Necessity is the Mother of Invention: One-off Adventure Bags for the BMW GS

Jul 19, 2014 View Comments by

Necessity is the Mother of Invention: One-off Adventure Bags for the BMW GSLuggage. Motorcyclists may struggle with this aspect of the sport more than any other. Retaining the nimble, minimalist aspect of our bikes while still packing what we need for a trip is a true conundrum.

I ride a BMW R 1200 GS—a motorcycle incarnation that is often fitted with more luggage than a United Airlines baggage cart. For me, the cavernous saddlebags that are offered by BMW and the extensive aftermarket are just too much for my riding style. I pack the majority of my trip necessities in my Kappa topcase (see my RoadRUNNER review) and my large BMW tankbag.

What I wanted were side cases that were semi-permanently attached, rugged, and able to safely stow my on-bike gear (tools, tire patch kit, pump, disc lock, rain gear, etc.). I wanted these traits in a package that did not compromise ground clearance, cornering, or aerodynamics. So that was my “necessity.”

At the time, my son (also an avid motorcyclist) was in his last semester of his education as a welder/fabricator, and I told him about my luggage dilemma. Together, we walked around the GS, studied its lines, and talked about possible solutions. We put our heads together and decided on the design you see in the pictures. My son put the concept to paper, then created a cardboard mock-up, and lastly produced the bags as his final project for his degree certification.

His efforts bore great results. The boxes are aluminum and all hardware and brackets (and the GS badges) are stainless steel. The cases rest above the exhaust and attach to the stock GS upper luggage slots. They also make use of a portion of the factory luggage mounts. There is nothing that needs to be modified, cut, or welded. Thus, the attachment is a true bolt-on.

I have now ridden over 15,000 miles with the custom boxes and could not be happier. I always have my road necessities on board and have room to pick up the mail or stow extra gear. They are water resistant, ultra stable, and rugged. We attached a fuel cell tube under the right bag that adds utility and balances the aesthetics with the exhaust. Some adventure riders could never do without the sheer capacity of their large side cases, but these are perfect for me. They are a great “middle-ground” solution.

Just as a side note, my son is now an accomplished welder/fabricator for an aerospace and industrial company. However, he’d love to work with custom motorcycles and the creative accessory aftermarket someday. His first sojourn into this field has proven to be a success. His prototype is not only supremely functional; it also garners a lot of positive attention at motorcycle gatherings. So GS and adventure riders—tell us what you think. Is this a luggage niche that needs to be filled?

Text and photography by Tim Kessel

Want to receive free Touring Tips, reviews, deals and contests, and additional content? Sign up for your free newsletter now!

Tags: , , , , , , Categories: Product Reviews