When you imagine a motorcycle road trip, all that comes to mind is wind in your face, open roads, tank full of gas, and beautiful horizons. The reality is far from rosy though! You end up fighting the elements, other people, and yourself, not to mention the buttload of stuff that needs to be carried along for the ride.
So when I was planning for the 7500 km Mumbai-Bhutan-Mumbai ride, luggage was a big problem that needed to be sorted. The trip would take us through bizarre road conditions, open stretches good for 200+ kmph and then gravel paths good for nothing above 20, roads straighter than an arrow and roads curvier than a jalebi. Keeping the following points in consideration, I began my search for a good quality, stable, spacious luggage system for my 2013 Ninja 650:
- Space must be big, gigantic in fact, to carry all my clothes, tools, spares and also bring back gifts from a foreign land.
- Stability was of paramount importance. The suicidal routes we were going to do demanded distraction free riding.
- If possible, pillion should be able to sit at back, no matter how uncomfortably. Good to have the option!
- The system must be strong enough to withstand the battering of roads, nature, and the frustrated biker.
- Size shouldn’t be too unwieldy, something that’ll create problems while overtaking an carrying the bag off the bike.
Keeping all of this in mind, the following options were available in India:
Being used by many of the current Ninja owners, including Deepan on this trip, it was a complete hit. Storage was good, and so was the build quality. But being mounted on the rear seat, pillion was ruled out completely. The Claw is a legendary luggage system that has the advantage of being motorcycle-independent, no matter what bike you have, the Claw will fit perfectly. The mounting system is fairly simple, and the capacity is gigantic! On the negative side, it’s a beast to carry it off the bike, and it does have a tendency to shift forward and hit the rider on the back. It’s probably the cheapest high capacity system out there!
Was being used by a fellow Ninja owner Sachin Nair on this trip. The build quality was good. Total capacity of about 45 liters sounded good enough. It also allowed a pillion to sit, but had a slight problem near the footrests for the pillion as the bags shifted forward. The Stallion definitely looks the most dated saddlebag system out there, the design is very basic and rather bland. On the bright side, mounting and dismounting is a breeze, and it’s much easier to carry off the bike as against the Claw. Cramster was considered to be pioneer in the Indian riding scene, but have since lost much of their fanbase due to one problem or the other.
Rynox Nomad V2:
Had never heard of this one being used on a Ninja, but the design of the bag looked beautiful. The material looked strong. The mounting of the bags allowed for pillion to sit. Morover the positions of the bags could be reversed, giving more options to try and make the passenger more comfy. Total capacity of 64 liters with expansion/retraction facility sounded more than perfect for a 20 day long ride! The Nomad is the most expensive saddlebag system out there, and if something went wrong somewhere, would have turned out to be a very costly mistake.
After a lot of comparisons, head-banging and sobbing alone in a corner, the Rynox Nomad V2 was finalized.
Why the Rynox?
When the search began for the bags, the priority was space inside the bags, and pillion comfort. The Viaterra was ruled out as it didn’t allow for a pillion rider, and the crude quality of Cramsters didn’t appeal to me much. Calls to the dealers revealed that Rynox was readily available, and the mounting system of the bags allowed for the pillion to sit quite comfortably, and in addition to that the bags could be reversed, which meant the pillion could easily plant their feet on the pegs. So it was decided, Nomad it is!
How did they hold up on the ride?
Just one word, brilliantly!. When mounted on the Ninja, they actually look like hard case panniers. Not only did they carry my luggage for the entire 20 days, but also spares, chain lube, tripod, a wooden log, 2 liters of petrol bottles on each side (completely filled), and a dead crocodile. The mounting system did its job perfectly well and avoided the bags from interfering with the tyres, although it did happen once, but that was due to uneven weight loading on one side, so my bad.
Considering that most of the tour was on flat stretches of road, which meant the speeds were in triple digits, the mounted bags did not move once, even with speeds in excess of 140’s – 160’s. I also never felt that the bags created any sort of drag reducing my speed, or interfering with my cornering fun. It’s almost like there’s nothing behind you!
About 30% of the roads we did were kinda no roads, and I was expecting big time trouble there, since things usually go to shit when dust and gravel attack. The speeds reduce considerably, and the bumps increase exponentially. But even under such extreme conditions, the luggage stayed stable as a rock, and didn’t create any problems for me whatsoever. Great success!
After 7500 kilometers of good roads, bad roads and a few detours through hell, the bags held up surprisingly well. The stitches did get a little stressed on the sidewalls, but nothing got torn. Do keep in mind that you’ll need to do something to make sure the bags don’t touch the tire, something that can be easily fixed by intelligently tying a bungee cord.
Rynox Nomad V2 motorcycle luggage review: Verdict (9/10)
At almost 4700/- bucks, these bags are definitely on the costlier side, but the build quality is top notch and I consider them as a long term investment. The awesome part is that no matter what bike I upgrade to in the future, the bags will always be useful! These bags have a LOT of positives, and very few negatives, most of which can be ignored in my opinion. So if you are looking to do that ride of a life, look no further 🙂 Pick up these beauties and enjoy the road!
These bags were used by my friend Nicky on the Bhutan ride. This article is from him, with some minor adjustments by me!