My wife and I had just moved to New Hampshire a few years ago and I was riding a tired Kawasaki KLR 650 at the time. While it had many years of life left to give, it started to feel a bit sluggish with the highways and higher elevation changes that were rare in Connecticut. My wife on her elegant matte blue BMW F700GS with heated grips, fuel-injection, and a fancy fuel gauge got me thinking. It was time for something better suited for strictly road use. 

Like many ex-KLR 650 riders I was drawn to the Kawasaki Versys 650 as my next bike-my first brand new motorcycle! My hours of reading, learning, watching and compiling far too many data-intensive spreadsheets helped me feel confident in this decision. The Versys was nimble, the parallel twin engine could rev high and it was perfectly happy to just cruise. The Versys 650 had everything I wanted for tours through New Hampshire and surrounding states. There was just one weakness that needed to be addressed: luggage. 

My luggage setup on my KLR 650 was typical of KLR riders. I needed something large enough for my helmet and whatever else I could shove in there. It needed to be water-tight and lockable. I was determined not to overspend as it didn’t need to look pretty. I went to the local Home Depot and picked out the largest tool box I could find, I threw on a padlock, and off I went. After a few nuts, bolts and fender washers I ended up with an absolutely monstrous box on the back of my bike complete with a fishing rod holder on the side. 

When I got my Versys I knew there was no way I was going to do the same to my new bike and decided on something a bit nicer.

After more research than is likely healthy, I really liked what GIVI had to offer. The GIVI hard luggage line has a wide range of shapes, sizes and colors to choose from. I selected the GIVI V37 Panniers and the GIVI V47 Top Case. Installation was a breeze – the most difficult part was performing it outside in the parking lot of my apartment complex while I tried to pretend it wasn’t still winter. The side cases came with an extra lock cylinder to match my top case. They mounted easily to the PLX4114 Rack. The top case rack (SR4114) needed a Monokey Adaptor Plate. I chose the M7 Monokey Adaptor Plate due to its price point and appearance. 

To round out the luggage setup, I added the GIVI XS320 Tank Bag with the Bike-Specific BF26 Tank Ring.That bag was made specifically for the Versys 650 and the Africa Twin due to the placement of the fuel filler and the extreme slope of the fuel tank. My camera lived in this tank bag and a cushioned insert protected it against vibrations. There was plenty of room left over for my wallet, keys, phone, sunglasses, cable ties, quick-steel, matches, and a host of other items. The included map holder made looking out for twisty roads easy while we were getting familiar with our new state. 

It’s also worth mentioning that I installed the GIVI E159 Luggage Rack to the lid of the V47 top case. It was extremely useful for lashing lightweight or wet items like spare layers or rain gear. Most of the time I used it to let my towel and fishing shoes dry on the ride after not catching anything. I added a couple of off-road tool clamps to the lid to carry my rod holder as well. 

The extra capacity of the elegant V37 side cases allows storage of a modular helmet and with the GIVI Security Lock system you can keep your valuables secure. To fit these cases your motorcycle must be equipped with a GIVI PLX or PLXR side rack. Enhance the cargo capacity of your motorcycle with stunning Italian style and add the V37 side cases from GIVI!

As it was my first “real” full luggage setup, I thought for sure I’d be able to notice it while riding. I was surprised that empty, it wasn’t noticeable at all. Sometimes you’d feel wind catching the cases when it hit at certain angles and I also felt the weight when I loaded them up for overnight trips.

I felt like I was truly able to see New England for the first time without sacrificing comfort, speed, handling and now storage capacity. The luggage never left my bike. In the side cases I stored my fishing backpack, tool roll, air compressor, extra socks and plastic grocery bags. My First-Aid Kit was easily accessible in my top box. I took this thing everywhere and I almost never forgot anything. While it made my wife’s eyes roll when we would get ready for a ride, it was beyond convenient to have lockable, water-tight storage always at hand. 

The Versys took me and my luggage to Maine, Vermont, New York, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island. I made memories I’ll never forget. The lightweight GIVI luggage I chose really exceeded my expectations, and changed how I look at aftermarket luggage. I firmly believe that they made extended rides not only possible, but enjoyable. Did I need 121 liters of storage to go on an afternoon ride? Not at all! Was I glad to have it when I needed it? Absolutely!

Words and photos by: Jesse Fretwell @blackriverrides

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