From what I read on other peoples  motorcycle blogs, the subject of choosing hard luggage or  panniers for your bike is  the cause of so much mental anguish and deliberation that it often takes months to decide, I was no different.

I wanted a nice strong set of metal panniers with a sturdy mounting rack, but I didn’t want to have to sell a kidney to pay for them. Also I wanted panniers with proper locks fitted and not 4 padlocks rattling around that the vast majority have, I may as well have been asking for the moon. The cost of these simple metal objects starts around 500 Pounds for  rubbish, up to 1500 Pounds (2200 Dollars) for the quality ones, now factor in 50%  import duty on top of those prices for Turkey. I simply can’t justify the expense to myself, I thought surly it is not beyond the whit and ingenuity of man to make these simple things.


The photo above is of shop bought racks, over the months, every time I saw a large bike with panniers I took the opportunity to look at them and chat to the bikers, most were unhappy with them for various reasons, cost being the single most problem mentioned, but too far forward, not enough leg room for the rear passenger was mentioned, too flimsy was another.


My cunning plan was to make the rack from scooter crash bars, thicker tube than used by Honda or Givi etc. Also cheap and easily available, we cut up and welded together two rear sets of scooter crash bars to make the pannier mounting rack, it looked dreadful, untill I sprayed it black and it suddenly came to life, looking much like any other mounting system.

The Transalp’s rear indicators, as on some other bikes,  stick out a long way preventing most racks fitting in a convenient place,  ie. being too far forward, so I changed the rear indicators for much smaller cheap ones, thus enabling the rack to fit close to the bikes body and further back away from the passengers legs.


We made the rack to take both the plastic and metal panniers.


I chose 1mm stainless steel for the panniers, I had the choice of ordinary mild steel and Aluminum as well, mild steel was very cheap indeed but it would have to be painted, and then every scrtch and scuff would become rusty. I had the oppertunity to see many Ali panniers, but these felt very flimsy and also they buckled so easy when a 200Kg bike drops on them from what I saw.


I found, after much searching, a chap who makes Diesel fuel tanks for boats, he spoke no English and I speak no Turkish, but through drawings and various nods and shakes of the head we got to what I wanted, and with proper locks fitted.



Stainless steel is a metal that posses the strange property of ”Work hardening”  it’s an absolute nightmare to drill or try to cut with a hacksaw, a very tough metal that becomes tougher by the second when you try to do anything to it.  The mounting system is the same as the manufactured panniers, locating lugs and hooks with the exception that I used a bolt instead of a plastic cam lock to secure the panniers to the rack.



The locating lugs below.


They hook around the rail in exactly the same way as manufactured panniers.



The finished item.


My friend Mick recently bought himself a Yamaha 650 Dragstar and he then had himself a set of lozenge shaped stainless steel panniers made, but he had his polished up to look like Chrome, they really glisten in the sun.


THE COST, all this took four and a half days work, the total cost had I chosen complete mild steel would have been just 110 Pounds (160 US) for Aluminum it would have been around 180 Pounds (260 US) but I chose the most expensive, tough  stainless steel at 240 Pounds (340 US) quite a considerable saving from 2000 Dollars plus.


~ by travelswithmymotorbike on February 14, 2009.


  1. What was the outcome of Micks new cruiser …..did he get all the problems sorted out in the end ?….her indoors tells me nowt !

    Mind you that Dragstar should be bomb proof.

    • Hi Ian,
      Mick’s bike was a problem for months, various garages did nothing, but charged him money anyway, in the end we took matters in to our own hands, we stripped it down together at his place and ordered various electronic parts from Korea and swapped them over…some improvement for a couple of weeks then it would’nt run again. We sent e-mails to every senior person at Hyosung and they responded by recomending a garage and paying for some of the new electronic parts required under warrenty, that bike cost him a fortune in the 6 months he had it, 5 months in various garages, Mick put 500Km on it in the whole time he had the bike, the mechanics put 1500Km on it. Wednesday he sold the bike cheap to just get rid of it, it was running when he sold it, but how long this will last is anyones guess. Yeah the Dragstar even though it’s 10 years old is solid and reliable, we had it resprayed, new clutch, big windscreen from the US, Chrome looking panniers made, it’s a nice dependable bike…Yamaha..you can’t really go wrong with Japanese.

  2. Excellent story Dave. The pictures, the write-up, the fact the chap did’t speak English, yet you managed to communicate even with your lack of Turkish and get the thing done. A-mazing
    I agree with you, you can’t go wrong with Japanese Bikes. They almost nevr break down and I’ve owned a few so I know where I’m coming from on this one….not the same with non-Japanese Bikes.

    • Hi Berge,

      Your too kind sir….Yeah the communication thing, my Mrs. nearly always walks off in embaressment when I have to ”Talk” to a local person in wavey hand/body/head nodding languge, she says I look like some Orangatag trying to plan a tea party lol…….but hey…it works !

  3. Hi Dave, I really admired you. I do live in Turkey, and ride a transalp. But could find a goog chap to make such paniers. It would be very nice, if you could tell me how to find that guy.



    • Hi Mustafa,
      The chap who makes the panniers is in Ortaca Sani near Dalaman, he is the only man who has stainless steal (Kroma) he will be easy to find if you can speake Turkish, print his photo off from my blog and ask around Ortaca industrial area, the industrial area is small so it will not be difficult.



  4. hi, this is Paul from southern Spain and proud owner of a transalp and am having the same difficulty here with panniers for the bike. everywhere i´ve asked they have either said no way jose or the price has been too high… in the end a friend knocked some from thin gavanised palating but are unusable due to the weight problem but make great tool boxes…so the big question is how much do yours weigh??
    cos the price seems right and they look great.

    • Hi Paul,

      Mine were made out of Stainless steel which is heavier than mild steel or galvi plate, and are very heavy, they must easily weigh 10 kilos together maybe more. the weight has not been noticable because we went touring around europe 2 up with them loaded up like a travelling circus.

      If you are worried about the weight on the bike…Dont be, Transalps and Africa Twins are very robust bikes, much stronger frames and suspension than KLRs or BMWs

      Hope this helps,



  5. Just found this old post Dave…Very clever and looks good also, making the racks and panniers is a good way to save a thousand!!!


  6. Can you have the guy make me some if I pass by Turkey on a roadtrip that im doing in September?


    • Hi Dave,

      Sorry old chap, I no longer live in Turkey, moved to Bulgaria about 9 months ago. If your staying in Turkey for a week or two I could give you some rough directions on how to find him, once hes measured up and you haggle the price, the boxes only take a day or two to make and fit.

      Let me know if you need rough directions and I’ll see what maps there are for Turkish towns.



    • Dear David. I am from india and i can make you the panniers if you send me a drawing with dimension. You can add me on whatsapp, my number is +91-9031012834.


  7. Sorry! As well, I forgot to say “Please” Cheers 😉

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