SW-Motech Pro Side Carriers & Sysbag 30 Side Bags on a 2018 Suzuki DL1000A V-Strom

I just installed a set of Pro Side Carriers and these Sysbag 30’s on my 2018 V-Strom DL1000A. I give the whole setup a solid 4 stars. Why not 5 stars???

  1. Regarding the quarter-turn, quick release fasteners that hold the carriers to the motorcycle. The fasteners take a good amount of force to turn (that’s a good thing) but there’s one on each side has one that is behind the saddlebag frame and you cannot get to it with a screwdriver or any other implement in my copious tool box. I finally grabbed it from the side with a pair of vice grips and was able to twist and lock it. Scratching a brand new part to get it installed really bugs me.
  2. I don’t love the “buckles” that hold the bags closed. They’re just little hooks that slip into the loop on the lid. They don’t seem to have much ambition to stay closed, but at the same time they can be really stubborn when you’re trying to un-hook them to open the bags. I don’t understand why they didn’t just use fastex-style buckles.
    Those two nits are the reason that I only gave the bags and mounts 4 stars.

So why soft bags instead of the uber-popular aluminum panniers?
Firstly, weight. A set of Givi aluminum bags and mounts weighs about 35lbs EMPTY. These SW-Motech bags and mounts total about 19 lbs.
Second, cost. Hard panniers cost $700 to $1200 or more (not including the mounts.) These soft bags retail for about $800 INCLUDING the Pro Side Carriers.
Third, if you drop your bike on a hard pannier, you’re going to damage the bag. Sometimes badly enough to render it un-usable. Soft bags usually survive much better, and they also provide some cushioning for the motorcycle. Depending on how much poofy stuff is in them (rain suit, dirty laundry etc) it can be like having a side airbag to land on. (Just don’t pack your heirloom china in the side bags.)

So how did the installation go?
The mounts went on quickly and easily. I find that the part that takes the longest is sorting out the hardware and matching all the parts to SW Motech’s instructions. After that, everything fit perfectly. I like the way the right carrier tucks in relatively close to the bike. When the bags are off, the bike is as slender as it was stock.
Same for assembling the adapters to the bags. The instructions only show the right side mount and bag adapter; I admit to getting totally confused on the left bag adapter and having to do the whole thing twice. Once everything was finished, the bags literally go on and off the carriers with one click. (Seems too good to be true, so I have looped a safety strap over the seat, between the carry handles on the two bags. I have lost apparently secure luggage beforeā€¦) Of course I must have some hidden hillbilly genes as I tend to come up with the ugliest possible solution to an issue that probably doesn’t exist. Bikes Built Better would never do something like that to a customer’s motorcycle!
I have not yet ridden in the rain so I can’t vouch for the waterproof-ness of the bags, but after a few hundred miles the carriers are solid and the bags have not shown any inclination to leave or open up on the road. I now have some very generous storage that doesn’t weigh half-a-ton, and will even help cushion the bike if I fall down. I just won’t be carrying the family heirloom china in the side bags.

Right side view SW-Motech Sysbag 30 on 2018 V-Strom DL1000A
Soft bags can act as cushions if the bike falls over.
SW-Motech Pro Side Carrier, right side.
One of the quarter-turn fasteners has an awkward location
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