Its taken me a very long time to select panniers, both from the perspective of finding ones I like and finding ones that I think are reasonably priced. I’ve never been a fan of plastic panniers, so from the start I was never going to fit the standard GS plastic oem panniers. The oem GS panniers open to the sides, not the top. The problem with panniers that swing down is that you’ll at some point or another have things fall out, as soon as they’re full its always annoying getting a single thing out only to have a bunch of over stuff fall out. The more clam shelled the pannier the worse, it means up to half the capacity of the pannier will be emptied onto the ground at some point. So I was after panniers that open from the top, and am keen on the alloy look.
I I’ve looked at the Trax panniers from SW-Motech, they look sturdy but the combination of alloy and black powder-coating annoys me a bit, also the mounting rack really looks low quality, it looks like you could ripe one off the bike by hand. Again a black mounting rack would not look groovy with all my silvery stainless looking things. On the up side the Trax panniers were at a decent price.
I like the look of the Touratech panniers mostly, the basic addition without the rounded corners; the loops on the top do look a little funny. Touratech also make a pro series which is closer in appearance to the BMW GS ADV panniers. On the downside the markup on Touratech panniers in Australia is terrible, in some cases we pay more than double for what folks pay in europe, we also pay two thirds to double the price of what they get them for in the US as well. The Touratech panniers do have a better mounting frame, it looks to be pretty close in design to the oem BMW frame. Touratech also stock a frame with and without cut-outs around the exhaust. I did spent many days pondering the appearance of the cut-out pannier and a rack without the cut-out. In the end I decided the cut-out would look nicer, but I still wasn’t overly keen on price.
If I was going to pay top dollar panniers I though I might as well consider looking at the BMW panniers, I do like the look of the alloy Adventure panniers and from what I’ve read they fit the GS as well. I don’t really get why they’re not marked for the GS as well given the smaller F800GS gets alloy panniers as well (while still sporting a small fuel take and no crash bars etc).
After several hours of finding you can only get BMW panniers from a reseller in your country I came across a website that by the looks of it might even build the panniers for BMW, well the GS ADV panniers at least. The Pak Meister panniers look the same as the GS ADV panniers down to the last rivet, the only thing missing is the BMW stamp. The panniers ship all over and extremely cheap at $699-750 USD for a set. You will need to supply your own BMW oem rack tho, they also don’t have the left pannier cut-out.
In the end I’ve decided to go with the standard BMW GS ADV panniers, I’ve also found someone that will ship to me at price that doesn’t involve an Australian Tax, so all round very happy with that, will update once I have the panniers.