Story and photography by Rich Cox
[This Shad SH-50 Top Case Motorcycle Luggage Review was originally published in the May 2010 issue of Rider magazine]
When you start sport touring with a passenger, you soon discover that your bike’s hard saddlebags—which were plenty roomy for just you—have suddenly become really small. Strapping a duffel bag to the tail is one way to expand luggage capacity, but a more convenient and secure solution is to add an accessory top case. Shad has only been in the United States about a year, but the luggage outfit is seven years old and has quite a pedigree in Europe. Behind it stands parent company NADSA in Barcelona, Spain, with more than 25 years of experience making motorcycle saddles. Under that umbrella SHAD has developed a huge line of hard and soft luggage and accessories for motorcycles, scooters and ATVs. SHAD also supplies OEM luggage to BMW, Triumph, Yamaha and others.
Our test case, the SH-50, is SHAD’S largest with 50 liters of capacity; big enough to swallow two large full-face helmets and then some. This hard molded plastic case measures 23.6 wide x 18.1 deep x 12.5 inches high and weighs 5 pounds. It’s finished in stylish silver and gray with a matte black lid, and comes standard with a base plate and universal mounting hardware. Although priced considerably less than its competition, the SH-50 seems well made and has a top-notch fit and finish. Its hermetic sealing top lid has an easy-to-use, three-way keyed press-lock system: one position for locking the lid closed, one for opening and one for releasing the case from the base. You can also open and close the unlocked case without having to insert a key.
SHAD includes universal mounting hardware (an assortment of U-bolts and such) with its plastic/metal base plates, which in theory allows mounting to a wide variety of flat racks. However, we wouldn’t recommend using this hardware on your pristine OEM rack, as it could cause paint damage. Go a step further and opt for SHAD’s Top Master mounting kit; these are custom- fitted adapter plates that mount using the stock rack’s mounting points so the OEM rack remains unscarred. The base plate then mounts to the Top Master. On our silver ’04 Yamaha FJR1300 we only encountered one installation hiccup—the bolts securing the two-piece base plate together were a tad short. A SHAD rep assured us this was a rare oversight; the solution was a quick trip to the hardware store for replacements.
SHAD offers several options for the SH-50. One is a passenger backrest ($38) that enhances the case’s appearance, but we found mounts a bit high; check where your passenger’s back will contact it against the picture on the website. There’s also a three-wire brake-/taillight kit ($59) that mounts under the base plate, and you can change the top color of the case at will with SHAD’s innovative quick-change color plate system. These ABS plastic color plates ($65 separately) mount snugly over the basic matte black lid and come in five popular colors (the silver plate closely matched the side panels on our FJR) as well as a primed virgin plate ($44) ready for paint. When you order a colored SH-50, you get a case with one color plate already installed, and you can order others to move it from bike to bike.
We didn’t have any rain during the test period, but the SH-50 passed the hose test without leaking. SHAD cases come with a two-year limited warranty and are available from select dealers and several online suppliers. In Standard Black the SH-50 retails for $329; with a color plate it’s $379.
For more information visit Shad or (888) 524-6388