First impressions: Gear Gremlin Sports Touring Panniers review

Taking the soft option

YOU’VE got a family camping weekend planned, with two kids and a four-man tent to move 70-odd miles. Then your ancient car blows its head gasket. What do you do?

I decided to pack my family off on the train and meet them there, with all the equipment loaded onto my SV650. Tent strapped to the pillion seat, a quilt and blow-up mattress in the 48-litre top box, clothes in the tank bag. I got these panniers to take sleeping bags for the kids. Then the car mysteriously started working fine again. I have no idea why.

So my plan never happened and I’ve been using the panniers to kart my daily junk around instead. Camera equipment, computer, six-pack from the offie and so on.

Hard panniers would have cost hundreds of pounds, and I’d have had to wade through a too-complicated range of fixtures, boxes and rear-rack combinations. These were a single purchase of £90, require no permanent frames and, reassuringly, place the load across the pillion seat rather than on a handful of points on the sub-frame.

Aside from the obvious benefits of soft panniers, they seem well put together, with a nice carrying handle on each one and a substantial pair of Velcro straps attaching them together across the seat. Fitting was quick and easy, and they haven’t moved in the few weeks I’ve used them.

Undoing a zip expands them by a couple of inches in width (one of the pictures in our gallery shows one expanded and the other not) taking capacity from a claimed 12 litres each to 15. That seems oddly modest to me. My tank bag is a claimed 25 litres and they're at least as big as that. Expanded, each one will take a full-face helmet with a bit of space to spare.  

At the same time, they’re not too big. A pillion can still get their feet on the pegs. The indicators are not obscured and there’s space to pass a rugby ball between the right-hand pannier and my SV’s exhaust. Filtering is still possible.

They come with high-vis rain covers, which I’ve been storing in the side pockets and haven’t felt the need to use. Even parked in the rain all day, the panniers didn’t seem to let very much water through the zip.

The obvious disadvantages include not being able to leave anything of worth in them. And it’s a shame about that ugly anti-slip mat (which wasn't included) but soft luggage will mark unprotected paintwork.

Otherwise I’m quite pleased with them. The car has since relapsed and gone to the scrapyard, so I might even get to put them to the use I bought them for.

Product reviewed: Gear Gremlin Sports Touring Panniers

Price: £89.99


  • Sign up for Visordown's weekly newsletter, Bugsplat, to get the best motorcycle news, road tests and features plus exclusive competitions and offers direct to your inbox. Register as a Visordown member here and tick the box for Bugsplat in your newsletter settings here.