PANNIERS. I started the trip with hard panniers – Touratech Zegas. I was never completely comfortable riding on the dirt with them: I had a couple of near misses when I fell in sand and nearly caught my leg under them, and I felt the sub-frame was taking a lot of stress when riding fast for prolonged periods on gravel and dirt. Eventually I lost one when the attachment point failed. Thereafter I switched to soft panniers. Initially I used the Magadan Panniers from Adventure Spec – seriously well-made bags, but I just couldn’t get them to work perfectly on the Tenere with my setup. So I switched to Giant Loop Siskiyou Panniers – expensive, but superb. They work perfectly on the Tenere, they’ve been soaked, caked in mud and crash-tested. Highly recommended – if they fit your particular bike. (Make sure you get the most recent model, which has better front pouches and seems to have a larger top flap to keep the rain out.)
KIT BAG. In addition to the Siskiyous, I need a kit bag. I have alternated between two options: a Lomo Dry Bag (40L) – a company that makes diving gear – which I got for a steal at about £20 (USD30); and a Giant Loop Tillamook Dry Bag: bombproof material, totally waterproof and the double-ended opening makes getting to your kit easier. At around 40 litres, both are ample – anything bigger and you’d end up with too much weight and bulk (an issue when standing and riding down hill) up high.
TANK BAG. I use a Giant Loop Diablo Tankbag – initially the original model and now the upgraded ‘Pro’ model. Previously I was using a larger tank bag, but it got in the way when standing up on the pegs. The Diablo is a perfect size for holding the map, my camera and the little things you need at hand. The main reason I went for a GL tank bag was the zip-on attachment system; I found my previous bag, which used clips, very awkward to remove and re-attach every time I wanted to fill up with fuel. With the GL, it takes a couple of seconds to unzip it and flip the bag over the side of the tank.
TANK PANNIERS. For much of the journey I used Wolfman Tank Panniers. Providing an extra 14 litres, they are perfect for carrying things you need at hand, and for lunch – where else do you put six bread rolls, a cucumber, some cheese and some fruit? I later swtiched to Giant Loop Pannier Pockets – smaller but much more unobtrusive, leaving more room for my knees. Both are excellent solutions dependent on the capacity you require.
CARGO NET. The humble cargo net is now on my list of Top 5 essential items. Attached over my kit bag (and with two bungees for extra security), I store waterproof and warm clothing as I remove / don various items with the changing weather, as well as anything else I need at hand or when I don’t want to spend time opening up my bags. A couple of bungees help provide a bit more ‘grip’ to avoid items disappearing when riding on the rough stuff.