Rim blues – the end of the story

A week after receiving the rim, I finally found some time over the weekend to get down to it – it was final exams week at work and those days are always hectic.

I had to remove the brake discs from the damaged rim and install the onto the new one, which I expected would not be an easy task, since the five bolts holding each disk were glued to prevent them from coming loose. Then, there were the bearings. The rim I had bought had them fitted, but I did not know whether they would be in better or worse condition than the ones in the old rim.

So, the plan was to paint the rim over the weekend (it was silver, remember), as it required a coat of primer and 24 hours later at least one coat of matt black paint, and then on Monday take both rims and the tire to the shop and have the brake discs transferred, the bearings checked and swapped if necessary and the tire fitted.

Once I got to my parent’s place, however, my father, a retired mechanic, engineer and all-round DIY genius, checked the bearings and found that the ones in the new rim were in much better condition, so they did not need swapping, and he also said he felt confident that we could remove the bolts in the disks ourselves. Seeing a chance to get all the work done in one day, I started to have doubts about paining the rim and delaying things a further couple of days. On top of that, several people had told me that I should keep the rim in silver, as the V-Strom had had a long life and it was a fighter, so having mismatched rims would only add to its charm. The front left indicator is still held together with duct tape since the wind toppled the bike in a fjord in 2013, so I thought they had a point.

We set about removing the bolts, which required a long enough lever and a determined hand. Then I removed the ABS sensor disc, and when we were going to fit it on the new rim, we got an unpleasant surprise.

Even though the rim was for the 2007 to 2010 model, had the exact same codes as the one on my bike, had the disc brakes mounting points in the right place to make room for the ABS sensor disc, and the disc fitted snugly in the space provide for it… there were no mounting holes for the bolts that held it in place!

I could not believe it… Suzuki modified the rim then ABS became available in 2007, but apparently only drilled those holes on models equipped with it, which I personally think is an extra complication in the production line. Why not make all rims the same?

We were not going to let that drawback stop us now, so out came the tool collection that my father had built over decades and we tackled the problem.

We drilled three holes and, with a specialised tool, cut the thread for the bolts in them. The ABS sensor disc was perfectly secured in position and then we mounted the brake discs.

I managed to find a tire shop that was open on a Saturday afternoon and got the tire fitted at the moment for 20€, and the whole wheel finally went back onto the motorbike! All in all, it has taken almost a month, but my pockets are much happier than if I had had to pay for a new rim!


Il cerchio

Having admitted defeat on trying to have the rim repaired here in Barcelona, I considered my options:

  1. Strap it to the back of the AT, ride all the way to Astrakhan and have it fixed there.

As tempting as that sounded, I did not have the time nor the money for it (yet, but I want to go back there in the future).

  1. Buy a new rim.

List price for a new front rim is over 500€, which must be about half as much as my 160,000-kilometre bike is now, so that was also out of the question.

  1. Find a second-hand rim.

Now, that was a more realistic option. I first went to see Fabio at Hamamatsu Motor and told him my story. He agreed that a used rim was the best alternative, and quickly found one online, but it was sold through a professional breaker and it was a bit too expensive.

The cheapest option might be to source one from a private seller through motorbike forums and online ads, so we agreed that I would try that and if I could not find anything, he would order the one we had seen.

The problem is that anything at the front of a motorbike (rim, forks, headlights, etc.) is what breaks first in most accidents, so finding a good rim would be complicated, especially if I wanted it fast. To make matters worse, despite looking practically identical, the wheels for the ABS and non-ABS model are not interchangeable, and the V-Strom 1000 wheel is not compatible either. I spent a week visiting different sites and managed to locate up to four different rims, but they were all from non-ABS bikes. I located one that looked promising in southern Spain – it was in good condition and it was cheap, but for some reason the guy selling it kept me waiting for four days before confirming that it was for a non-ABS model. Argh!

I called Fabio to order the one we had seen, but it had already been sold. These things go fast! I went back online and finally managed to find the right one: ABS, 2007 model. The problem was that it was silver, not black. And in Italy. And more expensive than the other ones I had found… But at this point I could not afford to go on trying to find a good deal, and it was still way cheaper than a new one, so I ordered it.

A week later, it was delivered. I took it home, opened the package and checked that it was the right one.

The codes were the same:

And also the mounting points for the brake discs, which are the main difference between ABS and non-ABS models. The later mount in the hub, while the former have mounting points around the hub to make room for the ABS sensor disc:

Great! The only setback was that despite the fact that the picture in the ad showed the wheel without a tire, it had arrived with an old one fitted, I assume to protect the edge during transport. It was properly fitted and inflated, which meant that I had to go through the hassle of breaking the bead and removing it again… And this time I did not have an extra pair of hands to help me. Oh, and it was the hottest week in the year so far. Yay! Well, once more, good practice for the future. Here you can see how to break the bead with the side stand if you are alone:

Learning to break the bead on a tire

I went on my first adventure trip on a bike that had tubeless tires, so I was only carrying a puncture repair kit of the kind that plug a hole in the tire without having to remove it from the rim (not that it helped much when I dented the rim…)

The new bike has tube type tires, which mean that when I get a puncture I will need to remove the tube and either patch it or replace it. I have had the bike for over a year now, and although I do carry a couple of spare tubes, a set of tire irons and the tools needed to remove the wheel from the bike, I have never actually practised how to remove the tire. I kept telling myself that I had to learn how to do it before I find myself facing a puncture while travelling, at night, under the rain and in the middle of nowhere, but I never found the moment to do it.

Now that I had to take the V-Strom rim to have it repaired after this incident it was the perfect moment to see if I would be capable of breaking the bead and removing the tire. The V-Strom wheels are tubeless, meaning that the tire walls are reinforced and it is more difficult to break the bead. If I could do it on this wheel, I should be able to do it on the AT.

With the help of a friend, I set about it. We removed the wheel from the bike, laid it on the floor and tried with the tire irons first. I used a rim protector to prevent damage to the wheel, and even though the tire irons went in easily, it was impossible to break the bead with them, as I was expecting.

There are several ways of breaking the bead out on the road. The one I wanted to try did not involve any blocks of wood, clamps or specialist tools – it consists of using the sidestand and the weight of the bike to break the bead.

We put the wheel next to my friend’s bike (mine was too close to the wall to lean it properly), leant it to the right, slid the tire under the sidestand, leaned the bike back over to the left and, easily enough, the sidestand popped the tire from the bead. So, the method works.

A close shave on the motorway

A few days ago, as I was riding to work on the C-17 motorway, I changed lanes to overtake a car and suddenly saw a block of wood that must have fallen from a truck.

I could not avoid it, and the front wheel hit it at about 100km/h. The block was rather big, and I felt the motorbike lift off the tarmac and the block graze the back wheel. I was airborne for an instant only, but I had time to be perfectly aware of the situation and think that if the bike went into a tank slapper when it landed, things could end up really, really bad for me, so I held tight onto the handlebars and prepared for the worst.

The hit the ground and wiggled a bit, but it kept going straight almost immediately. Knowing that such an impact could have destroyed the front tire, I let the throttle go and braked gently with the back wheel to shed speed without loading the front wheel. The handlebars seemed to vibrate a little, but that was about it, the front tire had not gone flat. As the traffic was heavy and mi exit was the next one, I decided not to stop on the hard shoulder, as it might be dangerous. Out of the motorway and with the bike parked, I took a look at the front wheel and found this:

The impact had been only on the right side, and even though the rim had visibly bent, it still held the air, unlike the time this happened in Kazakhstan.

I called my insurance to see if that was covered, but didn’t held much hope, as this was my commuter bike and had a rather simple policy.

As I suspected, I was not covered against own damage and if I had not seen which truck the block fell from or had a written police report stating that there was a dangerous object on the road, I had to pay for the repairs myself. So, lesson learned: if you happen to be in a similar situation, stop right there and call the police to report the presence of the object on the road. If necessary, take pictures, and do not leave without having obtained a written copy of the police report. Only with that do you have a chance to claim the repair costs from whichever authority is responsible for that road, but even so, there is no guarantee…

Moroccan paperwork

Next step on our trip preparation – arranging the import forms for our motorbikes.

I have been told that there are long queues and general chaos at the border crossing in Melilla, and it is possible to expedite the process by having the temporary import forms for the vehicles you are travelling with ready beforehand. That way you save the hassle of finding the right window to obtain the forms, filling them in, dealing with local ‘helpers’, etc.

It is possible to fill in the temporary import form online and print out a copy to hand in directly at the crossing on this website.

Fill in all the information and print a copy. You get three copies of the same form in one A4 page, sign each of them in the ‘signature du déclarant’ section and they will fill the remaining information at the border (date and number). Customs keep the bottom form (Entrée), the second one (Apurement) will have to be handed when you leave the country and the third one (Exemplaire déclarant) is for you to keep.

If you do not speak French and need some help to fill in the online form, there is a translation/explanation in Tim Cullis’ Morocco Knowledge Base.

How to get the bikes to Morocco

One of the first things we looked at once we had the dates and a rough outline of the route we were going to do was to consider which options we had to get to Morocco. There are more than 1,000 km of motorway to get to the ferry that crosses the Gibraltar strait, too much to ride on one day.

The first alternative we considered was the ferry from Barcelona to Tangier – it would save us a long ride, petrol, tolls, tires… but unfortunately the ferry does not operate every day, and there was no ferry available for our departure day, the 26th of December.

The second alternative was to put the bikes on a trailer and drive to Algeciras. We would be able to take turns at the wheel, reducing fatigue and pay fuel and tolls only for one vehicle. It sounded like a good plan, if it were not for a couple of details – one, we did not have a trailer; two, none of our cars had a trailer hitch. Then Gerard remembered that his family have a trailer in his hometown – not a trailer for motorbikes, but a big one nevertheless, big enough to take three trail bikes. Not the kind to be easily discouraged, we rode halfway across the country to see the trailer and test whether the bikes would fit on it. If they did, then we could consider fitting a trailer hitch on my car and splitting the cost among the five of us.

The trailer was big indeed, but definitely not designed for motorbikes. It was quite high and did not have a ramp, so we had to improvise. Gerard provided an old desk that looked sturdy enough to support the weight of my bike (the biggest one) and I got it up the improvised ramp using the throttle and clutch while walking next to it, with the rest of the guys holding its back.

Once we got it on the trailer, it became clear that there was no way three bikes were going to fit in there.


That would have been the end of the trailer story, but a friend of mine offered to us his, which is specific for bikes. With our hopes up again, I went to get a quote for fitting a trailer hitch to my car and, to my dismay, it was a lot more than we had anticipated. Not only that, but there would be the extra cost of homologation, including a trailer in the insurance policy, the paperwork and having an extra license plate made. On top of that, the trailer is designed to fit three bikes, but of a smaller kind – endure bikes, race bikes… we had no guarantee that it would be able to take three big trails. That, and the time it would take to find secure parking for the car and the trailer near the port for two weeks plus the potential cost finally put us off the idea.


We also considered having the bikes sent as I did when I visited the south a couple of years ago, but the shipping costs for a two-way transport service, plus plane tickets were too high compared with fuel and tolls.

Finally, I was told that there is another ferry line connecting Almeria to Melilla and Nador, which would save us about 300km, bringing the ride down to about 800. We reckoned that if we set off early we could be in Almeria by early afternoon, giving us time to have a good rest and enjoy some tapas before taking the ferry before sunrise the following day.

Planning is half the fun!

Two weeks of holidays for Christmas mean that another big trip is coming up. This time I am going to head south for the first time – Morocco!

I have no excuse for not having visited Morocco yet. Living in Barcelona, Morocco offers a taste of African adventure only a day’s ride away from me, making the desert one of the big must-see destinations for European bikers alongside the Nordkapp, Stelvio Pass, Transfagarasan Road, etc. Well, actually, I do have an excuse – I only have holidays in August, Easter and Christmas, and can not take any days off besides that. Easter would be the perfect time to visit Morocco, but I only have a week, which is too short to ride there, see enough and then ride back. I have a lot more time in the summer, but the temperatures are too high, which leaves the winter holidays. It will be cold and we won’t be able to see most of the Atlas mountains, but there is a lot more to discover.

dsc_0777I won’t be riding alone this time, though – we are going to be five people in three motorbikes.

We’ll keep you posted!

Final touches to the AT

As I explained when I fitted the fuse box to the AT, I still had to install a few last things, most of which requiered routing wires from the handlebars and front part of the bike, under the fuel tank, and to the box under the seat. Space is tight, the fuel tank had to come out and I did not want to have to do it every time I was going to fit something, so I waited patiently until all parts had been delivered and got down to it with only a week to spare before the AT’s first big trip. I was going to fit:

  • Front fog lamps
  • Heated grips
  • 12V socket
  • Chain oiler system
  • Pre-wiring for rear fog lamp (I still have not received the Holan top case)

I needed the bike to go work, so I only had one afternoon to get everything done. In the days before I did all my homework, drawing the electrical schemes, cutting the wires, fitting the connector plugs, protecting them with heat shrink tubing, and generally pre fitting everything I could before the wiriing.

The chosen chain oiler was a PDoiler system, which is cheaper than a Scottoiler electronic system but still provides instant control of the amount of oil delivered to the chain. I was not convinced by the wicker system, though, so I replaced that with a Scottoiler dual injector.

DSC_0006I put the oil reservoir/pump combo on the right side of the subframe, behind the passenger footpeg. It does not stand out and it is the optimal position to route the wire to the fuse box and the oil tube to the swingarm and to the chain.

DSC_0017DSC_0075The dual injector is suposed to be mounted on the swingarm with zip ties or with special adhesive tape, but I went for a more elegant solution and bolted it to the chain guide under the swingarm, which is in the perfect position in the AT.

DSC_0008The injector is covered, so it is virtually invisible, and it is more securely mounted. This only requieres measuring the position, removing the chain guide and drilling a hole in it of the same diametre of the bolt included with the injector.

DSC_0011To fit the injector in the correct position you can then use the plastic spacers provided with it or a few washers for more precise adjustment.

DSC_0014I used the provided adhesive plastic clips to route the oil tube  and I fabricated a support to fit the the oiler control knob on the handlebars using the mounting that came with the 12V socket.

DSC_0019IMG_0290Then the day came. Right after lunch I started removing the fairings on the bike. The first time I did that I complained that it took too long, but as I learnt this second time, if you have the right tools and know what you are doing, you can remove everything reasonably fast. One thing I was worried about were the crash bars. I did not know whether it would be possible to remove the fairings with them on, as it was on the V-Strom.

It is not. At least with the Holan crash bars. The good news is that you don’t really need to remove them – if you loosen the bottom mounting point and remove the two bolts under the headlight, the whole assembly pivots forward and out of the way. I assume that with the PRO model four more bolts need to be removed from the radiatiors mounting points.

IMG_0285Removing the tank is also a fairly straightforward process – there is only one bolt to be undone (under the seat), even though you need to remove the seat lock assembly to access it, and you pull it up and back to detach it from the front mounting points, which are two rubber pegs. With the help of a friend who lifts the tank a bit, unplug the fuel line, two electrical connectors and the rubber tubes for the breathing and the overflow and you are done. It is much easier if the tank is empty or close to it, as it is much lighter.

I installed an aftermarket waterproof 12V socket which fit perfectly into the hole on the dashboard.


The heated grips proved to be a bit trickier. It took some swearing and sweating to pull the OEM grips off the handlebars, and while the heated left one slid in without problems (I had to put a couple of drops of glue to stop it form rotating afterwards), the right one refused to slid more than halfway in. In the end we used a big screw clamp to push it in. They do not have a separate control unit, it is integrated in the left grip, like the Honda OEM ones. This looks great, but I found that I kept turning them on accidentally every time I used the indicators, so I had to rotate it down a bit to make sure the button is out of the way.

The oiler control unit went on the right handlebar and the fog lamp switches on the left one, in a position I can easily reach with my thumb. I mounted them on a PMR bar switch that replaces the clutch clamp. It looks great, but the bolts did not align exactly with the holes in the clamps, we had to file them off a bit.

IMG_0289After fitting the fog lamps to the crash bars – very easy on the Holan ones, as they include two mounting points – all that was left was route all the wires along existing ones, secure them with zip ties and plug all the connectors. I strongly recommend fitting a fuse box on this bike, as the battery is difficult to access and it simplifies electrical work considerably.

We checked that everything worked and we put the bike back together.

Other last minute additions before the big trip have been a pair of Heidenau K60 tires and two custom made bags for the Holan crash bars to carry a pair of spare tubes and the tools to change them.

How to fit Holan crash bars

After a long wait (almost two months), I finally got the Holan crash bars for the AT. I have already fitted handguards, so all that remains now before I can offroad with peace of mind is a pair of knobbly tires.

I picked up the bars from the shipping company and as I was taking the tools out to the front yard I was readying my mind for whatever challenges Holan was going to throw at me this time – missing bolts, nuts or washers? misaligned mountings? – both from personal experience with the panniers and from what I usually read on forums, I was sure something was not going to go as planned. And I wasn’t wrong.

The surprise came as soon as I unpacked the upper crash bars. Holan makes two models, the ‘standard’ one and the ‘Pro’ one. The main difference, other than a slight difference in shape and the position of the bar that crosses under the headlight, is that the ‘Pro’ one has two additional mounting points that fit in the radiator mounts of the motorbike. Whether you want them or not, if you are buying them through the Spanish distributor, these are the only available option, but surprise motherf***er! Mine did not have the extra mounting points. They sure were shaped like the ‘Pro’ ones, but that bit was missing.

I had chosen Holan because I liked the fact that they covered as much of the fairing as the products from Honda, Touratech and Hepco & Becker for considerably less money, but also because they already included mounting points for the fog lamps. As for how sturdy they are, only time and crashes will tell. None of the alternatives (except for the Motortek ones) have the mounting points to the radiators, and having waited two months, I was not very keen on sending them back and face another two months wait, particularly when my holidays are coming up and I need the bike equipped for the trip, so I decided to keep them and ask for the difference to be reimbursed (the ‘Pro’ ones are 25€ more expensive). Time to fit them and see if there were other ‘surprises’ in store (other than the known fact that Holan does not include instructions).

crash-bars-for-honda-crf1000l-africa-twin (1) crash-bars-for-honda-crf1000l-africa-twin


The good news about both the upper and lower Holan crash bars is that they do not require the exhaust manifold to be removed, as they do not attach to the upper bolt in the engine mount, making things a lot easier.


I decided to start with the engine crash bars, as they only have two mounting points each and the process is very straightforward. At the back both use the mounting point for the piece of plastic that keeps your boots from scratching against the frame. Remove the Allen bolt and pull the plastic out on both sides of the bike.

IMG_9548Holan provides two longer Allen bolts with a washer to replace the OEM ones. (I like the fact that they seem to be of considerably better quality). Nothing missing so far.


At the front, the right one uses one of the bolts that connect the cradle frame coming from the bottom of the engine to the vertical beam between the radiators.

IMG_9551The OEM bolt is long enough, so no replacement bolt is provided. It is a bit tricky to remove with your fingers and to put back in place with the crash bar, but both to loosen it first and then to tighten it again there is enough space to work with a spanner without any problems.


There have been reports of problems with the plate at the back end of the right engine crash bar touching and bending a bit the plastic that protects the clutch housing. Some people have just left it that way, others have filed off a bit of plastic (number 2 on this picture, which is from a DCT model). I had no such problems.




The left crash bar mounts on the lower bolt of the front engine mount, and this is shared with the upper left crash bar, so you need to fit both at the same time.


At this point, the easiest way to proceed is to line up both upper crash bars, insert all bolts, nuts, spacers, and washers without tightening them and then tighten them one by one. It is much, much easier if you have a friend to help you hold the bars while putting everything in place.

Here was where I had the second and only other problem. The upper and lower crash bars are sold as separate products; you can buy and fit one or the other independently or both at the same time. The thing is, Holan does not make any special provisions for those who are going to fit both, which means that when it comes to the lower bolt on the front engine mount, they provide a longer bolt with the lower crash bars to accommodate the flange at the front of the bar, and another bolt of the exact same length with the upper crash bars to accommodate the flange at the bottom of those bars. See where this is going? When you put both flanges together in the same point, neither of the bolts provided separately is long enough.


I had to leave things half mounted and go try to find the right bolt. More than an hour and three specialised shops later, I got one.


At the top, the two halves of the upper crash bars are held together with two Allen bolts which are colour silver and stand out quite a lot against the black bar. It might be a good idea to either paint them or replace them with black ones.


The other mounting point for the upper crash bars (unless they are the ‘Pro’ ones) is under the headlight. Two plastic spacers and two bolts and nuts are provided. In my case, everything lined up without any problems and did not have to modify or bend anything.


Now we only have to wait and see how they fare when I start dropping the bike.


How to fit a Holan Nomada Pro II pannier system to the AT

If you are only looking for instructions on how to install the pannier system on your bike, scroll down until you find the INSTRUCTIONS section. If you are bored at the office and fancy reading the whole story, read on.

This Polish pannier system costs about 200€ less than the equivalent offering from Touratech and includes a right pannier with an exhaust cut, something that the German manufacturer seems to refuse to make for any bike other than BMWs. They are mostly (more on that later) a match for the German quality, so taking into account the added benefit of the exhaust cut, where does the difference in price come from?


Instructions, apparently. The Poles do not include a single piece of instructions for their products. You get the panniers, the support hoops, a few metal tubes bent in different shapes and a bag of bolts, nuts, washers and spacers and are left to do your best to guess how it all fits together onto your bike. Not that Holan is trying to save the Amazon by eliminating the need for printed instructions, mind you, there is not even a PDF on their website. Really Holan? Really? Is it that hard?


Better be a Meccano fan, then.

Holan panniers usually come with the mounting points already fitted at no extra cost, which is another advantage over Touratech, but in my case I got a pair that the Spanish dealer had in stock to avoid the long wait for the panniers to be shipped from Poland, and I was aware that I would have to fit the mountings myself. That was not a problem, though, as I had experience on my old Touratech panniers, the only drawback was that it is a time consuming process.

The first racks that Holan made did not have any mounting points to the back of the subframe to avoid the need to drill through the fender, but they flexed too much and the design was modified to include an extra mounting point. This single picture of the new rack had made its way to the web, but that was all the information I had:


I assumed that it would require the same process as the Touratech, GIVI and Globescout systems, drilling a couple of holes through the rear fender to attach it to the end of the subframe. Two things did not look quite right, though.

First, looking at the picture above, those two bolts seemed to be too far back to fit through the fender at the end of the subframe, they were more like under the rear light or license plate.

Second, with the bits and pieces already scattered in front of me, the H-shaped plate where those bolts mount was too wide and too flat to fit under the fender, which has a pronounced inverted U shape. Maybe it fit on the other side of it, under the seat?

I decided to loosely mount the hoops on the attachment points on the passenger footpegs and the front of the subframe to try to figure out how the new parts fit together, and after a few minutes of fiddling it dawned on me. They attach under the rear luggage rack, not the subframe! So the good news is, the Holan system still requires no drilling.


From that moment on, it was only a matter of figuring out where all the bolts, nuts, washers and spacers went. Here is how to fit it:


Remove the seat. It is not necessary to remove the pillion seat, although it is advisable to avoid getting it dirty by accident, particularly if you have the red one.

Remove the two bolts that hold the luggage rack and passenger handles to the subframe that are closer to the front of the bike. The Holan rack attaches directly to these points, a solution which I prefer to them hanging from the existing points for the OEM luggage.


Remove the passenger footpegs. You will need to completely remove them, as one bolt will hold the rack mounting point and the other requires a spacer.

If you have a top case or luggage rack, you will also need to remove it (not my case yet).

Important! If your panniers come with the mounting system already fitted, you can start installing the rack on the bike now. If you need to drill the holes to mount them, do not mount it on the bike yet, you need the hoops to take measurements to mark the drilling points on the panniers. I explain this process further below, so read that now if you need to, then come back here once your mounting system is fitted to the panniers and you are ready to fit the rack on the bike.

The easiest way to make sure that everything lines up as it should before you start tightening bolts is to mount all the parts onto the bike and fit all the bolts and nuts loosely, then start progressively tightening them. More often than not, something will not line up and it will require pulling, pushing or bending.

In my case, and at least one other member of the Spanish forum, the mounting point to the subframe for the exhaust side hoop required extreme force to line up with the hole. Not wanting the bolt’s thread to get damaged later, I put it on a bench vise and bent the mounting point slightly backwards with a precision correction tool (also known as ‘hammer’). After that everthing fit without any problems.

The lower mounting point attaches to the upper bolt of the passenger footpeg. Because this will cause the footpeg to be slightly further outwards than before, you need to use the provided spacers in the lower bolt. Don’t remove the washers that come with the footpegs.


At the back, mount the lower bracing bar that connects the bottom of the hoops together with a washer on both sides of the bolt. The side with the more open angle is the exhaust side.


To fit the extra mounting point under the luggage rack you need to use the eight special spacers. Put four on the holes on the luggage rack from the top (narrow side down) and drop the long Allen bolts with the rounded head into them.


Now comes the tricky part – you need to fit the other four washers (wide side up) up the bolts, fit the H plate without them falling (and with the welded threads facing up) and start screwing the self locking nuts. Do not tighten them completely.



To finish, attach the L shaped mountings from the top of the hops to the H plate under the luggage rack.


They fit with the angle facing to the ground so that they clear the indicators. In my case, Holan had not included the two bolts needed to fit them to the H plate, so I had to find a pair from my personal stock.


The only thing left to do now is to go around the rack and progressively tighten all the bolts and nuts. All the nuts provided are self locking, but it is always advisable to check everything has settled in properly after a few days riding and to put a drop of thread locking glue in them to make sure that nothing comes loose.


For those of you unlucky enough to get the panniers without their mounts already fitted, here is how to do it.

With the old Touratech Zega panniers, or any others that do not have rounded or cut corners, nor an exhaust cut, it was possible to play a bit with the mounting points to find the best position – a bit further back, or closer to the front, higher or lower… in order to do this properly the best method was to mount the racks on the bike, check exactly where you wanted them (usually with a passenger) and then remove the panniers to use the hoops to mark the exact drilling points with the panniers lying on their side on the floor. In this case there is not much room for lateral movement, and you can’t choose the height as that is determined by the exhaust cut, so you can take all the measurements to drill the holes without the need to mount the rack on the bike before.

Take the pannier with the exhaust cut, lay it on its side, place the hoop on it and measure the distance across to both edges.


There is a bit of room to mount it slightly forward or backward, but not much, and mounting it in the middle means that you minimize the risk of making a mistake then transferring these measurements to the other pannier (see my previous post about that) and that you will be able to swap left and right if in the future you buy a bike with the exhaust on the other side (providing Holan makes a rack for that one, that is).

Then measure the distance from the top of the hoop to the lid. And write all these numbers down.


With the hoop in the exact position you want, place the plastic pucks on their correct position on the inside of the hoop (you will need a friend to hold it down in position for you to make sure it does not move a millimeter, or alternatively, put some weight on it). Take a long thin pencil or even better, a metal punch, and mark the position of holes of the plastic pucks on the pannier.


Remove everything and drill the holes (5mm for the small bolts, 8mm for the big ones).


Clean the metal shavings with a bigger diameter drill and mount everything in the following order: from the inside – the reinforcement plates (small) and the bolts; from the outside – the reinforcement plates (long) the plastic pucks, the metal plates (at the bottom) and the rotating locking plates (at the top). Make sure the 8mm holes at the top are wide enough for the rotating locking plates to turn freely.


In my case, I had to add a spacer for the locking knobs inside the pannier, as they are too close to the head of the small bolt, and no spacers were included in the kit.


The hoops have a small metal bump onto which the rotating locking plate fits to make sure they do not turn as you are tightening them. One of them did not fit (the cut on the plate seemed to be too short) so I had to lengthen the cut a bit.


All in all, two bolts and four spacers missing, a mounting point on the rack that required some “aligning”, a cut on a locking plate that needed lengthening and no instructions. If you like DIY, have access to tools and want panniers with an exhaust cut, these are a very good choice. For 200€ more, and if you forego the exhaust cut, the Touratech ones come with instructions. I don’t know about the latest models, but my old Zega ones (first generation) still required drilling (more holes, actually) and the rack also needed bending. No missing bolts or spacers, though. If you want the full GSA look, try Globescout. Instructions, anodized ,no drilling and supposedly excellent quality. They are 300€ more. Oh, and Holan prices include shipping.