops, which allow you to strap various items to the top of the lid.
As for measurements, the 38-liter bags are 17-inches long, 15.5-inches high and 9.75 inches wide. And regarding style, the bags are available in three finishes: bare aluminum, anodized silver or anodized black (pictured above).
I’ve used many aftermarket adventure luggage systems, and nothing comes close to the durability and waterproofing of the Zega Pro Pannier System. I plan on using these for the rest of my life, considering the panniers are universal to any Zega mounting bracket. Buy a new bike? Just pick up new mounting brackets and use the same bags.
The entire setup (panniers, mounting system) will set you back about $1280, but this is well worth the price, especially when you see your bike underwater with around $3K worth of electronics in the bags.
For additional information, log onto Touratech-USA’s website.
For other stories on the author’s V-Strom build, check out the following: