A CASE OF VALUE
In my review of Yamaha’s new Tracer GT elsewhere in this issue (read it here), I mentioned that Shad’s latest line of hard luggage is a whopping great deal compared with Yamaha’s “official” luggage. Basically, for the price of Yamaha’s side cases — $1,670 — you could afford to buy both a set of Shad’s SH36 hard bags, the company’s matching, and expandable, SH59X top case and, if you’re not getting how much of a relatively screaming deal the Shad equipment really is, all their mounting hardware. For those still not grasping the relative value, consider this: those three Shad cases can swallow 140 litres of milady’s ablution products while those mondo expensive Yamaha items barely hold 44 litres. In other words, one case system means you might be lucky enough to lead a happy life — as in pleasing a happy wife — while trying to take a week-long vacation with the other system is almost assured to end in divorce.
But, there’s a lot more to the Shads than sheer volume and low cost. I snagged a set of SH35 bags — all but identical mechanically to the SH36 models, but featuring some aluminum panel covers — for our long-term 2018 Suzuki V-Strom 1000 and found the Spanish-made luggage pretty darned impressive.
Indeed, the SH35s may be the best non-metal motorcycle luggage I’ve ever tested. For one thing, the locking/mounting mechanism is incredibly easy to use. Tag the front mount with the mounting rack’s front down spout, and then push one latch down and the SH35s are mounted securely in less than 5 seconds. For another, you can latch the bags — as well as open and close the lids — without unlocking them. Yes, unlike most — I think virtually all — current luggage systems, you can open, close and remove the bags without the key. It’s amazing how much more convenient this turns out to be. Spend the whole day travelling, commuting or just wandering and you can access your cargo without digging in your pockets for the key. Then, at the end of the day, lock them up for total security. Makes you wonder why nobody thought of this before.
Another feature is that the main bag has a load floor that extends into the opening half of the clamshell. You can open your bags without having their contents spill out onto the street. It even comes in handy when you’re bringing some spicy tuna home from Longo’s; the flat floor keeps the rolls from flipping over (except, of course, unless you hit a particularly nasty pothole). Throw in complete weather tightness — guaranteed by the lid’s pronounced “lips” and a seriously hefty grommet — and you have nearly perfect luggage. Shad even sells some form-fitting little carrier bags for easy transport of your, uhm, delicates.
As for the mounting system, it is both elegant in its simplicity and simple to install. Two upper mounts fit in where the Suzuki’s standard bags mount and then one lower leg bolts onto the rear footpeg hangar. Within 10 minutes, both L arms were installed. It’s also a doddle, as I said, to mount the cases.
Indeed, the only downside to the Shad cases is that, in the case of the V-Strom at least, the mounts could be a little more rigid. That’s not entirely Shad’s fault. They use the Suzuki’s rear footpeg mount as their lower anchor and the hanger is a tad on the flimsy side. On top of that, for some reason the Allen head bolts that Shad supplies to mount the lower anchor to that footpeg mount are quite a bit smaller than the stock Suzuki items. I’m not quite sure why, so I used the larger — and more robust — stock items instead. None of this affected load capacity — the SH35’s will carry as much as any similar-sized plastic bags — but there is a little more jiggling than in, say, Givi’s sidecases, whose mounts are better triangulated. It is worth noting, however, that different bikes with different mounting points may have more rigid mounting.
Nonetheless, Shad’s latest luggage really is the bee’s knees of non-metallic luggage systems. Inexpensive, roomy, ultra convenient and totally waterproof, they’re a mark ahead of many, if not most, OEM luggage options.
A set of SH35 bags will set you back $692.99 while the 3P mounting mechanism for the Suzuki added $286.99 to the total.