By May 4, 2009

Oh snap! JC Whitney motorcycle hard case follow-up

I am not ready to throw in the towel on my JC Whitney hard cases just yet, but I am getting a little nervous that sometimes you get what you pay for.

My first JC Whitney hard case developed a crack around one of the mounting points. I attributed this to the shoddy universal mounting plate that is included with the trunk. However, the corner-cutting “features” of the hard case bit me in the ass last Saturday.

I was going through my things in my right side case before I rode out to meet Tomax and Xamot. The JC Whitney cases open like a clam shell, exactly like the Givi E360 and other larger side cases. I put my tool kit (admittedly, kinda heavy) on the open lid. The thin plastic retention cables broke with a loud SNAP and the next thing I knew the case was fully open and my tool kit was on the ground.

I just thought the cables had busted until I tried to shut the case. The left hinge had completely snapped. I was reluctant to ride with the case in this condition, so I took both of them off and went inside. I tried a Loctite quick setting epoxy and left to ride for the day. I was hopeful that the epoxy would bind to the plastic hinge enough for the case to be serviceable on my upcoming road trip.

When I got home four hours later I tried the hinge. CRACK. The epoxy wasn’t up to the job.

Now, I could have returned the case to JC Whitney, but I figured the hinge and retention cables would be weak points in any case I received in exchange. I was concerned that if I sent the trunk back and waited for the exchange it wouldn’t arrive before my trip. On the other hand, with the price of the case back up to ~$100 I was reluctant to cross-ship a new case and then fight with their billing department if I should get $112 back or my original $63. I headed to Lowe’s that evening and bought two pair of stainless steel 2″ long hinges.

Putting the hinges on Sunday morning was a five hour ordeal that further cemented my belief I suck as a handyman.

There were a few things that led up to the job taking so long, and making my final product look like dogshit.

  1. The top of the case is rounded, and the back is not entirely flat. This makes it hard to mount a hinge properly.
  2. What’s worse is I had to mount the hinge on the outside of the case due to its design. Now that you’ve read this, you could totally unscrew the hinges and steal all of my stuff.
  3. Even though I marked the bolt holes ahead of time and double checked them, I screwed up drilling the holes. Several times. I wound up reaming one of the holes so much the bolt just slides right through.
  4. There is a little lip on the inside of the bottom part of the case that makes it impossible to fit the head of a bolt unless you drill out even more plastic. It is also very difficult to put a nut in there and run the bolt from the other side. I wound up using a magnetic wand to hold the nut in place while I screwed the bolt in blindly from the other side. Holy shit that sounds like a line from a porno.
  5. I had to cut the orange plastic trim that goes around the sides and back of the case, once for each hinge. I sucked at this and wound up using a dull hacksaw and a utility knife.
  6. Since I had taken apart the whole damn case anyway, I put SOLAS reflective tape underneath the rearward-facing side each case. This involved removing the plastic reflector from the front of the case, ditching the useless stock white paper, and gluing the SOLAS tape in place.
  7. I replaced the broken plastic guide wires with 14 gauge wire.
  8. Because I didn’t want to get stranded with a broken hinge on the other case, I did all of this twice. I actually had a harder time with the second trunk, probably because I was over-confident from fixing the first one.

What you are about to see may be the most embarrassing thing I’ve ever posted to Gibberish. This beats the half-naked pictures of me that I post to goad me into working out almost every day. Yes, this bests the furry belly and hairy man back. The only saving grace is that this part points towards the ground, and no one will ever see this. Behold, my mutant brainchild:

I can’t even bear to show you the inside.

So far so good, and the cases seem to be holding up okay. I am going to keep an eye on them as I commute to work this week, and may have to fall back to my smaller Givi E21 cases for my trip.

Posted in: motorcycling

4 Comments on "Oh snap! JC Whitney motorcycle hard case follow-up"

Trackback | Comments RSS Feed

  1. Sideout says:

    That sucks.
    Worse comes to worst you can buy a couple of straps and/or bungee cords to secure the bags closed. Works for us on our adv rides.
    What kind of trip are you planning on taking anyway if you don’t mind me asking?

  2. Motodisiac says:

    Just spray paint them black and it will look much better. Also, cut the bolts so they are flush with the nuts. I think this case is way more practical for use at top box because you do not put any load on hinges or the mounting points. Put anything you would be sad to lose in your Givi….

  3. drfaulken says:

    I got home today and unlocked one of the cases to put my rain covers in … and the latch came right off in my hands. Turns out that the little brass screw that holds the locking mechanism came off.

    I spent most of my commute checking my mirrors to make sure the cases hadn’t flown onto the highway.

    I hate to spend $400 on a set of Givi E360s, but damn …. I am not sure what I am going to do in the future, but I am taking the E21s on my trip.

    Sideout, I’m riding down to Georgia for a week. About 18 – 20 hours round trip on the bike.

  4. Gremlin says:

    I take pity on you:

    I’ve worked with the Shad, Givi, and JC Whitney. It’s not Givi and it’s not JC, it’s somewhere in between, but I’ve never seen one come apart.