Installing a Jesse Top Case

Jesse Top Case - Featured

Getting Started

Installing a Jesse Top Case isn't difficult, but the complete lack of instructions means you have to think about how you're going to make it happen. There were a couple of challenges for me with this installation. The first issue is the baggage porter (the official term for the luggage rack according to the BMW microfiche) on the GS. It appears the baggage porter is a stock BMW part but it had several cracks. A quick trip to Bob's BMW revealed a price tag I didn't like ($326.28) so I found a local welder to make repairs. Dave's Welding & Restoration repaired the cracks for a fraction of the cost of the new part. YaY! Dave!

Top Case Mounting Plate

Vintage Bits

The second issue is the plate that was the top case mounting bits already installed on the GS. As far as I can tell these are "vintage" Jesse Luggage bits but neither the compartment nor the plate had any markings to help me be sure. Anyway, I like the lockable compartment - and it was keyed to the side cases - but the plate itself has been cut to fit in spite of the handle bolted to the baggage porter. I sat the top case on the plate and saw that the turned up edges would prevent the top case from mounting flush to the lockable compartment, so the plate would have to go, but it definitely had a role to play in completing the installation.

Measure Lots, Drill Once

I drilled holes in my brand new $340 top case. I hate drilling holes in stuff - especially new, expensive stuff. I knew that I needed to install the top case directly on the locking compartment so I had to figure out how to transfer the mounting hole dimensions to the bottom of the top case. Then it hit me - I could use the legacy mounting plate as a template. I grabbed a roll of one of my favorite substances - double-faced foam tape - to help me in this quest. I put a couple of small pieces of tape on the locking compartment to hold the plate in place - curved edges pointed down. I then used several pieces of tape to keep it stuck to the top case when I had it in the position I wanted. Being able to easily remove the plate from the locking compartment was what was going to make or break this approach. The plate remained stuck to the bottom of the top case without a big fight removing it from the locking compartment. A red sharpie and a sharp twist drill is all I needed to drill the holes. A quick eyeball check showed that my plan had worked!

When I originally separated the plate from the locking compartment there was a foam tape sandwiched between. I wandered the aisles of my local hardware store and settled on the Loctite mounting tape for my top case installation. I wasn't sure about the foam tape I found and thought the Loctite product would be more durable. Only time will tell.

Wrapping Up

After getting everything installed and the workbench cleaned up I cracked a beer and reflected on the installation. I was pretty happy with how things turned out but when I looked at the mounting job I decided that I needed to do a couple of final things to be really satisfied with the project. I decided that I needed to add fender washers and blue Loctite to the bolts. The only challenge was the placement of the bolts at the front of the top case base. I wouldn't be able to use a full-size fender washer so, rather than using a smaller washer I decided to square off one side of the front fender washers using my Dremel tool. While I'm not sure any of this actually matters in a practical sense this did make me feel better about the installation so there's that...

This is not a hard project but I was hesitant to get started because I had a blank of a top case and no instructions from the manufacturer. Once I got over having to improvise the installation it was fine but I had to jump over that issue to get this done. My issues getting this done have to do with the motorcycle being 20+ years old and the existing hardware being a mix of BMW and what appears to be vintage Jesse bits. The saving grace was the plate installed on the locking compartment. That ended up being the template I needed so I could drill holes. I really like the way the kit looks and am happy with where I ended up!