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There seems to be a gap in the market for quality budget priced rigid panniers and bike protection bars etc. In the next 12 months or so myself and the wife are looking at settling back in malaysia and starting up a small engineering/fabrication/outfitters for both bikes and 4x4.
I'm looking to get an idea of an ideal size for panniers and boxes, any particular functions (locks/ease of use/safety/waterproofing) ect that could or should be engineered in.
Also the price is a big issue, what (realisticly) would people be prepared to pay. Remember, materials and labour are cheaper in malaysia (quality of worknanship is excellent. I know from experience as i was involved in a powerstation build there and the engineering skill are good).
Once i get some feedback i can look into manufacturing and transport costs and decide if it will be benificial to both myself and the traveling comunity.
I will accept all feedback in the spirit it was sent
I am currently looking for some reasonably priced panniers for my xr650l here in the US. It seems like the cheapest I can find are by happy trails. They sell a mounting kit and 2 panniers for my bike for $650.
It seems to me like the biggest problem for you would likely be shipping. Since most of your customers would live far away from where you manufacture. Unless you were doing a very large amount of volume (like many containers per month and enough business to have a wearhouse in US or Europe) then you could probably not ship small items for a competitive price, but maybe you could compete on larger, more expensive items.
How do you think the rich countries stay that way, even though their labour and production costs are so much higher? By taxing the hell out of cheaper externally produced goods, that's how.
On mass produced items a profit may be possible, although unlikely given that Chinese companies are mostly running at a loss doing the same. But on small scale stuff, hmmm, very unlikely.
Sorry to sound harsh, but you should be very careful before jacking it all in and upping sticks to the east on this idea. I am sure you are thinking it all through thoroughly, but do remember to have a look at import taxes wont you?
Best wishes for your business venture.
A few observations....
Just for your info, EIBC here in the UK imports cheaper boxes from Eastern Europe - theyre about half the price of the German boxes commonly available. I mention this only to give you an idea of the competition, though if you can get cheaper boxes made anywhere else then this would be great.
One last point - are you aware of the small percentage of the bike market that big trailies form? I'm suggesting that you research (you may have done so already) the possible numbers of bikes which could have these panniers fitted - I dont think any other type of biker would use them. These numbers will have implications for your production runs, and therefore costs.
I've found some stats for your info; this is for the UK 2005 Big Trailie sales....
Firstly a big thanks for the info and support. I'll try and put a few points to rest.
I'm not giving everything up to go to malaysia to start up a business just satisfying the likes of us. My wife is a malaysian national and we are settling over there anyway. I appriciate how comparativly small the market for this kit is, and don't intend for this to be my main focus. Other than the wifes business (TV production) I also have a small import/export concern which i am looking to expand.
My interests in motorcycles (i've done about 15000km around malaysia and thialand, plus raced for 2 seasons in the malaysian superbike series) and 4X4 mud plugging (got a battered old rangerover classic) has given me a lot of usefull contacts and ideas.
A good friend of mine has a cladding company doing roofs and domes etc in various materials, so the plan was to get a price off him, using spare materials and manning down time to knock up semi bespoke cases and bracketry. If the costs can be kept low enough its worthwhile from both of our pionts. At the end of the day profit is profit no matter how small
On a side issue, I've just had my XT660 engine rebuilt and had my first long (for me) run on it this weekend, a 400 mile round trip to the motorcycle news weekend in Skegness. All went well apart from molten panniers (the wife's 2 dresses and all her makeup in a bin on th A43) being caught by a speed camera and the main fuse blowing as my indicators melted along with the pannier
So later this afternoon its out with the pipe benders and some 1/2" stailess tube i have kicking around the office, and try to make some holding off brackets so this doesn't happen again.
Wish you the best of luck with your pannier fabrication business.
I had similar thoughts myself, although not outside uk. I used to build box vans, and sometimes bought in a complete box van kit, the cost often not much more than a set of top end panniers are now (this is 15 years ago). Nevertheless perhaps shows how much mark up there is on a set of panniers. Panniers might be a bit fiddily to make. but should be a lot cheaper to deliver.
I fly out to malaysia in 4 weeks time, and am in the process of knocking up some drawings to give to manufacturing companies out there to get a handle on pricing etc.
I'm also going to spend the next week or so visiting bike shops taking some sneaky measurements
please keep the feedback coming its much appreciated
Most rack systems have cases hanging off the side of them - which puts a lot of strain on the mounting points. I had some Touratech boxes which cracked becuase of this. I'm sure its why touratech specify a maximum load that is way less than the boxes will carry when filled up with ordinary stuff.
What is really needed is a rack that provides support underneath the pannier, which doesn't also stick out when the panniers come off. So the underneath part could be either hinged or perhaps removable.
Do you know those shelving systems in DIY shops - you have a vertical metal bar that you attach to the wall, with a movable 'foot' thing which supports the shelf. I have often though that soemthing like that would work well in a pannier rack.
The double benefit is that a rack like that would also be suitable for securing soft panniers and holding them off the exhaust.
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