09 February 2010

Suzuki VX800 Mod: Penny Tech Luggage Solution

A little history:  Last summer my brother had me very excited about the idea of being able to ride a motorcycle and make a little money.  I had a bike I could use, with a little modification.  My first motorcycle is a 1993 Suzuki VX800.  For me it was the perfect bike because it was forgiving enough to learn on yet powerful enough to keep once I'd gotten more experience.  When I got sick in the spring of 2005, the VX800 (Sam) had to sit for about six months.

VX's have notoriously fickle carbs and by the time I got Sam back, he was not a happy camper.  I took him to two different mechanics and he still wasn't fixed.  My brother said he knew a guy who could fix it but when we took it to him, he didn't seem all that certain.  I'd spent long enough (too long, actually) without a working motorcycle so my frustration led me to buy my 2005 Yamaha FZ1 toward the end of Summer 2007.

By the end of the year, I was ready to take Sam to Larry (the mechanic) to see what he could do but, on an attempt to get it there, the VX fell over on the trailer and caught fire.  Not much damage was done but I had to wait until I had money to get it all fixed.  When I finally got it to Larry, he fixed what the others screwed up and got it running great again.  That left only the cosmetic stuff to fix.

The Reason:  That's when my brother said let's start an motorcycle escort service.  I had a list of everything I needed to convert the VX for such duties.  From the VX800 email list, I knew the bike could do escorts because I remembered somebody doing races.

I searched Google Images to see if the VX had ever been used as a police bike and discovered a pic of a Greek Police bike:

In it's life as my daily commuter, I preferred soft bags.  I have a full set of Nelson-Rigg luggage that got faded in the California sun.  But soft bags won't work for funeral escorts so, the first thing I needed to do was put some hard luggage on the bike.  Not an easy thing to do in 2009 to a 1993 model bike that was never really popular to begin with.  The only luggage system I could find would cost about as much as the bike was worth right now.  Since I can't work, that was not a viable solution.  I thought I'd just get the racks and mount some ebay bags or something to them.  I found a Hepco Becker rack still available for the VX but it was $$$.

Then I searched to see what other people did in the way of penny tech solutions.  I found a couple of good ideas (http://petrolpowered.com/?page=tech/vfr750/panniers, http://www.sport-touring.net/forums/index.php?topic=31507.0) and merged them to get this:

The process:  I was going to do ammo cans since for escort purposes the bags didn't have to be too big. But after pricing them, I discovered I could spend a few pennies less and get better looking bags by going with Military style transport cases from Coleman's.

To mount them, I used scrap metal and u-bolts.  To stabilize the bags, we put a flat bar into the passenger foot peg and attached it to the front bracket. 

The bags are mounted directly to the bracket with screws and silicon to seal the holes.

Once these were mounted, we just had to mount the top case.  I got the top case from my brother who does escorts on his Kawasaki KZ1000P.  That box is huge, much bigger than I need, but very free.  If I were going to pay for a box, I'd probably get something from JCWhitney or Ebay.  I purchased the luggage rack for the VX back in 2004 when I was planning my cross country trip so we used that to add the mounts for the huge top box.

First, a plate was mounted to the rack then rubber filled in to the bottom of the box.  Next, we used a flat black iron bar and attached it to each of the cases, again building them up so the mounted box could clear the seat:

From the back, the finished product looks like this:

With the top box mounted, the whole system is very stable.

To make an escort bike, we needed to add lights.   We chose LEDs because they put out a lot of light but draw very little power.  We mounted 4 x 3 lights to the top case and 1 x 3 on each side of the front forks using the stock reflector bracket.

Here are more pics with everything mounted.  The new additions include my old windshield (National Cycle F-16 Tour windshield), siren speaker without the cone, siren switches mounted on the left of the handlebar, and mounted front LED flashers in place of the stock reflectors.  I also replaced the stock handlebar with the Bikemaster Daytona Chrome bar and new grips.

The right side:

The back:

The left side:

Finally, the front:

The siren speaker is mounted to the bottom bolt on the right side near the radiator and welded with a tack weld (if that is the right term) just behind the exhaust pipe.  A flat bar was used with a slight twist to get the direction we wanted.  What you can't see is when switched to hi-beam, the headlight flashes too.

Now that all that is done, I need to clean him up and fix the plastics.

1 comment:

  1. brialliant brilliant! I must really praise you for the creativity! well, anything is possible haha.


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