Thursday, September 04, 2008

Commuting without the system cases

BMW calls them System Cases on the more modern models of their motorcycles, others call them hard cases or luggage cases. They're lockable, plastic cases into which one tends to place way too much stuff, adding to the weight of the bike and to its overall width.

Whilst they're great for long trips or perhaps grocery shopping, they're a bit much for every day commuting back and forth to work.

It's with the above thought in mind that I decided today to leave the system cases at home, and bought a small bag whose original purposes is to function as a soft-sided cooler for lunches and such. In fact, it was almost the perfect shape to serve as a tailbag for my 1987 R80, Brigitta.

Cost was $32 which if you've shopped for tail bags, is pretty darn good. I got it home, removed the carry strap, secured it to the tiny cargo rack on Brigitta and inserted a plastic basket inside to make it retain its shape even when empty.

Now I've got a lockable storage area on Brigitta without having to bring the system cases. I plan to use it to store the rain gear in case it rains. It expands upwards easily to accomodate a second smaller case I previously had in which I carry the camera and sundry items for commuting.

Here's the bag, fully expanded

Collapsed, the tail bag doesn't mar Brigitta's lines too much

A retractable ski cable lock keeps the bag safe from the casual thief

Another lock secures the main compartment

So, I'll try this for a while and see how it works out. I kind of like the looks of Brigitta without the system cases as I've mentioned before; and with this tail bag I can carry the necessities such as rain gear in a secure manner.

My toolkit, tire repair kit, extra gloves, waterproof gloves and air pump go in their respective compartments under the seat.


irondad said...

Brigatta looks pretty good without the saddlebags. That's the beauty of older bikes. I always left the cases on the ST because the rear end of the bike looks so homely without them!

redlegsrides said...

Hi Dan

yeah, Brigitta does look pretty good without them. My 1150RT on the other hand looks weird without its system cases so they stay on as well.

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Dom:

This is rather clever and economical solution for lockable soft luggage. The bag looks like it was made for the bike! How is the bag attached to the rack? (I must have missed something.) For $32, you've got a great looking top case.

I am going to recommend my riding buddies take a look at this. "Brigatta" has classic BMW style in spades.

Fondest regards,
Jack Riepe
Twisted Roads

RichardM said...

I leave the cases on my '83 R100RT when commuting since it is a good place to store my helmet when I get to work and my laptop case fits in perfectly on those days I need to have it. But yes, I do like the look of the bike without them. Much less bulky...

redlegsrides said...

Jack and Richard, thanks for the comments. I usually just lock the helmet to the cargo rack using a gun lock, tough but flexible.

I secured it to the rack using wire ties, nothing fancy.

If I had to carry a laptop, it'd have to be system cases, or perhaps a backpack.

Conchscooter said...

I took off my soft saddle bags recently to make the Bonneville slimmer for hurricane parking at work and i've left them off> Lo and behold I've gained a few miles per gallon and I like the slimmed look. I use a hard top case to store my man purse out of the weather along with a rain jacket. If you need more storage a net over the pillon seat is unobtrusive and oh so useful.

irondad said...

I know some people who could stand to follow the advice on saddlebags!
Not talking motorcycles, either.

I agree about the cargo nets. They're useful for hauling stuff. Like sleeping bags. Don't know whether to fill you in or leave it a mystery!

Sorry to commandeer your blog comment section!