MC Tested: SHAD E-48 Semi Rigid Motorcycle Saddlebags

Good looking and versatile storage design that won’t break the bank.

Solid, expandable semi-rigid saddlebags that could use an ounce of refinement on the mounts.
SHAD E-48 Semi-Rigid Saddlebags
Solid, expandable semi-rigid saddlebags that could use an ounce of refinement on the mounts.©Motorcyclist

Traditionally, you have a few choices in saddlebag design from the aftermarket. You have your hard saddlebags that bolt or somehow latch to your motorcycle; they’re solid, sturdy, waterproof (you hope), and durable. But they can be expensive and there might not be a mounting kit for your bike. On the other side are traditional “throw-over” soft bags, made to fit a bunch of different bikes. But that means you’re on your own to find the best way to carry the load without scratching your paint or having the bags find their way into the back wheel.

In the middle are SHAD’s E-48 Semi Rigid Saddlebags. The vessels themselves are nylon over thermo-formed EVA (plastic) stiffeners that help them maintain shape. A waterproof zipper opens the outer lid, side-firing style. A second zipper next to it allows for expanding the interior, from 20 to 26 liters each bag. Straps inside help secure your precious cargo while additional straps across the top surface of the bags helps them maintain shape and reduce the load on the zippers when you’re carrying a lot of, uh, stuff.

The E-48s are designed to work with bike-specific mounts.
Mounting System
The E-48s are designed to work with bike-specific mounts, which are thin wire frames that support the inner surface of the bags to keep them out of the rear wheel.©Motorcyclist

Dimensionally, the E-48s are fairly long, 17.7 inches front to rear, and not very deep, just 9 inches deep (inside to outside) and 10.6 inches tall. As you can see, the bags taper toward the rear. This elongated shape keeps them from looking too blocky, but bikes with short tailsections might end up with the bags riding a bit close to the passenger footpegs.

Speaking of installation, the E-48s are designed to work with bike-specific mounts, which are thin wire frames that support the inner surface of the bags to keep them out of the rear wheel. On the 2015 Yamaha FZ-07 test mule, the mounts are super simple, cantilevering off the passenger-footpeg bracket and extending rearward just to the turnsignals. The primary cargo load is carried by twin straps meant to ride on the passenger saddle—this is unlike the Givi Easylock semi-rigid saddlebags, whose mounts carry the entire load. On the FZ-07, with its stubby tailsection, the aft strap has no support. Even so, the bags are fairly secure, thanks to small loops that grasp the tubular mount on the bike itself, though these connections add to the installation and removal time a bit. These bags move around more than the rigidly mounted Easylocks, but not alarmingly so. A positive aspect of the bike mount is that for the most part the bags and attaching hardware remain clear of the bike’s bodywork, reducing the chances of paint damage. Finally, the over-seat straps are relatively thin, so a passenger shouldn’t mind a short jaunt perched atop them.

SHAD E-48 bags feature gussets in the lid to keep them from opening all the way and spilling your gear.
Access To Cargo
Gussets in the lid keep them from opening all the way and spilling your gear.©Motorcyclist

Access to your cargo is fine. Gussets in the lid keep them from opening all the way and spilling your gear. As part of your gear, you’ll want to pack the included rain covers. I rode through a full afternoon of moderate rain and discovered that while the covers do keep the outer surfaces reasonably dry, the inner surfaces of the bags, near the rear tire, are totally exposed. Eventually these faces soak through and water will then migrate throughout the bag. To be fair, the Givi Easylocks have the same problem, but their fully sealed construction—the inner fabric is largely separate from the inner skin—keeps them dryer for longer. A better solution for those living in wet climates would be internal dry bags.

Overall, though, the SHAD E-48s do the trick, balancing the flexibility and low cost of soft saddlebags with the security and stability of hard-mounted cases. And the price is very good, around $250 all up. The bags are $149, with the mount kits selling for $79 to $99 depending on bike. Currently, SHAD lists a dozen mounts: Honda CB500X, two generations of VFR800, Kawasaki ER6n and Z800, KTM 390 Duke, Suzuki GSX-S750 and V-Strom 650, Yamaha FZ-07, FZ-09, FJ-09, and FZ8.

SHAD E-48 Semi Rigid Saddlebags
Price: $250
Contact: shadusa.com

MC Grade: B
Verdict: Nicely versatile and stable semi-hard saddlebags with bike-specific mounts. Good looking and practical.