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ADV NewsWolfman Tank Pannier Base: Versatile, Modular Soft Luggage System

Wolfman Tank Pannier Base: Versatile, Modular Soft Luggage System

An adaptable base mount for your tank that lets you attach a range of different bags.

Published on 12.22.2021

It’s been two years now since Wolfman Luggage took the bold move of completely revamping their product line with new fully-waterproof, heavy-duty TPU soft bag designs that mount onto their highly-versatile Unrack Base systems. Since then, they’ve continued to innovate with new products like their ‘Zip-R’ zip-top Rolie Bags and the Tank Pannier Base system. The idea of attaching bags on the sides of a fuel tank is nothing new and Wolfman has offered tank panniers in the past. What’s unique is the adaptable base mounting system for the tank that allows you to swap different-sized bags, in different configurations, to meet the carrying capacity needs of different style rides.

Wolfman Tank Pannier Base

Similar to the Wolfman Unrack system, the Tank Pannier Base utilizes a universal harness that attaches to nearly any bike but it’s specifically designed to mount on a fuel tank. With several different attachment holes and D-Rings, the base offers many options for securing different bags like the Rolie or Zip-R (Medium or Small) in a traditional pannier-style configuration, or a Bottle Holster and even a Tincup Pocket for more specialized needs. While its attachment points are optimized for Wolfman products, pretty much any bag that ‘straps on’ can be attached.

Wolfman Tank Pannier Base

Why not just run a tank bag? For one, you can get up to 24 liters of capacity with a set of Medium Rolie bags or 12 liters with a set of Small Rolies, and that cargo is held lower on the bike for better weight distribution. Another issue solved by the Tank Panniers is giving the rider additional crotch clearance. Many riders run into space issues while in the standing position and choose to avoid tank bags altogether. Tank Panniers offer a solution for this problem, although you do give up some leg room in the seated position. 


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What’s important to keep in mind is that Tank Panniers let you add more carrying capacity while spreading the weight out more effectively over the machine for improved handling when compared to just strapping more weight onto the rear. And with the Wolfman base design you are also not locked into a particular capacity, giving you an option to pick and choose what size bags you want to mount. 

Wolfman Tank Panniers

With these benefits in mind, we were eager to give the new Wolfman luggage system a try, and the perfect opportunity arose when we set out for the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. With the extremely remote roads in this area, we had to carry extra gas, food and water knowing we wouldn’t be seeing civilization for several days. We installed the Pannier Base on our Yamaha Tenere 700 with Small Zip-R bags attached, which added 10.6 liters of capacity to our standard Wolfman Luggage setup.

Getting It Installed

Wolfman Tank Panniers

Getting the base hooked on was straightforward and made even easier with crash bars offering easy-access mounting points. However, the Pannier Base can be installed without any crash bars. We also tested them on a KTM 990 Adventure sans crash bars and easily found ways to get the bags mounted by routing the lower straps around the tank. The adjustability of the mounting straps and the multiple cut outs for strap placement, give you a range of different options for getting the base secured and positioned where you want them. Just remember to double back the top tank mount straps through the buckle or they can begin to slip during the ride. 

With the base strapped in, attaching the Zip-R bags takes just a few minutes and they are locked on with very little movement. They can be removed even more swiftly if you need to make a swap or want to take your belongings with you into a hotel or tent. Configuring bag position to avoid blocking any tank cooling vents, was also not an issue on either of the two machines.

How They Performed

Weight distribution is always a concern when your bike is loaded with extra gear and adding too much weight up high can negatively impact handling. While it’s best not to load the tank panniers up with too much weight on any bike, it was of special concern for the T7 due to its somewhat top-heavy nature. However, using the tank panniers to carry a full tool roll, including some extra bolts and other trailside repair essentials, along with snacks, a headlight, and other nick nacks, plus a Wolfman Enduro tank bag packed with a DSLR camera, didn’t cause any unwanted handling issues. With the weight being carried on the sides of the tank, it does seem to distribute the load rather effectively. 

Wolfman Tank Panniers

As far as space and range of movement on the bike there are some sacrifices made there, especially if you are a taller rider like myself at 6’2”. We mounted the Tank Panniers as far forward as possible, but there was still light knee contact while sitting on the bike in a natural position. On the other hand, with the KTM 990 Adventure, the longer tank design gave me ample room to sit  without touching the knees. 

The smaller the bike and the taller the rider, the more contact you can expect on the knees. However, on long stretches of highway, I was able to slide back a bit from my normal seated position on the T7 to avoid any touching. When riding off-road, it was less of a concern since I’m standing most of the time and there is ample legroom in the standing position.

Wolfman Tank Panniers

Running the Tank Pannier on the KTM 990 Adventure worked particularly well due to its longer tank. And when used without a tank bag, it frees up access to the built-in glove box on top of the tank. There’s also no interference with the dual fuel filler caps and it keeps the weight lower compared to using a traditional tank bag. We ran the Tank Pannier Base with a bottle holster and Tincup Pocket on the 990, which offered the convenience of not having to carry a hydration pack and provided quick access to small items like ear plugs, sunglasses, goggle rag, and lip balm. 

Wolfman Tank Panniers

So far, the Pannier Base system has held up well to rugged off-road use and it’s showing no signs of wear and tear. Originally, we thought it would just be used for those trips when you needed to add extra capacity, but it’s proven to be a great tank bag replacement on our KTM 990 Adventure as well.

Wolfman Tank Panniers

Who Are They For

Anyone who is looking to add capacity to their luggage setup and those who are interested in tank bag alternatives. These bags work best for riders who are average height or shorter, and larger machines where there is ample leg room in the seated position. However, they can also work for taller riders if you don’t mind scooting back a bit in your seat to avoid contact with the knees. 

Our Verdict

A great luggage expansion option for those trips when you need to add more capacity to the bike and want to distribute the weight more effectively front to rear.They can also be an ideal tank bag replacement for some riders, able to swallow more cargo and carry it lower on the bike. Being able to pick and choose different sized bags to attach on the base adds a new level of versatility to your luggage setup as well.

Wolfman Tank Pannier Base

Of course, customizing an adventure bike is always a give and take. All of these benefits do come with reduced legroom, which may or may not be an issue depending on the rider and bike. As far as pricing, at $124.99 for the base harness seems like a pretty good value considering you are getting a specialized luggage system with the versatility to adjust your carrying capacity for different style rides.

What We Liked

  • A unique luggage expansion option that effectively distributes weight.
  • Straps and materials are highly durable for rugged off-road travel.
  • Base system gives options for mounting different bags for different trips.
Wolfman Tank Pannier Base

What Could Be Improved

  • More legroom for taller riders in the seated position.

Tank Pannier Base Features

  • Two-sided base with slots for attaching small or medium Rolie/Zip-R bags.
  • Center D-rings for attaching Bottle Holsters, Tincup Pocket or other aux bag.
  • Two adjustable mounting straps on each side with high and low attachments.
  • Two adjustable top tanks straps to fit many different tank widths.
  • Universal mounting system for a range of different style motorcycles.
  • Price: $124.99

Shopping Options

Wolfman

Photography by Ely Woody & Rob Dabney

Author: Rob Dabney

Rob Dabney started a lifelong obsession with motorcycles at the age of 15 when he purchased his first bike – a 1982 Honda MB5. Through his 20’s and 30’s he competed in off-road desert races, including the Baja 250, 500 and 1000. Eventually, his proclivity for exploration led him to dual sport and adventure riding. Rob’s never-ending quest to discover what’s around the next bend has taken him on Adventures in Mexico, North Africa, Europe, and throughout the American West. As a moto journalist, he enjoys inspiring others to seek adventure across horizons both near and far.

Author: Rob Dabney
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3 thoughts on “Wolfman Tank Pannier Base: Versatile, Modular Soft Luggage System

  1. On my T7 and my Multistrada Enduro I just mount my Wolfman small Rolies to the crashbars. They stay there all the time loaded with tools, spare parts, first aid and puncture repair kits. No legroom issue and lower weight distribution still. I’d see a use for the tank-pannier base on my enduro bike for longer trips tho and it looks like a solid design.

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