Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Holan Nomada panniers

Holan started in 2001. They made the panniers for Touratech from 2001 until 2008, when they decided to market their own pannier system. The Nomada range appeared in 2010 and a year later the Nomada Pro series was launched. The panniers are designed and built in-house in Poland and distributed all over the world. Holan also makes mounting racks and has a range of accessories for Adventure bikes. 

We were looking for panniers in 2012, as preparation for the Alaska to Argentina trip we were about to make. I had never heard of Holan or Nomada and contacted Touratech, who couldn't be bothered to reply. We had a serious look at Metal Mule but found their Australian distributor unbelievably rude, the piano hinge a hardware shop solution and the racks poorly made. Hepco & Becker left a lot to be desired and so the search continued. By pure chance I stumbled upon a picture of Nomada cases, somewhere on Google probably. It led me straight to the, then, US importer who claimed that Holan was impossible to work with… Not the best start to find out about a product! I read lots of messages about the problems with Holan, but every now and then a message popped up about an Englishman who stated that all the problems were only with the panniers ordered through the US distributor, he had ordered directly from Holan and had no problems at all… Hmmm. What to do? The panniers looked good, but they were in Poland and I was in Australia… could hardly 'pop-in' to have a look. In the end I took the plunge and ordered them. Aleksandra answered my e-mails, payment was made and 10 days later they arrived. I opened the box and was gobsmacked! The quality of workmanship was absolutely perfect. Aluminium welding leaves a lot to be desired on lots of panniers I've seen but these are perfect. I filled them with water, tipped them upside down and… no leaks. Then I interchanged the lids and did the same again… again no leaks! I had asked for mounting hoops so that I could make my own racks and fitted them to the Bonneville, which they supplied in stainless steel. They have been with me now for 40.000 km and I absolutely love them! They are not only 100% waterproof but also dust proof, which is far more difficult to achieve. They have been over New Zealand earth quake damaged roads, the Alaskan Dalton Highway, Top of the world Highway, Canada's famous 'roadworks'. We've been on roads that made big off-road trucks turned around and go back; and, of course, we carry too much weight in them… They took it all in their stride and despite hard use nothing has broken. Not even a hinge or a lock.

We liked the Nomadas so much that we fitted them to Jeanette's Bonneville as well. She has the 31 litre, mine are 38. Mike now has the 45 litre Holan top box as well as he wanted something that was lockable. Jeanette's panniers are the newer model with improved locks, there is nothing wrong with the old ones but the newer version is even easier to use. Innovation goes on at Holan apparently.

I dropped my bike early on, even before we left! I took it off the centre stand, lost my balance and over it went… the pannier took the full weight of the Bonneville without even a dent(!) and prevented any damage to the bike.

In Utah I was at the receiving end of road rage when a car deliberately rammed into me from the side, while I was doing 100 km/hr, pushing me over more than a metre. That I didn't go down was a miracle according to the State Trooper. The car's front tyre hit the pannier so hard that it left skid marks on it (see photo) yet it didn't deform in any way and is still perfectly water and dust proof. I'm sure glad I didn't have plastic panniers…

The Nomadas have proven themselves under difficult circumstances. They have saved my life and saved my bike from serious damage and are so easy to live with! Perfectly made, far superior in quality and finish compared to Metal Mule and for a better price. Do I recommend them? You bet! Click on the link on the right to visit Holan's website for more details.