Although my Pelican cases and SW-Motech racks have served me well, and continue to serve me well, I am doing more gravel, dirt road riding. When using my Pelican luggage system, I can describe an "echo" effect of the potholes I ride over and through.
What I mean by that is, when the bike lands in a pothole, the suspension system absorbs the shock of the uneven terrain. Because the luggage is not welded to the frame, there is a little "looseness" to the system. Also, my gear inside the bags can slide up and down. So, when the bike abruptly drops into a hole, the suspension kicks in as it should. A split second later the luggage and gear follows the bike into the hole, giving the suspension system a "double whammy" affect, or an "echo" to the bounce. It's not much. But, I have ridden enough miles to notice it.
My last three trips I have done without the Pelican cases. I use two drybags for my gear that are cinched down across the rear section of my seat. A third drybag is bungied to the rack I made for my Pelican 1450 topcase. That drybag kept my Delorme, state-by-state Gazetteers dry. I didn't like the drybag for the map books, so I have since made a new map box for the gazetteers that is bolted underneath my Pelican top case, (you will see that in the pictures below).
The bike handles so much better without side cases. It is very responsive and I don't really notice that my gear is on the bike because, it is "centered" right where the extra weight of the gear should be; as if it were a passenger. When I want to, I can lean back against the drybags, using them as a back rest. I can even rest my butt on them when I am riding, standing up on the pegs.
What I miss about the Pelican cases is the margin of safety that they provide to me and my bike when I go down. With the dry bag setup, I have no protection other then the PIAA light cages I welded to my modified SW-Motech crash bars. I want some protection back aft.
So I decided to make a custom luggage rack. The width of it will be wide enough to protect my dry bags, map case and top case from a spill. It will also protect the rear blinkers, (these will be replaced with a new blinkers set more aft and outboard, along with a new taillight built into the luggage rack.). The rack will also be quite a bit longer then the OEM rack. There will be a "grab rail" welded to the aft end of the rack that will let me "muckle" on to it for a purchase to lift the rear end of the bike up. There will also be grab rails welded to the sides of the rack as well. Once this is completed, I will be cutting off the most of the rear fender.
The steel I am using has been recycled from the "bones" of discarded cafeteria tables from my local high school.
Here you can see the initial stages of fabrication. The side rail is clamped to the OEM rack, (I made the grab rail extensions this past Winter so that a passenger did not have to stretch so far to hold on.), with the aft end supported by a couple of camera tripods.
Both sides are fabbed up and tack welded. (You can also see the Pelican topcase and Delorme map box I have made.)
Welding the aft, cross piece in place.
I don't have a tubing bender. I am doing my best to work with what I have; cutting the shapes that I need that were factory bent from the cafeteria tables.
Here I am fitting a "side loop".
Side loop in position for tacking in place.
Side loop tacked in place.
The rack removed from the bike and clamped up in my vise for finish welding both side loops.
I don't own a tubing-notch-cutter, so I have had to fit the joints by hand with a grinder. Here is one of the cross members.
Welding the cross members.
Here is the rack for where I am stopping for today. Time to make dinner!
After work today, I made a quick trip to Lowe's to purchase some material for my luggage rack.
Twelve steel rings to be welded to the rack for tie-down anchor points.
Before welding the rings to the rack, I decided to crush them a little in my vise making them oval shape.
Welding the rings to the rack.
I decided to mount a tail light bracket to the aft, bottom side of the rack. I am hoping to fit the OEM tail light into this bracket.....somehow.
Here's the rack as of this evening.
I got a late start this evening after work. I did not get as far as I would have liked to. But, there are no plans for what I am doing. I am thinking it through as I go along; winging it, just like my trips.
Here I am using a holesaw to cut two, half circles out of two pieces of steel that will become my rear turn signal mounts. The half circles in the tops of the turn signal mounts will allow them to "nestle" up nicely against the steel tubing they are being welded to.
Here I am tack welding the turn signal mounts to the luggage rack.
I am finish welding the turn signal mounts to the rack. The luggage rack is upside down during this process.
This is what the signals will sort of look like. In the picture, I am using a front turn signal as a gauge. The rear turn signal's "foot" is flat, but the overall length is about the same. The luggage rack is upside down in this photo.
This evening, I worked on fabricating the two forward anchor points for the luggage rack to attach to the bike.
Drilling the mounting holes in the anchor plates.
I moved the bike outside so that I could look at the rack and the bike, together. I temporarily set the rack, map case and top box on to the bike.
I am not sure that I like it, but I am going to see the project through to the end.
I moved the bike back inside and tack welded the rack to the anchor plates. Darn tricky without melting anything!
Once I had the anchor plates tacked to the rack, I removed the rack and finished welded the joints.
This is where I stopped for tonight.
I had to put today's update in another post farther down in this thread. It is HERE