The home office has written to inquire as to why four sets of luggage have been purchased for two motorcycles.
Factors resulting in unexpected luggage overages:
- Unforeseen vehicle changes resulting from above;
- Inability to adequately test ride used vehicles before purchase;
- New employee inexperience.
Recommended procedural changes for future purchases:
- Company policy should be modified to prevent the purchase of any non-BMW vehicles.
- New employees without prior BMW experience should begin riding them at the earliest possible opportunity.
- All other issues were unavoidable.
The plan was simple. I (Kay) was going to take my Genuine Stella and ride south to the Yucatan before turning around and heading for home. But then everything changed.
I’d been drooling over that 2-Stroke beauty for years, and finally found a great deal on one at the start of last winter. I wheeled her into the kitchen and started buying spares and mods for the trip. Then spring came, along with an unsettling discovery. I hated riding the Stella. I hated her more with every mile. Thirty-two miles in and I knew she had to go, but I’d already bought a RevPack Excursion Pack custom made out of Yellow PVC for extra water resistance. No problem I thought, I’ll just use it on whatever I get next…
Skip forward a few months. Dachary moves in, buys my old Ninja 250, the trip grows to encompass the Americas, and we have fallen hopelessly in love. She’s determined to come. This puts a wonderful little check in my “most favoriate wish” checkbox for riding the world with someone I love, and brings a professional writer to the team.
As for her ride; she’s going to take the Ninja. She won’t hear a word to the contrary. She loves it, and it’s no more inappropriate for the journey than a Stella would have been. Hard panniers aren’t an option for it, so she hunts down the best soft panniers she can find and ends up getting the RevPack Super Deluxe Expedition Saddle Bags and we are both totally impressed. We highly recommend these for any future expeditions requiring soft luggage.
The Stella is sold, and a fiscally conservative search results in the addition of a 2003 BMW F650GS to the company fleet. It should be noted that a multi-mile test ride over pavement and dirt helped the buying process dramatically. The 260+ miles ridden home through pouring rain served to confirm the decision.
With an eye toward safety and off-road excursions, the new employee, whilst thoroughly in love with her current company vehicle (the Ninja 250), was eventually convinced to ride the F650GS. Unfortunately for our bottom line, BMW makes excellent bikes.
A 2007 BMW F650GS in excellent condition was found and purchased. Whist more expensive than the 2003 in the short term, ongoing evidence has shown that the additional maintenance costs of the older bike render the price difference irrelevant.
Unfortunately, the BMW’s dual exhausts are placed just below seat level, and Health and Safety was convinced that melting or spontaneous combustion of the soft luggage would result. While OSHA standards will not be a concern in foreign countries, it was decided that the short term publicity spike of a story on flaming employees and/or gear would not be worth the long term consequences. As a result, the SW-Motech luggage racks were purchased.
At this point Health and Safety and riders were satisfied. No-one would burst into flames and the soft luggage from RevPack was of sufficient quality and capacity to be used on the next expedition. The commencement of fully-loaded test rides was approved.
The RevPack Excursion Pack was found to have a few flaws when paired with an F650GS:
- The right “leg” overhung the gas cap slightly and had be pushed out of the way on every filling. Whilst a rather minor issue in itself, questions were raised with regards to what problems would arise when filling the tank via bucket and funnel in third-world countries.
- Because it utilizes all available space across the back of the seat, any item that didn’t fit into it or the tank bag could not be carried. The test rides proved that it was technically possible to fit a sleeping bag, sleeping roll, and other items in there prior to a ride. However, mid-ride physics dictated that all items expanded beyond their original size each time they were removed for use. By the end of a 3-day trip, the geometry skills required to repack it exceeded those of the employees.
- The custom PVC fabric did not result in a bag nearly as waterproof as hoped. The included Rain Cover would have to be used.
- It looked exceptionally dorky when not filled completely.
- As a result of the BMW seat design, its position was forward enough to interfere with the rider’s Camelbak, causing them to scoot forwards until the horn of the seat was firmly embedded in their crotch. Whilst technically doable, it was at this point that the rider in question exercised their veto power.
The RevPack Super Deluxe Expedition Saddle Packs were found to have zero flaws, good waterproofing, excellent capacity, and exemplary performance during downs.
Being concerned about the near-criminal pricing of most aluminum panniers, it was decided that the RevPack Excursion Pack would be replaced with Happy-Trails 9″ Teton Panniers which were found to be the only quality panniers and racks on the market that didn’t require a lobotomy to justify the purchase of (just a minor concussion).
Further test rides highlighted a psychological problem related to the soft luggage. It wasn’t possible to lock it, and a sharp knife would provide easy access for would-be thieves.
As the weather cooled the debates heated proportionally. Did we really need both sets of panniers to be lockable? If we did replace the soft luggage with hard which ones would we get? Does hard luggage save more legs than it breaks or break more legs than it saves?
Eventually it was decided that the (potentially unfounded) piece of mind that hard-cases provided justified replacing the soft-luggage should be replaced. Then again, maybe just getting a lockable top-case for Dachary’s bike would be enough.
In the end, after a rather excessive number of meetings, research sessions, and doses of self-justification it was decided that the Trax cases would be purchased because they worked with her existing racks and “She wanted them.”
Conclusion & Recommendations:
While it is true that for the total dollars spent we could have purchased superior cases for both bikes, initial purchases were based on old requirements. If management could get their heads out of their asses we would have had the appropriate bikes, journey, and employees specced out at the beginning, and the purchase of a second set of cases for each bike would not have been required. We recommend convincing employees to fall in love and think big as early as possible. Additionally, unless an excursion specifically calls for a different vehicle, employees should be provided with BMW’s from the beginning.
Anybody want to buy some soft luggage?