Caribou Luggage Systems

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What are the differences among the cases you offer?

A: All of the Pelican, SKB and BW cases we offer meet stringent MIL-Specs for impact, submersion and UV/chemical resistance, so all of them are very tough.  The SKB 25 and 40 liter cases are about 1lb lighter than the regular Pelican 25 and 35 liter cases due to having a thinner wall construction and different material formulation. The 34 liter B&W, 25 and 40 liter SKB cases have push button activated latches instead of the snap down latches of regular Pelican cases, and they have a smooth matte black finish.  The inside and outside dimensions and weight for each case we offer is on our web site (scroll down to the bottom of the item description). Also see our YouTube videos for more comparison information.


Q: There are so many choices, what cases should I get?

A:  If you ride two-up, or carry a lot of gear and need lots of space, then the 40L SKB cases are appropriate, otherwise our 35L Pelican cases are plenty big for almost any need.  If you like to run errands around town on your bike our 34 Liter top case that fits a helmet is handy so you don’t have to carry the helmet into the store or fiddle with helmet locks.  Our 25 liter top case is great when you want a smaller/lighter case with a low profile. Our DIY side case and top case kits allow you to use many other sizes and types of cases on the market including Pelican Storm, Aluminum cases, etc..


Q: I've read on the internet that hard bags can cause leg/ankle injuries, is this true?

A: With over 15 years of selling primarily Pelican-based hard side case systems, we have never had anyone call or email us regarding a leg, foot or ankle injury.  On the contrary, we have had many customers report that our Pelican side cases actually prevented injury and bike damge in a crash, as can be seen in our Testimonials here... .  So what is going on here?  A big part of what you read on the internet is fear-mongering marketing tactics (on the part of some soft bag-only companies) being repeated by people without even thinking about it.  Another part is due to our Pelican cases having large radius corners and being positioned higher and further back on the bike than sharp-edged aluminum boxes.  The biggest issue by far is actually dual sport/adventure touring riding technique.  Perhaps the best example of how to ride is to watch this guy…….

Notice something?  His feet are always on the pegs, and he is almost always standing with knees slightly bent.  He never puts his foot out to “dab” or lets his feet dangle off the pegs until he comes to a stop. The standing riding technique provides huge advantages.  First and most obvious is that your legs and feet are not prone being up higher on the pegs.  Your initial reaction to loss of control may be to put your foot out (as if you are going to stop or influence a rolling 500lb motorcycle from falling over), but your foot is just going to be thrown backward violently. This kind of natural human reaction is what keeps podiatrists in big houses and fancy cars.  Another major advantage of standing is that your body weight (force) on the bike is lower and more free moving than when seated.  Imagine a 180lb (give or take) lead weight positioned up high and stationary in the seat, and then imagine that same weight sitting low on the pegs.  Its physics, and I know it is a little hard to wrap you head around it, but you want the force of your body weight on the bike placed as low as possible, and that is on the pegs.  You also can move your body weight around while standing, a little to one side or the other, and forward or back.  This allows you to maneuver the bike as if you are 100x stronger than you actually are, it is really incredible how much you can toss a big bike around if you are standing and moving your weight around in the air.  Now if the bike does go down and you are standing on the pegs you are going to have a far better chance of getting your leg out of there on the way down.  In fact, while sitting and “dabbing” you are pretty much guaranteed to have your leg or foot crushed under the bike as it falls.  Finally, while standing on the pegs, you can see the trail surface up ahead far better, and you will know precisely when that big boulder or stump will hit your front tire. By no means are we claiming or suggesting that our Pelican side case systems will prevent injury, but improper riding technique is almost a gauranteed trip to the ER regardless of what side cases/bags you use.


Q: What side racks do you use?

A: We use German made Hepco Becker (HB) side racks for all of our complete side luggage systems. The HB racks have proven themselves extremely durable and they fit great. Most Hepco Becker racks today are the "Lock-It" type that allow removal of the side rack in a few short minutes leaving the clean look of your bike. We also make side luggage systems to fit Givi Monokey and SW Motech EVO/PRO side racks. SW Motech racks are mid-range in terms of both price, durability and fit.  Givi racks are the lightest-duty and least expensive and work fine if you ride mainly on pavement and don’t expect to crash often.  Remember, it only takes 100 feet of bad road surface on a 1,000 mile trip to ruin your day, so a few extra bucks spent on a stronger rack will be worth it. 


Q: What rear top cases and racks do you use?

A: For many bikes we offer our own Caribou Rear Top Case System whcih includes the case, the quick attach/release system, and the cargo plate that bolts to the bike. For just about any bike we offer our Rear Top Case for Givi Monokey Rear Racks and Rear Top Case for SW Motech Adventure Rear racks which includes the case and the quick attach/release system for the specific rear rack you have. Top cases include the Pelican 1550 (35 liter), B&W 5500 (34 liter), and SKB I-Series (40 and 25 Liter).

Q: I know the cases are tough, but what about your side racks & case mounts?

A: Our overall product field failure rate is well under 1%, and we have thousands of luggage systems being used all over the world by all types of riders. We make it a priority to continually improve the crash-survivability of our luggage systems based on field data and our own testing.  The mounting systems we offer today are extremely durable and very refined. The German-made Hepco Becker side racks we now use have proven themselves to be extremely tough by thousands of our customers and have a zero field failure rate. Realize side luggage takes the brunt of the impact in a crash and nothing is truly crash-proof. To help protect the bike’s subframe and the luggage rack our Caribou systems have a field replaceable latch that acts as a mechanical fuse and allows the case to eject in a hard crash, but every crash is different and damage to the luggage or the bike may still occur. The most important factor is for the rider to check for damaged, loose, or missing fasteners and parts after a crash or tip-over before venturing onward.  We stand behind our products and if you have a problem we're here to help get you back on the road.


Q: What is the weight of the side case system and top case system?

A: The Pelican and SKB based 35L and 40L side case systems weigh 35-38 lbs (including side rack) depending on the bike and case selection.  The top case systems weigh 12-14 lbs depending on the bike and case selection.


Q: What is the overall width of the side luggage on the bike?

A:Our 35L Pelican and 40L SKB side cases are all the same width on the bike - about 36"-38” (.89m).  We find that under 40” width is preferred when you are negotiating tight spaces and need to have a good feel for how wide your ride is.


Q: Should I put a narrower case on the exhaust side and a wider case on the other side of the bike to create a balanced system?

A: All of our Pelican and SKB side cases have the same depth, so it is not possible to put a smaller case on one side. On most bikes the side racks (HB/Givi/Motech) are designed such that the exhaust-side case will stick out only about an inch further than the non-exhaust side to allow heat to escape and keep the case cool. You will not notice this small difference while riding.  The most important factor in balancing your side luggage is to have about the same weight in each case.


Q: How much weight can you put in the side cases and top case?

A: Each make/model of motorcycle is unique. There are limits to the weight that a bike’s rear sub-frame can support, and there are motorcycle handling issues to take into consideration.  The weight limit for the OEM-supplied luggage for your motorcycle is a good reference to follow. Do not exceed the weight & load limits specified for your specific motorcycle.  Generally speaking, top case loads should be kept to 15lbs or less, and side case loads should be kept to 20lbs or less.


Q: I have two bikes and want to swap one set of side cases between the two bikes, so can I buy just the rack for my second bike?

A: Yes you can swap our luggage amongst bikes with the same brand side rack.  Hepco Becker side luggage racks for many bikes are available on our web site and we can get many others if your bike is not listed.   For Givi and SW Motech side racks please contact your nearest dealer (we don't carry these racks) and see the compatibiity notes in the specific product pages.


Q: I don’t see my bike listed, and/or I want to build my own racks, and/or I have my own cases, so can I buy just the Caribou quick attach/release latch system that fits to the back of the case?

A: Yes. We have DIY mount kits that attach our Caribou cases to Hepco Becker, Givi or SW Motech side racks with a strong, lockable and quick attach/release mount.  We also offer kits for Givi Monokey and SW Motech Adventure rear top case racks. Essentially you buy HB, Givi or Motech  racks for your bike and then buy our luggage system for that rack (or DIY kit if you have your own cases) and you then have a complete and affordable luggage system for your bike. Please check the notes on each product page to ensure compatibility.


Q: Can I use cases other than those listed on the Caribou website?

A: Yes. Our Do-It-Yourself kits will fit any case with a flat back and at least a 10” x 10” flat area on the inside back panel of the case. Our DIY kit for Hepco Becker racks requires a 7”H x 14” L flat area on the back and inside the case. DIY kits work with plastic, aluminum, or steel cases.   


Q: Will the Caribou Top or Side case fit a helmet

A: Our side cases do not fit a helmet, but our 34 Liter top cases does fit a full face helmet with a little room to spare.


Q: Are there any modifications to the bike required, turn signal relocation or exhaust relocation?

A: Hepco Becker racks used with our Caribou luggage require turn signal relocation on only a couple of  bikes so in most cases turn signal relocation is not required. All parts needed to relocate turn signals are provided.


Q: I’ve noticed that other aftermarket companies are now offering Pelican cases, what makes yours different and better?

A: We are the original Pelican-based motorcycle luggage company and the largest with thousands of systems in use by adventure riders all over the world, so our systems are the most refined and tested in the business.  Our latch system is the best and most advanced in the industry including the OEM products.  We offer more sizes and configurations of Pelican, SKB, and B&W cases than any other company by far.  We design and offer more accessories specifically for our cases than any other manufacturer by far.  We offer the best customer service in the industry when you have issues during install or at any time, and you are likely to get the President of the company on the phone when you call, even on weekends. All emails are answered promptly, usually within hours. We have first-hand familiarity with every bike we offer products for and are very experienced riders, so if you have a question about a particular application we are there to help. Finally, we are one of the most innovative companies in the industry and you’ll continually find new products being offered that make a big difference in your riding experience.


Q: I read on an internet forum that when you open a side-loading case everything falls out on the ground, but I see lots of people using and loving your Pelican cases and report this is not a problem.  How do you keep things from falling out?

A: The answer is a lot easier than some on the internet will lead you to believe.  First, we offer inner bags that take care of everything. Secondly, we install lid lanyards keep the lid from swinging all the way down thus creating a tray to catch anything loose, and we install internal retention straps hold your gear into the main cavity of the case.  Finally, we offer our Caribou liners that create fabric walls along the sides and bottom gap so nothing can possibly fall out. Note that our cases have a deep main cavity and a shallow lid as compared to the 50/50 clam shell cases offered by other companies, so your gear more easily stays in the main cavity.


Q: Can I get the cases in a color other than black?

A: All Pelican cases we offer are black only.  You can send us your own cases of various colors and we will outfit them.


Q: Can I get the racks and brackets in a color other than black?

A:  The Hepco Becker side luggage racks we offer come in black primarily, but a few are silver depending on the bike as noted in the product description.


Q: Can I buy just your lid lock, lid lanyards and gear retention straps?

A: Sorry we do not sell these parts sperately. 


Q: Can I get all the locks on my cases to match so there is one key? If I add a top case or side cases at a later date, can you match the key?

A: Yes.  All when you buy a complete system it is “one-key” so that you don’t have to fumble with different keys for the different locks on the cases and latches. We can match your existing Caribou key when you buy top  and side cases over a period of time. Your key code is printed on your key and that is all we need.


Q: Do you have everything in stock, and what is the lead time?

A: We normally have everything in stock, and typical lead time to ship is 3 days.  If we do not have something in stock, or if lead time is extended, it will be noted on our web page or we will contact you. 


Q: Can I get items such as the Pick-n-Pluck foam inserts for the Pelican cases?

A: We don't usually carry the foam. You can get foam kits from many on-line Pelican dealers.


Q: Will you install a Caribou system on my bike if I stop buy your shop?

A: Sorry, we do not have the manpower or insurance coverage to wrench on customer’s bikes.


Q: Will you do custom work?

A: We accept RFQ’s/RFP’s for large volume/contract work.