During the early hours of April 13, 2021, EDSA boss, Edison “Bong” Nebrija and his team, assisted a motorcycle rider whose top box fell off and barely missed a vehicle behind. Thankfully, no vehicle was hit nor was anyone injured, though it could have been much worse.
With millions of motorcycle riders plying our roads and more realizing the value of having a top box, this is becoming quite common these days.
Just browse through the many Facebook pages of motorcycle groups and you’ll see fellow motorcycle riders post images of top boxes that fell off from another rider. Some good samaritans are hoping to find the owner through social media and group contacts. Unfortunately, these incidents shouldn't have happened in the first place.
There's no denying that top boxes or top cases have now become a necessity. That add some much-needed space for cargo to your motorcycle, allowing you to carry more, while still enjoying the benefits of an efficient mode of transport.
Sadly, not all of them are installed or used the proper way. We list down some tips to ensure they stay on.
Follow the load limit
Just like any load-bearing equipment, your top box also has a prescribed weight limit by the manufacturer. These weight limits are easy to spot. Like in the above photo, Touratech top boxes, which are made from aluminum, have a sticker inside the box which indicates the maximum load the box can carry. If there is no sticker that indicates these load limits, read through the user manual that comes with these top boxes.
These limits should be followed strictly to avoid breaking the mechanism that attaches it to the bracket. It's also there to prevent overloading which may possibly break the bracket itself. More importantly, the weight limit is there so that the motorcycle would not become top-heavy, which may then compromise its handling and safety of its rider and pillion.
Be mindful of this weight limit and do not exceed it. Granted, you might not have a weighing scale around, but find something you're familiar with that you can carry that weighs close to that weight limit. Its approximate weight will help you determine if you're exceeding the limits of the case with items you load.
Follow speed limit
Yes, you read it right, top boxes also have a prescribed speed limit. Now, some of you may ask what’s the connection between your motorcycle speed and breaking the top box? Well, the faster your motorcycle goes, the more drag these top boxes generate.
You’d be surprised how even wind can affect your motorcycle’s top box. It may not dislodge it from its bracket, but repeated rides at these high speeds with a top box could lead to microfractures developing on the bracket over time, slowly growing into large cracks until it eventually falls off.
The more mounting points, the better
Just as there are many top boxes to choose from, there are also many mounting brackets available in the market. You may be tempted to get a bracket with few mounting points that's easy to attach, but that may also be its weak point.
A bracket with only 2 mounting points that can be bolted on where the rear grab handle is used to be bolted may not be able to handle a lot of weight. After all, the grab handle itself is not designed to carry weight.
In some cases, proper brackets for specific models attach to the chassis rather than the grab handles. This simply shows that upon testing, this proved to be the safer solution.
It's always wiser to find a mounting bracket that has a few more mounting points to help spread the weight of the box and the goods you intend to carry.
Get a rack and top box made of sturdy material
If you’re planning to install a top box on your motorcycle, consider a top box and bracket that are made from tough and sturdy materials. As a minimum, a plastic top box should be made from PP (PolyPropylene) material and not from recycled plastics. PolyPropylene is a bit more flexible and can withstand some amount of shock that these top boxes routinely go through.
As for the bracket, it is advisable to buy the ones made from high-grade metals. While there are brackets made from aluminum, the ones that are sturdy and tough (genuine, not imitation) are usually more expensive. Lightweight brackets may not put much of a weight penalty on your bike's power, but they may not be strong enough to withstand the regular punishment these top boxes and brackets have to deal with regularly. Visually inspect the bracket if the welds are complete and solid.
Use what's recommended by your motorcycle brand
It may be tempting to go for “universal” brackets designed to fit most common models. Though these may come out cheaper and could be easy to install, however, it's preferable to find one designed specifically for your particular motorcycle or scooter brand. These brackets and top boxes, especially if produced by a reputable brand, have undergone testing specific to your motorcycle model to ensure that it will serve its purpose without falling off.
Moreover, each bike has different mounting points, and finding one that fits those points perfectly is more likely to be sturdier than one that was designed to fit several models. If the bracket your bike brand recommends doesn't appear to be capable of carrying much, perhaps your model wasn't really designed with utility in mind.
Buy only genuine products
While many of us may be on a budget, a lot of times, buying fake parts is more likely to break your heart (and pocket). This means that while imitation products may look like the real thing and only cost a fraction, they could be more expensive in the long run. Buy an imitation product and it could break sooner than expected, forcing you to buy the original, on top of the price of the fake one you wasted money on.
For example, in the case of top boxes and brackets, cheap imitations commonly sold in Quiapo or in C6 Taguig put more effort into looking like the brand they're copying than focusing on quality. Rather than going through the proper testing and safety certifications, they focus on copying the shape, style, packaging, and even safety ratings that those products did not earn.
Safety shouldn't be rushed
Buying a top box and bracket is something that should be carefully considered, not something you do on a whim, nor a product you buy from the side of the road.
Unfortunately, if it falls off like the one in the EDSA boss’ post, it could damage an oncoming car or worse, result in an accident to a fellow motorcycle rider. The costs (that you’ll have to pay) will be more than double or triple than the amount you save from getting a cheap top box and bracket.
Lastly, when buying a top box and its accompanying bracket, consider it as an investment rather than for japorms only. You don't want to experience the hassle like those who lost their top boxes, do you?