Motorcycle top case: types, homologation and purchase advice

Which types of rear motorcycle top cases are available on the market, the legal requirements to be met and advice on choosing the most suitable model for you

It often happens that while we are riding our motorcycle we feel the need for comfort, space, an accessory that can comfortably accommodate the helmet or gloves, in case we have to stop in a bar, in a club or in the office. Or an adequate space also to not be in difficulty in the most disparate situations, for example, going shopping or buying a gift or, again, preparing the bag to go to the gym. All this is possible thanks to a simple motorcycle top case to be mounted on the back of the bike thanks to the special luggage racks. The top case is sold by many brands and they are made, as for the side bags we have already talked about, in different materials (plastic, aluminium and fabric). Obviously for a choice as conscious as possible you will have to take into account the price, but above all what are your needs.

Aesthetics or Functionality?

The rear panniers are suitable for medium or large displacement motorcycles and scooters of all types. In fact, there are many manufacturers who design and manufacture the top cases, so as to provide the customer with the ability to mount this original accessory. Some scooters are sold with the top case included in the price while, usually, most of the motorcycles, especially for those of large displacement, which have available the original top cases it is necessary to buy them separately because they are not included in the purchase of the bike.

There are many brands that invest in this market and the products that are offered are also very different. The main dilemma you have to pay attention to when you decide to buy your top case is: do you prefer aesthetics or functionality? Certainly the goal of each of us when we buy a product is to buy an object that is beautiful and at the same time perfect for our needs, but it is not always so obvious and easy as an objective. Often motorcycle top cases are very beautiful, well cared for in construction and also in materials, but often not very functional and not adapted to the needs of the motorcyclist. On the contrary, many products are perfect for the needs, spacious, resistant but the eye wants its part. It will therefore be necessary to unravel the market trying to choose a product that can be as congenial as possible to our bike and our needs.

Hard cases

In aluminium, polycarbonate or plastic, the cases can be made of rigid material. These top cases offer security thanks to the possibility of closing the back case with the keys provided directly by the production company. Moreover, they guarantee a greater protection of the objects stored inside the top case. The aluminum top cases are perfect for those who travel and love touring, thanks to their robustness can withstand even the hardest impacts, while the motorcycle top cases made of plastic are lighter, less resistant than those in aluminum but still able to absorb any trauma.

Soft top cases

In addition to hard top cases there are many types of top cases made of fabric (usually in canvas, leather or imitation leather) that make lightness and versatility their main strengths in a market that, as we have seen, offers any type of motorcycle top case. For those who are looking for comfort, little effort and little space, the solution of soft fabric top cases is the best possible choice, also because they are easily detachable from the carrier and have a ridiculous weight. On the other hand, of course, there is a lack of efficiency in protecting the inside of the top case and often there is not even the presence of a hermetic closure or with a security key, but with a simple zipper. The soft top case is definitely more suitable for those who travel frequently in the city and don’t want to increase the size of their motorcycle.

Dimensions and prices

Small backpacks, bags or bags or large compartments to store your helmet and technical clothing, the dimensions (as well as materials) of motorcycle cases are very different and the most varied. We find, in fact, especially among the soft top cases, sizes that start from a liter, a liter and a half capacity up to 20/25 liters, passing obviously through medium sizes such as 10 and 15 liters. These types of top case are often also the most economical solutions, obviously depending on the brand from which we want to buy the product in question. We are talking about products that in principle do not cost less than 20 euros, but that hardly exceed 100 euros.

The question is different with regard to top cases made of rigid material. The dimensions usually start from 15/20 litres and can reach up to 58 litres capacity for a maximum load of 10 kilograms. Cases made of rigid material are safer and guarantee better safety but logically they cost more than soft cases. The cost varies from 80 euros and can go up to more than 400 euros.

What the law says

As we wrote for the side bags, motorcycle cases are also subject to the highway code. If, on the other hand, you are interested in fitting aftermarket top cases, you should bear in mind what article 170 of the Highway Code says: “it is forbidden to carry objects that are not firmly secured, that protrude sideways from the vehicle’s axis or longitudinally from the shape of the vehicle by more than fifty centimetres, or that prevent or restrict the driver’s visibility”. In essence, the pair of top cases may not exceed one metre in width.

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