Tested: Touratech’s New Zega Evo Pannier System
The war rages on between hard and soft panniers. Painful leg strikes vs. stolen valuables are among the top arguments for one style or the other. In the end, each has valid reasons for existence and the user must decide what best fits their application. As with all things motorcycle, owning more than one style could be considered a worthy investment.
The last time I tested the Touratech’s Zega Pro panniers, I likened the product to a Rolex watch because of its precision engineering, user-friendly design and eye-grabbing aesthetics. But I’m left wanting for words to describe the new Zega Evo panniers. Perhaps TAG Heuer or Lange & Söhneesque would better suit the latest iteration from Deutschland.
The Zega EVO’s 1.5 mm aluminum construction is sturdy yet malleable enough to be reshaped on the fly if dented.
Several unique elements make these heretofore utilitarian boxes worthy of such accolades. The engineers at Touratech have designed a die-forged latching system, akin to the sliding bolt on a Mauser rifle. Touted as “removable in seconds,” we found that once unlocked, a snap of the fingers was sufficient time to eject one of the panniers from its sturdy, stainless-steel mount, with or without gloves. This robust mechanism looks great and there is no longer a need to open the box and remove heavy contents to separate it from the bike. Instead, a simple lift of the thumb-released tension lever gets it done with the Zega Evo panniers.
Touratech’s deep drawing process forms the 1.5mm aluminum lid and bottom with seamless precision, where in the past corners were folded and welded in place. The process reduces the occurrence of cracks or leaks and creates a smooth, rounded corner. The bottom is then riveted to the box and sealed with silicone. Touratech emblems are die cast into the sides, stiffening the walls and enhancing the appearance. Plastic hooks are screwed to the lids’ inside corners for suspending small items, and plastic armor shells wrap each exterior corner. A proven, silicone-lined tongue-in-groove rim seals the box.
How They Performed
Mounting the Zega Evo pannier racks was relatively simple on our 2018 R1200GS Rallye test bike, with the exception of a Catch-22 interference between the exhaust mounting bolt and right side footpeg bolt, both of which must be loosened for installation. Once bolted in place, the racks are as sturdy as they come, even acting as armor for the vulnerable muffler. I’ve always questioned the security of removable pannier racks and, thankfully, Touratech has avoided the bandwagon here by bolting the frames in place.
Comfortable handles make carrying the Zega Evo panniers a cinch and magnetic snaps allow easy removal of the lids. Once unlocked, a snap of the fingers was sufficient time to detach a pannier.
Severe water testing was performed at the car wash. After deliberately targeting the seals we found a few tiny drops in one pannier. The other was bone dry. As with previous Touratech panniers, we had no issue with rattles or loosening at mounting points. Ergonomically, my asymmetrical (due to the exhaust) 38- and 45-liter panniers were well placed, adding a secure platform for mounting soft bags above the lids and sufficiently clearing rider and passenger legs. Due caution is still in order off pavement as an errant dab could be met with an unyielding edge.
The larger box easily accepted my full-face helmet and a few other essentials, a nice touch when security matters. Locks are standard, easy to install and keyed alike. Comfortable, web handles make toting a cinch and magnetic snaps allow easy removal of the lids’ limit straps. Front and rear latches hinge either way or simply unlock, allowing the lids to be used as pans if needed.
The larger box easily swallows a full-face helmet with room to spare for other essentials.
Touring two-up is a lot easier with ample storage and the Evos delivered. A mixture of on- and off-pavement riding with my wife felt natural, even comfortable. The quick-release system and web handles were great at hotels and the boxes served double duty while camping as seats and tables. We’ve yet to test them in a fall but with previous iterations of the Zegas, the Mundo and Zega Pro, we found their 1.5 mm aluminum sturdy yet malleable enough to be reshaped on the fly. We don’t have any accessories yet but handy stainless steel pins are strategically mounted for affixing bottles and other components to the exterior without needing to drill.
Who Are They For?
Travelers looking for a more secure luggage option when leaving their bike unattended in cities. For road use or mild to moderate backcountry travel, the Zega Evo panniers leave few reasons to look any further.
Competition is stiff in the hard pannier market. Touratech continues to raise the bar for all comers. Their experience is evident in this latest iteration and we, the end user, benefit from one of the finest versions to date. Function and appearance are also spot on, and Touratech offers a wide array of accessories to extend their utility.
What We Liked
- Quality is top shelf throughout, from the deep drawn, armored corners to the tough, secure seal.
- The locking, bolt-action latch mechanism just works and it’s fun to operate.
- The quick-release limit straps make lid removal a snap.
- From bolted, welded stainless steel racks to die-forged latching hardware, they are built to last.
What Could Be Improved
- A better solution could be engineered to avoid interference between the exhaust mounting bolt and right foot peg bolt during installation.
Zega Evo Panniers Specs
COLOR: Cases: Anodized Silver, Anodized Black; Racks: Electropolished Stainless, Black Epoxy Coated Stainless
SIZE: 31L, 38L and 45L ( each side)
CONSTRUCTION: Cases: 1.5mm aluminum with welded and stainless steel rivet construction; Racks:18mm diameter stainless steel round tubing
COMPATIBILITY: BMW F850Gs, F750GS, F850GS Adventure, R1200GS, R1200GS Adventure, R1250GS, R1250GS Adventure; KTM 1090, 1190, 1290 Adventure models; Honda Africa Twin CRF1000L and CRF1000L2