At the 2016 BMW Motorcycle Owners of America International Rally, in Buffalo, NY, last July it was time to shop for a full set of cases for my 1200GSA. My stock BMW cases had taken a beating and the hinges of both side panniers were more sprung out of joint than Rocky Marciano’s nose.

After perusing the adventure touring options, I decided on a full set of high-capacity Givi Trekker Outbacks. I liked their brawny looks, their heavy-duty construction, and the solid steel twin ammo-can handles atop each case. Plus, the Outbacks were available in a sexy matte black. Black is beautiful! When Givi rep Gary Adreon demoed the revolutionary Monokey snap-on system, I was sold.

Givi Trekker Outback Christopher BakerFitting the black-powder-coated, tubular steel racks to the bike was easy: I had the two side frames bolted on in less than one hour, while the top rack and case took five minutes.

Fitting the cases to the racks was a no-brainer. “Female” grooves at the base of each case slide onto two male metal studs protruding from the base of the frames. The cases then pivot up (down for the top case) to mate with the die-cast aluminum “Monokey Cam-Side” spring-loaded latches already firmly secured to the mounting racks. They snapped briskly into position.

BMW R1200GSA fitted with Givi Trekker Outback Palm Springs desert California Christopher BakerThe beauty of the sophisticated Monokey system became apparent when I unlocked the latch to remove the top case. I inserted the key in the lock and turned it to horizontal. This unlocks the stainless steel lid hasp. It also frees a levered trigger beneath the lock. Monokey? Two-in-one! I pulled the powder-coated aluminum lever barely a quarter of an inch and the plate latch popped open and freed the case. The side cases operate similarly.

Everything exudes a precision-machined quality. The 3/16-inch (1.5 mm) die-cut aluminum cases have riveted “technopolymer” reinforcements in and out. These hide the weld joints. The gasketed rubber-seal in the lids features a raised lip and moat-like groove all-around, promising great protection against dust and rain (Givi USA advertises that the Outbacks are “waterproof”). Plus the cases feature tie-down points to each corner to secure dry packs and other luggage.

Best of all, together the side panniers provide a humongous 86 liters capacity, perfect for long-distance adventure touring. As a professional photographer, I figure on using the 42-liter top case mainly to house my camera gear, so the built-in sponge mat for cushioning is a big bonus to help minimize camera shake. Each pannier extends an equal distance out from the BMW’s center line, offering perfect symmetry when viewed from the rear.

BMW R1200GS Givi Trekker Outback cases Christopher BakerThe Trekker Outback set comes with some cool optional extras, including: Waterproof liners; 2.5-liter jerry-can and holder; elastic netting that affix to the inside of the lids (perfect for storing small items); and a handsome backrest pad to stop the top case hinges digging into a pillion rider’s back.

All in all I’m very impressed. The Givi Trekker Outbacks strike me as near-perfect adventure cases. Next week, I’m hitting the Baja California trail for some serious off-roading. I feel confident they’ll hold up to some rough treatment.

Watch for my full feature review in a forthcoming issue of BMW ON Magazine.

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Christopher P Baker


Christopher P. Baker, one of the world's most multi-talented and successful travel writers and photographers has been named by National Geographic as one of the world's foremost authorities on Cuba travel and culture. Winner of the Lowell Thomas Award 2008 as 'Travel Journalist of the Year,' he has authored more than 30 books, leads tours for National Geographic Expeditions, Edelwiss Bike Travel, and Jim Cline Photo Tours, among other companies, and is a Getty Images and National Geographic contributing photographer.