Top boxes have their place but they’re not for everyone. My preferred order when it comes to carrying stuff on the bike is: small tank bag for small stuff, a tailpack for a bit more stuff, soft panniers for even more stuff and then break out the top box if the other half’s coming too. Then, as we struggle to close the lid on 4 pairs of shoes, I’m left wondering why we didn’t just take the car.
If you’re commuting and you need to carry your every day, a top box is a great option as it doesn’t add to the width of the bike and unlike soft luggage, is lockable and you can leave it in place. You could use a rucksack but personally I don’t like carrying anything on me when I’m on the bike.
However, it’s worth bearing in mind that if you carry a 10kg load in your top box, it will affect the bike’s centre of gravity and to an extent the handling. It’s nothing you won’t get used to but if you’re going to be carrying luggage all the time, I would seriously consider a bike that has built-in luggage options.
The majority of motorcycle top case manufacturers make mounting racks that will fit almost every bike that you might want to fit one too. If you’ve got an Aprilia RSV4 RF and you want to fit a top box, then a) you bought the wrong bike and b) you might struggle to find a good mounting plate.
There are loads of good options on the market. We’ve picked a few universal models that’ll fit the majority of bikes at price points that should suit everyone.
Designed with a patented key that attaches the box to the mount and operates the box lock, this is a lightweight hard case suitable for motorcycles or scooters. This box has enough room for 1 motorcycle helmet but only has a max load of 3kg. It does, however, include a universal fitting kit. Monokey cases are only compatible with Monokey mounts, so make sure you have the correct fitting before you buy.
A stylish option for any bike, the Givi Trekker uses the same Monokey design as our cheap option. With a capacity of 46L and a max load of 10kg, your helmet will fit inside this aluminium hard case no problem. The Trekker can be opened fully or just the top to allow access to smaller items. Important note: the Monokey mounting kit is not included. You’ll need a bike-specific one.
Constructed from tough aluminium, the Trekker Outback is a whopping 58 litres and carries a max load of 10kg allowing you to fit 2 full-face helmets within. Complete with soft technopolymer inserts, shocks are absorbed during riding so your items are protected against damage. Using the Monokey design again, you can attach this box to any Monokey plate (not included with purchase).
Fitting a top box is relatively easy, but bike specific. Some top boxes come with mounts, but if yours doesn’t, you will need to purchase this from the top box manufacturer. A lot of manufacturers like Givi, are helpful and have a search option for your bike and top box model, so you get the correct mounting plate.
Step 1 - Fixing the brackets
Brackets usually attach to a specific point on your bike, the instructions will show you where. The grab-rail, top shock or standard rack are traditionally the best mounting points depending on your bike model.
Unbolt the stock parts and attach the brackets loosely at first.
Step 2 - Position the mount
Once you’ve got your brackets attached loosely, position the mounting plate and connect to the brackets. Mounting plates can have different holes, so make sure you follow the instructions to attach to the correct ones. Once you have everything on, make sure there is enough clearance around the tail unit and tighten up the bolts on the brackets and the mounting plate.
If your kit came with grommets or plugs, use these for a more beautiful finish.
Step 3 - Attaching your top box
Once everything is secured, attach your top box and away you go.
The Cheapest Aluminium Top Box
If you’re on a budget, then check out this Bagtecs aluminium top box. It’s less than half the price of the other more well-known brands and it looks decent. The only minor point is that it doesn’t come with a mountain plate or rack, so you’ll have to buy one of those and fit the case yourself.
A universal mount, a sharp drill bit and a few well-measured holes ought to do the job..
Top Boxes for Classic Bikes
If you’ve got a classic bike a modern classic or something retro and you don’t want a set of big, bold, aluminium and plastic top boxes, then check out this website: craven-equipment.co.uk. They make luggage in a classic style and it really suits modern retros, keeping the whole thing looking classy.