Long Term Review of Corbin Beetle Bags.
I got my Corbin Beetle Bags (for 2000 VFR), about three years ago. The price then was $799 for color matched bags and all mounting hardware. The price has increased quite a bit, and they now cost $1049 new.
First the good...
The bags look great. They are shaped to mimic the lines and curves of the bike's gas tank, and the color matching was spot on.
They are fairly easy to install. No cutting or drilling is necessary, but not all the holes in the bag lined up with the mounting hardware, so a bit of force is necessary. Cussing seems to help.
The locks on these bags are pure crap. The lids sit atop the bag, with a plastic lock at one end. Mounted on the rim of the body of the bag is a steel latch. The steel latch's edges are quite sharp. The spring loaded plastic pawl on the lock is very soft. If you close the bags without pressing the button on the lock that retracts the pawl, the pawl will wear away VERY, VERY quickly, and the pawl will soon be unable to engage the latch, thus making your bags unlockable.
In addition, once the pawl wears away to this extent, the lids will vibrate and flop around a great deal, which tends to wear out and loosen the hinge that hold the lid on. After having my Beetle Bags installed on my bike for about two weeks, the locks were useless. When I called Corbin and complained, they told me to return the bags and they'd put new locks on them. Rather than uninstall the bags, I deciced to just live with the crap locks. Once I noticed the hinges getting looser and looser I decided that the bags just sucked entirely and removed them from my bike. They sat in my garage for over a year.
I tried sourcing the locks from my local locksmith, but he wanted $60 each to order them, and I wasn't paying that much for them. I was unable to find another lock that would fit the application.
The lids are not watertight, and the opening on the top of the bags is very small. Although the bags themselves are capable of holding a fair amount of stuff, it all has to be loaded item by item - you really can't drop a packed bag in them. Anything larger than your average lunch bag won't fit through the opening.
Back to the locks.
I decided that the convenience of hard luggage, and the money I'd spent on the bags was enough reason to give them another try. But I knew I was going to have to solve the lock problem to make it feasible.
First I ordered a pair of locks from Corbin. $35 for the pair - pretty expensive considering that they are lightweight, plastic crap, but much cheaper than I could find anywhere else.
Once the new locks were installed (easily done btw), they didn't catch the steel latch on the bag. The locks just didn't descend deep enough into the bag for the pawl to catch the latch. There's a small tab used to open and close the bags that is attached to a ring that fits around the lock cylinder. By removing this, I managed to lower the lock deep enough into the bag to make it possible to catch the latch. However, even with the locks locked, the pawl would slip off the latch during simple riding. Even on only moderatley bumpy roads.
I had to install three small washers behind the latches to bring them out and up enough to regularly catch the pawl on the lock and hold the lids closed. Yippee, the bags now worked, and the lids stayed closed (for the most part that is, more on that and the hinges below). But, without the little tab used to open and close the bags, it is now necessary to use two hands to open the bags - one to press the button, and the other to try to force a finger under the edge of the lid so you can lift it open. Oh well.
The hinges on my bags were very loose, and allowed the lids enough movement that they could still slip free of the latch and open up. In order to solve this, I took the hinges apart. Its just a bolt which acts as the hinge pin, and a set screw to hold the bolt in place. A single washer sat between the body of the hinge and the lid part of the hinge. To tighten up the fit, I added another washer, so that there was one on each side of the body of the hinge, reinserted the bolt/hinge pin, tightened the set screw until all was secure, and then Locktited the whole thing. By keeping the bolt nice and tight, and with the extras washer in place to reduce the free play, the lids no longer flop around, and now stay locked and closed under every condition I've to which I've subjected them.
HOWEVER! and this is a big however, I still have to press the button to retract the lock pawl everytime I close the lids, or the pawl will wear away very quickly. The first time around I think it took less than three weeks of daily use to render the locks useless. I've had the new set up in place for about a month (of daily use), and all seems well.
I'd provide photos if I had any place to host them, but I don't so I hope my descriptions have been adequate.
In the end, knowing what I know now, I would not buy Corbin Beetle bags again. For that price, you ought to get a product that works without having to be redesigned in the field by the customer.