Spanish manufacturer Shad produces a variety of motorcycle luggage options for those who want economical alternatives to OEM offerings. Fortunately, the lower price points don’t come with inferior quality. Shad also has luggage setups for bikes with no such accessory support from the factory, utilizing a combination of universal and bike-specific mounting hardware packages for their range of top cases and panniers. BMW sells hard luggage for the sides of my 2013 F 800 GT, but not the top. Shad’s $379.99 SH48 top case has been an excellent solution. I’ve heard Shad makes some of BMW’s branded luggage, but don’t know how to verify this. In any case [groan], the SH48 is certainly worthy of its place on my Beemer’s tail.
Starting with the issue of mounting, Shad makes bracketry specifically for my bike that allows straightforward bolt-on installation of the platform to which the case attaches. However, rather than spend the additional $58.99 for this kit, I chose to simply drill and tap four holes in the stock luggage rack for the platform’s mounting bolts. The special kit would have used small plates beneath the rack to secure the bolts, but there was plenty of material where I drilled the holes to give adequate purchase without compromising the structure’s integrity, though I doubt Shad would sign off on the safety of my DIY methodology. The mounting platform comes with the case and features numerous options for bolt positioning; it serves as a “universal” mount for many applications without additional hardware. Your particular bike may or may not require something more; check Shad’s website for fitment. Once the platform is bolted in place, a smooth plate goes on top to tidy things up.
It’s worth noting the clear lens-like inserts on this case’s rear corners are merely reflective and not lit from the inside, even though they look like they might be. Also under the heading of misleading appearances, the lid’s central panel is faux carbon-fiber, not the real stuff. These aren’t criticisms, just clarifications. Shad offers alternative lid panels in other colors (white, black, silver and dark gray) that can be swapped for the default CF-look one. These are available for an additional $64.99; there’s also a plain, paint-ready option for $30.99. The case itself can be ordered with dark gray (pictured) or silver side panels. Although the (passenger-approved!) dual backrest pads shown here are included in the aforementioned $379.99, they’re also available separately ($51.99), and—per customer reviews—it seems some deeply discounted online prices do not include them, despite showing them in the product photos; buyer beware. Rounding out the accessories list, Shad offers a small metal rack that can be mounted atop the case ($75.99), a soft inner bag to carry the case’s contents without dismounting it ($51.99), and a kit for outfitting the mounting platform with an LED brake light ($113.99).
When selecting the 48-liter SH48, I sought a size just large enough to hold two full-face helmets, thinking this would be a good compromise between svelte and capacious. Knowing my tendency to over-pack, I didn’t want to give myself room for excess and end up with an even more top-heavy/rear-biased loading of my bike, but I also wanted the convenience of being able to stow a couple of helmets when traveling locally with a passenger. It turns out “just large enough” only applies if at least one of the helmets is traditional in design, without aerodynamic spoilers and enlarged ventilation intakes.
It was impossible to close the case lid on two helmets with multiple profile-increasing features without risking damage to one, no matter how they were arranged. Otherwise, the case dimensions—roughly 24” wide, 12.5” tall, and 18” deep—have served me well on solo trips. I’m certain I’ve exceeded the 17.6 lb. load capacity on occasion, but with no apparent penalty.
Design-wise, the thermoplastic shell SH48 isn’t merely handsome. Its “Smart Lock System” is truly ingenious and simple to operate; one control allows independent operation of lid and mount latches. With the key in the middle position, press the lock mechanism and the carrying handle pops out, allowing finger access to upper and lower levered panels. Turn the key clockwise, then pull the lower panel down to release the case from its mount or secure it to the mount. When the key is removed in the middle position, the lid is unlocked while the case can remain locked in place (or function as off-bike luggage). Turn the key counter-clockwise and remove it to lock the lid and carrying handle in their closed positions, with the case on or off its mount. There’s a token Y-shaped retaining strap inside the case, presumably for keeping contents of the lower portion orderly, but it’s not terribly effective.
Overall, the SH48 has met my expectations, aside from its inability to hold two admittedly awkward helmets; perhaps I should have chosen the SH50. My case has proven water-tight in heavy rain, it’s fairly lightweight for its capacity at about 9.5 lbs with the backrests installed, mounting is easy and solid and latch operation has been trouble-free. Everything about it looks and feels high quality, with the exception of the flimsy retaining strap, and it’s reasonably priced. I consider it an excellent value.
PROS: less expensive than OEM, water tight, ingenious key/latch operation
CONS: fits two helmets as long as they’re perfectly round, internal retaining strap not effective