Saturday, August 9, 2014

Mounting Holan panniers to our Triumph and Yamaha

Don't look at the scratches and rust, they are simply proof of 50,000 km of hard use
Make sure this mounting bracket is as strong as this
(5x50 mm) as it prevents the frame from flexing.
Curve it to the shape of the hoop and drill holes for
the locating pins of the footrest
Over the past months I've had quite a few people ask me for photos of the pannier racks I made for our Triumph Bonneville, as there aren't any decent ones on the market as far as I'm aware. So I thought I make a post of it. Holan does make a rack for the Yamaha, and as Holan's quality is by now well known we fitted that to the XT. Still, Mike wanted a top case as well and we thus made a separate rack for that. Why a separate rack? Because Holan's rack for the side panniers comes perfectly powder coated and I didn't want to weld to that and destroy the paint! My home made racks on the Bonneville show some rust, the result of 50,000 km and being outside for two years.

The Bonneville 
The hard bit of any pannier rack is the hoop to which you mount the panniers. They have to be perfect in shape and curve to work with the mounting kit. Luckily Holan Nomada provides those hoops on request and for a very reasonable price too. The only thing left to do then is make the connections between hoop and motorcycle. How hard can it be?

Our pannier frame is welded to the Ventura rear rack,
if you don't need a rear rack then mount straight
from the Holan hoop to the same mounting points
For a classic twin shock like the T100, or  even it's brother the Scrambler, not at all. I wanted my panniers mounted as far forward as possible as Bonnies are sensitive to too much weight too far to the rear. Just look at the position of the rear axle in relation to the pannier to see what I mean. As I ride solo anyway I offered the pillion position to the panniers. I can still take a passenger in an emergency as the pillion footrests are still there, but it won't be a comfortable trip. It's a choice I've made and it works fine for me. I've worked on the principle that triangular shapes are strong as that is what bridges are made up from. If I would have to make a pannier rack by itself then the 3 mounting points would be from the top of the shock absorber, the footrest and at the rear under the seat. In our case we also wanted to keep our Ventura racks and thus welded to that and made the mounting point to the footrest.

Rear mounting point under the seat
Most adventure bikes also have a bar running between the two panniers. With a Bonneville that isn't possible, but also not necessary. As the panniers can be mounted much closer to the frame, there isn't as much flex in it for starters and using a 5 mm thick and 50 mm wide strip as a footrest mount takes care of any flex that is left. As is often the case when building something, they key is in measuring both before you start and continuously as you go along. Measure twice cut once. Once everything is ready, tack-weld first and check again.

I placed the Bonnie on it's centre stand and clamped everything using hose clamps. That way I could move and shift until all was exactly where I wanted it to be. Measure everything and on both sides to ensure the panniers are mounted at the same height. Make sure the bike is packed in old cloths before you do any welding and disconnect the battery. I made it a rule to only tack-weld while the rack-to-be was mounted on the bike and remove it before welding through.

Mounting the pillion footrests was a little tricky as they have locating pins. Drilling the holes in exactly the right place in the bracket meant mounting first and careful marking before removing it all and drill the holes.

Fitting the panniers to the rack is easy. I've done 6 so far and find the easiest way is to measure one bottom mounting point and drill the holes to mount it. Then hold the pannier in place and mark the second point. That way you can correct small differences in the frames. Both my racks for the Bonneville have a 2 mm difference between left and right that I corrected that way. Once both bottom mounting points are in place on both panniers, mount them to the frame using a strap as top mounting. That way you can measure again if everything is where it should be. If so, mark the two top mounts, if not correct one of the bottom mounts until both panniers match.

The Yamaha
Like I wrote, Holan makes a perfect rack for the Yamaha and for a very reasonable price, so why bother? The rack comes powder coated and mounts to two mounting points on the subframe where the handrail used to be and to the pillion footrest bracket. Good choice. It's a complicated rack to make as there aren't many mounting points and there is a lot of flex in the Yamaha's subframe. As Mike wanted a top box as well I made a separate frame for that, from the same mounting points as where the Holan rack mounts to. It runs over the Holan rack as two half-frames that come together at the top case mounting plate. Just behind the seat of the Yamaha is a steel bar that runs across under the plastic cowl, to which I made a mounting as well (making it 5 mounting points in total).