By: Lee Freedman <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Always wanted a set of those fancy tank panniers but just couldn't justify spending that much money? There's a way to get yourself a set. They might not be as high-tech, but you'll have the satisfaction and pride of having something on your bike you made yourself and at considerably less cost.
First thing is to collect all the materials you'll need for this project. Go to the nearest Army/Navy surplus store and find the following:
Now you're ready to go home and do the easy part -- putting it all together.
Cut the shoulder straps on the back of the bags. On the surplus bags, the straps will probably be sewn to the top of the bag and attached at the bottom with a snap connecter and a metal D ring. Make sure you remove the metal ring and any other metal pieces on the back of the bag. Leave enough strap at the top so you can attach one portion of the quick release buckle to each of the two pieces of strap that are still attached to the bag. If you have a bag that has a short strap with metal connecting hardware, and there is not enough strap to attach the quick release buckle, you will have to sew short lengths of the webbing strap to the bag strap, just enough to attach the buckles. (See note below.) If you don't have the skills necessary to do the sewing yourself, ask your wife or SO to sew it for you. Just make sure the straps are securely sewn together with heavy-duty thread. Using a sewing machine should give the best results.
Measure the back of the bag and cut two pieces of the black fleece material to this dimension. Make sure you cut it large enough to cover the back of the bag. Cut at least eight two-inch pieces of the self-adhesive Velcro® and put one side of the fastener on the back of the bag. I would suggest at least three across the top and bottom and at least one on each side of each bag. Do the same to the smooth side of the black fleece, making sure the tabs on the back of the material line up with the tabs on the bags. This will be your protection to keep the bags from scratching your tank.
Measure your web straps and cut to size. Note: After you cut the straps, make sure you burn and seal all ends so they don't unravel. Just hold a match or a lighter to the ends or you can use a candle.
Cut pieces of the non-skid material wide enough to make sleeves for the straps. These can be wrapped around the straps and fastened together with Velcro® or sewn together. This should be a snug fit. Slide the non-skid sleeves on the straps, leaving enough length at the ends to attach the other ends of the plastic quick-release buckles. If you are concerned about the plastic buckles harming your tank finish, cover them with black plastic tape.
And that should do it. Now you have a set of pannier bags that will fit under your tank bag, if you use one, and should not slip off the tank when they are installed. And if you REALLY want to look trick, get two BMW cloth emblems and glue or sew them on the front of the bag. And all for probably not more than fifty bucks total.
Have fun !
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