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.

 

Telling a Rider to “Be Safe”

As I am putting on my motorcycle helmet someone usually shouts out, “Be safe!” in a jovial but concerned manner. Well of course, I think to myself. If I wasn’t going to be then I would end up crashing before I even went a mile. Later on, I end up blaring my horn at a careless driver that starts to drift over into my lane. They were texting while driving. Coming up alongside them, I see that it is the same person that told ME to be safe…

Natural selection still exists in motorcycling. The idiots that fly by doing 100+mph wearing little to no gear never survive for long. They either get killed at the expense of their own inexperience and recklessness or suffer injuries significant enough to scare them away leaving room for more riders just like him.

Less often, you see the motorcyclist that looks like he should be in some science fiction movie. These riders are the type that have either put a significant amount of miles down or have had road-rash before. They usually have experience riding in different weather, terrain, and across different types of motorcycles. So how do you tell this type of rider to be even safer?

There is a point with motorcycling where you can only be so safe. Even if you are doing everything right by the safety-nazis, you can still end up pulling the short straw when it comes to a crash. Motorcyclists simply do not have the luxury of being protected by a giant metal cage. Even if the motorcyclist was doing everything right, all it would take is one car to change lanes without checking their blind spot and its over. Car-1, Motorcycle-0.

I see part of the issue being that everyone only blames the motorcycles for being unsafe. Wrong. Unsafe riders make motorcycles unsafe. The same applies to cars, but no one is telling the car drivers to be safe. If you are one of those people, put down the phone, don’t go through the drive-thru, and learn what Bluetooth is…

The Great Escape

We each have our own vices that we escape to. These vices either distance ourselves from the reality of the problem or empower us to keep on facing it. Some vices are better than others, depending on the person; what may work for me may not necessarily do the same for you.

Riding is one of my vices. Writing too. For others it can be things such as knitting, cooking, cleaning, smoking, alcohol, or drugs.

Riding remains the most effective for me however. Riding has been dubbed “the lazy man’s zen” for this reason, a reason that most do not understand but they gravitate to it any way. Wouldn’t it be funny to tell a die-hard Christian Harley rider that he’s actually taking part in an ancient Eastern practice? I think so. There is a certain mindfulness about the turns, the road conditions, your speed, your braking, your throttle… the list goes on. There is a point where all of these things come as second nature, but to really ride you are completely immersed in the whole experience.
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Its a fun play on words to say that I enjoy riding and writing as both words sound similar when you say them. From here on I will be switching between the two words so keep up.

Writing is a means of escape as well, but for different reasons. Riding clears my thoughts while writing helps get them in order. I am still coming to terms as to whether writing empowers me more than riding. Right now it seems they both just offer me a means of escape from existing but through different means.

Why do I escape so often? Because life I live, through all of the external factors influencing it, is stressful. Western societies are some of the most stressful in the world. More, harder, faster, stronger… All for the sole reason that the persons to the left and right of us are doing the exact same thing. Its a continuous loop that the only way to break free of it is to be aware of it.

Unfortunately though, there is no completely escaping it. As great as it would be to simply drop all responsibilities and obligations in order to start fresh, the ripple effect that that decision would have would be earth-shattering. Some people have that luxury of being able to make that hard choice. For me I have too many people that depend on me. Not that is a bad thing, but I cannot let my choices impact the safety and well being of those that I care about.

No one can completely escape the stress enducing factors unless they want to go live as a monastic. Admittedly, the idea of it sounds fairly enciting. So how can we balance the stress and the escapes? Right now I really do not have a good answer. Hopefully that answer will come later on.

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…