+2 on Jesse's we have them on both bikes and are waterproof and good looking...fit more than one would think!
Sorry I'm late to this thread, but I've had some experience with this.
I've had the BMW Vario bags on my 2005 R12GS since I bought it in 2005. They're excellent street-use hard bags. Waterproof, keyed to your ignition key for convenience, the right bag will hold a helmet, etc...
BUT, don't buy them if you think your bike will EVER be on the ground. In the summer of 2006 I had a parking lot lay down. I got off the bike on an Austin hotel parking lot after a hot 200 mile ride from Dallas, the last 50 miles of which was in Austin rush hour traffic. I was hot, tired, cranky, not thinking about what I was doing, and I got off the bike without putting the kickstand down. I knew it the moment moment my right foot hit the concrete, but it was too late. All I could do was get in position to lay the bike down as gently as possible, which I did. I laid it down so softly that there wasn't a scratch on it. Not even on the mirrors, hardbags, ... NOTHING. But the hardware inside the left hard bag was bent by virtue of the bike's weight being on it. Only the weight of the bike bent it! As you probably know, the Vario bags can expand from thinner to wider. But since then, the left hard bag has been stuck in the wide mode. Its not been a big deal as I tend to keep them in the wide position anyway, but it is a lesson as to the Vario bags' lack of sturdiness. Imagine what a lay down at ANY speed, or on a bad road would have done. It'd have been demolished.
Fast forward to a month ago. I'm still using the same left hard bag even though it looks a bit uneven with the bent inner hardware. One day I was leaving work and, as I approached my bike in the parking lot, noticed that my left hard bag was partially caved in! Obviously, somebody hit my bike in the parking lot! The car or pick-up nudged the left hard bag almost caving it in. There is no question in my mind that its the result of a VERY slow speed parking lot fender bender. After all, it didn't even move the bike! But the Vario "hard" bag is so messed up that I have it rigged to stay on the bike using zip ties! It won't close easily, and the locking mechanism no longer works. A couple of weekends ago it fell off on a group ride because the mounts are bent!
Suffice it to say I'm in the market for either a new set of hardbags, or a replacement left Vario bag. Of all the aftermarket aluminum bags, my research has sold me on the Micatech Pilots, but since that is a $1,400 pricetag I'm still debating what to do.
But the point is, that the BMW stock plastic bag is not remotely sturdy. If they were priced accordingly it wouldn't be a big deal. But since a new set of Varios with mounts will cost the same or nearly the same as a set of Micatechs or Jesses, then in my opinion there's no reason to get them. Bottom line: if I were buying the bike again today I'd get the aluminum bags.
Hope this helps, and let us know what you do!
Former owner of an '03 R1150R
I just saw this thread and found it interesting. I have an R1150R. I have had BMW system cases and a set of JesseÔÇÖs on it at various times. (I buy as needed then sell them so it what is on the market at the time determines what I have. Currently I donÔÇÖt have any). You have received a variety of good advice. Another thing to consider is how you are going to use them in conjunction with other bags on the bike if any.
Side loaders verses top loaders
I took a trip following the Lewis and Clark trail both directions. Used the BMW system cases which are side loading cases which were a great choice for the trip even given I spent a lot of time off road. I was able to get at various gear (stoves for cooking lunch, telescope, field guides etc) easily during the day without packing and unpacking everything. The following year I did and extended trip to the Maritime Provinces with the Jesse bags. I loaded up in the morning and road until I set up camp in the evening. I ate lunches in restaurants and my camera and other things were in my tank bag. Top loaders would have been a PITA on the LC trip where they were great for a variety of reasons on the Canadian adventure.
FWIW: the following is heresy around here. If I were going to plunk down money today for new bags I would by soft sided bags, but that is another discussion.
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The spouses baby GS has the Vario bags on it. They look great but dent easily.
My baby GS has a set of Moto-Sport racks and a pair of Ortlieb soft side bags. tail bag is the BMW one made for the GS.
Never had a problem with leakage, they are lightweight, hold odd sized objects with no problems, no need for 'bag liners'. total cost was about $520. I fell over once with these on, no damage to anything, no scuffs, no scratches.
I just picked up a lightly used set of Jesse bags off the Chain Gang site. If the current glacial ice age that we are experiencing here ever decides to end, I'm gonna try them out.
Too damn many bikes to list
If you'll allow a guy to respond here...
I have owned two F650s (Funduro & a Dakar) both with Jesse bags.
For the 650 in particular, I found them too heavy empty to justify the big buck$.
My 1200GS now wears a set of 9" Happy Trails and I have been way happier over the past 2 yrs with their performance wet weather & dry. They get used on the hwy and on a lot of forest roads.
Enjoy the F650!
I have had the system cases on my 1100 for a couple years. I just sold them and went with the Happy-Trail Boxes. The main reasons are for the durability, capacity and I REALLY wanted a top loading box. I was getting tired of the parking lot explosion with the side loading boxes.
Happy Trail does seem a bit disorganized. My tracking number just arrived yesterday and they are said to be here Friday. I ordered them on january 31 so you would need to be patient. They put out a good sturday product made in the US.
I see you decide to go with alluminiu cases,good choice!!I had the chance to own both the Vario cases and the BMW Allu cases.The alluminium top loading is the way to go for convenience!
Just in case you're interested,I helped out a friend to install some SW-Motech cases on his Honda Varedero,nice looking cases but not of top quality!The alluminium seem thinner than the BMW ones and they had plastic hinges on them that made them feel flimsy.You might want to keep an eye out for these things as you compare prices between different manufacturers.By the way, BMW allu cases are made by Touratech,so you are pretty much getting the same cases,if you compare with the Touratech Zega Pro.Maybe this is all old news to you,hope it helps anyway!
Day late dollar short, and all...
I have the BMW aluminum (Touratech) panniers. My dealer did a recall and re-gasketing on them.
That being said, I use Kathy's liners which I then drop into a standard red biohazard plastic bag
that I get from work. Aluminum is sensitive to temperature. After an all-day in the rain at
highway speeds, I still get weepage of about 1 measuring cup. I find the extra plastic layer
takes care of it. At the end of the day I just wipe out the wet.
I am careful to see that the bag is folded up above the gasket level, and it is okay.
All day in the rain has always been my bugbear for riding gear anyway.
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