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Shad SH44 top-box review | Affordable hard luggage tested

Consumer Editor of Bennetts BikeSocial




Date reviewed: June 2024 | Tested by: John Milbank | Price: £122.99 + £42.99 fitting kit |


Hard luggage like the Shad SH44 top-box on review here should be treated as a lifetime investment. Buy a decent quality case like this, then just replace the fitting kits as you move between bikes.

I wanted a relatively affordable case that wasn’t too large for the Zontes ZT350-T I bought this year (you can watch the videos here), and honestly… I didn’t expect it to be as great as it’s proven…


  • Surprisingly capacious

  • Great build quality

  • Good value

  • No additional straps or pockets built in


Shad has been making motorcycle luggage since the early ’70s – in Spain – for some of the biggest names in motorcycling, including Triumph, Yamaha and BMW, and the quality of this top-case – which comes with a two year guarantee – shows why it’s such a trusted manufacturer (even if it is surprisingly not that well known in the UK).

Despite its relatively affordable price point, the plastic used has an excellent balance of rigidity and impact resistance. While there are cheap, unbranded boxes available online, I’d recommend investing in a premium brand as it’s far more likely to last for many, many years thanks to a durable construction that won’t soon find itself in landfill.

Storage capacity

I have a 52 litre Givi Trekker top box that’s been on numerous bikes over the years, and it can easily swallow two full-face helmets, so I wasn’t expecting to be able to get much in this 44 litre Shad… yet it’s huge.

Granted, I can only fit one full-face helmet in, but thanks to the shape of the SH44’s lid, even the Arai Tour-X5 with a peak on pops in no problem, with plenty of space to spare.

I’ve crammed all sorts in here, from my change of clothes and shopping (including a posh bottle of whisky for my wife) on a day out in London, to a Tamiya radio control model kit.

It’s that lid shape that seems to make what’s a relatively compact top-box into something so versatile and roomy; there have been plenty of times that I’ve rammed it full, then realised I’d missed something, yet still had no trouble fitting it all in.

For trips out on my own, the Shad SH44 offers more than enough space for everything I need, be it camera kit for a shoot, snacks, overnight gear or whatever. Only if I were riding somewhere with my wife and we wanted to secure both our helmets would I wish for anything bigger.

The maximum capacity is rated at 6kg, but I’ve had a lot more in there. Ultimately, with any luggage it’s important to understand that you’re putting weight a long way back on the bike, which can upset the handling. I haven’t had any issues with the front-end feeling light, though this is down to the bike’s suspension (which is budget, but effective). More useful to know is that I haven’t noticed any problems with aerodynamics, including in strong cross-winds.

The metal plate is part of the fitting kit, then the mounting plate screws onto it (shown here before fitting the cover trim)

Ease of fitting

A mounting plate is supplied with the SH44, but you’ll also need to buy a bike-specific fitting kit, which costs £42.99 for the Zontes I have this on the back of. Shad has a massive range covering a massive variety of motorcycle brands – the fact that it was the only company with a fitting kit for this ZT350-T gives you an idea of the breadth of options, which is worth knowing even if you’re looking at buying for a very popular brand like Honda, Suzuki, BMW, KTM, Triumph etc… who knows what bike you’ll buy next, so being confident that you’ll likely be able to find a fitting kit for whatever it is can make the investment even more worthwhile.

Fitting is simple, with clear, easy to follow instructions, and should be fairly quick for anyone with a basic Allen key and spanner set. Only keeping some of the spacers in place while assembling the set-screws and lock nuts can be the cause of a little frustration.

I should say that I’m not a great fan of the styling of the standard Shad mounting plate. While this is a very minor – and personal – criticism, it’s not the most inspiring to look at. Granted, it’ll usually be hidden under the top-box, but it’d be great to see some aluminium options from Shad, like its Terra range, which look much more appealing on the back of the bike. Still, once the box is clipped on, it’s held in place very securely.


The lid of the Shad SH44 has an attractive – but not over the top – carbon-fibre pattern moulded into it, along with a clear plastic section backed with silver to act as a reflector. The hinges are well made, and the lid’s retained with a pair of plastic straps that stop it dropping all the way open.

The carry handle is also great for lugging the box into your hotel at the end of the day.

That’s it though – there are no mesh dividers in the lid, or straps in the base, but that’s just how I like it – maximum space to cram in as much as I want.

An inner bag is available as an optional extra for £37.99, as well as a backrest for your pillion at £25.99, and a rear LED brake light that fits beneath the mounting plate for £36.99.

I’ve ridden in a LOT of rain and suffered no leaks, but even an aggressive hose test can’t beat the Shad’s seals


Thanks to a rubber seal and good-sized lip, even testing with a hose saw no water find its way into the Shad SH44 top-case, so you can be confident that whatever you put inside is going to stay dry, whatever the weather.


The SH44 can be left unlocked if you want, allowing you to quickly open it or lift it off the bike. Don’t underestimate the value of this – I find it annoying when I keep having to drag my keys out to open my Givi top-box. Being able to dig into the Shad, or even remove it from the bike without the keys is a great feature.

Locking the SH44 secures the carry handle, which covers the lid opening mechanism and the latch that secures fixes onto the mounting plate. You can’t lock the key inside the box by mistake.

Brute force and cutting tools could remove pretty much any top-box, so I’d never recommend leaving valuables in your bike overnight, but the security offered of course way exceeds soft luggage, and is extremely valuable when popping into a services for instance. Also, while I wouldn’t recommend leaving anything of very high value in a top-box while away for the day, it is a very useful portable storage locker.

Something worth noting is that the SH44 uses Shad’s absolutely fine, but less premium locking system, so you can’t key it alike with the higher-end panniers in the company’s range, like the new SH38X expanding panniers.

Three alternatives to the Shad SH44 top-box

The main competitors to Shad are of course Givi and Kappa (both the same company), though Oxford offers a couple of basic boxes, and SW Motech has a small range of hard luggage, but here are some different options…

  • Soft luggage | Oxford Products has long been the big player in soft luggage, with a huge range of panniers, roll bags and more on offer. Also consider brands like Kriega, Enduristan, AltRider and Giant Loop to name a few. Soft luggage isn’t as secure against theft as hard luggage, it’s harder to pack and your gear isn’t as well protected, but off-road riders much prefer it as it’s far less likely to cause you injury if you fall off and get caught beneath it. It’s also less likely to cause damage to the bike in a crash. Oxford has also released its new Atlas range of adventure luggage, which combines with its straps to form a very versatile system.

  • Tank bags | The days of magnetic tanks bags scratching your paintwork, or needing a cover for your tank are long gone, as long as your bike has a fairly standard filler cap. I’m a huge fan of the SW Motech tank bags, which snap quickly and securely to the company’s very stylish tank rings, which are available for a huge range of bikes. Not cheap, but very impressive, like the SW Motech Pro Daypack reviewed here, which I use on my 1999 Kawasaki ZX-6R, and BMW R1250GS.
    Shad has also released a new tank ring system that looks good, with a great range of bags available, while Givi also offers a wide range of tank bags, though I’m not as keen on the styling of the fitting kits, as shown in this review.

  • Ventura luggage | Ventura is a clever system that combines a range of tough yet soft and lightweight bags with a rail fitting kit to carry plenty of gear. They’re available for many different machines, and are often a popular choice with sportsbike riders. You can read our review of a Ventura Evo luggage system here.

These are just three of many alternatives – you can find all the motorcycle luggage we’ve tested here and be sure to regularly check for the discounts available through Bikesocial membership.


Shad SH44 top-box review: Verdict

The Shad SH44 is a great-value, extremely well-made top-case that should last you a lifetime with the huge range of fitting kits available for many different bikes.

If you really need something bigger, Shad offers top-boxes up to 55 litres in capacity, and even the expanding SH58X, which transforms from 46 litres to 52 litres and right up to 58 litres, all while staying water-tight and secure. You can read a full review of the Shad SH58X here, though it is of course much more expensive than the SH44, so do ask yourself if you really need all that room.

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Check out the Shad luggage in this video from 12:20