F800GS Metal Mule Panniers

Discussion in 'Parallel Universe' started by robhar54, Dec 5, 2008.

  1. robhar54

    robhar54 Been here awhile

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    For those who might be interested, thought I'd post a few photos of my Metal Mule 38L "Balanced System." I got them--the first set for the F800GS in the US--from David Petersen at BestRest Products. I paid $2250, which includes the rack, 38L panniers, and a Metal Mule (Skorpian) exhaust. Prices depend on the exchange rate, so they could be more or less now. (Yah, it's a lot, I know.)

    I eliminated Caribous because they were side-opening, which doesn't work in my tight garage. I didn't like the lip on the inside of the Jesses and the Happy Trails. I wanted a rack with flat vertical hangers I could use with soft bags like the Ortliebs, if I wanted to, which eliminated the Jesses and BMW OEM systems, as well as the TT "Special System." I talked with Mike Paull of Helge Pedersen's Globeriders. Mike has seen enough failures of various panniers systems to know what works and what doesn't. He recommended I look at Zegas and Metal Mules.

    It came down to the ~$1360 TT "29L/35L System" (system plus liners) vs the $2250 Metal Mules "Balanced System." I had a set of Zegas on my R80G/S PD.
    [​IMG]
    Liked them a lot, except opening/closing two locks every time I went in or out of the bags was inconvenient, and I lost I think three of the now ~$150 lids in my travels over six years. (Until I got the internal tie-down straps.) I figure I've channelled enough of my income to TT over the years, so was open to trying something else.

    The price of the MMs was a barrier. But if I rationalized it as "the price of a TT Set plus an aftermarket exhaust...and no liners necessary..." it kinda made sense.

    The racks are 18mm round, and nicely braced, attached at three points to the bike on each side plus the cross-bar in the back. The cases are riveted together, with a strip of sealant at the joints, between the overlapping layers of aluminum. I see the sealant as a potential weak point over time, but we'll see. The theory is that it'd be easier to find someone to rivet the thing back together than someone who could weld aluminum. Realistically, probably not an issue with where I'll be going. (Within North America, pretty much.) The one lock per side system is super convenient. The cases come off in about five seconds, and mount back on in ten or fifteen seconds. (Takes a bit of juggling to line 'em up.) I like the symmetry, and being able to switch cases from side to side. They're anodized inside and out, so no need for liners. Duluth Trading does make some very nice $26 totes that fit perfectly inside. The exhaust that makes the symmetry possible (because it's thinner than OEM) sounds great. It's not too loud. They say it returns the same mileage you get from the stock pipe, but I am not completely convinced by that. That is essentially my only question so far. Otherwise, I'm perfectly satisfied.

    Here are some photos:

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    Dave Petersen has been great to deal with, by the way.

    I wish I was the kind of person who could be satisfied with something that does 90% of the job for 50% of the cost.... It would certainly make life easier (and my wife happier.) But I'm not. It's the curse of being a designer--you're always thinking about how it could work better or be done more elegantly. So far I can't think of anything I'd do differently with this system. That's sayin' something.

    Oh--wait. Here's something. The stickers were a pain in the ass to get off. (I've added SOLAS reflective around the bottom of the cases since these photos were taken.) I'd suggest they give the stickers to people to put on themselves if they want them.

    Rob in Seattle
    #1
  2. WoodWorks

    WoodWorks House Ape

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    That's a great looking set up, Rob. Looks bomb proof. And tell your wife, amortised over the life of the bike, it's cheap, honey! Cheap! :johntm

    David
    #2
  3. Motorman

    Motorman Been here awhile

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    Nice looking unit. Thanks for being the first. I'll guess that you don't have the Ti can. Is there a reason you didn't get the lighter one????
    #3
  4. Bayner

    Bayner Long timer

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    Hey Rob, I'm curious if the racks come out far enough to serve as 'crash bars' for the tank area.... looks to be just a little narrow. Is that in fact the case?
    #4
  5. NORTH RIDER

    NORTH RIDER Been here awhile

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    those look great . i was lucky to buy the METAL MULES on the africa twin when i bought it. the previuos owner did not want to give them up . it doesn't look like they have changed them much , except i see they have reinforced the rear bracket that goes behind the license plate . i had to add an extra bracket but might have to steal your design and have the local welding shop do the same. METAL MULES are the most expensive bags you can buy ,build quality is excellent but i fear they priced themselves out of the market . I LOVE MINE AND KNOW YOU WILL FEEL THE SAME ABOUT YOURS

    NORTH RIDER
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  6. robhar54

    robhar54 Been here awhile

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    Thanks. A good friend's father once said to him "You're too poor to buy cheap things." Great advice. I'm planning on keeping this bike for a long time, so yah, amortization was another aspect of the rationalization.... I sold all my other bikes, so I could outfit this one without too much consideration of the cost. My wife is actually quite supportive of my motorcycling in general--she knows it's necessary for my mental health....:norton

    The polished stainless can was the one that came with the set. I didn't know there was an option. I might have gotten the Ti can if I'd had a choice. I think the stainless one will be durable though.

    The racks are about 1/2" proud of the (actual) tank at their leading edge. They have to be to mount the bags, which project both in front and behind the racks. So yah, I think they'll protect the tank area even if the panniers aren't mounted. (BTW Bayner, I'm going to measure the radius today.)

    Edit: I meant to mention in the original post: Mounting was a breeze. Everything lined up perfectly. There was no pushing and shoving necessary to get the mounting points to line up properly, such as I experienced with the Hepco & Becker racks on my Xchallenge.

    Northrider: Thanks! I hope you are right!

    Rob in Seattle
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  7. kootenay kid

    kootenay kid Lets Ride

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    Man that really is a great looking bike, especially with those panniers on. I am going to have to give that bike a try. I am not sure I like the simple piano hinge on the lids but I'm sure they are tough enough. Great looking ride:thumb
    #7
  8. robhar54

    robhar54 Been here awhile

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    Sorry all, I misremembered here. The point of the tank that's furthest out is proud of the racks, so no, they won't protect the tank. It's close. See below:

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    To answer your PM question Bayner, the inside radius of the corners of the rack is 1.25".

    Rob in Seattle
    #8
  9. robhar54

    robhar54 Been here awhile

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    OK, a few more, with the SOLAS reflective tape, start of the obligatory stickers, and Adv-Spec crashbars.

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    Rob in Seattle
    #9
  10. Roadie

    Roadie 2-Wheels Rule

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    Dang, that is a sweet looking bike with those bags on it. Nice photos, they really show off the bike well.

    I've got to get a test ride on one of those 800's soon.
    #10
  11. Motorman

    Motorman Been here awhile

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    Let us know about your gas mileage.
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  12. dtysdalx2

    dtysdalx2 PITA but useful

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    I went looking to see one of those on Saturday, but they sold one the day it came in and another before it came in. The had the F800ST though and I sat on that. Man that seat was comphy. $12 large was a bit steep though. The 1200 is so damn wide, and it cost $20k also. If I got an adventure bike, the 800 GS would be the BMW I'd get.

    Nice setup.
    #12
  13. One Eye Mike

    One Eye Mike Been here awhile

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    I have been trying to make a decision on which panniers to throw on my 800. After reading this post, the choice is clear. Thanks for the insight and great photos, Rob. They look awesome.
    #13
  14. One Eye Mike

    One Eye Mike Been here awhile

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    Which Top Plate do you have on the rear rack?
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  15. GB

    GB . Administrator

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    How does the muffler sound compared to stock? I'm guessing the bags won't fit with the stock muffler, hence the need to replace it? :ear
    #15
  16. marc morgan

    marc morgan Been here awhile

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    Nice system . Was wondering what is overall wide and can a helmet fit in one. I have the tourtech made for BMW "tool sheds" whopping 41" width. They are wide but once riding, I don't even know they are there. As long as I don't have to look at them from the rear. I like the idea of a smaller exhaust to get the boxes in a little closer. Here are picts of my set up.[​IMG]

    They were$1400 and the money I saved over MMs I got SW motech crashbars and good bash plate.

    Anybody actually measured the decrease in gas mileage with large boxes?

    Marc
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/24617208@N02/
    #16
  17. robhar54

    robhar54 Been here awhile

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  18. robhar54

    robhar54 Been here awhile

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    Howdy GB!

    The muffler is quite a bit louder than stock, but not at all objectionable. I prefer quiet bikes, and this is fine with me. A nice growl.

    You are correct. The narrower profile of the muffler allows the panniers to tuck in closer on the left, and be symmetrical side to side. Same bag on both sides--they are interchangeable.

    Rob in Seattle
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  19. robhar54

    robhar54 Been here awhile

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    Hi Marc, Thanks! Overall width is right around 1010 mm--39.5 inches. Each pannier is 38L, for a total of 76L. A helmet will not fit. They are expensive, certainly. No doubt about that. I started a mileage thread called "F800GS Mileage: What ya gettin'?" (I think it was). Have a look there. There are folks with and without panniers who have replied.

    Rob in Seattle
    #19
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  20. rickyc4

    rickyc4 FF Rancher

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    is there a multistrada still in the garage? or did you switch teams
    #20