DIY Motorcycle Panniers

Saturday 24 June 2017 at 9:47 pm

I wanted a little extra carrying capacity on my bike (a Yamaha TDM850) so have been looking at panniers.  I hate the look of topboxes as they spoil the look of a bike, and I wanted a small, light set of cases that didn't add width to the bike.  All the options to buy are too big, too heavy, too expensive, and really difficult to find - it is after all a 21-year old bike.  So the DIY option was the only way.

These needed to be small, fairly narrow, and light.  I originally looked at army surplus ammunition boxes, but they're metal and heavy.  I stumbled upon these Plano field boxes in an eBay search which suited the project perfectly. Plano Mouldings.  They're about the same size as an A4 piece of paper. Not massive capacity, but just the job for me.  Waterproof seal, lockable (with a padlock), with carrying handles.  Lovely.

Now to mount them on the bike.  Other similar projects use welded frames out of tube or box section, but my welding isn't up to much, and these cases are light enough not to need it.  So the project was made with 2mm strip steel, threaded bar, flush mirror mounts and a load of nuts and shakeproof washers.

I made drop brackets at front and rear - front: used a longer undertray bolt to add an L-bracket; rear: metal strip sandwiched between chassis and subframe, picking up the existing bolt to secure.  Threaded bar across, protected from the elements with some heatshrink tubing.  

The frame has a top bar, onto which the mount plates are riveted, and a diagonal strut which picks up the exhaust/footrest hanger.  The cases have the corresponding mount plates riveted on with another strip of steel for strength, plus a through bolt attaching to the diagonal by a wingnut so the whole lot doesn't fall off.  After a few weeks of testing in the field I've replaced the rivets with proper screws & Nyloc nuts, and given the boxes a coat of silver paint with black accents for that fake Touratech look (and fake sticker) - see last pic.

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