Disclaimer: I do not own any of these luggage systems yet, I have owned the BMW Adventure cases for the F800GS though. All I write here is from research, reading reviews, reading reports.
BMW Vario Luggage
The BMW OEM luggage integrates very nicely with the R1200GS. The cases are fairly small and don't look sewing machine cases (like the Micatech).
The cases have a unique feature: integrated is a mechanism which makes them expandable. You tilt an internal lever and gain around 9L volume per case. Overall size of the cases is fairly small, usable space even smaller. 68L in expanded version. The setup gets fairly wide when expanded, but it's still manageable. At least it's narrow when not expanded.
The cases are unfortunately very fragile. The nice looking aluminum inlays are not very scratch or dent resistant and the expanding mechanism might not even survive a single tip-over. Not that I'm planning to drop the bike, but shit happens and the luggage should survive that.
BMW Adventure Luggage
BMW also offers aluminum boxes for the GS Adventure series. They can be mounted both on the GS and the GS Adventure, the GS needs the same racks that often come installed (as a paid option) on the Adventure.
The Adventure cases are bigger, have a better shape for just stuffing things in, so are way easier to pack but also have some issues:
- It's often said, that they are leaking after a while.
- The plastic corners crack easily.
- The lids don't go on very well.
- The locks get dirty fast and are fickly to operate.
- The hinges are sub-optimal.
- The crash not very well either - get out of shape fast.
I can't say all too much about them, I had BMW Adventure boxes on my F800GS and I like that the ignition key also worked on the boxes (same as the Varios), but they are very wide (110cm on the F800GS, less bad on the R1200GS as the R has a narrower rear end). Overall I would not buy them again as they are very expensive and for the same kind of money there are just plain better cases out there.
Here's a photo:
One more thing I don't like about them is the monstrous racks that stay on the bike when the cases are off. It's huge and pretty ugly.
Jesse Odyssey Cases
What I like about them:
- big enough
- pretty solid
- top loading
What I don't like so much:
- ugly (black) racks, that don't blend in well
- weird shape on the exhaust side
- separate key from ignition
And the photos:
I think the racks are really ugly because they just don't blend in with the looks of the bike at all. They should be powder coated silver or stainless steel, but not black for the standard GS. Makes no sense.
The racks have one nice feature: you can slide the cases back and forward, depending on whether you'd like to pull the center of gravity in or you're riding with a passenger and need the space for the passenger's feet.
Jesse also has the Safari cases, which are bigger and uglier. I don't consider them as I think they are butt ugly, therefore no picture ...
The best thing about the Micatech Cases is the incredibly nice mounting system. It's nearly invisible when the cases are not mounted, but still very stable (much better than the Varios). The cases are cavernous, huge, no, unbelievably big.
The cases have about 108 liters volume which is plain huge. They are side loading, with all the advantages and disadvantages to it: it's easier to get things out when you have a large luggage roll strapped on top, but it's a bit harder to pack efficiently. And you can't easily get a single big liner in there. Micatech sells two liners per box.
Nevertheless, apart from their size they are very well made, and though they don't look like it, they are not wider than the handle bars and from what I heard only slightly wider than the cylinder heads. So not too bad in that regard. You can get case body and door in different colors which breaks the optical size a little bit, but still, they look and are huge. Might be too easy to overpack the bike with them. But might also make two up touring easier as there really is enough space for luggage of two persons.
The Micatechs are actually my favorites at the moment because of their unobtrusive mounts, the sheer quality, and the not so bad width. I would not get their topcase though as I think it's even uglier than the cases ...
I won't go into much details about the Metal Mules here. Seem not to be a very popular choice for GS riders, maybe because they are really expensive (some $2300 before tax / shipping) as they include a smaller exhaust.
Touratech has actually two systems for the GS: the Zega Pro and the standard Zega.
The Zega Pro are a bit fancier with the plastic corners and the rounder shape but I see no real advantage to them over the standard set. Price is pretty steep, right around the OEM Aluminum cases, but the cases are probably a bit better quality and tougher. Round the world travelers seem to use and like them a lot. I haven't heard anything negative about them other than the steep price.
I don't the like mounting system as it is basically the same as the one for the OEM Adventure Cases: big metal hoops bolted to the rear of the bike. I can really live without that.
Vern's Worldbeater Cases
These are probably the Landrover cases here. Very robust, very strong stainless steel mounting bracket. They are handmade by a guy in England, are pretty big, and I have never heard anything bad about them. They aren't cheap, but basically non of the aluminum options really is.
Here is a picture:
I think the cases itself look a bit more elegant than the Micatech, but the mounting system is pretty ugly again. Not as ugly as the typical metal hoops, but still.
I don't have a side shot handy right now, but it comes down to: really, really strong, but not as nicely integrated as the Micatech mounts. You might also have trouble opening the cases when a large topcase is installed, as they are top loaders that have a hinge in the front. On Zega and BMW cases the lids have locks on both ends so you can open them and remove the lid easily.
Ugly and cheap:
I think these are the cheapest cases mentioned here. The system is based on Pelican cases with a custom mounting rig. They can also attach to SW Motech, H&B or Givi racks. Side loading and 36L per box. The boxy shape make the space easy to use, and the Pelican stability is legendary.
I still don't like them very much. Nevertheless, worth considering if you need some "beater cases" that can take whatever you through at them (mostly the bike I guess ...) and stay watertight even after continuous use.
I do not consider Givi side cases for the R1200GS as good options as the whole system gets way too wide.
I love the Givi topcases though. Big, stable, good mounting system and very handy on commutes or short trips.
Hepco & Becker
I could never find anything compelling about the H&B cases. They are smaller and uglier than the competition, often more expensive and less well integrated.
H&B has several different systems, here is a picture of the Gobi cases, just to underline what I wrote in the last paragraph:
There are several other systems out there which are interesting but I don't have enough information on them to write about.
If you want something added, leave a comment with a link to the product and I'll take a look and might add it.