Touratech Zega Pro 38L Black Aluminium Panniers & Accessories

The Touratech blurb:

In a modern design and state-of-the-art construction, our developers have come up with a veritable masterpiece in the Zega Pro.

Light and yet sturdy, the case is available in a 38 litre version, made entirely of 1.5-mm aluminium, water- and dust-proof, and manufactured to the highest standards - no way were we going to settle for a basic plastic construction that was simply jazzed up with a few bits of moulded aluminium!

The lid and base of the Zega Pro are welded, which achieves the maximum rigidity of the connections, and the base and outer shell have high quality rivets (no cheap studs for us – or you!). Youll find no leaky welded seams along the edges. High quality silicone seals ensure that the contents of this case are protected as well as possible.

The highly robust protective strip along the carcase is screwed on, and so is easily replaced when necessary – perhaps after a fall. The same applies to the strong protective corners on the lid, which comes off completely or can be opened just from one side – the catches double as hinges.

The Zega Pro appeals not only for its technology and workmanship, but also for the many clever detail solutions and the modern protected design – the rounded lines of the item really do catch the eye. Thus, for instance, a clever handle can be added to the lid. The four attachment eyes rise only slightly above the surface of the case, so it also makes an ideal seat.

Some of the other benefits of the Zega Pro are that it is easy to open to retrieve a luggage roll and our extensive range of accessories. Vehicle-specific special systems, e.g. for the BMW R 1200 GS, are also available.

The clever touches of the Zega Pro include the ingenious lock system, which is strong and reliable yet easy to operate.

The advantages at a glance:
- automatic locking prevents the catches from opening accidentally
- fitted locks can be replaced or added later without drilling or filing
- simultaneously locking fitted locks are available at no extra charge; also available with
simultaneous locking with navigation brackets and oil plugs.

-The anodised version of the Zega Pro doesnt just shine in its fabulous black look, but
also prevents rubbing inside the case.
-The ultra thick, high quality anodised layer offers very special protection for the surface and helps to prevent discolouration.

Zega Pro Black Alucase 38 L
Dimensions: 443mm x 243mm x 393mm
Weight: approx 4,6 kg

The debate between soft and hard luggage has been fought long and hard. Many words have been typed on forums and many hours spent reading the often good and well reasoned arguments on both sides. But for my requirements I decided on hard cases. Once I had made this decision my mind then shifted to what type of hard cases. It wasn’t long before I decided on Aluminium cases and it was even quicker that I decided on the TT Zega Pro cases with the Integral locks.

These particular panniers are well designed and well built but they are also the best looking. Although quite expensive, priced at £325 each, the Zega Pro’s are quite good value in comparison to other popular brands. Moreover, these panniers have several features that I liked including the removable lids, the locking hinge mechanism, the key locking option, the accessories and the flush attachment loops.

As I already had balanced frames installed, I decided on 2x 38L sized cases, the goldilocks size. Thereby giving me plenty of storage but also keeping my rear end narrow enough that I could still lane split through heavy traffic. The larger 45L cases seemed too wide, perhaps wider than the bars, whilst the smaller 31L cases made the rear end look bizarrely anorexic and reduced the overall carrying capacity of the two panniers.

I mounted my cases mounted on the balanced 18mm Metal Mule frames using the TT 18mm fitting kit. These frames were already installed on the bike when I purchased it, but I would probably have chosen these frames becuase they seem to be the best available with 18mm mild-steel tube that has a 2mm wall thickness. Moreover these are one of only two brands that are balanced: developed with the bike’s overall width in mind allowing equally sized panniers on either side; as a the exhaust side is not off-set.

Because I had these bigger 18mm MM frames I had to use the 18mm TT universal mounting kit. These can be used with many types of panniers, especially the Zega Pro cases and can be fitted by Touratech for a fee. However, I decided to do it myself, thereby ensuring that they were mounted in the position of my choice. Doing it yourself means you have some control in the height and angle at which you mount them.

The blanced frames mean an upgraded Scorpion exhaust, which is lighter and sounds a whole lot better than the stock version

The overall width of the rear end with the Metal Mule frames without panniers is 52cm

It was a pain at first trying to hold the panniers against the frames and mark where they would sit. A good 45 minutes elapsed with me finding the perfect piece of furniture to cradle the panniers at the perfect height and angle. I was also using copious lengths of paracord to hold them in place before I realised it was best to take the frames off the bike. Once I’d had this epiphany I got the cases drilled and mounted within a few hours. I took my time, masked off the area to be drilled, measured several times, checked and rechecked alignments and then drilled very slowly and very cautiously, using progressively bigger drill bits until I reach the desired sized holes.

I like this mounting system very much: they’re operated from inside and securely fixes the panniers to the rack using a ‘puck’ type system that allows the pannier to be removed easily without any tools. Like most things made by TT, it is very well made but also very expensive at almost £50 per fitting kit (for one pannier).

The ‘puck’ systems and wing nuts holding the the tool tube

So here’s a few piccies of my cases on the bike:

The overall width of the rear end with the panniers is 102cm

Not content with the cases, I added a few additions and accessories. Starting with exterior lid bags I started off with 2x Kriega US-10 bags. The straps of these bags lined up perfectly to the Zega Pro’s attachment points. Each bag allegedly holds 10L and is confidently waterproof. These are great bags and are easily removed and strapped to other areas of the bike if needed and provide a decent pace to store small bits that you might need quickly to hand without rummaging through the panniers themselves. To buy these brand new can be quite expensive, luckily I found a couple of bargains on eBay. I have since got the 6L, expanding to 12L, Touratech Lid Bags/Tool Cases. These are very expensive at £130 each but again I got a bargain on eBay. I really wanted to stick with Wolfman but they don’t do a similar type product. However, as always the Touratech bags are great despite their hefty price tag.

The John Deere Tool Tube is a cheap and common addition to any adventure motorcycle. Originally a tractor manual holder, many intrepid adventurers find many ingenious ways to fit this incredibly versatile waterproof tube with its multiple mounting options and screw down top. In my case I decided to attach it straight to the pannier itself. This is not the most ideal option, I would have preferred to fit it to the frame, but a direct attachment to the case was the easiest and most direct method – and works just fine. I fitted the tube using rubber O-rings were used to maintain the waterproof and dustproof integrity of the Zega Pro case and wing nuts on the inside of the pannier so it’s easily removable if necessary. I was using the tube to store my puncture repair kit but this has since moved and it now holds my 1L Optimus fuel bottle. It also fits a bottle of wine perfectly…

Touratech Zega Pro Exterior Lid Bag/Toolcase (6/12L)

2L Jerry Can and Tool Tube with 1L of Fuel for the Stove

2x 1L Fuel Bottles: 1L of Fuel & 1L of Oil

As you can see I’ve also added a couple of accessories to the back of the panniers. These are attached using the Zega Pro Base Plate. This is a sensible solution to expanding the luggage space of the panniers. Whilst they can be fitted anywhere on the case they are best suited to the rear. The advantage of the base plate is that it enables any accessory adapter to be used. This interchangeability is ideal and numerous accessory adaptors are available. I have 2x base plates fitted that allow different accessory options. At the moment I’m carrying 4L of extra fuel (2L in the Jerry Can and 2L in 2x 1L fuel bottle, one of which is for the Stove. The other 1L bottle I use for carrying spare oil. I carry 2x of these 1L bottles on the Zega Pro double bottle holder and the other in the Tool Tube. The base plate and adapters are extremely sturdy and can be safely and securely attached.

Zega Pro Base Plate: the heart of the TT accessory system

Opening up the cases I use the TT inner lid bags, which are great for utilising that dead space in the lid (about 7L), and for quick access to those items needed on a regular basis but which are better served by remaining on the inside of the pannier safe and secure: they’re reinforced with 7 mm foam on the lower and upper sides. For example, in one side I store my net book and electrical cables and in the other I have my full puncture repair kit including spare heavy duty tubes: front & rear, the repair kit itself as well as a mini air compressor. Unfortunately, these aint cheap at £55 a pop but there isn’t a better value alternative, Nonetheless, they’re great additions to optimising storage space.

Whilst, I didn’t suffer from aluminium rubbing on my contents, a typical complaint from other aluminium case users, as these Zega Pro’s are anodised, I did decide to get an internal bag to protect some of the valuable contents from the internal gubbings and metal hardware, as well as making it easy to remove the contents. I first tried a canvas grocery bag but found that this wore through pretty quickly. Other holdalls and sports bags were not well designed and killed a lot of the available space, so it was time to invest in something fit for purpose. Again, I returned to Touratech as they’re products, although quite expensive at £55 each, the Zega Pro Inner Bag, like all their kit, is well made and designed specifically with these cases in mind.

The only thing missing from these bags was a strap connecting the two zip pullers so I weaved some with leftover 550 paracord.

Finally, I decided that with the dark colour of my cases, and the colour of my bike in general, it was time to increase my visibility, especially at night. Consequently, I added some Red 3M Reflective Tape to the out rear edge of the cases. This Diamond Grade stuff, which lorries use, is the business. It even has the ECE 104 Approved Markings, whatever that means… but it’s seriously bright! The TT equivalent, which isn’t available in red, is getting on for £16. Alternatively, I shopped around on eBay and found a seller by the name of responder-graphics, who sold me 1m for £5 and I still have plenty left over for marking other parts of the bike or to donate it to a fellow adventurer enabling them to mark up their kit.

And finally, I’ve added some freethought decorations, pastafarian parafernalia, pirate booty and my website address.

All in all I am VERY happy with my pannier set-up. It’s not the cheapest and not the lightest but it’s a good investment as its transferable to any other adventure bike. Furthermore, it suits my requirements. Nor do I have any buyer remorse. These TT Zega Pro cases and accessories have so far performed well, exceeding my expectations. I may be biased but it I feel they are the most functional and the best looking aluminium hard case set-up I have seen on any adventure bike.

Post Adventure Update

Okay, so after a 3-month solo trip to Mongolia and Siberia my views on these cases have changed a little. I still use them but I’m now trying out some soft bags: Wolfman Teton (now discontinued in favour of their Expedition  and larger Rocky Mountain bags). I had a spill on some wet tram Tracks in Irkutsk, not high speed but enough to knock the wind out of me and buckle the case a little around the  pucks at the bottom of the case. Everything was fine but now it leaks, I think from an interior join. An easy fix with some silicone and I could probably fix the slight buckle with a jack. The leak wasn’t a problem as I store almost everything inside the panniers in waterproof podsacs. The knock must have very slightly knocked the lid rim out of alignment, consequently, I have to make sure I put the correct lid on this pannier the correct way, and even then it’s not a perfect seal. In my opinion the groove in the lid and sharp edge of the pannier rim is too precise. The design of the Metal Mule  seal is much simpler and I think is probably more effective and much easier to know back into shape if it takes a bump. These Zega Pro’s are pretty tough mother f@$kers though, the frames took some of the hit bending them slightly – I didn’t even notice until closer examination. I’ve pulled them straight a little and could probably straighten them more if I was inclined. I think it was because of the way MM squash their tubes, I think this creates a weak point and allows them to bend in an off – not sure if this was intended or just sloppy design and manufacturing. Of course it could be argued that that this allowed the frames to give and prevented the  crash from causing more serious damage/ I’m not a structural engineer so who knows?

These panniers are heavy and quite large. I was pretty disciplined in what I took on my trip and I still had excess room in the panniers, with hindsight I could have taken even less. What I’m saying is I could have managed with a lot less space – the sort of space you get with soft bags. I like being able to lock the panniers but security was never a major concern. I never really left the bike unattended with full panniers and when I did it was usually covered. I think I could forgo the illusion of security that hard panniers claim to offer. Apart from the self evident truth that soft panniers make for a lighter bike and thus better off road handling, when I was off road I dropped the bike a lot. And although having the hard panniers made it heavy to pick up it did mean that when it did go over it was usually at a more manageable angle. However, I think this would be the case for soft bags too, albeit not as pronounced. On the odd occasion that I couldn’t heave up the bike fully loaded I would have to remove the pannier contents and sometimes even the panniers themselves – that was a real chore. Removing an entire soft bag would be very much easier. Likewise, once or twice I had to yomp all the kit separately from the bike; having soft bags would have made this MUCH easier. One thing I like very much about hard cases is the ability to use them as seats, something I will miss with a soft bag option – I really don’t want to carry a camp style chair and I’ll also quite miss having a space to put my stickers.

Although these are nice looking panniers and they perform fine if your sticking to the road, in which case you could just as easily go with plastic cases, if you go anywhere remotely off road you’ll wish everything was lighter: you, your bike, your load and your cases – nobody wishes the corollary. And these cases are very expensive I could have save money on not only the cases but all the other bullshit mods and farkles I’ve put on this bike. Although I have enjoyed personalising it. Sure, when they’re in prime condition the Zega Pro’s work great but give it a slight ding and it will be compromised forthwith.

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About Adventure Vagabond

Tales of Solo Motorcycle Adventures

Posted on December 28, 2011, in Equipment and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. Only problem with them is that one small ding and they are no longer water tight. TT designed a really nice box, but it’s not really that great if you crash or hit something which dents them just slightly.

    • That’s a fair criticism actually. I have a couple of dings in mine and they don’t seal as well but they’re still pretty good. I seal the contents in waterproof bags anyway so it’s not a major problem.

      I wouldn’t use these for an off road adventure again, they’re just too heavy. I would go with soft luggage, something like wolfman.

  1. Pingback: Installing the panniers and GPS mount | Stroming The World

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