If the freedom of speech is taken away then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter.

- George Washington

Friday, 25 November 2011

Boxing Clever

Glossary for the uninitiated:

Topbox: a plastic box mounted to the rear of a motorcycle, behind the seat. Varies in size from tiny to huge. Possibly the ugliest accessory one could ever fit to a bike, but the sheer utility dwarfs all other considerations. Shopping, commuting, leaving your kit with the bike when you want to walk around- a topbox makes all that easy, and is both secure and waterproof. Beats rucksacks or bungeeing stuff on by a country mile. Most are detachable, so you can leave them off if you don't need them that day.

Givi: Italian makers of high quality motorcycle luggage. Best quality is the Monokey range, which is double-skinned and very robust, but very expensive. More affordable is the Monolock range, which is sold as suitable for scooters and light bikes, and is equivalent to the Monokey range built lighter. Both share the same excellent one-key, one-handed locking and latching system, which is an icon of simplicity and good design. I have had a lot of Givi stuff over the years, and I haven't regretted buying any of it.

Oxford: British maker of middle-market motorcycle gear (luggage, clothing and accessories). Reliable stuff that won't break the bank, and that's it.

I hope you've got all that. There will be questions at the end.

When I bought the Sprint back in July, it came with a tiny little Givi topbox. Only 26 litres, it looked a bit like a large sandwich box and, frankly, a bit daft on the back of the sleek and muscly Sprint. But it was big enough for my work bag and also for my helmet, provided I didn't want to store a packet of Rizlas in there as well. So I kept it on there, at least while I was commuting on the big red thing.

When I was in the middle of negotiations over the change-over price of the Sprint against the Bonnie, I was offered a 44 litre Oxford topbox for half-price as an additional sweetener, as I had mentioned the pathetic size of the Givi box as a negative in the deal. I took the dealer up on that, as I knew the box on the XT (a horrible, cheap eBay special) was on its last legs. I fitted it to the XT and used it for commuting until this week. It's good enough, it holds two helmets and a lot of shopping, and it looks decent. But at the back of my mind was a niggle. The mounting plates for the two boxes are different, and they are not interchangeable. It's more-or-less definite that daughter No. 2 will be coming with me on a continental trip next year (the ostensible reason for changing the Bonnie for the Sprint), and that little Givi box was just not going to be enough.

Shoes, amongst other things, if you must know.

What I needed was a larger Givi Monolock box to go with the little one. Last week, I sold the wonderful Hepco and Becker panniers for a good price, so with some money sloshing around in my Paypal balance I pulled the trigger on a Monolock box of 47 litres. That's about as big as I am prepared to go. Today, I fitted the baseplate for the new box onto the XT after taking the Oxford one off. So now I have two bikes, fast and slow, and two topboxes, large and small, and each will fit on either bike. So I can have the little one on the XT for the commute and the large on the Sprint for touring:

Or the large one on the XT for shopping and the small on the Sprint for sandwiches/first aid/toolkit for a day ride:


The Oxford box is now on eBay and has two watchers already. As I got it for half-price, I might even make my money back. Out of the money raised by the sale of the H&Bs, I have been able to afford a pair of throw-over panniers as well. I'm hoping these will arrive tomorrow. Nothing can beat hard luggage for convenience and durability, but for something I will probably only use a couple of times a year I think it's a good compromise.

I got the XT serviced, too, and that's running like a happy little motorbike now, so it's been a good couple of days.

Must paint that garage door ...


  1. For trip with D2, I'm sure a practical handyman such as yourself could fix the tiny Givi on top of the bigger Oxford.

    B & Q have 'No-More-Nails' on offer.

  2. Richard

    You are a man after my own heart but somewhat more organised!

    I have 2 52l GIVIs, and this size looks ridiculous on the F650GS. I somehow thought that the smaller boxes used a different mounting systen monolock vs monokey?

    I'm pleased that you have found a willing companion for a Continental tour...in fact I#m quite envious!

    Best wishes, N

  3. I had the 52-litre jobbie on my Bandit, and it was like riding round with a suitcase strapped to the rear. Too big, even for a meaty bike like that. I'm sure it overwhelms the GS. The 47-litre looks 'just right', if I may praise my own judgement for a moment.

    You'd be right to be jealous! She's gorgeous, if I say so myself. A greying old git and (until last week, at least) a blonde gamine are going to raise some comment - until we ask for two single rooms :)

  4. You ought to clean those number plates - it's illegal to have them obscured like that...

  5. I'm waiting for the 'MudSplash' filter to come out in Photoshop. That'll sort it.

  6. Have you considered the camping option?...no don't go there...

  7. For the holiday? I decided a long time ago that making a young lady share a tent with a middle-aged farter was cruel and unreasonable punishment. She'd be in Carrefour buying her own tent on day two.

  8. My Sprint-riding mate got the matching Triumph luggage set with it, but previously had a 52-l Givi mounted on his ER-6 and Freewind. It was terrifying being behind him: the amount of play on a box that size is quite astonishing - it looked ready to part company with the bike at any moment. 47's a much better bet and it doesn't look disproportionate even on the XT.

    Interchangeability's a marvellous idea. I've done similar with panniers, outfitting both bikes with matching rails so I only need one set of boxes - I'd rather carry the weight lower and forward and use a tailpack on the pillion seat as needed. (Not much help to you if there's going to be a nubile daughter sitting in that very spot, of course).

    Nice to see the Pro-Continental plan moving forward, too. Any idea where or when you're likely to be headed out yet?

  9. Mrs N recommends "Windeze" - we found these in the US.

  10. The Americans have an anti-farting product? Fabulous.

    Endo - not sure yet, but probably about May time.

    I have now ordered a two-lock set for the cases, so I can just use the one key whichever box I have on the back. Organisation!


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