Our Honda africa twin long-term test bike is asked to wear a lot of hats: tourer, commuter, grocery-getter and pack mule. Honda sent it to us with its optional plastic side luggage, but this being California, we also appreciate the ability to split lanes, so a top case is often more convenient than bulky (and wide) side luggage. As top cases go, the Shad SH58X is probably one of the widest we’ve seen, but it’s still within the Africa Twin’s mirror/handlebar width and, as it turns out, its versatility has made it indispensible. The SH58X’s design is simple and intuitive, with the lock operating independently of the latch for convenient keyless access. To open it simply press on the lock itself, which pops open the carrying handle, then pull the latch that opens the lid. To close, shut the lid and snap the handle back down. The key is only required for locking and unlocking. Simple!
In its smallest configuration, which still holds a generous 46 liters, the SH58X is wide and flat, like a flying saucer piloted by little green men. Expanding it is easy: open the case, pop open the two large red tabs on either side of the lower half and pull up on the lid. Because it’s so wide, I found it worked best if I grabbed the lid in the middle at the rear, keeping both sides even as it lifted. There are two “expanded” settings, 52 liters and 58 liters, and they’re held in place by snapping the red tabs over two raised knobs. After some practice, I was able to open the tabs, lift the lid and re-secure it without taking all my stuff out.
Shad currently offers mounting plates for many popular touring bikes, such as the BMW R 1200 RT and S 1000 XR, Honda ST1300, Kawasaki Concours 1400, Versys 650 and Versys 1000, Suzuki V-Strom 650 and 1000, and Triumph Tiger 800. Without the SH58X mounted, the black plastic plate is fairly inconspicuous, and attaching/detaching the case (which requires the key) is easy and fiddle-free.
The wide, streamlined design looks a little funny on the tall, athletic Africa Twin, but the SH58X is so useful I really don’t care. It’s carried a freshly dry cleaned dress (carefully folded in half), camping equipment and more bags of groceries than I can remember. Fellow hikers at the trailhead went from amused to impressed when I pulled up in full riding gear, then proceeded to strip down to hiking clothes, locking all my gear and my full-face helmet in my trusty top case.
The SH58X is available in Black Matte for $399, Carbon Fiber, Dark Gray or White for $474, or Gloss Black for $486 (mounting plates not included). Accessories like a backrest, LED taillight and an inner liner bag are also available.
For more information, call (305) 652-6366 or visit shadonline.com.