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SHAD SH39 Review

SHAD SH39 Top Case Review

A Color-Coordinated Mid-Size Top Case

by Rick K. and "Burn" for webBikeWorld.com

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Summary

The new SHAD SH39 is a mid-sized top case with a maximized size-to-capacity ratio.

Looks can be deceiving and the SH39 holds a lot of gear.

Example: it easily swallows a full-face size XL helmet with room to spare.

Its aerodynamic shape helps smooth air flow and it's barely noticeable on the back of the Versys when riding.

The SH39 will fit many different makes and models and it comes with the mounting base.

Many choices of racks and mounts are also available from SHAD, along with the "3P" system to incorporate side cases.

The top panel on the SH39 is replaceable with several color choices or it can be painted to match your bike.

An optional back rest and LED brake light are also available.

On the 2015 Kawasaki Versys 650 LT, the SH39 is easy to install and a near perfect match to the Kawasaki panniers.

The SHAD SH39 may be the perfect blend of size, style and substance on mid-sized bikes and it has plenty of room for storage.

Introduction

SHAD is well known to motorcyclists worldwide. What many don't know, however, is that SHAD also manufacturers original equipment (OE) luggage and motorcycle seats for several of the largest motorcycle manufacturers, including BMW, Honda, KTM, Kymco, Piaggio, Triumph, Yamaha and others.

Of course, the Spanish company also sells its own SHAD branded line of motorcycle luggage which now includes a huge variety of side bags, top cases, soft and semi-hard luggage, waterproof bags, electronic device cases and other motorcycle, scooter and ATV luggage accessories.

A range of SHAD motorcycle luggage has been reviewed on webBikeWorld over the years and now the SH39 top case is another new addition.

The SHAD top case lineup currently includes 13 different designs, from the SH26 all the way up to the massive SH50.

Suzuki V-Strom 1000 ABS With SHAD SH36 Bags Front View
SHAD Luggage Nomenclature

And by the way, SHAD nomenclature is easy to understand; the numbers indicate the capacity of the case in liters.

For example, the SH26 holds 26 liters and the SH50 nearly twice that. So you can see that the SH39 almost exactly splits that difference, with a rated 39 liter capacity.

Stating case capacities in liters can be difficult to translate to actual "real world" storage, but the SH39 really does have a maximized carrying capacity or ratio of outside dimensions to inside volume.

It is nearly square in shape on the inside, yet the exterior doesn't overwhelm a rather svelte bike like the new Versys 650.

Indeed, we were both very surprised to find that the SH39 can easily swallow the biggest helmet we had on hand, a Nolan N104 flip-up (review) in size XL, with a bit of room to spare.

The SH39 measures roughly 51 cm wide with a 32 cm height and it's 43 cm front-to-back. That's 20" wide by 12.5" deep and 17" front-to-back in old money.

The rated carrying capacity is 3 kg (6.5 lbs.) and as it is with any top case (and side cases), you have to be a little cautious not to over-stuff it and also remember also that carrying a lot of weight up high and especially in the rear of a motorcycle can affect the center of gravity and handling characteristics.

SHAD SH39 Top Case Kit Contents
The SHAD SH39 top case kit with back rest. 2015-2016 Versys 650 mounting rack kit on the left.
SHAD SH39 Details

The SHAD SH39 is made from a type of polymer and it weighs 3.1 kg (7 lbs.) empty. The build quality is excellent and the case is nicely designed and styled.

The walls don't feel overly thick, yet the structure has been designed for strength. There's something about this size case that seems like Goldilocks' porridge: not to small, not too big but just right.

It also has a solid feel; it's not flimsy at all and the panels feels sturdy with no flex or "oil can" wobbling when pressed.

The SH39 is available with different colored top panels. The colored panel section is removable and replaceable, although we haven't tried to remove ours because there's no reason to. We ordered this one in white, which is a pretty close match to the white on the new Versys 650 LT.

Base and Case Locking

The SH39 comes with two keys and the case lock and base locks are installed. I note this because not all motorcycle luggage manufacturers include these and we've had to purchase and install locks for other system cases.

Also included is the mounting base and hardware, again not always the case (pun!) with other manufacturers.

You'll have to choose the mounting rack for your particular bike and you can get either a top case only mounting system or the SHAD "3P" mounting system, like the one on the SHAD SH36 (review) side case system.

SHAD SH39 Top Case Closed
Color Matching

The 2015 Versys 650 was available in a metallic Kawasaki green or the "Arctic" white (the 2016 colors are black or orange).

Our Project Bike Versys has the very pure white color. It's a neutral tone -- not too "warm" and not too "blue" and it has a slight amount of embedded metalflake that you can see when you look closely. It's actually a very nice color and a superb paint application.

The SH39 white has a slightly warmer tone without the metalflake, so it's not a perfect match but it's pretty close. SHAD makes no claims whatsoever about specific bike color matching, by the way; it just so happens that our Versys is white and a white SH39 was available.

When the SH39 is mounted on the Versys, the slight difference in color tone isn't apparent but if the SH39 was held next to the paint on the Versys, you'd probably notice a slight difference.

So the bottom line here is that it's pretty darn close and a nice match and someone would probably have to tell you there's a difference or you wouldn't realize it.

In the U.S.A., the SH39 is also available in matte black, carbon fiber look and titanium. The top panel can be removed and painted to match your bike if desired.

A back rest pad kit is also available as an option. Two dots are molded on the inside of the SH30 and they serve as the locations for holes to be drilled. The back rest comes with screws and tabs for attachment to the front section of the case top.

SHAD SH39 Top Case Base Kit Parts
The SHAD SH39 comes with a plastic mounting base and hardware to fit a variety of rack types.
SHAD SH39 Top Case Open
The SH39 has a lot of capacity for its size.
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In the Kit

The photos above show the SH39 kit with included mounting base and hardware.

The SHAD Mounting System

Mounting a top case will vary, of course, depending on the motorcycle. For some reason, Kawasaki didn't offer a top case kit in 2015 for either the Versys 650 or the 1000 and I don't see one listed for 2016 for either bike. They need to get together with SHAD and make it happen!

The Versys 1000 comes with a luggage rack but the 650 doesn't. However, the 650 has four plugged threaded holes on the inside of the passenger grab rail, obviously designed to hold a luggage rack. Thank goodness for that!

I collared a Kawasaki rep at the 2015 AIMExpo (Report) to ask about this, but neither a luggage rack nor a top case was available for the 650.

The plastic vanity plugs on the Versys are easy to pry out; they're held only by friction.

They cover threaded holes for the 5 mm bolts, so again, at some point Kawasaki was either planning on offering a luggage rack for the 650 or they added the holes for the aftermarket luggage manufacturers to exploit.

The SHAD mounting bracket kit for the 2015 Versys 650 is part number K0VR65ST with a list price of $55.00. It consists of two thick laser cut, pressed, drilled and painted steel brackets and the bolts, washers and lock washers.

SHAD SH39 Mounting Bracket Size Comparison
(L) Incorrect early version of the Versys 650 racks. (R) Correct, narrower version.

Note that there was a running change to the bracket kit for the 2015 and 2016 Versys 650; the brackets on the early versions of the kit are about 4 mm taller where the brackets bolt to the grab rail on the Versys.

Our kit had the original taller brackets, and after some fiddling, we were able to get them installed but something just didn't seem right -- it was a very tight fit.

An email to SHAD and we had the correct brackets, which are slightly thinner in the height profile and much easier to install.

The photo compares the incorrect and the correct versions of the brackets.

The incorrect brackets have been replaced in SHAD stock, but there may still be some in the retail chain, so make note of it.

Also, note that SHAD makes a variety of mounting racks, brackets and accessories for many different motorcycles; we're only using the Versys 650 as one example.

Kawasaki Versys Luggage Rack Threaded Holes
Remove the 4 plastic plugs to uncover the threaded mounting holes on the Versys 650.
SHAD SH39 Luggage Rack Rails Mounted
This is the first version of the rack rails mounted to the Versys. They fit, but it's tight.
Incorrect Bracket Clearance
Close-up of the incorrect rack for the Versys 650.
Correct SHAD Bracket for 2015 Versys 650
This is the correct rack for the Versys 650 which is now in stock.
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Mounting the SH39

Actually, messing around with the two different bracket sizes led us to discovering a good method for mounting the brackets and the SH30 plastic base, at least for the Versys.

Instead of first mounting the brackets to the Versys and then installing the base on the brackets, it's much easier to first mount the base on the brackets and then bolt the whole assembly to the four threaded holes in the Versys grab rails.

The SH39 (and all SHAD top cases, as far as I know) comes with the correct base and a bag of hardware. The hardware kit includes a lot of pieces you might not need for your particular situation.

The instructions are adequate, but I wouldn't call them outstanding, as there isn't a lot of explanation on methods; you simply follow the illustrations.

We used the four red plastic screw inserts, the shorter version of the Phillips head screws and the flat washers with Nylock nuts to mount the base to the brackets.

Again, this was much easier to do first, before installing the assembly with the brackets on the bike, because you can lay everything out, get it lined up and you can do this on a table with all the parts laid out right in front of you.

Here's another tip: don't tighten any of the nuts or bolts until you get the assembly attached to the Versys and everything is lined up and looking correct.

Then first snug the four bolts in grab rail and then tighten the four Nylock nuts on the Phillips head screws on the base.

Go back and do the final tightening on the four bolts in the grab rails and you're done.

Now that you know all this, it should only take you about 15 minutes; it took us several hours of thinking to figure this out though!

SHAD SH39 Luggage Rack No Covers Top View
It's easier to first mount the base to the racks, then bolt the racks to the bike.
SHAD SH39 Luggage Rack Underside Bolts
Bottom view showing the washers and Nylock nuts holding the base to the racks.
SHAD SH39 Bags Rear View With Keys
Securing the SH39 to the Base

Like all of the SHAD top cases we have reviewed, the SH39 has a long horizontal tab in front at the bottom that slides into a receiver on the base.

There's a sort of vertical post or hook on the back of the base that connects with the receiver in the bottom of the SH39. Slide the case so the front is secured in the horizontal slot, then press down on the rear to snap the SH39 on to the base.

The lock must be in the open position (key is vertical) to do this. When the lock is secured with the key, both the top and bottom are locked.

The SH39 has a split release system in the rear (see photo above). The upper half releases the lid and the lower half releases the SH39 from the base.

Locking the SH39 to the Base

Our SH39 has one issue, and that is the way it connects and locks to the base. It just doesn't work as smoothly and confidently as we'd like.

In fact, it takes a pretty good whack on top of the SH39 to get it to seat on the base.

We added a little bit of grease to the lock mechanism in the bottom of the SH39 but it hasn't helped much.

If we push and hold the lower half of the case release and then hit the top of the case with the heel of a hand, it will usually seat, but the bottom half of the case release doesn't always snap back to its flush position, indicating that the SH39 is seated and locked.

The SH39 is seated correctly when a click can be heard and the lower half of the release springs back to its flush position so the key can be turned.

We're hoping the lock and mechanism will break in over time; as it is, it doesn't give a lot of confidence that the case is securely locked to the base, and we have to hit it a few times to make sure it's secure.

Once it is locked however, it's not an issue and since a top case usually isn't moved on and off the bike very often, overall it's something we can live with.

SHAD SH39 Luggage Rack Underside Bolts Close-up
Close-up showing the Nylock nuts holding the base to the rack.
SHAD SH39 Luggage Rack With Covers
The SH39 base with the covers installed on top.
SHAD SH39 Luggage Rack With Covers Top View
Another view of the base with the covers installed. Note rubber bumpers for the SH39 and the locking hook at the rear of the base.
SHAD SH39 Luggage Rack Rear View
SHAD SH39 Top Case on Versys Rear View
With the SH39 mounted, there's a bit of a tunnel to the brake light.
SHAD SH39 Capacity With Helmet
A size XL Nolan N104 flip-up helmet fits easily in the SH39.
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SHAD SH39 Top Case Waterproof Lid
This lip keeps the SH39 waterproof when the lid is secured.
SHAD SH39 vs. Versys Luggage Colors
(L) 2015 Versys 650 LT bags in cool white. (R) The SH39 white has a slightly warmer tone.
SH39 Top Case on Versys 650
The SH39 looks like it could have been an Kawasaki OE accessory.
On the Road With the SH39

We haven't had much time with the SH39 on the road, due to the on-and-off severe winter weather.

A few rides though indicated that the SH39 doesn't affect the feel or handling of the Versys, although the wind was very calm during those rides, so we don't have a feel yet for any effects of a cross wind.

Note that the SH39 does not have a separate carrying handle. Once it's removed from the base, the SH39 can be held by the lid, which has a chamber under the rear just above the lock.

Also, we wish SHAD would have designed in some hooks on the base for bungees or straps. With the SH39 removed, the racks and base look like an OE accessory, but it's not all that easy to strap soft bags or anything else on the smooth base top.

Overall Cost

The SH39 has a list price of $176.00, which includes the base and mounting hardware. The mounting racks are sold individually and the system for the 2015-2016 Versys 650 lists for $55.00.

A back rest is optional; it has a list price of $45.00, which seems a bit steep. The LED light kit that fits along the rear of the base lists for $40.00.

So for the Versys 650, the SH39 with the brackets totals $231.00.

The LED kit might be a good idea for better brake light visibility and we'd like to try fitting one. On the Versys 650, the rack with the SH39 attached creates a shade over the top of the tail light, so adding an LED brake light farther out along the rear of the rack might be a good idea.

We do have an Electrical Connection LED Brake Light mounted below the license plate on the Versys and will be reviewing that soon.

Conclusion

The SHAD SH39 is just about the perfect size for any bike -- not too big, not too small. It has excellent overall build quality and design and the price is reasonable.

It's also very easy to install on the Versys 650 and it looks like a factory accessory -- something that often can't be said about third-party motorcycle luggage.

Other than the slight hitch when locking the SH39 to the base, we're very pleased with this addition.

More webBikeWorld:
Motorcycle Luggage Reviews
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wBW Review: SHAD SH39
Manufacturer: SHAD (Spain)
U.S. Distributor: SHAD USA
List Price: $176.00
Colors: Black with color trim panels. Made In: EU
Review Date: February 2016  

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