... make bad law, but they also make the Triumph much more versatile.
I wrote here, here and here about wanting some hard luggage for the Bonnie. I got the pannier frames effectively for nothing, and I was looking on eBay for some hard cases to go with them. Unfortunately, after missing three sets in a couple of weeks, none came up for auction for two months afterwards and I got fed up waiting. On Thursday I ordered a set from Motorbikes and Parts, and they arrived this morning by courier before the first post. If you count in the fact that my order was placed late on Thursday evening, that's effectively 24-hour service, which is as good as it gets. So I'll recommend them as a supplier, based on this purchase.
For the record, the cases are Hepco and Becker Junior, and the 40 litre variety. Of course, they mounted directly to the H&B frames in a couple of seconds and the mounting is as solid as a rock. I debated for ages about whether to go for the 30-litre or 40-litre model. The Bonnie is a fairly small bike and the 30-litre would have looked a little better, I think - from the rear, the cases dominate the bike in a way that they shouldn't. However, before I mounted them I hefted them around a bit and I don't think I'd want them any smaller. My Shoei XR1000 full-face helmet just fits into one with a bit of squeezing and, since the whole point of hard cases is to be able to leave your stuff with the bike when you are away, I would have been disappointed if it hadn't. I have a large head circumference (them branes gotta go somewhere) and take a size XL (62cm), so most people would find a full-face fitted easily. The 30-litre cases are a full 7cm narrower, however, and I doubt very much if you would get any sort of lid in one of those. So I have made a slight sacrifice in looks for a huge gain in practicality.
See what I mean? Mind you, they only appear this wide from the rear. Any other view and they look fine:
First impressions are extremely good. The fit to the frames is exact and in fact they need slight forcing towards the bike before the catches will engage, so the whole thing is in slight tension at all times, which should ensure that the latches stay latched. The cases are made of heavy plastic and have a textured finish which should shrug off a lot of wear and tear. I have clouted them with my boot already while getting aboard and haven't made a mark. In contrast, the Honda cases were painted with soft white paint and showed every scuff and scratch. I even misjudged the width when parking it for the first time and clouted the right case into the corner of the Land Rover. It would have gouged a huge slice out of the Honda's cases, but there wasn't a mark. (I did something similar with the Honda too, so it seems each set of cases needs christening in some way before the brain learns about the extra width to the backside.)
They seem very well-made. The interior is smooth plastic and should clean very easily, and there are straps with snap connectors to stop the load from falling out when you open the lid. The pleasing thing is that they are quite heavy, so they should be durable. There's nothing worse than practical kit like this that feels flimsy. In contrast to my remarks on caravans a few days ago, I feel you could easily get very drunk inside one of these, if you were small enough. There is a note in each reminding the owner that the weight limit for each case is 10Kg, and that the bike must not be ridden at more than 130 Km/h with the cases fitted. Of course, these limits are purely for product liability purposes - an arse-covering exercise - and I am sure they could be exceeded by a great deal in practice. Just as an experiment, I have gone to 130 Km/h and a little beyond, and the bike was stable and handled normally. The 10Kg weight limit sounds low until you realise that is is equivalent to over two gallons of water. I think a few clothes and a bit of camping kit won't worry it too much.
I've said before that I rate Givi luggage highly for fit and quality (if not for style) and this H&B kit is easily as good. It is plain-looking, but that suits me fine. Something that looked like a pod missing from the Space Shuttle wouldn't suit the Bonnie at all. It's supposed to be waterproof, and I will be leaving it on the bike for the time being so we will soon see if that is true.
I'll write a more detailed report when I have put a few miles on the cases.