Field-tested: Aerostich Competition Tank Panniers
As a location independent moto-traveller that’s ridden from the planet’s bottom to the top, I’m all about light and tight. Particularly as a female rider at 115-pounds, I loathe the idea of a full-size luggage system comprising three 45-liter boxes on the back. Why? Because given half the chance I’d fill it! About as fun as leprosy upon picking my own bike up. Having honed a ‘less is more’ streamlined approach to packing over the last four years on the road, coupled with a mounting desire to ride more dirt, I was curious to field-test Aerostich’s tank panniers. Ideal for those where load and weight distribution rules all.
Living with the panniers
Installation was speedy and straightforward. No crash bars required, the black bags (also available in hi-vis and a roomier 8.8-liters), at the more compact 6.6-liters, slotted over the gas tank without an ounce of fuss. Stabilizing each of the bags upon neoprene pads with a sturdy hook and loop webbing strap, stops any shifting, flapping or sagging while riding. (Keeping the paint job pristine to boot.) All made nice and taut by adjustable bungee cords for optimum fitment, the panniers articulate well astride the bike. Double duty, they also offer up some protection for your legs in windy conditions and the gas tank itself.
While there’s still sufficient space for a tank bag, function meets performance. The convenience of immediate access to anything you don’t wish to rummage for in your main luggage, without even getting off your steed, is biking bliss. In fact, each bag will accommodate absolutely anything up to 12×7.5×4.5 inches. Although I’ll add, items that you don’t mind making contact with the ground should you drop your bike. Or getting wet unless a dry bag (not included) is used. Mine are used predominantly as a grocery getter although there’s available room in which I can also stow another pair of riding gloves, a hat and mid layer, spare bungee cords, visor cleaner and a microfiber lint cloth.
Thoughtful details added include outside pockets I use for pens, spare ziplock bags and a shopping tote. There’s a storm flap over the zippers, web straps for attaching further items and reflective accents to enhance visibility at night. Although there are cheaper solutions on the market, I’m not confident that they would possess the same fit and finish, nor standard of construction employed and 1000 Denier Cordura nylon, which to my mind really showcase the experience that have gone into them. Undoubtedly, the panniers are practical, not pretty. Nor stylish but they are resilient.
Over a year-long assessment, just about all weathers have had the nonstop pleasure of hurling abuse at the panniers through North America. Impervious to the elements, they perform effectively in cold and ice as they do in the blazing hot sunshine. Despite multiple slow speed crashes, they bear no tears or scuff-marks. Surprisingly, they look like new to this day thanks to the durability and their resistance to abrasion—leaving the integrity of the bags unaffected and intact.
Undeniably, they err on the gaucho more than macho but because they’re built simply with endless supplies of endurance, I don’t doubt they’ll be part of my luggage ensemble for many years to come. Unreservedly, I’d recommend the bags to any rider seeking a highly serviceable addition for their cargo. And let’s face it, when I’m throwing the DR around off-road, I’m never going to wish for an overladen bike dragging me down and holding me back. Those days are gone.
- Simple design and operation.
- Herculean strength in construction and materials throughout.
- Keeps cargo low and distributes weight to the front.
- Lifts strain off the bike’s rear suspension.
- Easily accessible to grab/ditch something quickly.
- Less of a good fit astride the bigger adventure motorcycles equipped with heavy-duty crash bars.