I bought my 2014 R1200RT this spring and have started down the road of personalizing it. I had transferred my 28-liter BMW topcase to it and, while itís a perfectly fine case, I was longing for a bit more storage capacity. The lone indignity that my RT had suffered was the loss of its original factory topcase, the 49-liter unit that incorporates the RTís central locking, lighting, etc. Apparently when the previous owner traded for a K-GT he negotiated to keep the topcase. So, I started my search. As it turns out, the full-featured BMW case costs something in the range of $1,500, an eye-popping number (it is possible to save a bit by buying the basic case, or by locating a used one). Iíve been seeing good reviews of Shad cases here and on other websites, so I did a bit more investigating and found that this Spanish company, which is an OEM supplier to BMW Motorrad (and other motorcycle manufacturers) of topcases, saddles, and other components, gets pretty good reviews of its cases
They make a bunch of large capacity cases, including three of roughly equivalent size, the SH48, SH49, and SH50 (the numeric part of the model number equates to the capacity of the bag, in liters). In eyeballing their website (www.shadusa.com
), the SH50 appears to be the most rectangular in form. Reasoning that itís easier to pack stuff in that sort of a case, as opposed to one that is more curvy or odd shaped, I decided to go for the SH50.
First lesson: the companyís website isnít great, but with a little bit of effort you can navigate it and figure out what you need.
Second lesson: they sell the SH50 (and other products) on Amazon for quite a bit less than their website. On the Shad website, the SH50 is $365 plus $44 shipping. I found it on Amazon.com for $345 (Shad USA is the seller) and, with my Prime membership, this amounted to $64 in savings.
The Shad rep did give me a discount code that is good for a 5% savings on the products on the website: "discount5". So, this would offer some savings to offset the price advantage of buying on Amazon.
Now, for my personal experience:
Before ordering, I asked a customer service dude at Shad if I needed the RT-specific mounting kit (another $89). He told me that it wasnít really necessary since a universal mount comes with the topbox, so I put off ordering it. Unboxing day arrived, I pulled out the case (very nice quality, but more on that later), spent a couple of hours diddling around with the universal mount, and got it mounted. But, it wasnít rock solid. The RTís luggage rack is a thick affair, so I rigged up a solution with some extra length bolts and a couple of cable ties, but when all was said and done, it just didnít feel right).
Back on the horn to Shad to order the RT mounting kit (the RT-specific mount isnít sold on Amazon). I pointed out that the shipping charges for the $89 kit were $44, which is wacky, and he adjusted it to their actual cost ($9.80). The kit arrived over this past weekend, and I put it all together on Saturday. So, my first bit of advice: get the RT-specific kit. It took about 50 minutes to mount it (some drilling is required), but it all fits together well and once itís mounted, the SH50 is rock solid. You may be more clever than I, and can figure out a way to make the universal mount work, but for my money, itís worth the extra $89 to be assured that the case isnít going to detach and bounce down the road.
The case itself is of really high quality, equivalent to BMWís factory cases (this makes sense, because Shad manufactures many of those cases). The locking and opening mechanisms are very smooth and easy to operate, and it appears that the case should be completely waterproof (thereís a gasket that runs around the circumference of the lid). While it doesnít tie into the RTís central locking system, itís not that great an effort to lock it, if needed, with the keys that are supplied with the case.
As you can see below, the bag can easily fit two Nolan N104 helmets. As I had hoped it would be, it is pretty rectangular in form. I also got an additional lower backrest ($39) from Shad, so the total cost works out to about $482 (not counting the 5% discount, noted above, for the accessories), plus tax. As far as looks are concerned, I think that the colors work pretty well with my Callisto Grey RT. They do provide optional shells that cover the top lid in a variety of colors. If you are focused on these issues, those lids can be painted for an exact match and the blue lid is apparently almost an exact match for Merino Blue.
So, the bottom line (for me): Itís an excellent quality case, in my opinion equal in quality to the BMW factory cases, though missing a couple of features (most notably central locking). The mounting system ads a bit of complexity not inherent in the BMW cases (which snap right into the factory rear rack) and it rides probably 1/2" - 1" higher than the factory case for this reason (advantage: BMW Motorrad). However, for roughly one-third the cost of the full-featured RT case, Iím pretty darned happy with it. The quality is the equal of the factory option, but you do pay a (slight) penalty in ease of mounting. The day may come when Iíll feel compelled to buy the factory case, but Iím not so sure Iíll ever be moved to do so. A few pics below . . . .
The Shad case seems to integrate pretty well with the design and color of the RT:
The front of the case; the upper backrest pad is standard, the lower one is an extra $39:
My biggest criticism is that the case is named after a fish, but the addition of a roundel helps ease the pain:
Two Nolan N104s fit easily. There's extra room for other stuff, but you get the idea, a fairly rectangular case that has quite bit of capacity.