BMW R1200GS Vario Panniers – modifications and extras

BMW R1200GS Vario Panniers – modifications and extras

See also: Keying Pannier Locks

Modifications to R1200GS BMW System Luggage – Vario Paniiers:
Reflective Decals ~ Tie Down Clips / Strap loops ~ Luggage Retainer Straps – Luggage Liners / Internal bags

By ukGSer ‘skynet’ 15May2007

I really like the BMW Vario Panniers (BMW luggage system) and tend to just leave them on my GS all the time. I have made a couple of minor modifications to the Vario Panniers that may be of interest to others.

Firstly I decided to add reflective material to them. I found that a stick on yellow reflective number plate was ideal. Cut in half they were just the right height for the front and back of each pannier. Not easy to find but only cost me £3 for a pair which was enough to do the front and back of the panniers. (Reflective Vests, Stickers, Bike Decals)

I also added a couple of rectangular reflective badges to the sides of each pannier. They came in a set of reflectors from Poundland. I thought they would make first contact if the panniers came in contact with something.

And to finish off I added a BMW Roundal at the rear of each pannier. Part of a set of four alloy wheel centres, I used the other two on the centre pivot cover and the screen.

Next I fitted a pair of Hein Gericke Bungee Anchors (£3.49) to each pannier to use as tie down points. To fit the Bungee Anchors I drilled a small hole into the panniers to check it was clear behind before using a Self tapping screw with a thread of approx 6mm wide by 14mm long. I didn’t even try to take the panniers apart to use the supplied nut and bolt in case I couldn’t get them back together again.
As a bonus, as they sit slightly proud of the pannier so might stop the panniers getting scratched if they come into contact with something.

On the Pannier rails I noted that there were three points where you could thread webbing through. I had a couple of pieces of webbing with Velcro on them and have found them useful for securing items like roll bags. I have one through each centre mount. When not in use I just fold them between the rear carrier and the rear seat.

I need to carry document files in the panniers from time to time so made up some luggage retainer straps using elastic cord and cable “p” clips from Maplins. By chance I happened to have a M&S canvas grocery bag at hand and thought it might fit the larger right hand pannier. Low and behold it is a great fit for the pannier in extended position. Not bad for £1 or so. It folds up fine and my document retainers hold it in place well.

AndyW – I just had to quote this comment from one of the guys on the forum:

These are not just panniers………..these are M & S panniers!

I have found a further use of Vario Panniers, a good mount for a bullet camera:-)

Update – Just done some more mods inside the left hand pannier with velcro to keep things neat and organised. Tend to use it for smaller things like drink, MP3 player, glasses, GPS, motorcycle Disc Lock, gloves, First Aid kit and Waterproofs. Tend to keep the right hand pannier pretty empty for helmet storage. Now tidier and more organised with many of these things velcroed down. 50 years since velcro was invented by the way!

 NB: BMW do waterprooof luggage liners / internal luggage bags for their System Cases / Vario luggage systems but I use a set of liner bags from ManeEvent ( which are a prefect fit, great quality, really well made and of course waterproof not to mention, A LOT CHEAPER than BMW liner bags!.

Alternatives to the maneEvent bags:
Cee Bailey’s –
Kathy’s Liners / KJD Liners – available from various outlets

Cheap alternatives include cooler bags from the likes of Argos, Exped Shrink Dry Bags (and other brands) and if you really want to be cheap…

  • Mark Davies says:

    This is brilliant. Thanks for some great tips, I’ve just ordered some reflective number plates and hooks. Thank you. Cheers, Mark

  • Terry Merry says:

    I’m looking at Footman loops for mine as they’ll act as bungee hooks or strap eyes.
    I’ve cut a false floor for the top box so I can keep my puncture repair kit, first aid kit etc in the topbox without it all being on show.
    My next job is to line the panniers with ‘carpet’/van liner so I can velcro bits to the sides especially the odd shaped exhaust side pannier. I figured sticking stuff up in the odd space at the top would make use of it without having to have it full all the time

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