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- An excellent product
Used them for a 2600 mile trip round the Rockies, Yamaha WR250R. They took lots of abuse, never leaked and worked very well. The inner bags are hopeless in that they are too stiff and the wrong shape. Still working on attaching them but it may be that they need a frame specifically to suit them, I have modified wolfman frames.
I picked up a set of these while getting my girlfriend's new bike ready to join my Tiger on some adventures, now I'm envious! These are dramatically lighter than metal boxes and just as practical - really good kit that I wouldn't hesitate to recommend to anyone.
Works well and seems to hold up well 2,000 miles approximatley. Ive dropped the bike a few times with them on and no tears or even worn places on fabric.
Bags are very water resistant and with the dry bags inside no worries at all even when washing off bike and bags at carwash. It is a bit of a pain to get all the mud off of the bags where the tire tends to sling mud up. Could probably mount a thin piece of plastic to act as a mud guard to solve the problem.
I ordered the locking cables as well. They work but it is a very thin cable that could be cut through with ease. Then again they do work for what they are intended for which is to allow me to go in to eat or pay for gas with a little bit of peace of mind.
The only real gripe I have is the straps really don't have a good way to secure the extra length after you tighten them down which leads to straps flapping in the wind and beginning to fray. Also the smaller straps are a real pain to tighten or loosen.
Overall though I'm very satisfied with the purchase. Beats the hell out of hard panniers for offroading but still lockable to keep honest people honest.
- Going soft: Less is more and size does matter!
So why have we gone soft in our old age when aluminium panniers would have prevented the aforementioned pannier explosion? A few good reasons really. Allow me to explain, not without gusto. During extensive research around the best bags on the market for our evolving needs, one can’t help but come across Walter Colebatch, world motorcyclist explorer who errs on finding hardcore routes in remote wildernesses. Pioneering the British-made Magadan MK2s with the one-stop motorcycle shop Adventure-Spec, he employed an impressive material that hits the jackpot for being waterproof, slash-proof and abrasion resistant, and with which the finished article can be made secure. Certainly checked a lot of my boxes from the outset—hoping they would stay ticked on the road.
Walter Colebatch’s motivations:
“Most of you know the idea…Hard boxes are clearly not suited to the type of travel I am doing. The more off road your travels are, the more you need soft luggage rather than hard luggage. But existing soft luggage doesn’t do the job. No one in the soft luggage business seems to know what adventure travellers actually need when it comes to transcontinental or RTW journeys. In my experience, the bags of canvas are not water resistant, nor are they abrasion resistant, and they have no security. Plastic roll bags are too small, not low enough, have little to no abrasion resistance and no security. Having tried pretty much everything out there and still frustrated by the shortage of features, I decided to build a set for myself.”
Installation and customer service
The install was speedy, straightforward and executed without a trace of fuss. The bags slotted onto the rack previously used for my hard panniers (usefully keeping the bags safely away from the side panels, wheels and exhaust), with Velcro top straps to support them over the rear seat of the bike. (The bags are designed to work with any traditional 'hooped' racks such as those from Metal Mule units or Touratech, although the bags can accommodate many other brands of racks for hard luggage: suitable if the bars on which the boxes rest are flat, you should be fine. If in doubt enquire via email with a picture and Adventure-Spec will confirm.)
Stabilising each of the bags with a tension strap (not included) stops any shifting, flapping or sagging while riding. Pleased with the fit and finish, the panniers looked fit-for-purpose in preparation to transport our equipment on the second leg of our two-wheel jaunt to the top of the planet. Should anything wear out, it’s good to know that field serviceability can be undertaken if the buckles get damaged. Alternatively, replacements can be ordered and shipped, or company repairs made. Firsthand experience shows that Adventure-Spec willingly ship internationally where the after-sales service has always been managed efficiently and effectively.
Weight and sanity: a positive correlation
Despite the many and valid arguments for hard panniers, the pair of us have grown weary of pumping iron on a gruelling basis to keep up with the muscle mass required in picking up the GSs. Instead–and swopping the bikes for lighter models will be the next natural step in the process–Jason and I agreed that it was high time we shaved a load off. Struggling with 530lb (240 kilograms) of F800GS laden with luggage and marginally less on mine, an F650GS: enough to give anyone a hernia and a joyless endeavour at altitude, in sand, on cambers, and let’s face it, wherever when the bike topples. Simply, when off road the saddlebags come into their own.
Like any luggage, backpack, motorcycling suits and other performance apparel or military wear worth its salt, the incorporation of Cordura will be present. Known for its durability and resistance to abrasion, tearing and scuffing, its reputation precedes it. Where my current motorcycle suit enjoys 500 denier Cordura, the Magadans boast 1000 denier. Coupled with Kevlar / Twaron fabric makes them twice as thick and myriad times as strong respectively—their integrity would doubtless be unaffected if not practically immune in sliding down the highway. Perhaps the toughest solution on the market with regards to an endless supply of ruggedness and longevity. The straps on the MK2s have been redesigned and the buckles are supersized, giving further peace of mind to the bag’s endurance over a long life span.
Many might disagree but for me, the larger hard panniers promote over-packing and place unnecessary strain on my bike’s stock suspension. The 35-litre capacity of the saddlebags may have forced me to take less—sure, I’ve had to be strategic in my travel ensemble—but at least they alleviate the stress of having to art-precision pack each day with the volume I was carrying before. Always a joyless endeavour. Thoughtful details added include two outside adjustable pockets on the front and same on the back of the expandable bags: ideal for carrying a 24oz bottle / flask in the former and smaller items such as hat, winter or summer riding gloves, neck buff, batteries, charger and a multi-tool in the latter.
The transitional period
Some people enjoy the sizable 45-litre pannier system, others don’t need side luggage at all and somehow manage to stow everything on the back. That’s different riders and riding disciplines for you. As someone that’s somewhere in the middle—I’m not down to the clothes on my back just yet although perhaps err on the off road routes more than the asphalt.
Consequently we underwent a significant overhaul of our gear after 20-months on the road, we replenished if not refreshed virtually everything; most of which had expired after nearly two-year’s constant usage. If not battered to oblivion, courtesy of the vibrations from uneven road surfaces against 2mm-thick aluminium through 17 countries and over thousands of miles. Great! It only took us 608 days to learn those ‘hard’ lessons on the road.
In keeping with ‘Less is more and size does matter’ and congruent to Walter’s logic “The bigger the bags are, the more weight you can get down low, and the smaller your back bag needs to be”—we swopped a 90-litre roll bag for a 60-litre one. The resultant outcome hasn’t resulted in forfeiting anything we actually need but indeed, oodles that I wanted. Suck it up, buttercup.
Having made some inroads into hurling as much abuse as possible at the MK2s over the last 5-months, they’ve been subjected to wear and tear on an almost daily basis. Riding all day in the saddle through cactus-laden desert in California, up to 7,000 feet in Arizona’s mountainous regions, through the Canyonlands of Utah and into the ice-cold climes of Colorado. A month on the Baja Peninsula’s trails in dry, sand- and wind-blasting conditions, through Kanab’s sleeting snow and downpours that froze on impact to Flagstaff, as far north as Alaska. Put further through their paces in: Death Valley’s thick gravelly washes and over skull-jarring corrugations, where the bags remained unaffected in temperatures from below freezing through BC and Yukon in Canada’s springtime to a searing 103F at Furnace Creek, concluded my initial appraisal. So far, so very good.
Without question, the MK2s have effortlessly weather-sealed our belongings. Period. And no gnawing doubt ever surfaced on the emergence of heavy downpours or water crossings. (That said, I still kept everything inside free of moisture in dry bags.) Two removable, heavy-duty buttercup yellow dry bag liners (included) give rise to the aforementioned peace of mind. Sealed at the opening with industrial-strength Velcro, and rolled down a couple of times, my belongings protected inside remain as waterproofed and dust-free as they did in the former foam rubber-lined boxes. It’s a joy to report that the weatherproofing of the saddlebags continues to perform admirably after hours of rain lashing down on them, leaving our contents bone-dry and sanity levels intact.
Perhaps the biggest challenge of all: security of soft luggage. Where most saddlebag solutions are lacking in deterring the odd opportunist, the Magadan MK2s are lockable. Employing devices such as the Pacsafe Wrapsafe Anti-theft Adjustable Cable Lock or Lifeventure Sliding Cable Lock (neither included) for instance, not only secures the bags but locks the bags to the luggage rack as well. The cable subtly routes through various heavy-duty loops on the front and back, firmly holding it to the bag, giving rise to Walter’s intended solution of “the first motorcycle soft bags that actually offer some sort of security and lockability.” However, a determined enough thief might still get in them, but I think the right implement in the hands of the wrong person, they could do the exact same with hard panniers too.
Likely the cable locking system is enough to deter most unsavoury types out there, but what’s to stop them gliding a knife into the hot butter of your contents? The bags are also slash-proof. An internal wire mesh was brought into consideration during the R&D process, although sandwiching a layer of Kevlar / Twaron into the construction was actually incorporated. Remarkably challenging to cut, the same materials are used in UK police officer’s stab-proof and bulletproof vests where the resultant puncture resistance further heightens the robustness of the bags.
Living with the panniers
The dry bag liner’s vibrant colour facilitates easy access to stuff, as opposed to rummaging in a black one for instance. Ideal when you need to grab something quickly on the road, add a layer or remove one. The liner can be removed easily and taken into your accommodation without any fuss; heaven sent as opposed to dragging a water-logged bag dripping with mud into your tent or hotel. Dependent on how full-to-capacity the bag liner is, for me, it’s easier to slide it into the saddlebag first, and then load up with my luggage items.
My inner-hoarder that was previously carrying excessive clothing, toiletries and a small library (having resisted becoming a Kindle convert) is now a glorious thing of the past. I’ve had to be mindful in my packing by stashing the breakables in my tank bag or the roll bag on the back; a red wine explosion, toothpaste rupture or cracked laptop when the bike tips over would be about as fun as a funeral. Padded organisers, lightweight garment mesh bags and thin dry bags (with terrific tear-strength) have proved priceless; the alternative being to rummage for the needle-in-a-big-inner-bag haystack.
In the event of a low-speed “offy” or on crash impact, my legs are far less likely to buckle under the hammering of saddlebags falling on top of them. While the width and sturdiness of hard boxes can save damage to the motorcycle and harm to the limbs—having trapped my legs beneath hard panniers and jumping back in the saddle unscathed—I’ve known several unfortunate individuals whose legs have come a cropper and been crushed because of the way they’ve fallen beneath their bike’s metal panniers.
I’m free of worrying about whether my side luggage has sufficient flex to facilitate the absorption of energy created from the bike hitting the ground to the pannier. Namely the softness of saddlebags affords an easy transfer of energy from any crash impact to be absorbed by the bags, rather than something else. A cracked sub-frame for instance. Hence, the deadening vibration is far better managed through the bags, no longer killing my electronics over washboard corrugations to boot. I’ve also escaped the hassle of field repairs in bashing out any dents and dings with brute force: as incurred fairly frequently throughout the gravel roads of South America—leaving one of them no longer rainproof.
Moreover, neither do rocks, stones, poles and anything else with the potential to catch on the flat front face of hard panniers overly concern me. The MK2s are far less likely to throw my motorcycle and me off course, nor break away from the rack. Neither is there any stress incurred over destroying the metal brackets or bending if not breaking the affixing screws as I don’t have any. Coupled with the laminated and embroidered reflective detailing on the front and sides that project excellent visibility at night in the oncoming headlights, further add to the saddlebags’ protection from danger, risk or injury.
Over 8,000 miles of: washboard corrugations, gravel, sand, dirt, mud and water crossings, the MK2s are sensational. They perform effectively in snow and ice as they do in the blistering heat, at 7,000 feet or -282 below sea level. I appreciate their Herculean strength, simple operation and weatherproofing; they do exactly what soft panniers are supposed to do.
Granted, while I’ve yet to test the luggage system’s adventure-proof qualities over a period of years, there’s no denying: they are significantly lighter, which is jubilant for us and even more joyful on the bikes’ suspensions. Ultimately, they make a lot more sense off road, not just because of shaved weight but for anywhere that involves: squeezing through tight spaces, negotiating the bike around and in between trees, down a narrow trail or brushing up against something that could fetch me off. Lane splitting is a joyful proposition, when it’s legal, not to mention the enjoyment brought by greater cornering clearance on the road.
The MK2s are practical, not pretty. Yet they’re fully featured and robust to the extreme where a strong sneaking suspicion tells me these bad boys are built for the long haul. Perfect for wilderness-seeking motorcyclists, I'd unreservedly recommend the bags to anyone wanting soft luggage and value for money from their hard-earned moolah. Experience of the panniers has already shown me that they are the SAS of soft luggage, impervious to the elements and contents within which are easily accessible on the roadside. Coupled with an affordable price tag, makes for a glorious set of credentials. And let’s face it, for serious off road use you’re never going to wish for heavier luggage.
• Exceptionally well suited to uneven terrain with phenomenal performance off road.
• Superb construction and materials throughout.
• 100 per cent weather-sealed.
• Competitively priced and more affordable on average than metal luggage.
• Shock absorbent on a crash impact.
• Noticeably lighter than hard luggage.
• Affix well to the motorcycle.
• Rectangular block shape with low profile maximises stowing capacity.
• Less secure than hard luggage.
• One set of panniers: 4.35kg
• Width 200mm x Length 360mm x Height (variable) 360mm.
• The two pockets on the bags are as follows:
- Pocket 1 circumference : 440mm with an attachment strip of 130mm and a top flap.
- Pocket 2 circumference: 290mm with an attachment strip of 90mm and no top flap.
- Great bags
I bought these bags for a trip from the UK to Tajikistan and back, I covered around 25,000Km. The bags were great and handled multiple offs without an issue. They are fully waterproof and nothing ever got wet with days sat in the rain or various river crossings! I also did a quick trip to Morocco with them where they took a beating! Sure its an expensive product but I expect them to last me a long long time! Recommended!
- A well thought out excellent product I recommend.
I have just got back from my first long weekend camping trip using the Magadan panniers and I rate them very highly. Initial set up on the bike takes a while as you need to thread the tie straps around the luggage rack frame and position the buckle system but once this is done they are all set to go. They are very easy to use and pack with the roll top design and the updated yellow inner dry bag eliminates the "black hole" of black liners when you are looking for items.
The size is perfect and they hold everything I normally get in my origional BMW R100 hard plastic cases and a bit more if you extend the tops right up to one roll before closing.
I was tossing up buying aloy cases and Imwent along to see Lyndon Poskitt's talk on his world travels where he had Basil his bike on display with the Magadan panniers fitted this, along with my friend having bad ankle injury when his foot got caught under his alloy pannier made my mind up to go with the soft bag option.
- Very good bags!
I've had these bags for a couple of years now and I have been very impressed. They are BOMBPROOF. Dump the bike? no worries about the bags, Hit some trees and or a barb wire fence? What evs.... I can say the Magadans are more reliable than my bike. It is one thing I don't worry about when traveling. I know these things are stout. I travel and commute with my 690 Enduro so the bags get used on a daily basis. That means hauling things I need for the road on a trip or just getting random stuff from the grocery store on the way home from work. They are also designed from the ground up as a dual sport/ADV product and this shows when you go to use them. There are pockets for things used often and security for your valuables that you may only need a couple of times a day.
- Very robust stuff
High satisfaction in cold and rainy Scotland. Everything remains dry. I called them "no care panniers" after I saw other rider checking his plastic cases over and over. GOOD Work!!! Little cons: Free strap ends tend to fly so I roll and fix them to bag.
- For me, the best softs out there
It’s no secret I was a fan of the Mk1 Mags which I regretted selling with my bike last year. The Mk IIs have addressed the one flaw I mentioned about attachment points on the lower corners. The metal rings look thin, but better they bend off than the fabric rips. I’ve just done a London to Scotland trip with my loaded Mag IIs. Not a hardcore test (that comes later) but enough to sign off the newer versions as near perfect for my needs. Heavy downpours over the border - all was dry, as expected. Best of all I like the big outer pockets - so handy to get to stuff without disturbing the main bag.
The new attach rings mean a secure fitting for a regular road ride without the need the full cross strap set up. Other than that, it’s just a chunky, big-capacity throwover saddle bag. The velcro seat straps I’m warming to for adjustability. The new logo is cryptic enough and anyway, will soon lose its ice-white glow. I agree with Casper the inners feel a bit chunky but they will soften up and will last. I prefer to haul them out and leave the outers attached most of the time, so chunky is better. A lighter colour (like Kriega) is a great idea, though.
Too expensive? Afaik not compared to what else is out there at the same quality and volume. For a travel bike your baggage system is as key as a hiker’s backpack and will have the same rough use daily. I feel the simple but functional Mag IIs are up to it. Hats off to A Spec and Walter C.
- Too expensive for the what one get.
I was supposed to be a soft luggage convert, but I am not sure that the Magadan mk2. is the product which will make that happen.
***Adventure Spec Comments***
This product have a number of issues which makes it very difficult to like them:
- the "small" outside pockets will only take an 1.5 liter bottle and smaller, in many places water somes in 0.5, 1.0 and 2.0 liter bottles, and 2l being the cheapest.
***The outer pockets were designed for fuel bottles (usually upto 1.5 Litres as shown in the sales images) or smaller personal water bottles***
- the bags a closed with velcro, the issue with this is that they have decided to place the velcro so that when opened the "active" part of the velcro faced outside. If one is wearing a synthetic shirt that will be ripped to pieces it it touches the velco.
***Understood and a good point, I will pass the information onto Walter***
- I personally feel that at that price the logo should not be bigger than a dime (I'm not interested in doing free advertisement).
***There isn't much we can say about this as it is very much personal preference, some poeple love the logo!***
- the outer fabric might survive a fall on dirt, but not on asphalt, after a very low speed spill a few weeks ago mine now have random holes in the outer skin.
***There is very little fabric that withstand the weight of a 200+kg bike sliding down tarmac on top of it, But, we note that the sandwiched inner stab/slash proof layer remained intact***
- the inner bags are made of too thick material, and they are "black" which really helps when one have to find things in them - too cumbersome to use - to replace them with either Ortlieb or Sea To Summit bags is the only solution (additional cost)
***A personal obeservation, I use the bags myself and don't find these thngs a problem, but again I will pass the information onto Waler***
- at the price the over the seat straps could have been made in a more useful fashion....
***Please let us know more about what you mean by 'useful' for example, how do they not function how you would like?***
- one have to purchase at additional cost one (horizontal) and possible (vertical) straps to keep them in place on the bike.
***True. We could add the straps and increase the pirce of the bags, but many people already have starps and don't want to be forced to buy more***
- the straps over the seat could have been better thought through ...
***As above, please let us know more about what you mean by 'useful' for example, how do they not function how you would like?***
All in all there is nothing wrong with the bags, but at this price range there is everything wrong with them.