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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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  #1  
Old 1 Jun 2008
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How to Mount Fuel Canisters to Bike?

Hello,
I'm preparing for a trip to Alaska and I've got two of the Kolpin 1.5 gal Jr fuel canisters and need some help in deciding how to mount the canisters to my DR650.

The issues I'm dealing with:
- center of gravity of the bike with fuel canisters mounted and filled
- crash outcome (what would happen in different crash scenarios with the fuel, plastic containers being damaged and leaking)
- rider comfort (fuel canisters causing discomfort)

I'm always planning for the worst-case scenario and this being fuel is more of a concern. I'm also planning for the long haul. Planning to do Central and South America next year and hopefully Africa and RTW at some point. So, everything I'm doing to the bike, it's with all this in mind.

The easiest solution seems to be mounting them to the rear of the panniers, but that would add so much weight hanging off the rear and I think the frame (bike and luggage rack) would be over-stressed.

I didn't think about mounting them to the front of the panniers until I saw this picture of Herbert on his Africa trip and I've taken pictures below of how that would look on my bike.
Quote:
This is pretty much what Herbert and Ramona used on their Africa trip.
I'm most in favor of mounting them under the panniers as they're out of sight and out of the way. Crashing (low-siding on dry asphalt) with under pannier mounted canisters seems to be the biggest issue. I've contacted a few riders who have the canisters mounted on the bottom and they say handling is greatly improved and they've just acknowledged the fact that if they crash on dry asphalt, it could get ugly (one of them crashed on wet asphalt and had no issues and the other crashed on a dirt track with no issues too).

But this 1.5 Gal Kolpin tank seems a bit big for the pannier (canister is 12"x12" and pannier is 9" wide) and if it's mounted at the front or the rear, seems like it would be the first part of the bike to touch during a drop and slide causing it to be a problem regardless of how it's mounted.

Right now this is my ranking of how I'd like them mounted:
1 - under pannier
2 - in front of pannier
3 - rear of pannier
4 - mounted on rear of top box

Mounting them on the top box (still to arrive) looks like the safest option regarding the canisters being damaged in a crash, but that would add so much extra weight to the top box, which I'm trying to keep as light as possible as I've read and heard that top racks have failed quite often out on the road being overloaded.


Canister in front of pannier


Canister on bottom of pannier


Rear view of bottom mounted and Zoey







Regarding how much clearance I have - it's not that bad. I was touching the canisters while I was rolling the bike back but it didn't hinder too much. It did block easy access to the kick stand on the other side, but it's still possible to bring the stand down.

So what do you guys think? If the canister is mounted on the side panniers (in any orientation), it's going to be the first thing to touch the ground during a drop and possibly be compromised and leak. So, I think I'm going for the under pannier mount.

Also, I'm thinking that I'll only probably put fuel in the canisters when I'm taking on some deserted stretches of road (Prudhoe Bay, Tierra del Fuego, etc), and those kind of roads would probably not be paved so crashing on them with fuel mounted on the bottom might not be an issue...
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  #2  
Old 1 Jun 2008
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why not make a rack so you can tie them to the side of the existing gastank?

not a very good picture, but the yellow veggy oil cans you see on the sides of the bike are my spares (little used though, but that is another discussion)

a guy in ecuador made up the racks in half a day and it is nothing fancy. on the plus side this solution also protects fanrelay and other voulnerable stuff under the tank.

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  #3  
Old 1 Jun 2008
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Just for heavens sake don't leave Zoey straped there.....
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  #4  
Old 1 Jun 2008
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As funny as it see people riding around with there gear straped down like that dont do it you did say mounting so I hope you use the mounting system. Cabela's -- Kolpin ATV Fuel and Water PacksHere is another idea Kimpex Atv Gas Can Carrier, Atv, Kimpex at Sportsman's Guide
or
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Old 2 Jun 2008
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whats wrong with straps? Cheaper, lighter, easier to fix than 'proper' racks... plus it makes you look more approachable/less worth robbing! My personal fav for carrying extra fuel is old plastic bottles and duck tape
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  #6  
Old 2 Jun 2008
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I cant see that strap holding a that much gas the way its sitting there any length of time. You want better way and still on the cheap and looks it. ok get an old milk crate and some nuts and bolts and if your keen a old Aluminum yard stick (cheaper than raw aluminum for some reason). Bolt threw the crate to the rear rack using chunks of the yard stick on both sides (heps spread the force of the bolds and holds the mess together) get a small gas can at a gas station toss it out in the sun and rain to weather a bit month or so will do. get out some paint and spray paint hit it hear and there drip a bit of paint on it. Toss it out another month and presto you look the part. Drop something at the bottom of the crate so the bolt heads dont rub in to the gas can, plastic sheets old 3 ring binder stuff to the inside of the crate and a tarp on top and you have a grate way to hold things did this on a old bike I had worked grate till some one stoll all my stuff in it.
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  #7  
Old 2 Jun 2008
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I've been thinking about the same thing....

Agreed, under the panniers looks like the easiest option, but in a crash on dry tarmac, it'll be right next to the panniers and there's gotta be sparks....so not convinced!!

With the front of the panniers, could there be issues getting your legs trapped under them and trying to bend things that aren't meant to...ie. your shins?

I like behind the panniers the best - i know its going to add weight to the back and extra stresses, but how much off a difference will there be? I think 1.5 gallons is around 7.5 litres, so 15 litres all up, guess that is around 15kg.....thats not that much in the grand scheme of things, and relatively low centre of gravity. Surely it can't make too much difference?

J
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Old 2 Jun 2008
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I also want to add some extra fluid storage. I think your panniers are the 9" Happy Trails like mine? I am thinking along the lines of getting a local TIG welder make me me two small racks to bolt to the rear of the panniers. Then make two small cans of approx 10l each which can slide in these small racks, they can then be locked in with padlocks etc. One with water, near the exhaust on my DL650 and one with fuel on the other side. Water is 10kg, fuel will be around 6.5kg. It still adds weight behind the axle, so that is a worry, but they do not have to be full all the time.

Cheers
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  #9  
Old 2 Jun 2008
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Another option is to wait til later in the trip...
You see, you'll get guys en brousse who can fabricate things beyond our collective imagination...cheaper and better!

Racks being fabricated in Bamako...$20 inlcluding papaya.
cutting_crashbars.jpg

Racks in Vladivostok...
dscn8559.jpg

Also be warned...if you get too fancy, it'll cost you at the borders...
The two KTM guys above spent 2-3 weeks in Vlad just trying to ship their bikes out... $100/per person per night can add up!
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  #10  
Old 2 Jun 2008
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Canisters are a mess.
I used to store my full canisters in front of the alu-boxes (resting on the rear pegs and secured with straps). As fast as possible I emptied them into the tank and moved them to the rear of the boxes.
IMHO it’s not a good solution but it worked for me. In two different occasions I have experienced that full tanks broke, once in a crash and one was punctured by thorns. That’s not nice because you carry the petrol for a reason…

I think the best way to go is to have a large tank or maybe mount some kind of rear tank (like the rally-guys).


Canister in front of box:
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  #11  
Old 2 Jun 2008
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AliBaba View Post
Canisters are a mess.
I used to store my full canisters in front of the alu-boxes (resting on the rear pegs and secured with straps). As fast as possible I emptied them into the tank and moved them to the rear of the boxes.
IMHO it’s not a good solution but it worked for me. In two different occasions I have experienced that full tanks broke, once in a crash and one was punctured by thorns. That’s not nice because you carry the petrol for a reason…

I think the best way to go is to have a large tank or maybe mount some kind of rear tank (like the rally-guys).


Canister in front of box:
The cans are in my case a useful pointer that make me think. I have one 10 litre on the outside of the chair and can carry another 4 inside. 66 litres gives me a range of 650 miles. I use this range on average every 5 years! Normally the 140 mile tank range does the trick.

My F650 had an Acerbis tank and could do 400 miles. The thing was, I used to fill it. Every day I'd ride to work with an average range available that was 190 miles longer than I needed. I was paying to lug the stuff about and also got lazy to the point that I'd ride 375 miles then look for fuel. I almost ended up walking where as having emptied your stove and last can into the bike I do tend to fill up ASAP.

IMHO cost to function wise, the jerry cans in a rack work best unless you are repeatedly crossing the desert. Once you hit the black stuff, stop filling or even give away the cans. This takes away the high speed crash risk in a lot of cases.

I'd mount the cans on the engine bar style rack, but that's only my preference.

Andy
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  #12  
Old 2 Jun 2008
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Quote:
Originally Posted by peter-denmark View Post
why not make a rack so you can tie them to the side of the existing gastank?
That sounds like a very good idea. Moving the weight forward, but I guess time is not on my side this time. I'm leaving in 10 days for Alaska.

Quote:
Originally Posted by stevesawol View Post
Just for heavens sake don't leave Zoey straped there.....
Haha, yeah, wish I could take her along. Maybe a sidecar when I'm older for a doggie companion...

Quote:
Originally Posted by DLbiten View Post
As funny as it see people riding around with there gear straped down like that dont do it you did say mounting so I hope you use the mounting system.
Yeah, I was just using the straps to see how the cans would fit on the bike. I have the mounts from Kolpin. Someone else asked me that too.
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  #13  
Old 2 Jun 2008
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Quote:
Originally Posted by J1mbo View Post
I've been thinking about the same thing....

Agreed, under the panniers looks like the easiest option, but in a crash on dry tarmac, it'll be right next to the panniers and there's gotta be sparks....so not convinced!!

With the front of the panniers, could there be issues getting your legs trapped under them and trying to bend things that aren't meant to...ie. your shins?

I like behind the panniers the best - i know its going to add weight to the back and extra stresses, but how much off a difference will there be? I think 1.5 gallons is around 7.5 litres, so 15 litres all up, guess that is around 15kg.....thats not that much in the grand scheme of things, and relatively low centre of gravity. Surely it can't make too much difference?

J
Yeah, for in front of panniers, seems like if you're riding through rough conditions and put a leg down and the road catches your leg, it could hurt very easily with not much maneuvering room. I'll scratch in front of panniers and yeah, under just seems too risky and since most of our riding is on pavement (70% on, 30% off in most cases), crashing on dry pavement has to be considered.

So, sounds like rear of panniers is the best (safest) option and will just take the weight penalty and monitor the sub-frame to see if it's being over stressed.

But this particular canister is still going to protrude from the pannier, so I think I might make a lightweight aluminum shield to help the canister slide in the event of a crash and not wear through the plastic container.

Quote:
Originally Posted by TravellingStrom View Post
I also want to add some extra fluid storage. I think your panniers are the 9" Happy Trails like mine? I am thinking along the lines of getting a local TIG welder make me me two small racks to bolt to the rear of the panniers. Then make two small cans of approx 10l each which can slide in these small racks, they can then be locked in with padlocks etc. One with water, near the exhaust on my DL650 and one with fuel on the other side. Water is 10kg, fuel will be around 6.5kg. It still adds weight behind the axle, so that is a worry, but they do not have to be full all the time.

Cheers
TravellingStrom
Yup, mine are the 9" panniers. A rack sounds like a good idea, regarding safety during a crash, but as you said, weight behind the axle...

Quote:
Originally Posted by AliBaba View Post
Canisters are a mess.
I used to store my full canisters in front of the alu-boxes (resting on the rear pegs and secured with straps). As fast as possible I emptied them into the tank and moved them to the rear of the boxes.
IMHO it’s not a good solution but it worked for me. In two different occasions I have experienced that full tanks broke, once in a crash and one was punctured by thorns. That’s not nice because you carry the petrol for a reason…

I think the best way to go is to have a large tank or maybe mount some kind of rear tank (like the rally-guys).
Yeah, sounds like bigger tank is just the simpler way to go, but it just costs way too much. Being in the US, the Aqualine Safari 9 gal tank is like $550 from Australia. If it was $300, I'd take it.
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Old 2 Jun 2008
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I know it'd be hard to work out, but I would have thought if there's any risk of snagging and you're mainly on-road it might be worthwhile making them "snap" off, in the event of a crash. After all much better that you leave them a bit down the road than you slide along with them still attached and abrading through.
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Old 2 Jun 2008
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MotoEdde View Post
Another option is to wait til later in the trip...
You see, you'll get guys en brousse who can fabricate things beyond our collective imagination...cheaper and better!

Racks being fabricated in Bamako...$20 inlcluding papaya.
cutting_crashbars.jpg

Racks in Vladivostok...
dscn8559.jpg

Also be warned...if you get too fancy, it'll cost you at the borders...
The two KTM guys above spent 2-3 weeks in Vlad just trying to ship their bikes out... $100/per person per night can add up!
Oh yeah, I know on-the-road fabricating is pretty good and cheap, but sounds like it'll be a few years before I'm out on the road proper.

What do you mean by your comment about not getting too fancy cause it could affect customs? Could you elaborate.

I'm all about not standing out as much as possible, but I know having 2 honking red fuel canisters would attract attention or at least let the locals know here's a guy going a long distance and he's probably got lots of cash on him... (damnit, need to look poorer )
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