I've always admired sports tourers with specifically designed pannier luggage as they look so impressive, comfortable and "complete''. Some examples are the Triumph Trophy 1200, BMWs, and Ducati ST2 / ST4. I seriously considered a set of Corbin Beetle Bags but the measely capacity would not have justified the rediculous price tag of USD$1300 to have them fitted after taking into account the exchange rate and shipping from the US (plus the horror stories and personal bad experiences ordering from Corbin). The Monokey and Nonfango range was too general and would have spoilt the wonderful lines of the Bird. They also stick out too much...yucks. All bikers lane split in Singapore and zipping in-between cars on a wide Monokey sidebox-ladened Bird would definitely result in some scrapes against expensive cars sooner or later or leave me stuck between idiotic drivers who don't leave me enough space to squeeze through.
toyed with the idea of customizing a set of panniers from one of the above tourers to fit my Bird and narrowed it down to the Ducati ST, Honda ST11 or BMW touring panniers. I finally decided that the Ducati ST panniers would best fit the curving edges of the Bird's tail section. What I needed was to borrow a set for 2 minutes to simply place against my bike's tail section to see if they'd fit. I knew the Ducati agent in Singapore wouldn't be too forthcoming with lending me a set outside their dealership, if only for a minute.
When I asked this guy on a ST4 who stopped beside me at a stoplight if I could try his panniers for a minute, he displayed the sad trait which can only be described as Rider's snobbery, when he told me I should "get a half decent bike instead". So I used my laptop and did some crude cropping, cutting and pasting with digital St4 & Blackbird pics. They seemed to fit.on screen, so I set about enquiring about the price for a brand new pair. Nonfango who made the ST4 panniers under a OEM contract wouldn't sell me direct and Ducati sells their OEM Panniers at $xxxx.
One Bike agent assured me they wouldn't fit and wouldn't import a set for me. I began searching the web for a secondhand set and found one guy in Australia who was letting his seldom used Panniers for USD$875. We agreed on USD$590 and he agreed to split the freight costs with me. The day they arrived, my wife was going in to deliver our first daughter so I had to wait a week to have them fitted. I knew the specialty metal workshop I went to wouldn't agree to take on the job so I simply showed up with the 2 boxes and the mounting brackets strapped precariously to my Bird.
Of course they said it couldn't be done but I kept insisting it could. They tried to convince me the best way was to mount the brackets wide - Monokey style but I persisted and eventually they agreed ..for a price, which I thought was pretty fair considering the amount of work they'd have to put in. Sturdy mounting points were welded to the frame and the brackets were modified big-time. The exhausts were lowered about 1 ï¿½' to accommodate the brackets being tucked in between the swingarm and the seat edges. Both brackets were connected by a stainless steel cross brace (which I'll paint black soon) for added rigidity. The result was extremely satisfactory to me.
I had the removable side covers on the boxes painted from red to match my Bird's blue and the job was done. Each pannier is easily 35L - can fit a full-face helmet each. Total cost including installation - USD$873.50. I've since used my bike more in the last 2 weeks than I have in the last 2 months. Now, I'm considering selling the Magna. I guess the panniers could be 1 cm closer but all in all a good fit. I loaded them up and hardly felt a difference in handling because the boxes are close to the bike. I can safely say this bike is a completed project. It's now a fully-fledged super tourer. Someone asked me why I didn't just get a box-equipped sports tourer and the answer is nothing looks as impressive as the Bird's lines on the road today. Sports Tourers generally look too sedate for my taste.. maybe until the X-Wing becomes a reality. My wife and I fell in love with the Birds lines the first day we saw it. In fact she's the one who nagged me to sell my Bandit S1200 for the 2000 Bird.