R1200GSw – Hard Bag Journey from happy to sad to happy

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    Mike White

    Very nice write-up Jim. I’ve been considering those two brands myself and have been looking for just this type of comparison.


    I kind of surprised myself when I drank the Bavarian Kool Aid on July 7th by buying a ’14 R1200GSw, my first BMW. The bike was a well farkled demo unit that only needed a set of hard bags to be ready for adventure. Of course anyone that has added hard bags to a GS knows there are lots of choices to consider.

    I started by ruling out the plastic BMW Vario cases, just not the bag for me, although it was hard passing on a like new3 bag set on eBay with a buy it now price of $840 to my door. Somebody indeed got a great deal on some Vario’s back in early July! I had a friend tell me his Vario’s leak, the odd shapes and room used for the expansion lever make, I feel, for inefficient use of space and in the wide setting are, well, pretty wide.

    I ruled out all asymmetrical sized bags that do not have exhaust cuts on aesthetics alone, and any aluminum bags that are not powered coated inside were also ruled out. I also ruled out anything that was plastic. I wanted a set of quality aluminum adventure bags that would complement the quality (and look) of the motorcycle. I also wanted to be price sensitive, get the bags on the bike as quickly as possible, have the most volume possible while keeping overall width to about 36”. Aesthetics (personal taste) ruled out a few options like Happy Trails.

    It came down to three options for me to make my choice from. The first and most obvious is the Jesse system; I’ve long felt that these bags set the standard for adventure hard bags. I also liked the Holan and Bumot options. I then ruled out the Holan based on availability (90 days or more to get) and also determined that the long side hinge was a better design for me as offered on the Jesse and Bumot bags. I did have the chance to look at a friend’s Holan’s on a Triumph Explorer and can say that these bags look very nice and are well constructed.

    Jesse vs Bumot is where I landed for the final choice. I talked to the folks at Jesse (Kris) and with Jason at ADVMortorrad. I was very impressed with Jason and his product knowledge and willingness to take time to talk about the choices. Kris at Jesse seemed to know the product, but was not interested or wanting to engage in much discussion, aka, cool and reserved, yet fully professional.

    Jesse Systems had the advantage going in as an American Company with a solid history. I have nothing but respect for anyone that can build a solid reputation, quality product and have long term success. I also think the Jesse bags are unique and aesthetically pleasing, at least to my eye. After patiently waiting a week for the bags to get back from power coating I ordered a set of 10” Odyssey bags in Charcoal. The bags arrived on a Friday in time for me to get them mounted and take a long weekend trip. I was very happy.

    I unpacked the bags; they were very well packaged with everything in excellent order and easy to understand. I already had instructions from the order invoice so I knew exactly how to proceed. I did not order the Jesse designed foot pegs that are recommended to maintain the bag’s fore to aft adjustability, clearly stated as “NOT REQUIRED” for installation on a standard R1200GSw per the web site and from talking to Kris. I figured if I felt the need I could order them later, along with the lid racks.

    As I inspected the bags I was very impressed with the quality, I found the inside the lid wire thing a bit clumsy, but expected that it would become second nature with practice. As I held the bags up to the bike my first taste of disappointment set in, the 10” bags are very tall and did not seem to very well fit the bike from a size proportion standpoint…of course that is the price you pay for the bags large volume. (I have since learned that some guys have had the Jesse bags hit the final drive unit on full suspension compression – gasp!)

    I started with the left side mount. A bracket is pushed through the Vario case slot, another tinge of disappointment – the Jesse mount does not clear well and rests directly on the aluminum of the bike’s lower tray/sub-frame. Not a “big” deal, but I would expect some clearance between the mount and the bike as to not mare stock parts or generate fiction. The front of the main bracket has a collar fitting that is clamped directly onto the sub-frame tube, concerns of a bent sub-frame tube crept into my mind if the bike tipped over, even at a standstill, moving on. The passenger foot peg is then removed and a bracket installed above it and the peg remounted – with the left side mounts attached I went over to the right side.

    As I got to the final bracket attachment, the bracket above the right side passenger foot peg, it became clear that I was not going to get these bags mounted tonight. The bracket that fits onto and above the right passenger peg interferes with the support that runs to the Vario case mount. The tang that the bag mounts to will simply not fit a touring peg equipped R1200GSw. The Jesse web site shows the older style mounts (the LC GS has had the mounts updated at some point) or in a couple instances simply shows the mounts without the full connection being made to the passenger peg brackets. Again, the web site says that the Jesse designed passenger pegs (extra $100) are NOT REQUIRED; and Kris did confirm this on the phone when I ordered the bags.

    Simply started – as supplied, the right side mount would NOT work on my ’14 R1200GSw standard.

    I have since scoured the internet to see if I could find a photo of the Jesse system with the new mounts used on a standard GS. I have not found one, I see the old style mount used on a Standard model and I have seen the new style mount used on Adventure models, which have a different passenger peg bracket. It is clear in looking at photos of the mount as used on an Adventure model that this system would not, as advertised, fit my standard bike. I took pictures of the brackets I received and sent them to Jesse Systems thinking (and asking if) I had somehow got the wrong right side bracket – to date I have not gotten a reply to this e-mail or question.

    My options – I could simply remove the passenger pegs entirely and mount the bags, I could try to build a spacer to get some additional clearance for the tang – although I doubt that there would be enough clearance above the exhaust for this to work, or I could wait till Monday and order a set of Jesse passenger foot-pegs. None of the above options appealed to me; if the bags required the Jesse foot-pegs to mount simply tell me up front. I was not willing to pay (at this point it felt like extortion) another $100 and wait a week to complete the installation, especially after the mounts did not seem overall, to me, to be very well thought out to begin with. I feel I was deceived by Jesse Systems; I packed the bags back up for my pending return.

    First thing Monday July 27th I called Kris about the foot-peg issue, Kris simply said that lots of guys have mounted the bags on their bikes, all GSw mounts are the same, I did not have a wrong part. Kris offered to ship me a set of Jesse designed passenger pegs for $100 plus shipping. I was told nobody was available in tech support to discuss my issue, but that I could leave a message with tech or Al.

    I said I was done, the bags will be shipped back and that I would write to Mr. Jesse, which I did via US mail on about July 28th ,to basically tell him what I have stated here and that I was very disappointed and felt deceived over the foot-peg issue. To date I have not received any type of reply from Mr. Jesse. I was promptly given full credit the following Tuesday Aug 4th for the bags and shipping to my home, however I am out $142 for return shipping charges. I am very disappointed and felt let-down by Jesse Luggage Systems and at his point was very sad about the whole ordeal.

    I am not here to bash Jesse Luggage systems, but only to tell people how things went for me. And without going into great detail, I assure you that after 30+ years as a motorcyclist I can mount a set of bags – I’ve built a Triton from a bare frame and have restored and maintained 35 or more motorcycles since refurbishing a Norton in 1979.

    Tuesday after sending the Odyssey bags back to Jesse I called Jason at ADVMortorrad and ordered the Bumot bags in 40/36L size with the very handy optional tool box. Jason was swamped with show preparation, but said he would do his best to get the bags out that day, a few hours later I had the tracking number, the bags arrived on Friday, just in time for a weekend ride.

    As I unpacked the Bumot bags I was VERY pleased, these bags are clearly well made with great care and a quality process, they have a beautiful finish both inside and out. I feel the bags have better functioning latches than the Jesse; the Bumots feel solid and secure without having to be locked, the Jesse bags felt like they would have to always be locked to feel securely latched. The Bumots also include luggage tie downs on the lids, an optional upgrade on the Jesses.

    The optional Bumot tool box was already attached to the mount, the mounts themselves are very well thought out, and also have a great finish. The Bumots are not as large as the 10” Odyssey bags (52.7/42.2L), but may well prove to make better use of space as they are not counting on the 10L lid space for 20-25% of the volume and have a more basic shape that may prove to swallow larger items and not waste space, perhaps better than their somewhat smaller size might indicate.

    Of course all hardware is included, to start one drops two brackets thought he Vario case slots, a mount bracket and spacer is placed above the passenger pegs, the pegs do not need to be fully removed, only loosened (a big help on the exhaust side). I recommend getting a Craftsman bit ratchet (# 00946157000P) which fits between the exhaust and the peg mount – makes the job very easy. A main mount bracket is then bolted to these three mount points and a rear bar ties everything together. Exceptionally well designed mounts are very easy to mount onto the bike – I was done in about 30 minutes while being very methodical and bolting everything up and then going back with lock-tight to do a final snug up to all the individual bolts.

    The Bumot bags have everything mounted to the bags and are ready to be placed on the mounts. The Jesse bags are not mount ready and require all the hardware to be installed onto the bag – I never got that far, not a big deal for most, but not nearly as “friendly” as the mount ready Bumot bags.

    One thing that I think is far superior with the Bumot bags over the Jesse with regards is the bag to mount clamp system, the Bumots have a redundant clamping system (two clamps vs. the one on the Jesse) I think this could help to save a bag from falling off in rough terrain or if a person had a brainfart placing the bags onto the mounts and didn’t get a clamp fully snug.

    The Bumot bags (40/36) are a great compliment to the bike, aesthetically pleasing, with great proportions and placement – they truly look like they belong on this bike. I really could not be happier with my choice of the Bumot hard bags. Jason at ADVMortorrad is wonderful to deal with, his enthusiasm and customer service is truly exceptional, I have no reservations about recommending the Bumot bags or Jason’s Company.

    I am very happy.
    Jim Weatherhead IBA #12256; AMA Life 366349

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