Tag Archives: Enduristan Monsoon panniers

Exactly how big is soft baggage?

Updated 2020

See also: Soft Baggage Comparison


I said this already: soft bags may be ancient, pack animal-era technology but they have very much caught on in advworld. Some are little different to the things I was throwing over my bike 40 years ago; one or two feature significant innovations in mounting, fabrics, lockability and more.

On advrider (as well as in my own review) questions got asked about the volume claims of the GL Siskiyou pannier: 34L said GL, while me and another guy measured l x h x w as near as we could and came up with 24L.

‘Aha!’ the bloke from GL replied – we establish volume by filling out our bags with beans until they bulge out and that way get 35 litres so that’s what we rate them at. It sounded plausible and got me thinking: what is the maximum volume of a shaped, non-elastic but flexible rectilinear container like a motorcycle side pannier? Logic suggests as the box form flexes out sideways under the weight on contents, the shorter side will pull in and the volume will remain constant.


But intuition (or maybe logic too) suggests capacity ought to increase: the classic Envelope Test performed by an obscure Cartesian monk, Antoine de Connerie in front of a disbelieving King Philippe V in 1444:
An envelope is a flat container with a volume of next to nothing; open it a little and volume increases, open it a lot and volume increases some more up to a point when opening it out too much will reduce volume to near zero again as it folds back in on itself.

Al Jesse [Luggage] and I discussed this: he reckoned volume of a rectilinear vessel is fixed, but I was not convinced and now I have the answer: If the flexible container is a cube (l x h x w all the same) volume when filled (with beans, water, anything non-compacting) will not be altered much. There may be some fabric bulge.


But a rectilinear flexible box (‘suitcase’) seeks to attain the geometric nirvana of cubic equilibrium and does deform and expand substantially. L x w x h on my Magadans rolled up and clipped came in at 24L (left). It doesn’t sound so much and would be identical to a 24L metal box.

But, fill the Mags with water and you’ll easily get 40 litres in each side, as the pictures right and below show. Seems hard to believe but there are no less than two fills of that 20L white bucket inside the Mag bag, rolled up, clipped down and ready to roll were it not for the fact that it would give me a hernia trying to lift 40kg (88lbs).


Does this all really matter? Yes, it does because for a start, the l x w x h method doesn’t truly represent the maximum potential volume (MPV) of a flexible, non-cuboid container, even if the maxed-out 40L capacity demonstrated on the left is unlikely to be achieved in the real world of packing your panniers with normal travel stuff.

It matters all the more when trying to compare stated fabric pannier volumes with rigid metal or plastic boxes as a guide to buying one or the other. My comparisons in the table at the bottom uses the l x w x h method but that only compares like against like. In all cases you can get more in your bags.


Even then, I think the dimension ratios of a flexible container may also have something to do with it. I recall the guy from Enduristan saying something like the reason their original Monsoons (left, reviewed here) are wide (closer to a cube form) is that they have/can make more volume (by presumably having less far to go to reach ‘cubic optimisation’).

But on a motorcycle I still believe slimness is a desirable attribute and is something that for example, Jesse Luggage strive to maintain in their mounting systems and cases. Al likes to boast that some of his rack and box setups are narrower than competitors’ racks alone.

So, in summary, think carefully when comparing stated rigid box volumes against fabric panniers. A rigid box’s capacity is immutable but a soft bag may be more than you think.

The Magadan was used because it was the pannier I used at the time, but this test would work and give similar results with any similar product. 

Giant Loop Siskiyou Panniers – a close look

See also: Soft Baggage Comparison


Giant Loop are well known for their innovative ‘horseshoe’ bags which wrap around the back of a dirt bike but which, in my opinion, are not especially easy to use day-in, day-out and have been proven not to be waterproof and have zips which can be weak points. That may not matter for a weekend run with your mates in the hills, but does on the overland.

Now Giant Loop have joined the likes of Enduristan, Adventure Spec and a few others in producing a conventional throwover pannier, the Siskiyou, named after a mountain range in southern Oregon. These types of panniers are just about as old as motorcycling of course, up till a few years ago Ortliebs were widely used by moto travellers. I recall my first pair of ‘soft bags’ in the late 70s, elegant lightweight cases (left) crafted from a lustrous space-age combination of vinyl-coated cardboard. But this was the advent of the monoshock era where soon they’d be no more twin shocks to keep the swinging pannier backs out of the rear wheel or final drive. As I say elsewhere, over the years I’ve melted my fair share of soft panniers and even dealt with small luggage fires (right). Nevertheless, I still prefer soft luggage for overland or adventure travel despite the drawbacks of security, perhaps combined with one small detachable hard case for valuables.

These panniers were sent to me for a quick look by Adv Spec

… A ‘round-the-world contender, Giant Loop’s Siskiyou Panniers™ combine the convenience of hard panniers with all of Giant Loop’s performance advantages. Rugged, rackless, lightweight — and damn sexy…. Backed by a Limited Lifetime Warranty…

The GL website specs shown above left also claim each pannier has a volume of ’35 litres’. I’m not the first person to question how they arrived at this figure; my calcs put it at more like 24 litres. We’re all used to exaggerated claims, but that was quite a discrepancy. I read that they measure their luggage products by filling them with beans and doing so I suppose it’s possible that a soft fabric pannier would bulge out. In fact I’ve since found that that is exactly the case so Giant Loop’s estimate of 35 litres is right in the ball park.

GL are fairly ambiguous about what they’re made from other than ‘military-spec materials and construction‘, but it looks like the well-proven and widely used combination of a Cordura shell with a vinyl back, interior and lid. Unusually, sandwiched inside this thick shell is an unseen additional layer of closed cell foam, or something similar. It helps shape the bags and also reduce damage by padding the contents when you crash. GL wisely suggest that any hard-edged items in the baggage are well wrapped for such an eventuality: it’s standard practice in packing soft baggage.


Rather like the Monsoons, the top edge of the Siksiyou’s shell has a sewn-on sleeve of coated nylon with a thin zip and roll-up clips, similar to a dry bag. Inside you get a separate yellow nylon liner (below right) cut more or less to fit in the panniers, with well-taped seams, a thick layer of TPU coating on one side, plus another thin zip and roll-top clips. Over the top of this drops the thick PVC lid which clips down on straps, with additional separate straps for attaching stuff to the top of the lid rather than tucking it under the lid straps – another nice touch. Inside the lid is a flat zipped mesh map pocket.


There’s also a small cinch-cord pocket on the front of each pannier, but although they describe it as ‘bellowed’ it’s actually a simple wedge that’s nowhere near as big nor usefully box-shaped as the four pockets you get on Magadans although it’s said they’ve been designed to take 2-litre Touratech cans, as pictured left. On the right, a 1.5 litre water bottle in the pannier’s pocket.


The two bags join together using broad vinyl velcro pads. These pads feature additional lashing rings to secure other luggage or to fix it all to your bike. The Magadans use the same system, but  with a pair of wide velcro straps rather than full-width pads which seems bit OTT. Me, I’d prefer buckles and straps over velcro anyway, because as the volume of your load changes or rough roads take their toll, fine tuning the tension may be required – and that’s much more easily done with adjustable buckles that super sticky velcro, be it strap or pad. On the Mags such a buckle mod is easy to do – with the Siskies you’re stuck with the pad which I’m also not sure would be great to sit on on a hot day. The GL installation page suggests: “For 2-up riding, affix a small seat cushion to the top of the Siskiyou Panniers“.


To stop the bags sliding back you get a strap to attach to the pillion footrest or thereabouts (left), as on the Monsoons but something that was missing from the Magadans’ first version. Subsequent versions low have a tie-off D-ring.


Included with the Siskiyou bags are a pair of alloy exhaust guards (rather like I bodged on my Suzuki – I got the idea from GL). You also get two hose clips, some instructions and a sticker and to stop your sidepanels getting scuffed GL can also supply some protective vinyl film. The exhaust guards are an admission that many a soft pannier has melted like a Cornetto when it shifted or otherwise got too close to the pipe. Modern efi bikes with catalysers run especially hot and indeed the Siskiyou panniers tested on a Husky Terra by Cycle World magazine (April 2013) melted. So like GL say, additional guards may be neededOn any bike you need to think carefully how loaded throwovers will react when they shift on rough roads against a hot pipe. This need avoid or deal with meltdowns with soft bags is why some riders understandably prefer hard alloy or firm resin boxes, although in my opinion mounting soft bags on some sort of rack is the way round this flaw.


The Siskiyous have a sporty cutback base which makes them more suitable for regular bikes with low, upswept pipes. Whatever, this shape will greatly increase the Siskiyou’s fitting options to many more bikes than the usual adv suspects. The GL logo is emblazoned on the sides, but in a pleasingly understated way. Unless that ‘GL’ logo glows, I’m not sure there any reflective surfaces as found on the Mags and Monsoons – possibly the thin edge of the lid?

I did also wonder if access would be a bit of a faff. If they’re fully locked down you unclip the two lid straps, unclip and unroll the outer bag and unzip it, then unclip and unroll the inner bag and unzip that – and you’re in! Of course you don’t need to use those zips; their protection against waterproofing is minimal and zips can jam or break when dirty or used carelessly. In this respect I prefer the bomb-proof, roll-top simplicity of the Magadans and the Monsoons.


So all up you’re getting a good sized touring pannier that looks well made and is usefully featured. The foam protection sandwich is a nice touch, as is including exhaust guards and several lashing points on under and behind the bags; you get a feeling they took a lead from Enduristan here. But – is this £475 ($700) worth of pannier when in the UK Magadans go for £350 and Monsoons for just £230? I wondered that perhaps if you’re paying for the ‘limited lifetime warranty‘ but that only covers the “original purchaser… against … defective materials and craftsmanship only, and does not include damage due to normal wear and tear or misuse“, so no big deal there; after a year they could just put any failure down to wear or misuse.

Siskiyous look like they were designed for on a Honda CB550X Rally Raid

The Siskiyou panniers certainly feel like they’re up to the rigours of overland travel and design and features fit the bill without any radical innovation. You just need to ask yourself in turn whether the bill for a set lives up to your expectations.

Shopping with the Magadans

Index page

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.

Kriega Overlander system – Quick Look

See also:
Soft Baggage Comparison
Overlander S which came next

AMH contributor Nick T dropped by while on tour through the Western Isles on his ’05 Dakar 650 equipped with his new Kriega Overlander baggage system. I saw prototypes at a bike show earlier in the year and had another chance to take a closer look at Nick’s set up and hear his views after a few day’s use.

Kriega’s solution to the soft baggage option is a modular system using up to four of their Overlander 15 roll-top bags (15 litres; left and below) mounted on a ~8mm-thick plastic plate – or as they call it, ‘Adv Platform’, right. This platform in turn screws onto your regular 18mm tube hanging rack (more about racks here) using four clamps with a quick-release cam mechanism like the q/r skewers found on pushbike wheels: you screw up the slack with a knurled knob and then lever over the cam-pivot to clamp the plate securely to the rack. That can be done to the two horizontal bars as Nick did – so allowing some forward and back repositioning of the load – or as the Kriega image of their plate above right suggests, attach one clamp to a vertical element of the rack to eliminate forward and back sliding – something I’d say is unlikely to happen if clamped on correctly, except in a crash.

The ability to slide forward and back even a few inches (Nick-mode) is useful as it means you can position the bags as far forward as possible when not riding two-up. That’s good for CoG and so, handling. One of the Jesse Luggage systems has this feature with their boxes. With a heavy load it can make a big difference to how a bike responds, especially on rough tracks.

You don’t have to use two pairs of Kriega’s 15-litres bags. You could mount an alloy box or any other soft pannier to the plate, providing you have the rack of course. In my opinion, a rack is the way to go for hardcore overlanding with soft baggage, as well as with hard boxes or firm cases.

The Ov-15 bags look like they simply strap to the plate, rather like Wolfman bags do to their racks (right).

But Nick explained, five screw-and-lock rivets also fix the bags to the plate and help support the weight. The straps do pass through slots in the plates edges but mainly to compress the bag’s load volume. If I understood him right, Nick also mentioned that the tensioning cam buckles pulling into the gap between the bags was awkward, but perhaps the straps can be easily reversed to pull outwards. The rivets screw through holes in the back of outer bag (right) and require an allen key or similar to tighten into place or release. Once fixed on like this, the bags are not easily removed from the plate should you decide to reconfigure your set up. To remove the baggage you remove the entire plate (see below).

The zipless, roll-top bags themselves use Kriega’s usual 1000D ‘Rhinotek’ Cordura fabric, similar (in appearance at least) to my Magadans. Inside white liners are velcro’d to the top edge of the outer bag. It struck us both that white was a good idea for better visibility when digging around looking for something. And as I mentioned in the Magadan review, removable inner bags are the way to go. The Kriega inner bags are made of something like PU-coated nylon with taped seams, but reassuringly thicker than your average stuff sack and it’s all guaranteed for ten years according to the website. Like I say in the Magadan review, I think PVC- or PU-type fabric with heat- or RF-welded seams (like Ortlieb baggage) would be bomb-proof, high-wear solution for a liner, but it’s less flexible when cold compared to nylon which as a result rolls up tighter and so makes a better seal against water ingress. Nick said he rode through a downpour on the way up which got through his Rukka membrane jacket, but his three Kriega bags survived bone dry.

The Kriega platform can be easily adapted to take accessories, most commonly a pair of tough Rotopax rotomolded fuel or water cans at 3.8 litres (1 US gal) each. They lock on with a rotating clamp mount (Kriega accessory) which presses the cans against the rack. All up that’s a weight of up to 11kg on the one-kilo spindle mount, so you’d hope it’s up to a long session of corrugations (which starts me of again on my platform rack preference: separating the location/mounting from load bearing). I must say I prefer bags for water and fuel: they’re lighter and take up less space when not in use, but a rigid fluid container is so much easier to handle than a floppy bag, especially with water which gets more frequent use. (I use a rigid day bottle and keep the mass of water – when needed – in a bag).

Nick demo’d the removal of one side from the rack and I have to say that it still looks a fiddly procedure, just as it did when I saw it done at a bike show a while back. We’re talking a minute or two, but it’s quite tight in there between the back of the plate and the rack (possibly near a hot pipe, too). You need to loosen the four knurled base wheels and then swivel all the cam levers to get enough slack to lift the plate clear of the rack tubes, but not so much slack so the cam spindles unscrew completely and fall out. You’d soon learn just how many turns are needed. I was just pushbike touring for a few days, using my Ortlieb Classic QL1 bags and as I’ve said elsewhere, it feels great to effortlessly lift the bag off or clip it on, especially when you’re shagged out or distracted.

Whether you’re camping or lodging with the Overlanders, you’d probably need to remove them daily (unless you lift out the inner bags) which could get a pain. Removal could be speeded up with only a little loss in solid mounting by replacing the lower lever clamps with fixed, weight-bearing slot-in U-mounts as found on many metal boxes. The use of four fiddly q/r clamps does seem OTT to me** and they’re not actually theft proof either (though that could easily be done by drilling the cam levers to take a thin cable lock). And if you’re removing the plates frequently then a handle across the top cut out (strap or part of the plate) was something they may have missed.

**Oct 2012: I’m told the lower mounts are to be redesigned, possibly along the lines I mention.

I believe a simple and foolproof but solid mounting system for anything regularly removed from a moving object – moto baggage; crash helmet; running shoes – is important because with anything repetitive you can get both blasé or distracted midway if it takes a while. All the more when it’s not a simple ‘clip on’ procedure when half awake in the morning surrounded by two-dozen spear-wielding tribesmen or a pilfer-prone crowd. While at the other end of the day, when worn out after a tough ride, irrational levels of frustration can be focussed on uncooperative inanimate objects like your baggage, when all you want to do is get inside, fed and rested. Meanwhile, a slick system like Ortlieb’s QL (admittedly not perfect or robust enough for overland moto use) can be a pleasure to use. If it’s also field repairable and secure against opportunist theft, so much the better.

As for modularity, for overland use, I feel that’s not so useful. You set off for months with what you have: a pair of big bags like Magadans, Gascoynes, or metal boxes. That suits me more than three or four small bags to deal with. The necessary and useful  compartmentalisation of your stuff is of course addressed inside the bags, along with something mounted on the back, on the tank and elsewhere round the bike. It’s possible Kriega may bring out a bigger, 30-litre+ side bag (or, as said, you could mount your own), but having looked again, I still feel the removal system (perhaps intended as a one-size-fits-all solution) could be refined [and is being so – see **].

The cost of a plate with clamps is £139 while weighing 1.2kg. Each Ov15 bag is £59 (600g) with the five rivets. The Rotopax mount kit (1kg) is £59. Their fuel can is £55 and water can £32 (both are listed at 2.3kg). So at a guess Nick’s set up would have cost £600 or $976 in the US if you add up the online prices and it would weigh in at 7.7kg (17lbs) empty, according the Kriega/Rotopax online figures. I didn’t get a chance to measure the bags, but the 15-litre volume looks about right. For a four-bag set up I’ve seen an advert in ABR quoting £489.

Tough build quality with some clever features, but in places over-designed, that’s been my opinion of some of Kriega’s moto baggage products over the years. To be fair the company produces load-carrying solutions for the much larger mainstream motorcycling market where I believe it goes down very well, rather than specialising in overlanding like say, Touratech. Stuff like their tool kit or the R3 Waist Pack are great, but for my sort of riding I’d take a full-size pair of roll-tops like the Magadans – easily [de-]mounted and ideally locked onto a platform rack.

The fact is though, there are nearly as many ways of equipping your bike and carrying your gear as there are places to take it. The Kriega Overlander system offers very secure mounting for gear, fuel and water making it well suited to recreational rough riding in wilderness areas such as deserts outside the AMZ on your small-tanked enduro bike (as the imagery on their website suggests). In this scenario you mount your bags once off the pickup/leaving home and may not need to remove them against theft or downpours each night – something which you do when riding most of the time from town to town in the AMZ.

Motorcycle Luggage Racks

Originally written 2012, overhauled 2020
There are 24 pages on luggage and racks in AMH8
See also MYO racks on this sticky HUBB thread

The problem with off the shelf pannier racks like the classic ‘racktangle’, above left and right, is that they:

• may not make them for your bike
• may cost more than you’d like
• are too wide
• are often too far back

Those are some of the reasons I made my own rack for my first travel bike, an XT 500 (below), way back in 1982. It was rubbish but it did the job.

On the next couple of trips I used no rack. People do manage – usually on smaller bikes with lighter loads – but for overland travel, classic, strap-over throwovers are a throwback to a twin-shock era. The problem is usually with the high pipe of a trail bike. The bag presses on the panel which melts and – on a hot day on the south side of the Sahara (below) – the plastic catches fire soon followed by the ex-army canvas panniers and your favourite pyjamas.

Small baggage fire near Arlit, Niger.

What is wanted is a rear rack that attaches to the subframe and other key points as low, forward and close to the bike as possible so the mass follows suit, while allowing for those instinctive corrective dabs when losing control, as well as paddling in soft terrain.

I first saw a ventura rack in the early 1990s on the Tanami Track in northern Australia (left) and was so staggered that dirt touring bikes (admittedly, possibly two-up?) could be loaded like this that that I put a picture in the first AMHandbook and nearly every edition since. Ventura’s idea is that you can reverse the upright bar to point forward to load your sack forward to improve ‘weight distribution’. Tell me about it.

In a nutshell the mass wants to be as close to the bike’s supposed centre of gravity as possible which, with a load and rider aboard, is in the region of the injectors (right).
‘Mass centralisation’ became a buzz word with Honda bike design a few years ago, and was a concept applied by bike makers like Buell. 

It makes sense, especially on a loaded motorcycle traversing less than perfect roads. The more central the mass the more predictably the overland-loaded machine responds to the forces of its own inertia as the suspension moves the sprung weight up and down over rough terrain. That adds up to better control, no freaky handling vagaries like tank-slappers, smoother riding and so less fatigue. All up, the key to surviving a long day on the road in the AM Zone.
Above left: mass decentralisation. Think of the leverage!

Platform racks

As mentioned, when it came to making a rack for my XT500, the idea was fairly obvious: make platforms (left).
Even though I’d been despatching for a few years with throwovers or more commonly just a big top box, when it came to carrying a big load to the desert, a low platform down on the sides made intuitive sense.

The execution using Dexion shelving was poor, although that slack-rack did carry the load to the desert and back – albeit with a radically reduced once I came to my senses. It probably survived because there was so much jelly-like flex it was unable to summon up the tension to snap outright. The mld steel ‘L’ platform element was bolted onto a Craven rack – the ‘Jesse Luggage’ of its day, with plywood planks screwed on and sharp corners trimmed

Platform racks have been around for years, among other places used on army BSAs in the 50s and 60s (left). I’ve always liked the principle but these tinny, hinged trays were designed to take a specific panniers or to swivel up out of the way when not in use. It’s a logical and effective form of support. Within limits you can securely load anything on there; box, bag, sickly calf, bulging sack, except the sliding support arms get in the way of bigger loads.

Same goes for the solid (unhinging) version, left (notice the nifty mini inner platforms too). A secure placement for alloy boxes which would need next to nothing to stay in place.
I had similar racks made for the Sahara, but using soft bags (below), but you can’t help worrying about that hard front edge on your lower legs. This never occurred to me until Desert Riders when we added big metal boxes to remind us how they might hurt.

When using a rigid container like an alloy box there’s no need to have a full-width shelf; an inch-wide ledge will support a metal box, as it did on our Desert Riders XRL racks (below). The welding was superb but that rack was over-built, slapping metal over metal in search of strength but actually blinding the function by adding excessive weight. We did carry very heavy loads at times (left), but two of the XRLs cracked their subframes.

The reason platforms are not used these days is that sticking out looks inelegant, injury inducing and damage-prone in a fall. But when overlanding, your gear is on there all the time and so a fixed platform rack is no different from the angular edge of an ally box, except when it comes to removing baggage and wheeling a bike indoors overnight.
Below, Sean F’s very neat fixed platform rack addressing some of the issues for his soft-bagged DR650. if you get platform racks, this would be an idea to copy.

I still like the idea a platform rack with a hinged element so as to carry anything that fits while being slim when unloaded. The problem is without using the BSA sliding struts requires some sort of unsupported platform or cantilever. As always, you need to visualise how it will respond to slides down the road or hours of corrugations with maximum loads

There are various ways of arranging this cantilever, but the only one I’ve seen was on these Chinese 125s (left) pictured in Angola. If you look closely you’ll see the pivoting platform swings out to rest on a shallow ‘L’ bar. Providing it’s chunky enough, the leverage on the pivot and load on the bar ought to be met. A wider ‘L’ rest bar means less stress but you don’t want the fixed part being too wide.

A search on Google Images most probably identified that ‘Angolan’ rack (right) as one produced by none other than The Chongqing Meihuan Machine Manufacturing Company.
With a closer look you can see the pivot/support works by lowering on a spring to rest horizontally on the pillion footplate. Note the sub-racklets at the back, too.

And here is another hinged plat-rack made for this lightweight utility bike by former Italian custom bike maker, Borile. Like the Angolan rack, it’s a bit on the wide side for overlanding duties rather than transporting your goods to market, but the principle is the same.

There loads more on racks and baggage in the book.