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The Ultralight Explorer Adventure Luggage - How it Came to Life

Over the years I’ve used various luggage systems produced by many well-known companies. I have great respect for the R&D teams from the companies that produce luggage for the adventure riding community. These companies allowed me to load my bike, and get out on some of the most epic adventure rides of my life. 

However, with each set of luggage having its own design differences, pros, and cons, I was never able to find an adventure luggage system that I could call “perfect”. So by taking all my experiences of using various luggage systems, I embarked on the journey of designing a new luggage system, excluding the features I didn’t like, including all the features I did like, and including new features I designed myself. The ultimate objective was to: 

"Create a mid-sized moto luggage system that can carry a compact set of camping gear, that is lightweight, robust, waterproof, and sits securely on the bike"

Over three years later, and after numerous design iterations, the objective has been successfully achieved, and the Ultralight Explorer luggage has taken its final shape.

Ultralight Explorer luggage system

While the Ultralight Explorer luggage system may look similar to some of the others out there, there are a few key (and novel) features that clearly set it apart.

The design of the Ultralight Explorer achieves the following:   

APPEARANCE
A simple no-frills design that is clean, sharp, and looks good when mounted to the bike.

CENTRE OF GRAVITY
Weight positioned low, and forward, for the smallest impact on the bike's CG.

SOLID AND SECURE MOUNTING
A malleable backbone, combined with a unique five-point mounting system that consists of four adjustable camlocks, and a single, fixed-point rear guard mount. This provides the most stable fitting luggage I have ever used – even when riding aggressively over rough terrain. The single fixed-point rear mount means it is immune to the common issue of luggage shifting, and slumping over to one side.

QUICK AND EASY MOUNTING AND LOADING OF GEAR
Simple and quick to mount/dismount, load with gear, and access gear mid-ride.

ROBUST
Made from high quality materials and hardware that have been extensively tested to ensure they are bullet-proof. The main holster consists of lightweight, yet robust dual layer 1000 denier cordura fabric. Repairable/replaceable protective pads provide long life of the main luggage holster.

LIGHTWEIGHT
The core holster is only around 3kg making it perfect for riders that are looking for a lightweight option.

WATERPROOF
Three heavy duty PVC drybags are used to provide 100% waterproof protection.

IMPACT RELEASE CONNECTORS
The four luggage mounting straps have impact release connectors that are strong enough to hold the gear solidly to the bike under normal use. However, if you strike a solid object while riding (such as a tree or rock) these "sacrificial" impact release connectors will intentionally break to diffuse the energy of the impact. This helps to protect your luggage (and your gear packed within) from impact damage. The sacrificial straps are replaceable/repairable mid-ride so you can carry on with your ride.

COMPACT CAPACITY
Designed with 100% waterproof dry bags that hold:

Standard Configuration (approximately 30 litres)

-  10 litres (left side bag)
-  10 litres (right side bag)
-  10 litres (top bag)

High Capacity Configuration (approximately 45 litres)

-  15 litres (left side bag)
-  15 litres (right side bag)
-  15 litres (top bag)

Note: for the top dry bag to fit nicely, it generally requires an extra one or two more rolls to the top of the dry bag when closing it. This slightly reduces the top dry bag capacity. Eg a 15 litre top bag will generally hold around 12 to 13 litres after it is rolled and closed. 

The capacity and functionality of the luggage can be further increased with the add-on MODLEE bags ("MODULAR" + "MOLLEE" = MODLEE). 

2.5 LITRE MODLEE BAGS (UNDERSIDE)
2.5 litre MODLEE bags can be fitted to the underside of the luggage using the MOLLE attachment system. With two underside MODLEE bags, the capacity is increased by 5 litres. These MODLEE bags were designed to hold 2 X 1 litre Soto fuel bottles, or a Helinox camp chair.

1 LITRE MODLEE BAGS (TOP SIDE)

1 litre MODLEE bag can be fitted to the top side of the luggage using the MOLLE attachment system. With two top side MODLEE bags, the capacity is increased by 2 litres and offers a great easy-access option for small gear.  

Both MODLEE bags are water resistant, not waterproof. If you need items that are carried in the MODLEE bags to remain 100% dry, you will need to place the items in a dry bag before packing them in the MODLEE bags.

MODLEE bag with the MOLLE attachment system
This is the Ultralight Explorer luggage on my KTM500, all packed up for the Rocky Peaks Rally. The top and lower MODLEE bags were fitted for maximum capacity/functionality as this was a 5 day camping rally.

TENT POLE BAGS
While there are some pretty trick looking tent pole bags out there, they are generally bulky and heavy. For the Ultralight Explorer luggage, I designed minimalist yet durable tent pole bags that come in at around 1/3 of the weight, and can be securely mounted to the luggage.

HAND CRAFTED QUALITY
The Ultralight Explorer is hand crafted using the highest quality materials and hardware, on high-end industrial machines, with ultimate care and attention to detail. 

The Results and Feedback

The result from my own testing, and the feedback from prototype users, have been overwhelmingly positive. There are many features that make this a seriously good adventure luggage system.

If I was asked what my favourite feature of the luggage is, it would be that it solves a common issue that you may have experienced yourself. Riding an adventure bike over rough terrain with luggage that doesn’t mount securely, normally results in the luggage moving and flapping about. This causes abrupt weight shifts in unexpected directions, and forces you to constantly counteract these weight shifts to maintain bike balance. After a long day of riding, this can be mentally, and physically draining.

The Ultralight Explorer luggage is compact, has a forward/low mounting position, and uses a stable 5-point mounting system. With these three things combined, the luggage and bike feel like they “morph” together as one unit. This avoids abrupt weight shifts, so the bike feels natural, and nimble when riding – almost like you are not carrying luggage at all. The Ultralight Explorer puts the fun back into riding with luggage! 

Pricing  

The core Ultralight Explorer luggage system costs $890 (+ freight) and includes the following:

  • Ultralight Explorer core holster system 
  • 2 X protective backing pads 
  • Rear mounting bracket and mounting hardware 
  • 4 X impact release straps 
  • Fitting instructions

Shipping will vary based on your location but is approximately $30 to the North Island, and $20 to the South Island.

Note: Some bike models will require an exhaust head shield when fitting. Information about heat shield options and fitting is provided in the fitment instructions.  

* PLEASE NOTE * There is a backlog for new orders until April 2023. 

MODLEE BAGS

The 1 litre top MODLEE bags are $210 for a pair. 

The 2.5 litre underside MODLEE bags are $240 for a pair. 

Both types of MODLEE bags come ready to fit to the main luggage using the MOLLE attachment system. 

Colours  

The standard colour for the Ultralight Explorer is Darth Vader (black). 

Other colours have been used in prototype models such as the grey/black. If you are interested in custom colours there are some options available, noting that custom colours have a small increase in cost.   

Custom colour option (black + grey)

Current Phase 

The Ultralight Explorer is not a generic one-size-fits-all set of luggage. Each Ultralight Explorer luggage set has a specific backbone shape to match a particular bike model. The current phase is to physically fit the luggage to different bike models, to match backbone shapes to common adventure bike models. 

Bike Models Currently Fitted:

KTM EXCF 500, 450, 350, 250
KTM 690 
Husqvarna FE 501, 450, 350, 250 
Suzuki DRZ400 

If you have one of the above bikes and are interested in a set of Ultralight Explorer luggage, click here for the contact form.

Because this is a handcrafted product, only low numbers can be produced each month. With the demand for the luggage growing fast, if you are interested in a set, please use the contact form to express your interest, and I'll enter your name in the queue.  

Bike Model Next to Fit:

Suzuki DR650

If you have a DR650 and can come to Blackball (South Island, West Coast) for a fitment, a discount will be applied to accommodate for your time and travel costs. The fitment time will vary. For straightforward fitments it can take around 2 hours. For more complex fitments, it can take a full day. Dropping your bike off for 24 hours is ideal. If you are interested in this option, click here for the contact form.

* PLEASE NOTE * There is a backlog for new orders until April 2023.