The Vario Panniers for the F650GS have weak mounting points. The two plastic lugs on the panniers are easily bent or broken in even minor falls. The steel mounts will also move sideways on impact so the panniers will not mount safely until the mounts are straightened and adjusted.
In some cases this will mean straightening the upper frame bracket below the locking bolt. In addition to the above if they are used extensively on rough or dirt road touring there can be considerable wear in both the plastics and the lower metal mounts. The lower metal mounts are only thin wall tubing.
Simple solutions to strengthen the mounting lugs on the panniers and reduce wear are set out below.
Add alloy support bracket to the lower pannier mount as per the images.
It is approx 300mm of 50x50x3mm commonly available from hardware stores.
Use a vice or metal bender to bend the alloy out a little more than 90 degrees to match the angles of the pannier mount.
Drill 3 x 5 mm holes in the alloy angle 10mm in from the edge for mounting to the pannier.
Drill 2 holes in the alloy for the top of the rubber grommets in the pannier mounts.
5/ Hold the alloy angle in place on the pannier and drill the three mounting holes into the pannier.
6/ Mark out and create the cut outs in the alloy as per the images above.
7/ Use 3mm x 25mm closed cell foam strips on the rear of the pannier to hold the pannier in the mounts and reduce wear as well as thinner round rubber buffers on the inner edge of the plastic mounting lugs.
The closed cell foam is usually available in hardware stores and is used for sealing doors and windows.
8/ Regularly check rear mounting bolts which can work loose.
In general terms if the machine is to used in dirt road environments, the vario's are too heavy, work loose on their mounts and affect handling. A better alternative would be a set of alloy panniers or soft bags.
When using soft bags care is needed in the mounting, it is important to ensure there is no chance of the soft bags or mounting straps interfering with the rear wheel. There have been accidents as a result of poor mounting.