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Old 12-11-2010, 08:06 AM   #1
outdoornate65 OP
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BMW Expandable Side-Cases....looking for feedback.

Hey Campers,

I pick-up my shiny new BMW G650gs next week and I'm still undecided about side cases. I'm looking for feedback on the expandable side-cases from BMW. My concern with these cases is that they might be prone to leaking due to the expandable feature. Hoping some of you folks can give me your thoughts on these cases. Can get 10% off the BMW cases when I buy the bike but wonder if my money ($900) would be better spent on aftermarket cases.

I'm also considering Micatech and Caribou side cases but have not inspected them in person either. I hope to see the Caribous since they are local to me here in the Denver area.

Thanks....

Nate
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Old 12-11-2010, 08:57 AM   #2
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The Micatechs are top notch and tough as nails. I have the Pilot cases on my R12GS and I would have gotten the V2 cases for my F650GS if they had been available at the time.

But to address your question, I have the expandable cases on my '06 F650GS and they don't leak.
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Old 12-11-2010, 09:22 AM   #3
John Smallberries
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Vario water tight?

Lots of opinion on these. All I can say is that I rode for 2 hours in a Biblical rainstorm with my '05 GS with stock Vario cases adjusted to "big" with no detectable leakage. They even have a dent or two.
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Old 12-11-2010, 11:30 AM   #4
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I like my caribous, but if something like the varios were available for my strom I'd get them in a heartbeat. They're quite nice, and the changeable rear width is awesome.
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Old 12-11-2010, 11:42 AM   #5
JDLuke
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They are very high quality and are, at least for my nine year old cases, waterproof in even torrential downpours. However, I'm not really at all happy with the clamshell style opening. I find it difficult to pack them with small items, which really want to come tumbling out.

The external aluminum skin is very thin and subject to easy damage. Stickers help.
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Old 12-11-2010, 11:46 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JDLuke View Post
They are very high quality and are, at least for my nine year old cases, waterproof in even torrential downpours. However, I'm not really at all happy with the clamshell style opening. I find it difficult to pack them with small items, which really want to come tumbling out.

The external aluminum skin is very thin and subject to easy damage. Stickers help.
Some of the newer ones are just black abs plastic, no aluminum: http://www.gatewaybmw.com/shop/63/.

Clamshell opening is a personal thing though - it has ups and downs.
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Old 12-12-2010, 09:08 PM   #7
JR356
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Get the Micatechs,you will have a very tough case that will survive.
You will have a side load case with a great design that does not
allow things to easily fall out.
You also have the ability to strap loads on or across the cases while still having easy access to the case contents.

Problem with factory cases is the mounts are almost impossible to field
repair,which is not true with the other systems.

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Old 12-12-2010, 11:25 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JDLuke View Post
They are very high quality and are, at least for my nine year old cases, waterproof in even torrential downpours. However, I'm not really at all happy with the clamshell style opening. I find it difficult to pack them with small items, which really want to come tumbling out.

The external aluminum skin is very thin and subject to easy damage. Stickers help.


I would say that they're a very clever design: expandable, easy on/off, same key as ignition. They are not high quality in my mind due to a somewhat fragile design & material.

If you're interested in trying a pair, they're often for sale second hand in the $300 range. Otherwise, top loading aluminum or side loading pelicans/clones (seahorse cases) are better options. The OEM is the best looking option, if that's where your priorities lie.
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Old 12-13-2010, 03:42 AM   #9
Ceri JC
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I have used a set (including top box) on my F800GS for around 20,000 miles. They have yet to leak, whether in the expanded or contracted position. They have also proven to be far more crash resistant than I had first imagined. For business use, they are the best pannier for me. If I was going on longer Advrides, I'd go for the Metal Mule Balanced system, probably with 31L panniers. For predominantly offroad riding, I prefer soft luggage.
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Old 12-13-2010, 04:36 AM   #10
FinlandThumper
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I put 32000 miles on my Dakar with the older Varios they had. In general, I found positives and negatives (some of this may not apply to yours since they may have changed the design).

The plastic of the cases was overall durable, but one unfortunate fall in Oslo cracked the hell out of one. While an aluminum pannier would have been dented, it would probably have survived better.

Never leaked in spite of REALLY shitty weather some summers.

The easy-on and easy-off of the BMW OEM case is great. The bags go on and off within seconds, and that's not something you'll get in most aftermarket bags. The fact that they are keyed to your locks is another plus.

If they still have those chincy aluminimum side cases to make them look like rally ones, do yourself a favor and reinforce them with screws. Otherwise you'll lose them.

I just upgraded mine with a set of Jesses because after 32k miles they were getting loose, the latches were wearing out pretty bad, and I was just tired of them. Cosmetically they weren't okay anymore. When I found a set of scratch and dent Jesse's for 400 bucks, I moved on them.

All in all: not a bad case but 900 dollars is awfully expensive for what you get.
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Old 12-13-2010, 07:00 AM   #11
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Thanks for all the feedback....really helps.

I think I've decided against the Varios in favor of something more robust.

Going to look closer at the Micas and the Jesse set-ups. My dealer in fact is listed on the Jesse website as being a dealer for their panniers....maybe I can get a deal on them when I purchase the bike.

We'll see tomorrow....man, I hate that motorcycle dealers are all closed on Mondays!!!
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Old 12-15-2010, 10:56 PM   #12
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I had a set of expandable cases on my '06 Dakar. They came with the bike when I bought it. I thought they were garbage from the moment I bought the bike and couldn't wait to replace them.

Although I don't ever remember having any issues with water ingress, the fact that they were side loading made them annoying to pack. I had to take them off the bike to get everything packed in without it falling out. Unloading was much easier though -- open the case and most items, if not all, spilled out on to the ground.

The clips on the back which secured the cases to the mounts were made of worthless plastic. Two of mine snapped off and a third had started to crack just before I heaved them in the dumpster behind my apartment. To fix this I would've had to order the entire back panel, disassemble the case and install the new back panel.

Lastly, there were no tie down points on the cases -- nowhere to loop a strap or bungie cord through to secure a sleeping back or stuff sack.

I ripped them off and replaced them with a set of aluminium boxes made by Happy Trails of Boise, ID. The mounting racks were solid and sturdy as were the boxes. They were top loading, spacious, and each lid had 4 tie down points fastened to it. They were rugged, functional, and very reasonably priced, especially when compared to the BMW expandable cases.

The one (minor) downfall of the Happy Trails cases is that they don't have a carrying handle and when filled to the brim with stuff, the knobs that are used to torque the cases to the mounts are a little difficult to access. The cases can be padlocked though, so if you're on a trip and staying in a hotel there's no need to pull the cases off for the night.

In short, the BMW cases are shit. Shop around, there are many better options out there for a wide variety of prices.

Hope this helps with your decision.

Davemenabat screwed with this post 12-15-2010 at 11:05 PM
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Old 12-18-2010, 11:55 AM   #13
Mike M
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My Vario's were great and didn't leak a drop. Obviously, not the most rugged of cases for these machines but my riding was only about 20% off-road and not hard-core. The flexibility of size adjustment is really a nice feature.

I ended up selling my GS but before I did, I heard about a modification for the Varios that really secured them in place. I used to worry riding off-road with the cases full because they really bounced around----never came off but it worried me anyway.

I can't remember who offered the mod for the Vario's....probably can find it if you search.
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Old 12-18-2010, 12:23 PM   #14
peterman
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lots of dusty road riding will eventually make the expandable feature useless. They can simply refuse to work. The metal 'bail' that operates the expandable function is connected to a ratchet device that will strip/slip. Mine are currently stuck in the expanded mode, and will require a full disassembling to clean and repair them. The mounting tabs that clip onto the bike can break of in even the lightest crash. The locking devise that fits over the $30 mushroom head bolt will also break in a get off, resulting in no ability to lock them onto the bike.
I agree with the previous poster,,BMW Vario bags are for the street, not for off road use. I switched to Ortlieb dry bags which are soft bags and do not pose a danger of spiral fracture to the lower leg, which happens commonly with hard bags when a rider puts his foot down in a crash . There is a fine example of this on the front page photos, a 12GS rider augering in ,,with his right foot bent back under the hard bag. I cringe when I see it.
Another note,, the BMW aluminum panniers are pretty weak too IMO. The corners are plastic, and not replaceable, and they do break fairly easily (at least the corners of the top cover) causing the owner to purchase a whole new lid! Of course,, if you NEVER drop your bike,,no problems.
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Old 12-18-2010, 08:50 PM   #15
JoDawg
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Ditto to Peterman. I tore my Vario off the first weekend I had the new bike. Vario's and pavement do not mix, a waste of good money. Jesse bags are the best solution in my opinion. Absolutley bomb proof and dry.
Just my 2 cents,

Cheers
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