12 April 2016

FZ1 Mod: Hard Luggage

My budget solution:  Chivi.

Every since last year's rally I've been obsessed with replacing my soft saddlebags with hard luggage.  When I bought the saddlebags, I researched hard luggage and realized I didn't want to invest close to $1,000 on something that I believed my softbags would do just fine.
There are advantages to softbags that I truly appreciate.  Like being able to remove them easily and return to the sporty look I so love about my FZ1.  SW Motech makes some quick release racks that provides a similar function but with the added bonus of the more secure hard luggage.  After the thorough soaking we got on the way to the rally, that $1,000 didn't seem like a lot if it meant dry clothes.

I looked into hard luggage again as soon as I got home.  I needed racks and luggage but I still couldn't get over my sticker shock.  I had the military cases from when I put luggage on my old VX800 so maybe I could adapt them to work.  Cruzman and I spent a day at it.
I loved having the hard luggage but wasn't overly fond of the looks.  We ended up with permanently mounted bags while we tried to figure out some kind of quick release.  I rode around with them for at least 5 or 6 months before I finally took them off just to be able to move around the bike in the garage.

I discovered there's a lot to like about hard luggage.  My permanently mounted solution however showed there's plenty not to like too.  The permanent mount was supposed to be temporary until we figured out the quick release or any release that wasn't a 20 minute ordeal with tools.

Loading and unloading proved to be cumbersome when I used them during the Fall Rally.  It would have been nice to simply take the bags on and off.  The other thing that didn't sit well was the looks.  The USGI cases I used are enormous.  They can carry a full 12 pack of peach tea with room for a 12 pack of beer in the same case.

Unfortunately, they didn't match Baby's looks.  They did give me proof that I actually wanted the hard luggage so it was time for me to find something that looked better and was within my budget.

I'd seen something last spring.  The Chinese are making Givi looking cases.  The only question is quality.  Based on my top case, I suspected the quality would be acceptable to me but because it was Chinese the price at the time I saw it was a little more than I thought it should be.  Also there was a question of racks.  We mounted the USGI cases using the holes that I'd previously drilled into them.  If I kept that setup, that would need to be reinforced.

Our temporary permanent solution was a little bouncy too.  We never did go back to add a real stabilizing bar between the bags.  I imagined several alternatives to our setup but in the end I found some 5 Stars side racks that meant a lot less fabrication and ordered them in January (after my brother failed to get them for me for Christmas).
5 Stars NOS side racks for a BMW
I figured it'd be easier to modify than to fabricate and since my rear rack is 5 Stars, the side racks would be easier to attach to my existing rack.  I love my 5 Stars rack and have been reluctant to get rid of it in favor of the SW Motech system.

Once I had the side racks in my possession, I had to make a decision about the cases.  Keep the ones I had or go for something that matched the style of my bike.  If this was the VX, I'd keep the USGI cases.  But this is Baby.  Baby demands a more elegant solution.  Enter the Chinese Givi, or Chivi.  The price had dropped enough that with shipping I didn't balk at ordering them.

The site that I would be ordering from constantly gives a few pennies off so I took advantage of one of those save 10% deals and ordered the v35 styled Chivi.  The bonus was that now the bags came with racks.  They didn't when I first saw them.  A short week later, I had a large box on the front porch full of bags.

What's in the box?
These seem to be very well made.  Not USGI good, but good.
The included racks are not what was advertised but match the ones from the bigger bags.
Matte Black face plate because I was too chicken to order the blue.

These bags are about the same quality as the case I've been using for years that is also a Chinese copy of some other case.  As soon as I saw the racks, I wished I'd waited until I got the bags to order the 5 Stars side racks.  Even though the bags come with puck style mounting option, they don't fit the hoops of the 5 stars rack.

Once the weather cleared, I planned to try to figure out the best way to mount the bags.  Like the USGI cases, getting them on the bike seemed the most important thing.  As you can see from the pics, once these bags are on the bike, they stay on the bike.  No taking these off and bringing them into hotel or tent like regular luggage. I won't complain though.  Shipping was more than the price of the bags anyway.  For under $300 I had stylish luggage with some kind of mounting system included.

I used the same mounting points as we had for the USGI cases but with the included hardware.  They send you a lot of hardware but no instructions so it's back to Lincoln Log/Lego Days as I fit pieces together to get what I wanted.

A little tugging and pushing got them where they needed to be.  Since I don't ride with a passenger, I didn't want to put them too far back.

 Meet my FZ1-T or FJR Lite:
I've spend months trying to understand quick release and finally gave up last night.  I asked Cruzman to handle that for me.  With the bags finally on the bike, I answered the unasked question of if I needed an updated top case to match the new side cases.  For now, the answer is no.  I don't know that the case will stay seat mounted because I have a new custom seat waiting for me.

No test ride yet but since these are so much lighter than the USGI cases, I think I won't even notice them. Go here for more photos. Here are the specs:
They come with different colored face plates.  I really wanted to get the blue but not as much as having the wrong colored blue.  I'm putting these pics here for Cruzman who's asked me multiple times about the different face plates.  

At this point, a few hours after install with no test ride, I think other than making them so I can take them on and off, I will change the logo for the Yamaha Tuning Forks.  Ride report to come.

Thanks for reading,
patrice, theWolfTamer

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