A few years back I outfitted my 2006 Yamaha XT225 with a set of panniers from Happy Trails for camping. I really liked the solid industrial look that was also clean. I excluded any plastic panniers out of the gate because I’m pretty hard on gear and they’d surely get destroyed. Not a lot of companies made racks for the XT225 at the time, and I’m not sure if that’s changed. I’ve been looking recently for a set for my 2010 BMW F800GS, and I still prefer the Happy Trails look. Many other panniers are riveted together or have plastic pieces screwed on. I prefer a decent but solidly welded box to replacing a plastic trim piece any day. Speaking of dents, the XT went through a head on collision with an SUV years ago and while I had to replace the front end, the boxes came out unscathed.
The biggest failing of the the kit, which also includes the “SU Rack” for mounting, is the bracket for the rear turn signals. The rack used a number of factory mounting locations, which meant removing the passenger handles, but also required moving the turn signals further back. It came with an aluminum bracket that attached under the license plate. At some point all the off-road riding I did caused the bends in the bracket to break. Now shortened, I moved the bracket down under the rear reflector, bent it again and drilled new holes. This worked okay, except that the tail that holds the reflector is not very rigid and even tie-strapping the bracket to the support arm of the SU rack just below it didn’t help a whole lot.
I recently finally got around to a more permanent solution. I took a piece of scrap 1″ angle iron and cut it into two 1.5″ pieces. I drilled a couple holes for mounting the turn signals than welded these pieces to the rear support arm of the SU rack. Then I threw on some paint to protect the steel and mounted everything up. This is a very solid construction. My only concern would be that with the turn signals only a half an inch from the support arm, they could bounce a lot and cause damage to the bulb or the bulb socket, which I recently had to add a weld to repair one of as well.
I probably could have mounted them further out, and given the opportunity to do again I would consider putting something on the 45 degree turns of the rear support arm. I like this placement for keeping the turn signals in tight though, this keeps the width of the motorcycle down when the panniers are off it.