Long-Term BMW S1000XR Gets SHAD Hard Bags

Side-loading SHAD side cases and top box for the XR project bike.

BMW S1000XR Long-Term mods, SHAD luggage
From this angle, the XR is starting to look more like a wildly styled sport-touring machine, especially now that it packs 111 liters of total water-proofed, lockable storage.©Motorcyclist

Wrist: Marc Cook
MSRP (2016): $19,790 (as tested)
Miles: 14,101
MPG: 38
Mods: Fresh hard bags

The US importer for Spanish luggage manufacturer SHAD emailed asking if I'd try the company's SH36 saddlebags on the S1000XR now that it had developed new mounts for the BMW. I told him that I really liked the factory accessory bags and he said, "Thanks. We make them for BMW." Imagine that. (I later found out the BMW accessory seat is also made by SHAD.) But ever the sucker for new product to test, I said to get UPS rolling.

BMW S1000XR with SHAD hard saddlebags
Yes, it has just a bit of the “bubble butt” look with all three cases mounted, but you really can’t feel the luggage’s dynamic effects on the S1000XR at all.©Motorcyclist

A few days later, I had mounts for the SH36s recycled from my Suzuki V-Strom long-termer last year—SHAD's rep asked me to hang onto them in case we had another bike they would fit in the future—along with an SH39 top box and all the mounts. I had enjoyed the SHAD bags on the Suzuki but complained then of steel-tube mounts that placed the bags very far from the body of the bike. Not a huge deal in most parts of the country, where lane-sharing isn't allowed, but a big-butt bike can be a huge pain in the, well...you know where, in traffic clogged SoCal. Still, I had a sense that the SHAD bags would do better on another bike and at the request of the importer had hung onto them after the Suzuki went home.

SHAD mounts for BMW S1000XR
These tubular mounts take up where the BMW-supplied brackets would normally be. They’re designed to accommodate the universal-fit nature of the SH36 side cases so they have to stick out from the bodywork some distance.©Motorcyclist

As on other applications, the SHAD SH36 side cases (shadusa.com)hang from beefy tubular mounts, which makes them sturdier even than the BMW accessory cases. BMW's mounting system depends on a single pin to keep the bags attached. Structurally, they hang on a channel that meets a U-shaped mount beneath the rear subframe, but there's only one locating pin per bag. Because of that, the BMW bags tend to rock a bit on the pin. I've never had one fall off, so it's obviously more an observation than a legitimate complaint.

SHAD hard case interior
Retaining straps keep your stuff from spilling onto the ground, but the horizontal floor inside the SH36 bags is far more useful in that regard.©Motorcyclist

No complaints at all with the side-loading SHAD cases, which have nice internal floors and latches that you may leave unlocked for quick access to the internals. (The BMW bags allow this too.) And the extra capacity, 36 liters each versus the BMW cases’ 31, is welcome. Also like the BMW setup, the SHAD aftermarket cases use a small plastic strap to keep the lids from opening completely on the bike. If you’re not extremely careful to keep this strap from getting between the inner and outer shells when you close them, you’ll distort the strap. Then the strap will only want to go between the shells, keeping the bag from closing smoothly. It’s not the end of the world, but one each of the SH36s and BMW-branded bags have had the strap mutilated so that I have to make an effort to be sure they’re clear every time I close that particular case.

BMW S1000XR SGAD top case
SHAD cuts it a little close on the top-box mounting, compromising passenger room in the apparent desire to keep the luggage from extending too far aft.©Motorcyclist

For locking, the SH36s use a single key that simultaneously unlocks the lid and enables the mounting latch to be operated, which means it’s one-and-done to open and remove the bags. BMW’s approach is a little more sophisticated in that you can leave the lids unlocked while still securing the bags to the bike. This will mean that if you inadvertently leave the bags unlocked the worst you’ll have is your possessions stolen, not the bags as well. SHAD’s opening lever is a little easier to use than the BMW’s setup.

My main complaint is the location SHAD has chosen to mount the cases on the bike, relatively high and forward, which also makes them wide. As in 41.7 inches wide, just under 4 inches wider than the BMW bags. Worse, the high/forward position makes it all but impossible to avoid kicking the far-side case when getting on the bike. SHAD, for its part, took my and another XR rider’s feedback and is considering a modified mount to tighten up the installation.

SHAD top case mount, BMW S1000XR
A straightforward plastic shoe carries the SH39 top case on the BMW’s stock luggage rack through a compact and simple adapter kit.©Motorcyclist

I also tested the SH39 top case, which is $225 including a clever mount. On the stock BMW luggage rack there are six threaded bosses in the aluminum plate. SHAD has you remove the plastic cover and mount a pair of triangular plates to the forward four mounts, two on each side. Then you attach the plastic top-box shoe to those plates and directly to the rear two bosses on the bike. It’s a simple 30-minute job that results in a sturdy mount. The SH39 is a nice top case, roomy and water tight (as are the side cases), but with few frills like internal lighting, exterior lights, or central locking. But that’s what you should expect for the price, which is about a third the cost of the BMW-branded top case.

And so that might answer the last question you have: If the factory bags are pretty good, why bother with the SHAD options? It comes down to price. The side cases are $610 including mounts, the top case is $225 including mount. Inner bags are a mere $90. All told, the BMW luggage runs $1,055 for the side cases and $700 for a 30-liter top case. It’s probably a stretch to say someone shopping a $19,000 bike is going to be looking for bargains in hard luggage, but the fact is that the SHAD options are functionally very good—the mounted width issue notwithstanding—and have substantially more capacity: 111 versus 92 liters total. That and maybe you prefer the all-black look of the SHAD system over the color-matched (if your XR is red) or not-really-color-matched (if your XR is white) options. Nice to have choices.