MCN Fleet: How hard can it be? Fitting luggage to the V-Strom 650

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I’ve got a confession to make. I’m absolutely crap at fixing things, DIY and anything like that, so when it comes to playing with bikes, unless it’s something basic, I often err on the side of caution and get someone else to do it.

So when Suzuki sent over the luggage kit for the V-Strom 650 XT and told me ‘it’s easy to fit’, I was slightly concerned.

When I mentioned in the office I was going to do it myself, there were a few raised eyebrows. “Fitting luggage is never easy” they laughed. “Who was it that was fitting the bracket for a pannier and accidentally removed the bike’s sub-frame?” someone said.

However, it turns out the chap from Suzuki wasn’t lying to me. Fitting the panniers and their brackets and the top box and plate was a job so easy even I could do it, although with fears of riding off down the road and my pannier flying off, I enlisted some supervisory assistance.

Ultimately, the V-Strom is a tourer, and what good is a tourer without luggage? There are numerous aftermarket options available, but I decided to try Suzuki’s own stuff as it looked pretty decent.


Fitting the panniers was simple, there’s a plastic cover over where the strengthened pannier bracket goes, so you literally unscrew and remove the cover, slot in the bracket the panniers clip on to, and bolt it into place. There’s also a support for the bottom of the pannier that you bolt on to the footrest.

On bikes I’ve had in the past, pannier brackets have been really ugly and stuck out, but these are really subtle. In fact, without panniers on the bike, you wouldn’t even notice they were there unless you knew what you were looking for. The panniers simply clip on, are secured when you pull the handle down and also rest on the footrest support.

The top box was also simple, you bolt a plate to the tail of the bike and it just clips on.

The most difficult part of the job was fitting the lock barrels, the screws are tiny and you have to screw them in when the barrel is in place and that means you have to work at quite a difficult angle.

Despite the lack of complexity, the luggage feels secure on the bike and I had no problems on my first 500 mile trip away… until I clipped the pannier on a bollard in a petrol station of course… Muppet. 

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Oli Rushby

By Oli Rushby

Former sports reporter covering British Superbikes, World Superbikes and road racing