DIY Pelican Motorcycle Top Case

Mixing things up a bit here with a more motorcycle-centric post. Recently I fashioned my own top case to Murdock, my F800GS Adventure and here is a walkthrough on how I went about it.

To preface, I love my bike and everything about it minus the fact that parts and accessories can be ridiculously expensive for it. A problem that I was running into was having a secure storage space that would be permanently affixed to the bike for whenever I would commute or carry valuables. Normally I only run my Mosko Moto side bags when I go on longer trips since they add to the width of my bike making it a little more challenging to split the heavy California traffic. I do have a pair of tail bags meant for the sissy-bar of a Harley (hey, you use what resources you have available to you) but it didn’t have much storage capacity nor was it securable from the casual thief or the elements. Yeah, the big aluminum hard cases are nice but the $480 + $200 mounting rack to get one is a bit overpriced in my opinion.

After some quick research, I opted for mounting a pelican case on top of the existing stock luggage plate. Pelican cases 20170421_171956are durable, waterproof, and a lot cheaper when compared to their aluminum counterparts. I bought this Pelican 1500 with foam off of Amazon for $106. Hardware from Home Depot was about $6 and I already had all the tools needed. I went with the 1500 case due to its size both internally and externally on the bike. Could I have gotten a bigger one? Yes, but I don’t necessarily need anything bigger. If your storage needs are different though, the steps I took will apply to any sized plastic case that you decide to go with.

After getting the Pelican case, I made a quick trip to Home Depot to pick up some longer bolts, large washers, and some silicone sealant. Don’t overthink this step, as its really whatever you can make work. I ended up taking one of the stock bolts for the rear 20170421_184737.jpgluggage plate with me so that I could match the threads. Most hardware stores that I have been to have a handy gauge near the nuts and bolts where you can try fitting what part you already have into the gauge. The stock bolts are 55mm long and the ones I got from Home Depot are 65mm long. Large washers are a must as they help diffuse the pressure from the bolts across a larger area on the plastic of the pelican case so that the bolts don’t end up pulling through on all the bumpy roads you go down. The silicone, though I haven’t applied it yet, is to make the pelican case waterproof again after drilling through the bottom of it in the mounting process.

The hardest part of the whole project was finding the center line on the bottom of the pelican case due to its rounded corners. I used a tape measure and a square to find the center line, centered the stock luggage plate off of that line and used it as a template for marking the holes to drill. I highly recommend drilling pilot holes with a smaller drill bit so that you don’t end up marring the bottom if the drill bit were to jump around trying to get started. The drill bits went through the plastic like hot butter so be slow and deliberate when drilling.

 

20170421_192027.jpgAfter drilling, its a quick and easy mount onto the rear of the motorcycle. I still used the stock luggage plate underneath the pelican case to provide extra support and rigidity. If I were to get a larger luggage plate in the future, the holes in the case would still line up with the motorcycle. My thought is that I will probably end up getting a larger luggage plate sometime in the future as it would be handy to have easier points to hook straps to underneath the pelican case in order to secure luggage over the top and sides of the case.

With the case foam, I removed all of it for while I was working on getting the case mounted. After it was mounted, I put in the top and bottom pads and tore out the center foam so that I would just have the outer ring. I plan on having my electronics, breakables, and valuables in this case more often than not and don’t necessarily want them rattling freely around the case without some padding. Yes, I would have more storage space inside the case if I didn’t have any foam at all, but if I need more room then I can just pull out the foam again.

 

Overall, I’m extremely pleased with this project and how it looks on the bike. Its cheap in comparison to going out and buying a pre-made hard case, is rugged, and is lockable with a padlock style lock at either corner. So if any of you are thinking about doing the same, I hope this article helps.

 

Confidence in Your Abilities

Unconsciously, every decision that we make, we do so with a certain level of confidence.  I realized this after servicing Murdock when I finally stopped doubting if I did something wrong. After a couple of days of commuting, my confidence was restored.

All I did on my motorcycle was change the oil and tighten the chain. Still need to check the air filter, but that is a project for this weekend… Growing up, my dad taught me how to work with tools. I did all of the oil changes on my car in high school and the first one on my first motorcycle, the Magna, after pulling it out of storage. Tightening a chain? How hard could that be to learn through Google and YouTube?

Lacking knowledge was not my issue. Even for the chain, which I have never dealt with before was easy and straightforward to learn. I am a quick study. It was purely believing in myself and mentally fortifying against any doubts that may arise. The doubts stemmed from not having changed the oil myself in any of my vehicles for over seven years and being around those that would rather pay the $200+ at the dealership to save themselves the time. None of that inspired any form of self-confidence.

The first couple of days I was obsessively checking for any leaks at the bottom of the engine, seeing where my oil level was at, and how much play I had in my chain. Turns out that I have the perfect level of fresh oil in the engine. The chain has the perfect amount of slack in it while the excess drive-train slack has been taken out whenever I shift gears.

Nothing changed on the bike over those couple of days. Nothing change either to really inspire confidence. All I had to do was get used to it. I let the fear of what could happen by me not being “certified” almost prevent anything from happening. Really the only certification that matters is our own confidence. It does not matter what we do, so long as we have confidence in doing it.

 

The Mindset of Riding

I used to think that only longer motorcycle trips constituted a meaningful ride. Whenever I would go out on the weekend, I would be exhaustedly euphoric, like I had accomplished something worthwhile. Other times, like commuting, not so much. During a discussion with friends around the fire pit one not, my mindset changed.

Once upon a time, I used to put on nearly 500 miles in a week. I would commute every day to and from work on Archer, my trusty F800GT, only to turn around and go immediately back out on the weekends. Moving closer to work plus having a daughter now changed that significantly however.

I still ride Murdock regularly as well, but most of it is commuting. The weekend trips do not happen as often as I would like, but I make the most of them when they do. That was not always the case however, as I thought that in order to have a meaningful ride I had to get out and have fun on twisty scenic roads for uninterrupted hours on end.

There is a mental switch when it comes to riding that we do not realize unless we stop to think about it. The moment we straddle the engine, our mindset changes. We do not think of the stresses, the gossip, or the external factors affecting our lives. What matters right then and there is the bike, us on it, and anything that might endanger that bond. I would prefer that over the daily grind any time…

Where you ride, how long you ride, and why you ride is inconsequential unless you are mindful of how you do it. At the root of it all, whether we realize it or not, we ride to experience the mindfulness of it all. This is my Motorcycling Zen.

One with Oneness

utah-dirt-standingThere is something about being out in the middle of nowhere by yourself that is invigorating for me. Something about the sense of being alone. The dangers if something were to happen. Many people think it has to do with becoming one with nature. I however, think that it has more to do with being away from other people.

When was the last time you were alone? By choice that is… It is a funny realization that those who say they want to be alone are labeled as the “weird ones.” The internet, smartphones, social media, and craving for conformist socialization have made us so interconnected now that we are never alone anymore. To ask to be alone from anyone is the klaxon of some form of alien thought.

We never unplug because we feel the obligation to our friends, family, and whatever trends we are involved in. We keep waiting for the perfect time because there will never be a perfect time. Its easy to make a promise that we have no intention to fill. We never unplug because we never force ourselves to. When we do try, our attempts are half-assed and easily thwarted by the smallest amount of ridicule.

The last time I was alone was last July when I took a motorcycle trip from San Diego, CA up to Red Lodge, MT and back. Sea level to just shy of 11,000ft. A little over 2,600 miles round trip. Granted I stopped through my hometown for the fireworks show and visited some family along the way, but the majority of the days and nights were spent on my own.

I was alone in the sense that no one out on the roads knew me. The roads that I was riding on were fairly remote, only having the occasional driver pass through every couple of hours or so. I was never very far from some form of populated area, but I chose to avoid them. It was just me keeping myself company inside of my helmet.

Whenever I stopped, I never sought out interaction with other people. The occasional fast food employee, a couple of cashiers here, but I limited that as much as possible. It was nerve-racking at first, almost akin to going cold turkey being alone like that. The sensation is so different from what we are used to now that we do not know how to deal with it. I will confess that I was on the verge of a panic attack that first night. Eventually the sound of the rain pattering on my tent coaxed me to sleep. Every night and day after that remained as some of the most peaceful days that I have ever experienced.

The funny thing is that while I never sought out interaction with other people, it did not stop others from trying to do so with me. I am unsure if I exuded some form of nonverbal communication or just seemed that interesting of a person to come up and talk to. I was quite the eyesore going through the middle of Harley Davidson territory on my F800GSA, so maybe that was it. Even though others attempted to make small talk with me along my trip, it was never for very long. I was polite and courteous, but I showed my interest in being alone and wishing to continue on my ride. This aura that I exuded was strange to them and something that they did not fully comprehend.

While I am not condoning becoming a hermit, I personally believe that it is healthy for each and every one of us to get out and be alone for awhile by ourselves. Even from our family, kids, and spouses. Unless you are going out and doing something really daring (extreme sports anyone?) then the only danger to be had is that you will possess a better sense of who you are as an individual. Go be yourself.

Confinements of Exploration

Over 95% of the world’s roads are gravel, dirt, or less. More often than not, we are told that the only route to a destination, a place for us to explore, is along a path already laid out by someone else. We are told that everything worth exploring has already been explored, everything else is just unfulfilling or too dangerous.

Exploring the Dirt

To say that the only things worth exploring are those that have already have been is vain and ignorant. It places someone else’s opinions over that of your own and implies that you accept them as truth. It also only emphasizes the end result, the destination, and not the journey to reach or achieve it.

Confining ourselves to these principles of exploration, both physically and mentally, is constraining and unhealthy. We regularly defer to that of another’s experience when they have not even had the experience first-hand themselves. To say that you can only experience something by seeing it is also a misconception.

For the longest while, I have felt confined by the limitations that others have placed around me. Such examples include “…well you can’t do [this] because its unrealistic because [reasons]” or “you can’t do that, what if something happens?” I am still confined in a lot of aspects, but realizing that is the first step towards fixing the issue. The lesson here is to not let another’s views or impressions limit or dictate your own. More often than not, it is those that are closest to you that are doing this and it is always the hardest to tell them no. But it has to begin somewhere…