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Having owned the Tiger 1050 with panniers previously, the new Tiger Explorer was always going to get panniers, as well as the new powered top box, too. For some reason, they weren't available to me at launch and it took about eight weeks to get them in. A week later, I'm off to the cottage so I have a chance to try them out.
The new pannier kit is more boxy than the old one and finished with an Aluminum in-fill panel, unlike the previous color-matched plastic. As such, they do look more rugged and fit the adventure bike ethos. Underneath it all, it's still ABS, and the fact they are advertised as "allowing an optional waterproof inner bag" means I wouldn't trust them in heavy rains. In other words, if you are going around the world, you will need something better.
On the bike, they do look big, but that's because they are. The LH box is 37 litre and can apparently take a full face helmet - I've not tried it yet, but it swallowed all my clothing and other stuff with plenty of room to spare. The RH box is 25 litres and happily swallowed my 15" macbook pro and other electronics, which were stuffed in my backpack.
The top box is similarly huge at 35l and easily takes a spare helmet if you need it to. The powered receptacle is a nice touch too but I do feel it's in the wrong place at the bottom of the pannier. It's a standard "cigarette lighter" kind, so you'll need an adapter to power up your iPhone and Go-Pro, but it seems to have enough juice to do both together. Then again, with the massive alternator on the Explorer, it could probably charge a half-dozen iPads too. In all, it's 97l of storage, complete with power, and if you can't get away for a week with all that, you really need to consider getting a car.
Construction also seems much better than the old panniers. My old panniers once flew open on the highway due to a busted hinge that Triumph couldn't (or wouldn't) fix. These feel much more sturdy. The locks feel more solid and the open button is more tactile than the old ones. The release mechanism is also much more reliable. The old one never quite felt like it lined up but these are a cinch to fit.
In use, you can feel the extra weight at low speeds and the pannier themselves aren't light. There is however a linkage that couples the movement of both side boxes together, which is supposed to help at speed. I've no idea if it does or not, but it's true the bike handles just about as well with them at speed.
Overall, these are a pretty well thought out piece of kit and I'd imagine you'll see most Explorers with them. The powered top box and joined linkage are some interesting innovations that certainly improve the utility. Should you buy them? Unless you are headed around the world, I'd say yes.