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Discussion Starter #1
First time posting, so some background first: I rode motocross for a couple of years before a scare put me off. My dad bought a VStrom in 2009 that I have stolen from him as he's moved to an R1200GS. I'm an engineer that loves tinkering and designing, hence the following questions.

I have a 2004 DL650 with Givi Monokey E21 saddlebags. I don't like the look and the volume is pretty limited, so I was looking at the Tusk Panniers for my DL650 and realized there was no good way of mounting them in a way that was a proper quick-release. It all involved tools from the inside. I started figuring out a quick-release mount for the Tusks when I realized the Tusks were not much more than bent and welded sheet metal. Where I work does nothing BUT metal work, including bent&welded sheet metal, including heavy-duty priming and painting. I started designing some fully-custom metal panniers (including quick release mounts for the Monokey racks) and am just about ready to start cutting and folding...but I had some questions.

I've done searches and haven't found anything, so I'll ask here. Has anybody built their own fully-custom hard panniers? Has anyone come up with a properly clever quick-release method for something like the Tusk panniers? I can't imagine I'm alone.
 

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I didn't design from the ground up but mounting any box on an existing frame has the same concerns. By bending some flat strap I made hangers that supports the box on the lower frame rail. The top can be disconnected with a threaded knob or a clevis pin. I did both to one side to see which I preferred and I prefer leaving the bags on the bike so I don't mess with it.
 

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My friend a street rod builder as a hobby.He is the smaller guy under the bike.He has made a good nuber of the boxes like the ones on this 1000 on ourAlaska trip.He starts with a full sheet of aluminum,cuts ,puts aides in brake to bend to what he wants and welds up at needed places.Lids on most he puts a latch on each end a reck on top.They use them to hold stuff at camp sites when no tables in the lots of no real camp grounds we are at.My friend that like me has a 2011 We went for hing on one end as we doint like idea of a fall off in road if you for get to latch one or both ends.Most paint them like this one but some of us leave them natural and spray clear over that.Mine are five years old now and bike has 56,000.Boxes are fine.One set has been to Alaska three times and no repairs and still no leaks.
 

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Here are the tops being used while at camp.In the back ground on the white wee is another set he made in natural finish.How wide and deep is all marked out before he starts.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Awesome! Y'all are making me thinking that this is totally realistic.

My current plan, I think, is 14ga steel. Total weight of about 20lbs per box. Splurging for Alu would be about half that weight but I can get steel drops for free at work.....so I'm leaning towards steel. I've got the look I want but I'm still not sure what lid-style I want for the top case. My plan is quick-mounts on the side cases and permanently mounting the topcase. However, my current plan for the lid for the side cases is fine but not as convenient as I want for a topcase. I've gotten spoiled with my dad's topcase as being storage for things I need quick access to: drinks, wallet, etc.

I can post some renderings of the first attempt if anybody here is interested.
 

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Yah, but there are a few plastic boxes out there, like Sea Horse, that are ready to mount and work pretty well on the cheap...comparatively.
But if building your own is a factor, build away!
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Actually, I know it's not what you meant, but it's a pretty good idea to go with a Pelican-style case for the top case. That'd solve a lot of my issues with my current topcase design.

Now I'm looking for pictures of bikes with a combination of Alu sidecases and plastic topcases.
 

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if it is photos you are seeking, head over to the Iron Butt Rally page at Iron Butt Association - "Worlds Toughest Riders". Scroll down and click on the photo link on the right column. The IBR just started Monday morning with 107 bikes (I think) and beginning about page 4 of the photos they snapped a shot of each bike under way. You'll see their set ups and gather many ideas. Yeah, OK, no V-Stroms photographed but loads of good ideas.
 

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Lots of options but, for what it's worth, Givi racks will allow a number of different cases to be mounted with no modifications. Any Monokey case should fit the racks you have already. They are lightweight, waterproof and readily available on the used market (except for the long-running favorite 36 liter...those suckers are harder to find than weed at a border crossing!)
The weight is definitely something to think about as steel will reduce your comfortable carry loads....I still use my 22L cruiser Givi's and they weigh in at 10 pounds--loaded!
YMMV
 
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" Total weight of about 20lbs per box"

The MCM plastic boxes weigh in at 12.5 lbs according to their page. Multicomp 22" Black Tactical Weatherproof Equipment Case | 22-24120 (2224120) | Multicomp
Probably comparable to most of the plastic side cases used.
Why you want to add more in the use of steel construction is counter intuitive. All the talk about making the bike lighter and then off set it with heavy panniers makes no sense, at least to me.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
" Total weight of about 20lbs per box"

The MCM plastic boxes weigh in at 12.5 lbs according to their page. Probably comparable to most of the plastic side cases used.
Why you want to add more in the use of steel construction is counter intuitive. All the talk about making the bike lighter and then off set it with heavy panniers makes no sense, at least to me.
I know the steel is heavy, which is the problem with it. The benefit is that the base material would be free. I could build both sidecases, waterproofed, quick-release mounts, handles, all SS hardware, and have them blasted, primed, and painted for less than the cost of one of those MCM plastic boxes sans mounting hardware. If I pay up for Alu (which I may do for a v2 if these work well or have some issues I know I can fix), it'd still cost less per case than the MCM plastic boxes....and they'd be ~10lbs each, less than the MCM plastic boxes. Also, I'm not one pushing to make the bike lighter. Weight savings are great but aren't important to me.

Most importantly: My wife and I like the look of metal better (and isn't looking good what this is all about?)
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Lots of options but, for what it's worth, Givi racks will allow a number of different cases to be mounted with no modifications. Any Monokey case should fit the racks you have already. They are lightweight, waterproof and readily available on the used market (except for the long-running favorite 36 liter...those suckers are harder to find than weed at a border crossing!)
The weight is definitely something to think about as steel will reduce your comfortable carry loads....I still use my 22L cruiser Givi's and they weigh in at 10 pounds--loaded!
YMMV
I've looked around, and the 36L cases are the ones I like that fit the Monokey racks. They're super expensive new and hens-teeth rare used (like you alluded to). Also, they're not quick-release (as far as I can tell) and are meant to be used with liners...something I'm trying to avoid.

I've looked but haven't found any non-Givi cases compatible with the Monokey system (not that I'd expect there to be). Unfortunately, my favorite Givi panniers (by looks alone, of course) are the Trekker Dolomiti 37L cases but they're a) crazy expensive and b) only compatible with the Cam-style racks.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
if it is photos you are seeking, head over to the Iron Butt Rally page at Iron Butt Association - "Worlds Toughest Riders". Scroll down and click on the photo link on the right column. The IBR just started Monday morning with 107 bikes (I think) and beginning about page 4 of the photos they snapped a shot of each bike under way. You'll see their set ups and gather many ideas. Yeah, OK, no V-Stroms photographed but loads of good ideas.
Thanks for the link. I found some pictures of what I was looking for on Google and even more on the link you provided. I think 2xMetal cases and a Pelican-style plastic case on top looks pretty good and solves a lot of my design dilemmas. My sidecases are simple enough that I actually believe I can do this and get something more very useable on the first attempt.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Why you want to add more in the use of steel construction is counter intuitive. All the talk about making the bike lighter and then off set it with heavy panniers makes no sense, at least to me.
I don't want the extra weight of steel. However, I can get drops for free from work big enough to build the panniers out of. I could save at least $100 over buying the aluminum and have sturdier panniers, the downside would be the weight. As for the plastic cases, I think it makes sense to use one for the top case but I don't love the look of them on the sides of the bike. They're FAR better looking, imo, than the OEM ones and FAR better looking than my current Givi E21s....and for the price they're prettier than all of the Givis (I can't justify >$1k in Panniers on a 2004 Wee).

As for talking about making the bike lighter: I don't think it makes that big of a difference. I'm a big guy at 6'6", 270lbs. I could do more by laying off the cheeseburgers than using plastic or alu on the panniers.
 

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First pic

Look at the first pic above where we are putting a chain on the 1000 in Alaska. Thats the home made boxes.Painted and stripes by the owner and a plastic top box.
 

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Most of the plastic boxes do have a lot of surface irregularities. Probably for added strength. Completely ruins the surface for putting stickers of all the places one visits on the big ADV tours.
Gotta prove you were in Chicken AK, eh! Or have room for the "I love BS", Borrego Springs.
 

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old guys

Us old guys are proud of our far as you can go by road in N.A. trip. DeadHore,dirty,cold,not nice,but lots of :surprise:.The look we get from some of the decked out GS1200A riders at meets that we did it on a little DL650 with camp gear and no chase. Plus in a few years the pics at the home will impress me if I forget about it.:grin2:
 
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