After my recent enlightenment regarding notebook PC’s and their dislike for high-strength magnetic fields I began researching strap-on tank bags. Naturally this came right on the heels of receiving a new tank bag complete with magnetic mounts… Duh… As it turned out it had a tendency to take on water but only in the most severe rainstorms so it was probably for the best.
I often refer to equipment test reports published by WebBikeWorld http://www.webbikeworld.com/motorcycle-luggage/famsa-260/ and it was there I first became aware of an interesting product made by the Italian firm FAMSA. They make a tank bag set that’s integrated with removable tank panniers, which means you can carry even more stuff than you can imagine! Another great feature is the tank bag itself is zipper mounted on the base that’s strapped to the tank. What this means is when it’s time to refuel you simply unzip one side of the bag, flip it over to the side, and the fuel filler is accessible through a trimmed cutout. What a deal! The bases are made for a variety of bikes plus one that’s a universal fits-all model so it’s a rare beast that can’t be accommodated.
As it happened the WebBikeWorld article was on the Kawasaki Versys which shares a lot of design features with my Ninja 650R. Reading and r e-reading the report a dozen times convinced me it would be a simple matter to adapt the same set to my bike. After surfing around for dealers I got in touch with Peter Harris, owner of HelmetHead Cycle Gear out of Atlanta. http://www.helmetheadcyclegear.com/ Peter proved to be very knowledgeable on the subject of FAMSA’s equipment so off went the order and in just a few days it arrived.
I figured the installation might require some extensive modifications to the mounting system supplied by FAMSA but in actuality it didn’t. The 1” strap that goes around the frame head was short by a couple of inches and easily replaced by spare strapping I had laying around. I also used a 1” strap from REI to secure the pannier’s front mounts to each other via the front of the fairing.
I did encounter one minor issue; the zipper starter tab on the left pannier had been sewn over in the manufacturing process. This prevented it from working and since I know squat about sewing it was off to see my bud Norris the Tailor in Bandon. He took at least 30 seconds figuring out what was wrong and then another 30 seconds to fix it. All told the entire installation took less than an hour (minus the run to Norris the Tailor) and I think the results look pretty good.
Once finished I went for a fully loaded test ride down to Port Orford to see how things handled. My knees barely touch the panniers so that’s no bother at all. Because they shield my legs from the wind I could feel the heat coming off the engine a bit more and on a cool day it was most welcome. What that will be like in the hotter regions of the country may be another matter but I don’t think it will cause any discomfort. Anyway the bike handles great and that means a safer ride.
BTW, did I mention that Chance our Collie failed to show up as the supervisor for this job? Evidently sleeping in the bushes was more interesting so Daisy our Aussie Shepherd filled in. It’s nice being supervised. Makes a body feel sorta....uh....sheepish?