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Equipping the Bike - what's the best gear? Anything to do with the bikes equipment, saddlebags, etc. Questions on repairs and maintenance of the bike itself belong in the Brand Specific Tech Forums.
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Giant Loop Motorcycle Saddlebags & Motorcycle Tank Bags: Panniers, Soft Luggage for Adventure & Sport Touring

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Old 14 Dec 2001
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Join Date: Mar 2001
Location: British Columbia
Posts: 239
Build Your own Hard Bags

Just a note on the luggage front:
Looked into all the options, mostly for aluminium bags and finally settled on building our own. So far the material cost has been low ($250 USD for 2 sets of bags, with racks for 2 different bikes - BMW GS and Yamaha XS400) but there has been lots of labour involved. While welding aluminium is beyond the skill and equipment of most people, cutting the aluminum to a pattern that can be bent in a brake then welded is time consuming (saves $) and can be done at home on any table saw, or even with a handheld circular saw. Even pricing bags to be custom built at a local metal shop was the same price as the cheapest bags I could find on the Net (about $380 USD for one set of 40litre bags). The advantage in doing this is that you can get exactly what you want (custom length, height, width, cut-outs, etc.). I previously had a set of standard square bags on my BMW GS and found that the lower front edge and corner tended to hit the back of my leg when I was 'paddling' rough stuff - very painful. The set I just built have a beveled cut-out on the front edge to diminish this problem. Anyway, custom building locally is a definite option that I would recommend you look into. With a bit of research on the web, you should be able to direct a compentent shop in building a usefull set of boxes. Just a note, re-reading my message I am wrong about the cost (that pesky US to Canadian conversion). Total cost for two sets: $250 Canadain/ $160 USD.

[This message has been edited by Timo (edited 16 December 2001).]
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Old 15 Dec 2001
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Join Date: Jul 2000
Location: Dunedin, New Zealand
Posts: 36
Looked at the prices of imported German bags and decided I must have a go at making some or getting some made locally. Started with a top box for my GS 1150 and made a template from three-ply and then went to my local aluminium shop where they cut the template out of 3mm plate and then made up a 35L top box box. Modelled it off the Touratech design with removable top and hooks to tie extras on. Used hasps and clasps to lock it. It is totally waterproof and very well welded. Total cost for base and box NZ $50 (US $25 & BP 17). Then decided to make racks and side cases so enquired around town till I found a friendly workshop where the guy let me bend pipe (he had to show me what to do!)and when ready a guy stopped his work and MIG welded each bit. They found some flat steel and again welded it when I was ready and then let me use their drill to make the holes. Even made the left hand side with the cut out to fit over the exhaust pipe. It was a bit tricky lining up the arms from the pipe frame to the mounting positions but Rick would just put a tack on and I would go and check and correct it then try again till finally I got it right. It would have been much easier to weld on the bike but I had no idea what would have to be removed so it didn't cook and as the GS had on 400kms on it wasn't prepared to risk anything! It took me 8 hours but this was all a completely new experience for me. Then they offered to powder coat the two racks for me. The pipe cost me NZ$20 (had to buy a full 5m length and didn't use half of it), the welding, flat steel and powder coating cost NZ$ 35 = total $55 (US $27 & BP 12)! Have been promised the aluminium cases before Christmas and have decided to build 34L boxes of 2mm thickness. I expect that the total cost of both cases will be about NZ$150 (one has the cut out for the exhaust) giving an all up price for 3 cases and 3 racks at NZ$200. About 10% of the price of imported cases. As an old friend once said to me "If you don't ask, you don't get".
Just have to work out a system to mount the boxes to the frame now.
I have digital photos of racks and boxes for the 1150 GS if any one wants them.

[This message has been edited by Roger Hogg (edited 15 December 2001).]
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Old 26 Dec 2001
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Join Date: Jan 2001
Location: Nottingham, UK
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Nice to see other people doing the DIY option. I worked out that it would cost be £460+ (GBP) for just the panniers + rack - so opted to build my own. I enrolled on a local DIY welding course and bought a cheap welding kit (manual metal arc) + gloves, rods, vice, etc from Machine Mart http://www.machinemart.co.uk/ and the ammo boxes from Anchor Supplies http://www.anchor-supplies.ltd.uk/

The frames were built from re-cycled table legs (2mm 20mm sqaure box section) - I bought some cheap wood to make a few prototype racks before cutting the metal - this worked really well.

Total Cost So Far is less than just one of the Aluminium boxes - and I have my own welding gear which I can use to fix the boxes/rack when it breaks. The pannier boxes are quite light, and easily fixed by the amateur welder (unlike Aluminium). I have tested them on tarmac - but have yet to try them out in tough conditions. I'm glad I did the DIY option as it is MUCH cheaper and a satisfying experience. I'm thinking about making a top box & rack now...

Roger - can you send me your pictures?

Fuzzy Duck

[This message has been edited by Fuzzy Duck (edited 28 December 2001).]
Fuzzy Duck
(I\'m quackers about bikes)
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Old 26 Dec 2001
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Join Date: Nov 2001
Location: Cairo, Egypt
Posts: 456
Where did you find the hardware for the boxes? (hinges, locks, etc..)

If you guys can post pictures it would be great.


OasisPhoto.com – Images from the Magical Sahara.
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Old 27 Dec 2001
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Join Date: Dec 1997
Location: Vancouver BC Canada
Posts: 4,567
Send me lots of pics with GOOD captions and I'll post them on a DIY page.

Note that most of the aftermarket panniers are 2mm thick. Mine are 1/16" which is about 1.5mm, but they are supported and protected by an iron bracket, which I like better personally, but then I would say that wouldn't I? See the pics of my setup at: http://www.horizonsunlimited.com/johnson/OurBike.shtml

The advantage of the iron frame of course is that it is very tough and difficult to bend, especially with the boxes inside. I've seen a lot of bent and mangled alloy boxes.

The negative of the steel frame is that you need to design it to be easily removeable as well, adding complexity.

I think the top box should be no heavier than 1.5mm.

I also like to see the lids made so that if things are a little mangled they will still work adequately, which a lot of aftermarket bags with nice fancy seals won't do. Simple simple simple.

Get hardware at the yacht chandlers for the best, or any hardware store on a budget.

Grant Johnson

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at: www.HorizonsUnlimited.com
Grant Johnson

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Old 30 Dec 2001
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Location: Volda, Norway, lost in Lithuania
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Here in Lithuania I got a couple of Russian gasoline tanks from the junkyard. I used my hacksaw to slice the top which then became the lid. Hinges from the local hardware store. Total cost: seventyfive US cents.

It gets many approving looks, and about one hundred smiles a gallon, and it is very strong. If there is any interest, I'll put some photos on my site, although I doubt if the solution is a viable one in the context of this thread. I'm riding a Russian K-750 with sidecar and sidevalves


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Old 17 Mar 2003
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Location: Volda, Norway, lost in Lithuania
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- just a note
That converted gastank made it to Norway, still on the K-750
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