Unlike taking a roadtrip in a car, where you can pack everything but the kitchen sink, traveling by motorcycle requires you to be more selective about what you bring. And whatever is on your “can’t leave home without it” list, you need a way to carry it on the bike. SW-Motech offers a bewildering array of motorcycle luggage in various styles and sizes, along with carriers, racks, and adapters.
These offerings allow for a customizable, modular approach to kitting out your motorcycle, all designed and manufactured with the quality and attention to detail so often attributed to German engineering. SW-Motech also makes all kinds of cool accessories for safety, protection, navigation, and power supply (beware: sitting down with your favorite refreshing beverage and perusing their website will lead to temptation).
Related: New Gear: SW-Motech’s Centerstands
Our 2022 Honda CB500X long-term test bike is an affordable, efficient, light-duty adventure bike that’s perfect for solo touring, but in stock form, it has neither luggage nor a luggage rack. We surfed over to SW-Motech’s U.S. website, entered the year, make, and model into the “My Bike” filter, and clicked the “Luggage” product category.
First, we wanted a way to carry luggage, so we ordered the Street-Rack ($252.95), a small rear rack with multiple tie-down points that’s made of black PU-coated 5mm aluminum. We only planned to use the Street-Rack as a lashing point and carrier for a tailbag, but SW-Motech also offers a rack extension, tank ring adapters for mounting a PRO tankbag, and a wide range of adapters for various styles and brands of top cases.
Next, we ordered the PRO Side Carrier ($350.95), which is made of black powdercoated 2.5mm steel. Not only is the side carrier compatible with SW-Motech’s own luggage, but adapter kits are also available for use with Givi/Kappa, Hepco & Becker, Krauser, and Shad luggage.
For luggage, we ordered a SysBag WP M (Waterproof, Medium; $249.95) to use as a tailbag and two SysBag WP L (Large; $399.95 each) saddlebags with adapter plates that allow them to be quickly mounted to or removed from the PRO Side Carrier. The SysBag WP L has lashing straps, so if you didn’t want the quick-release adapter plate, the bag alone is $319.95. However, the straps must be threaded through slots in the carrier’s metal plates, so loaded bags would likely move around, especially during off-road riding, which may wear on the straps over time. Given the convenience and added security of the adapter plates, they’re worth the extra money.
Because I was halfway around the world testing the Royal Enfield Super Meteor 650 in India (see my Royal Enfield Super Meteor 650 First Ride review here), our esteemed former EIC and go-to mechanical guru Mark Tuttle was kind enough to tackle the installation in my absence. From his installation notes: “Overall a nice, heavy-duty system that was fairly easy to install with a minimum of fiddling. Took me about two hours, largely because each hanger on the adapter plates must be secured with four @#$%& screws and nuts, or 32 pairs total. SWM should preinstall these. IMHO installing the system is probably best left to the (at least somewhat) mechanically inclined, though the instructions are clear, and it uses high-quality hardware.”
Installation of either the Street-Rack or the PRO Side Carrier requires removing the CB500X’s passenger grab handles, but the side carrier arms can serve as secure handholds for a passenger. Although the instructions call for drilling the rear fender to secure the rear horizontal support arm, Tuttle said it wasn’t necessary; it aligned easily enough with the license plate bracket holes.
A nifty feature of the PRO Side Carrier are Quick-Lock fasteners that allow the carrier to be removed with a quarter turn, leaving behind only minimal attachment points for a clean look. Since the fasteners are immediately behind the loop part of the carrier, securing them with a flathead screwdriver is tricky. However, SW-Motech sells a stainless steel Multitool Key Chain ($11.95) that includes not only a fastener tool for PRO and EVO side carriers but hex keys in five sizes and a bottle opener. If you’re concerned about theft, a Screw Set ($11.95) is available to replace the Quick-Lock fasteners.
Once the PRO Side Carrier and adapter plates are installed, it’s literally a snap to mount the two SysBag WP Ls to each side – just line up the hangers on the pins, lift the release lever, and pop them right on. The SysBag WP M was laid flat on the passenger seat and Street-Rack, and its straps were used to secure it in place as a tailbag.
The SysBags are made of TPU (thermoplastic polyurethane) with rubber-like EVA (ethylene vinyl acetate) components and thermally welded seams, and they have roll tops made of 210 Ripstop TPU to keep water and dust out. They have reinforced handles, MOLLE patches for attaching accessories, eyelets for cable locks, Velcro fasteners for bundling excess strap lengths, and removable inner pockets. An outer flap covers the roll tops and secures with quick-release buckles, and inside the flap is a zippered pocket. The M bag’s volume is expandable from 17-23 liters, and the L bag’s volume is expandable from 27-40 liters. The L bag also has inner dividers and an easily accessible exterior compartment for stashing raingear, a thermal layer, or other items.
Overall, this is an impressive, high-quality setup that adds up to 103 liters of storage on the Honda CB500X or other motorcycle. One thing to keep in mind, however, is the added weight. The Street-Rack adds 6.2 lb; the SysBag WP L adds 6.4 lb per bag and 3.0 lb per adapter plate, for a total of 18.8 lb; and the SysBag WP M adds 4.2 lb. All in, that’s 29.2 lb before adding any gear.
The total cost of this setup is $1,677.65. Given the quality and versatility, it’s a good investment in a luggage system that will last for years. The only question is, where will you go first? A good place to start is the SW-Motech website.