How to build motorbike panniers?

Discussion in 'Parcel Racks, Panniers, Luggage & Seats' started by Earthrider, Jan 27, 2004.

  1. Earthrider

    Earthrider New Member

    Alright, I am running into some difficulty here. I consulted my KLR Egroup in search of someone with personal experience on building homemade panniers. Nobody has come forward with any info. So I have stimbled across this group and I am still hoping to find someone with info, suggestions, anything other than "don't do it man, just buy a set." First and foremost, I cannot afford to buy panniers this season. Second, I have friends willing to commit their time and knowledge to the project. I have three welders (both mig and tig), one pipe bender and one jack of all trades MacGyver fella. I also have affordable sources for steel, aluminum, etc. I would also like to build a topcase. Oh yes, I need room enough for myself, my girlfriend and all of our camping gear. Hey, if Punky and Lew and Achi can do can I. As a side note, I am a motorcycle instructor with 21 years dual sport riding experience. Anyone out there who HAS completed aluminum luggage projects in the past, please drop me a line and help steer me in the right direction. Thank You for your time
  2. tynda

    tynda New Member

    There are about 20 German manufacturers of panniers. The cheapest, about 85 euros, which are the ones we use as we keep the set with our overseas motos, three, not bringing them back to the US with us. I like these cheap panniers because, the are also the lightness, which is important going off road. I think they are about $150.00 in the US, if you can get them. I know a source in Germany.

    So price is important to us. Also important weight and, again price. Jeese and tourtech are, I am sure, nice panniers, as I have seen them. But not worth the money unless you are rich. I have seen people build their own, which are very nice, but these are usually heavy.

    But the most important item is attachment. I have four BMW, GS, R100. I simply attached this panniers to the existing frame setup, but they have to me reinforced in special places, which I learned the hard way. This is also important if you want to take them off quickly to go on some special off road route and return to the same place.

    Your bike, I know nothing of. If you want to get panniers you can get them from Knopf in Germany.
  3. Ged

    Ged New Member

    I have no specific blueprints but will at least suggest that the mounting set-up will be critical....i would encourage you to study existing pannier mounts so you don't need to redesign it all. Dual-sporting will put stresses on the panniers that paved touring never will, so application is crucial....weight is the other....the bigger they are the more you will stuff into cases are disasters in unpaved riding due to poor weight distributions and the leverage effect on subframes.....good for the wife's pillow or stuffed while parked....but torture on washboard roads and the like....

    I like the Jesse system over Tourtech (Zega)as they hold as much (if not more) and are narrower....look at Bernd Tesch (sp?) bags as they are well thought out.....

    Judging By Lew's stories, his engineering principles and judgements are questionable....I would find another role model... for adventure touring specs....

    I prefer aluminum over ABS plastics for some reasons for the cases....but plastics are much lighter.....and surprisingly durable in my experience....fabric bags are the least expensive and have some merit, depending on amount of use they get.....not a bad idea for infrequent use.....

    I have not made my own panniers as I do not have those suggestions are based on using several different styles of panniers over the years (softbags, expandable soft/hard bags, BMW cases, and Jesse)...
  4. Terry

    Terry New Member

    I don't know how much help I can be, but I could send you an e-photo of the racks I made for my KLR. My racks are currently used for GIVI's but I suppose they could be used for aluminum cases as well. Let me know.
  5. RussC

    RussC New Member

    You are most likley to be like myself in that, what is on the market is over priced and underbuilt. When I startrd on mine I did a copy of the Berndt Tesch rack and made it to fit my Transalp , I also made it to fit the pelican cases ( the 1550's) that I was going to use. I would have made aluminum boxes but didnt have anyone that could weld them.

    I bounced them across New Brunswick , Quebec and Labrador and nothing broke or leaked. and they were loaded heavy, which also kept the weight low, do your research, watch your frame stresses, use the best material you can afford , and build away.....
  6. KenM

    KenM New Member

    I had some made by a local welder to my specs... 1/8" sheet aluminum in a size of 8" wide, 16" high, 16" long, with a shoebox lid that uses one barrel lock to keep it closed. He did the whole job for $ 400 CDN. plus $ 20 for the locks Great work too !

    The tricky part was making the racks to fit the bike. I had an Industrial Hydraulics shop bend up a rectangular ring of 5/8" thick wall tubing the same size as the BMW pannier mounts, along with 4 pieces of the same tube with a 45 degree bend in the middle & another 4 with a 90 degree bend in the middle of a length about 15" long. About $ 150 for the rack tubing.I got hold of a Mig welder & started measuring & cutting to fit everything together. It took a bit of playing , but I managed to get eveything aligned, using wire, lumber & tape to hold everything in place before tacking up. If you can wait a day or 2, I can post some pix to the "Photos" Section on this group. I'll supply all the measurements as well. Mine are on a 95 Triumph Tiger, but you should be able to set this up for any bike if you can do a little 3D visualization

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