Not long after I got home from work last Thursday, the Brown Santa arrived with two boxes from Happy Trail. I ordered the kit on 21 April and it arrived on 01 May. Thanks HT for the quick delivery!
I immediately emptied the boxes to see if there was any damage (none), and to see what exactly was included. I ordered the SU rack, tail rack, and 7.5Ē Teton panniers. The whole setup for my Wee...
The parts were well made: nice welds, the SS hardware (at least most of it is SS) looked to be good quality, and the rack powdercoating was flawless. I took a quick look at the instructions, and became mildly annoyed. Photocopied pages, and fuzzy/blurry ones at that. The pictures were basically unusable. Also, at least some of the pictures in the instructions are from the older style rack. Made me panic a bit, thinking the wrong racks were delivered to me! No worries, Iíll sort it out. Time to dig in. Youíll need the following tools at a minimum:
- 4 mm hex wrench or socket
- 6 mm hex wrench or socket
- 10 / 11 / 12 mm wrenches or sockets
- Loctite...I used blue (Med strength)
- Ziploc baggies
- 5/16Ē drill bit, plus a smaller bit for a pilot hole
- countersink / deburring bit
- centerstand, or some way to support the bike vertically or nearly so ( I used a brick under the side stand)
The first step is to pull the factory rack off the bike. Take off the seat, and put a 10mm socket on the four bolts. Easy. I put the rack bolts in a ziplock baggie, and put them and the rack off to the side.
The next step is to remove the back exhaust holder bolt. A 12mm socket on an extension made quick work of that. Farther along, the instructions say that a notch must be cut into the exhaust shield, or to remove it completely. I chose the latter. I figure that the pipe will be somewhat hidden by the rack, and Iíd rather not cut in to the stock shield. Two screws hold the shield in place. A 4mm T-handle hex wrench made removing the shield painless. I baggied the screws and set the shield aside with the rack.
Next, the instructions say to build up the tail rack. Doesnít look too tough, but the drawings in the instructions were impossible to read, so I just figured out what goes where. Itís easy enough, but at this stage, Iím only mocking it up, so nothing will get tightened down fully just yet. On the bottom of the plate, attach the two right angle brackets with 8x20mm bolts and washers. The rack arms are bolted to the angle brackets, then to the rack.
Before mounting up the left side rack, you need to remove two screws: one in the rear fender, and the bolt at the back mounting point of the passenger foot peg. Use a 4mm and 6mm T-handled hex wrench respectively. It takes a little muscle to break the threadlocker used. Time to mock up the left rack. On first glance, it seems as though the mounting point at the rear fender is off a bit. Hopefully, I can muscle it in to place, but it kinda torques me that itís off. Iíve read other reports on ADVRider that this particular mount point is off too. Using some muscle seems to work OK to get it in place...be careful that you donít scratch your side covers!
Right side foot peg:
Left side foot peg:
Once the left side is on, I moved on to the right side. At this point, I needed to remove the bolt to the back mounting point of the passenger foot peg...Iíve already removed the exhaust bolts. The mounting points seem to be better on this side. On the 650, youíll need to use the included Ĺ inch spacer at the exhaust mount point only...the 1000 uses spacers on both sides. The right side rack is bolted at the top side cover (where the factory rack is bolted), the exhaust bolt, and rear foot peg mount.
The tail rack mounts to the back using two bolts and what they call ďstand offsĒ, along with bolts on arms that go from the tail rack plate to the racks. The standoffs are powdercoated spacers that go between the plate and mounting holes where the factory rack was installed. The arms are different shaped and lengths. The longer of the two will be installed on the exhaust side, where the exhaust holder bolt was. The left side is mounted to a boss on the left rack.
Left side arm:
At this point, the rack is installed, but I havenít tightened anything, nor have I used the Loctite. So, one bolt at a time, I unbolted the rack and used a dab of Loctite on the bolts. I didnít use the Loctite on any of the nylon nuts. On to the panniers.
Note: Happy Trail offers pre-drilled panniers for around $40 or so. Unless you have a specific way you want to mount them, pay the extra money and let them do the work! I stressed over each hole that I drilled, and even after measuring each hole several times, I still made mistakes. More on that later. Iím also intentionally not going to post measurements for the holes I used. There may be variances in the racks (though there shouldnít be), and I donít want someone to drill their cans wrong. Measure once, measure twice, measure a third time, and if youíre 110 % sure the measurements are correct, drill with confidence.
The first thing I did was to use painters tape to hold the pucks in place so I could plan out where Iíd drill the holes.
You want to mount the lower pucks as tight to the rack sides as you can. This will help eliminate rattles, and shifting of the cans under load. The top pucks arenít quite as critical as the bottoms, as long as they hold on to the cans. This helped out a lot in visualizing approximately where Iíd drill the holes. I then started measuring the pucks and transferring the measurements to the can. I tried using a pencil on the aluminum (my cans are not powdercoated), but it doesnít take much to remove the pencil marks. Iíve seen guys use a sharpie, and that would be much better, if you donít mind the sharpie marks. I used more painters tape for the measurements:
Squeaker wanted to help out:
Once I thought I was OK with the measurements, I used a rubber mallet and awl to mark where I would drill. I used an 11/16Ē bit for the pilot hole, then the 5/16Ē.
Hereís where I screwed up in drilling the holes. Iím not sure what I was thinking, but I measured the bottom holes wrong. They were about two inches too low. I still donít know how I measured several times, drilled the holes, and did it wrong. So, I now have two extra holes in the right can. Iíll use a bolt and acorn nut to fill it. Itís not really noticeable, but I know they are there, and it will bug me.
After hanging the can, I measured out the holes for the top pucks (accurately this time), and drilled the holes. I mounted the pucks to the top, and hung the can on the rack. Looks good!
Repeat the process for the other can and if all goes well, youíll be finished. If I was smart, I would have put the cans back to back and just drawn circles through the drilled holes to the undrilled can, but instead, I measured everything and drilled. The finished product:
- The supplied washers are not SS, but just regular plated flat washers. Iím replacing mine with stainless.
- Iíll put some high temp silicone in the captive bolts used by the exhaust shield so the threads donít rust.
- Get the cans pre-drilled if you can live with the ďneutral mounting positionĒ...Iím not even sure what that means, nor did I ask.
- The supplied bolt for the left side rear fender is a 6x25mm. This didnít work for my rack since the mounting boss is about an inch / 25mm thick. I bought a 6x40mm bolt from The Man Store (Home Depot) to use until I can get a 6x40 hex head bolt.
- I also bought some neoprene washers for the top puck mounts. These mounts use a knob inside the can to tighten the can to the rack. I think they are 1 5/16Ē in diameter. I may unbolt the bottom pucks and put some silicone in the holes just to seal them up a little better.
- If you donít have a centerstand like me, be very careful when your bike is propped up! I almost knocked it over several times.
- Be careful too when moving the racks around your body work. I managed to put one little scratch in the left side cover. Not really noticeable, but I know itís there, and it bugs me.
- I talked to HT about the instructions. They are working on new instructions, with video. Jason was nice enough to send me pdf files for each of the pages. I was able to enlarge and print them on legal size paper, which helped out a lot.