Shopping with the Magadans

Supplies were getting low so it was time to saddle up and head to town, a good opportunity to try out the Magadans and also see how the bike managed with a heavy load.

I’m still dithering about exactly what sort of rack to make but did have a bit of a brainwave the other day – I promise you you won’t have seen a rack like this before!  So for the moment I taped on a couple of sticks (left) to keep the swinging bags out of the wheel and chain. If I got lost I could rub them together to make a fire.

The Mags are intended to use straps to wrap it around a rack, and have a couple of loops to enable that, but they could also do with some regular fixing straps, additional loops or D-rings on the back edges (as on the Enduristan Monsoons, right, or most other throwovers), to stop an empty bags flying about. That’s easy enough to sew on by hand, especially as the outer bag isn’t the main waterproof element.

And here on the left is a picture of one I made later. The sewing was easy enough providing the needle was thin, but poking a red-hot rivet shaft through the pannier fabric to make a hole for the rivet took a couple of goes which makes me wonder if there’s more to that ballistic Twaron fabric than meets the eye. Maybe it really is stab proof, or certainly very resistant. The hot shaft sailed through the nylon strap like it wasn’t there.

For the moment I looped the bags’ pocket-tightening straps round the pillion mounts and set off. It’s got to be said the Suzuki motor’s characteristics aren’t exactly in the 900SS- or even SV650 category, with a pre-watershed power deliver that’s flat enough to host a roller disco on Friday nights. Is it still restricted, I wonder some times. I’m sure the previous owner supplied the constriction washers for the carbs loose in a bag. But, it gets you there and has yet to drop below 60mpg, and the seating position with the flat track bars is just great.

With supermarkets an infrequent treat these days, you can get a bit over-excited and after an hour’s drooling I trollied out of Tescos wondering how a hundred quid’s worth- and a good 30-kilos of tucker would actually fit on the bike. It took about 20 minutes to pack correctly, with the heavily loaded bags now swinging into the wheel, – like post-twinshock throwovers do. It’s made worse by the GS’s ‘aero’ side panels with their fake bulge. The sticks helped a little but I hoiked the bags up high and over a box of spinach and polenta ragu on the back seat as the velcro overlap was otherwise too short to take that kind of load, even though the straps are innovatively velcroed on both sides for extra grip.

As mentioned in the review, I’d prefer a more versatile, ordinary buckle relying on fiction, or even the same q/d clips used on the roll top straps. Maybe velcro (also on the Monsoons) is more pillion-butt friendly but I doubt they’d take the weight of an unsupported bouncing throwover for long (hence AS’s advice for straps round a rack). However, I plan to sit my bags on a rack so the back seat strap arrangement won’t be weight bearing. I’ve ordered a few likely buckles as well as some brass D-rings to sew onto the bottom corners to help locate the bags.

On the road the loaded GS-R still felt well balanced. It seems a happy coincidence that my guessed at suspension mods – DR front end and a longer SV650 shock have worked out so well, especially on the back end which so far feels just right, though that might all change when it gets hot, or the over-levered GS linkage snaps.

At a guess I’d say the fortnight’s shopping added up to the same as a maximum overland load, but the back end didn’t droop and the bike rode through the bends well enough. I’ve still got to change the back brake master cylinder for a DR unit to match the caliper to regain full braking, so I can’t tear around with impunity just yet. As it was I stopped a couple of times to make sure nothing was melting or rubbing. It was all just about hanging together on the back, but reminds me I’ve really must get on the case with this rack. Oh, here it is, nearly.

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