Words and Photography by Jim Vota
Earlier this year we were fortunate enough to acquire the 2014 BMW F800 GS Adventure. This addition to the GS family is sure to provide enthusiasts with a versatile solution for long distance adventure travel. As is the case with most bikes, additions and accessories can help make the journey all the more enjoyable. Over the upcoming year, we plan to put the F800GS Adventure to the test. But first, we want to get a good look at what accessories and upgrades are available for this bike, and which accessories will be important in making your journey all that it can be.
Our F800GS Adventure came with almost all of the optional equipment. Although it came with luggage racks, it did not come with cases. So that is most definitely the first upgrade we are making. At the time of this article, most of the hard luggage manufacturers do not have hard luggage options for this specific model. Instead of waiting to see what these manufacturers come up with, we have decided to go with the BMW Aluminum Adventure cases.
We were originally reluctant to go with the BMW factory cases. We had concerns about the size of the cases and their durability. However, upon receiving the BMW factory cases we quickly realized that our concerns were somewhat ignorant. These cases offer a lot of versatility and integrate very well into the bike. The factory racks hug the contour of the F800GS Adventure, keeping the cases close to the bike and minimizing the overall width of the bike when the cases are attached. We found that the “rear end” of the bike stayed just under 42 inches with the cases mounted. This gave us a maximum amount of cargo space with a minimum amount of girth.
We found this to be very appealing for two reasons. First, the ride at highway speeds is not drastically affected when using these cases. When cases stick out, they can very easily become a sort of sail in the wind. This can dramatically affect the ride of a motorcycle, especially at higher speeds. We did not experience a change in handling while running the BMW factory cases. Second, we liked the the handling of the bike at low speeds and in tight areas. We packed this cases with anything and everything we could think of. Having the BMW cases close to the bike helped with handling in low speed, mud and gravel situations. Also, the cases were somewhat out of the way when we needed to put our feet down in more difficult riding conditions. As many of you may have experienced, hard panniers can hit your calf muscle in unbalanced situations. This can cause serious injury on the road and quite possibly end your journey. We found the BMW Aluminum Adventure cases to be positioned very well on the F800GS Adventure. They did not stick out too far and were far enough back on the motorcycle.
This was the biggest (and most pleasant) surprise for us. Storage capability of these cases is fantastic. You get 44 liters of storage in the right case, 38 liters in the left case, and 31 liters in the topcase. That said, we became acutely aware that it is not how much storage space a pannier kit offers, but how that space is configured. We were very surprised to find that a full face helmet fit very comfortably in both the right case and the topcase. We tested this with an Arai XD3 and a Shoei Multitec modular helmet. Both fit with room to spare. This was very impressive and is a great feature to have when traveling long distances.
The BMW Aluminum Adventure cases mounted solidly on the side racks that came on the F800GS Adventure. Easily sliding into place, they mount with two locking clasps that hold the cases firmly in place. We experienced very little, if any movement while riding, even when the cases were fully loaded. The topcase required the purchase of an additional topcase rack, different from the rack that comes on the F800GS Adventure. Easily installed, this rack provided excellent support for the topcase, keeping it solidly on the rack. No bouncing or flexing of the rack was experienced.
Although the walls of the BMW Aluminum Adventure cases may not be as thick as some aftermarket pannier manufacturers’, they seemed to be sturdy enough for most riding situations (though we did not simulate a crash to prove this theory). Strong welds and reinforced edges keep these cases firm and should survive a fall if at lower speeds. These cases also come with four stainless steel lashing eyelets on each case, allowing riders to carry additional items on the tops of the cases.
It is important to note that these cases are constructed of uncoated aluminum. This means that riders can run the risk of the aluminum oxidizing onto anything that is inside, or on top of the cases. Of course, BMW recommends purchasing their inner bags, which fit seamlessly inside the cases. We solved the issue of oxidation fairly easily and cheaply, however. We purchased some adhesive rubber diamond plate to be placed on the tops of each case. And we lined the interior of each case with Gorilla Tape. This took some time, but it is a cost effective alternative to the BMW inner liners.
For some, hard cases are an annoyance. They are heavy and can contribute to injury in a fall. But for those that like the security and convenience that hard cases provide, the BMW Aluminum Adventure cases seem to be a good solution. They are competitively priced to other luggage sets on the market today. Expect to pay around $1800.00* for this setup. That will include both side cases, the topcase, the topcase rack, and ten locks (four for each side case, and two for the topcase). If you do not have the BMW Adventure sideracks on your motorcycle, you can add around $450.00* to this cost.
Expensive? Yes. But you will get a comprehensive and versatile hard luggage solution for your GS that will last you for a long time to come.
* Prices are based on average selling prices on the market as of November 4th, 2013. Specific dealer pricing may be different.