Category: Luggage


The Panniers

StahlKoffer make their panniers in a number of sizes, most of which are far too big for the V7 and would just swamp the bike, so we had decided on their smaller City Koffer range with a pair of 210mm wide panniers. However in conversations with Bernie I became aware that he could make panniers to any dimensions but that there were cost considerations in the amount of aluminium used and the time to program and set up the machinery for cutting, folding and welding the panniers and lids.

Ideally I wanted a slimmer pannier, so as to make filtering and getting through narrow gaps and tracks easier, but which regained the lost capacity by being longer and deeper. I had the idea of having the pannier mountings offset towards the rear of the box so that the pannier would extend over the rear passenger footrest and keep the weight forward. However if the need arose to carry a pillion then the left and right panniers could be swapped over so that they would now extend rearwards and leaving room for the pillion to put their feet comfortably on the footrests.

Deciding on the pannier width

Bernie agreed that it was perfectly do-able but that he would need the exact dimensions and measurements for the positioning of the rear mountings which attach the panniers to the loops on the bikes. The problem was that the one off fabrication would take time which was the one thing that we were rapidly running out of. Another factor was that StahlKoffer also make tailor made inserts for their panniers (Full or two thirds / one third) which make organising the pannier contents and actually getting to the stuff much easier. We had already decided that this was a good idea, so having bespoke ones made to suit our unique panniers was also going to take more time.

In the end we decided to go with his standard 210mm City Koffer panniers so that we would definitely have them in time…..a decision that we may or may not come to regret.

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The Pannier Frames

We decided when we were first talking about the trip that we wanted to go with metal panniers as they are sturdy, weather resistant, and secure. StahlKoffer were considerably cheaper than the alternatives without any noticeable loss of quality, plus are close to home and have a very helpful owner, which always makes things easier.

StahlKoffer panniers do not make a fitting kit to attach their panniers to the Moto Guzzi V7 Classic. Actually very few people make any accessories specifically for them so we are having to adapt a lot of things from other bikes or get things made specially. Bernie from StahlKoffer explained that he could develop a fitting kit for us but that we could probably get it done much cheaper by going to a small engineering business. He provided us with 2 pairs of his pannier loops, unpainted in plain steel, so that we could get brackets made and welded on.

We approached a good friend, Tich, whose main business is wiring vehicles (and motorcycle wiring especially) but who is also a dab hand at fabrication. Tich agreed to do the job for us and so we rode the bikes down to Swindon. After much head scratching and consideration (not to mention plying with alcohol!), he designed and fabricated a fitting system to put the panniers exactly where we wanted them on the bikes. Not as easy as it might seem as the bikes are physically quite small and, whilst we wanted to keep the weight as far forwards as possible, we wanted to retain the ability to carry a passenger should it prove necessary.

I am impressed with the result, each pannier loop has three fitting points on the bike. Tich created the upper two by welding brackets onto the brand new Moto Guzzi racks that we had had fitted. I must say that Tich’s face as he took a grinder to remove the chrome from the beautiful Guzzi racks so that he could weld on the brackets was a picture!

He has created four mounting points on each of the pannier loops as the lower bracket is triangulated. They are not only functional and are strong enough to use to pick up the back end of the bike, but look nice too, which is important to me as the V7 is a very pretty bike.

We returned the now modified pannier loops to Bernie at StahlKoffer so that he could get them plastic coated in his usual way. In the meantime we needed to get what was left of the chrome plate stripped off the Moto Guzzi racks and get them shotblasted and powder coated. Redditch Shotblasting were recommended to us by one of the guys at Speedaway motorcycles. The guys at Redditch Shotblasting are bikers and so understood our requirements. They recommended a black satin finish for the racks as it is just as durable but does not show marks as readily as gloss and so looks better for longer. Two days later I was amazed to get a telephone call to say that the racks were ready for collection. We were very pleased as they have done an excellent job for a good price.

With the racks fitted it was time to sort out going back to see Bernie at StahlKoffer in order to fit the now plastic coated pannier frames and sort out the panniers themselves…

Sorting out the Panniers Part OneStahlKoffer panniers do not make a fitting kit to attach their panniers to the Moto Guzzi V7 Classic. Actually very few people make any accessories specifically for them so we are having to adapt a lot of things from other bikes or get things made specially. Bernie from StahlKoffer explained that he could develop one for us but that we could probably get it done much cheaper by going to a small engineering business. He provided us with 2 pairs of his pannier loops, unpainted in plain steel, so that we could get brackets made and welded on.
We approached a good friend Tich, whose real business is vehicle wireing (TWS) but who is also a dab hand at fabrication. Tich agreed to do the job for us and so we rode the bikes down to Swindon. After much head scratching and consideration, not to mention plying with alcohol, he designed and fabricated a fitting system to put the panniers exactly where we wanted them on the bikes. Not as easy as it might seem as the bikes are physically quite small and, whilst we want to keep the weight as far forwards as possible, we want to retain the ability to carry a passenger should it prove necessary.
I have to say that I am impressed with the result, each pannier loop has three fitting points on the bike. Tich created the upper two by welding brackets onto the brand new Moto Guzzi racks that we had had fitted. I must say that Tich’s face as he took a grinder to remove the chrome from the beautiful Guzzi racks so that he could weld on the brackets was a picture.
He has created four mounting points on each of the pannier loops as the lower bracket is triangulated. They are not only functional and are strong enough to use to pick up the back end of the bike, but look nice too, which is important to me as the V7 is a very pretty bike.
We returned the now modified pannier loops to Bernie at StahlKoffer so that he could get them plastic coated in his usual way. In the meantime we needed to get what was left of the chrome plate stripped off the Moto Guzzi racks and get them shotblasted and powder coated. Redditch shotblasters were recommended to us by one of the guys at Speedaway motorcycles. The guys at Redditch Shotblasters are bikers and so understood our requirements. They recommended a black satin finish for the racks as it is just a durable but does not show marks as readily as gloss and so looks better for longer.
Two days later I was amazed to get a telephone call to say that the racks were ready for collection. I must say that they have done an excellent job for a good price. So with the racks fitted it was time to sort out going back to see Bernie at StahlKoffer in order to fit the now plastic coated pannier frames and sort out the panniers themselves.

It’s a funny old thing – Tony’s been looking into these magic gizmos that you can get that have a GPS built in, and they track your journey and automatically plot it on a map. Sounds like a great idea to keep folk updated with what we’re up to, but it really got me thinking… You see, I travelled quite a bit when I was younger – on and off for around 5 years in fact. Now this was only 20 years ago, but way back then in the Dark Ages, there wasn’t any GPS. There was no internet, or at least nothing in common usage, no mobile phones, no email, no twitter, facebook or any of that malarky. I travelled without a single electrical item in my luggage, unless you count my film-based point and shoot camera that ran on batteries. I sailed across the Atlantic in a 46 foot yacht, and we navigated by sextant for heavens sake (though that is something I’m rather proud of, it has to be said)! SatNav was around at the time, but we didn’t have it – the skipper thought he’d bought a SatNav system and swears it was in the wrong box, as when he tried to set it up it turned out to be Decca, a system that’s now redundant and at the time was only good for navigating around coastal regions. Not much good for an ocean crossing then. So, sextant it was. No batteries required. Except the ones in the rather nifty little calculator that meant I still didn’t need to master the art of log tables.

Back then I used to ‘phone home once every two or three months as it was a faff to do so, and was prohibitively expensive. On odd occasions I would write postcards and letters home, and if I had an idea of where my path was likely to take me (which most of the time I didn’t, except in a very general sense), folk from home could write to me care of a town’s poste restante – see article here if you have no idea what that is, as Tony didn’t!

Blimey how things have changed! Now the list includes such absolute essentials as the ubiquitous mobile phone, a laptop or netbook, digital stills camera, video camera, GPS, GPS tracking gizmo (which may or may not be needed as the cameras have GPS built in these days!), iPod, and possibly my electric toothbrush (I’m older and my teeth need more care, OK?!). Oh, and a hair trimmer for Tony so we can keep his under control (hair, that is!). I’m sure there’s more that we could add that I just haven’t thought of yet, and I’m a little concerned that our entire luggage is going to be taken upĀ  with various chargers at this rate… Tent? Nah, no room for it, got to fit the speakers for the iPod in, sorry!

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not knocking all this, I actually think it’s all rather wonderful. After all, without it all, how would we be able to run this blog, and keep in touch with all you lovely people? It is a completely different world though, and my mind is just boggled with the sheer speed with which it has all changed. One of the things that I found most noticeable when I re-visited Sydney a few years ago was how every other place in Kings Cross (backpacker central) was an internet cafe. I suspect that’s changed again with the advent of netbooks, iPhones and wireless. Maybe it’s an age thing, does every generation reach a point when they’re awestruck by the speed at which things change?

Or maybe it’s just me…

Welcome to the Digital Age!