May have found a top-box at last


I’ve been wondering what to do about a top-box for the KLR. As much as I love soft luggage, I’d like the ability to easily cart random items, groceries etc, and to be able to stash a helmet in a locked container while I’m away from the bike for a short period. For the trip itself , I think there will be a range of gear that will be better stored in a rigid container – stove, cooking gear, some electricals etc. The short-list of features:

  • It must be lockable
  • It must be strong
  • It must hold a helmet, and have a footprint of around 30-40cm square
  • It must be waterproof and dust-proof, within reason
  • It must lock to the bike, and have the ability to be removed easily
  • It must be reasonably priced
  • It must be cheap.

Most of the retail options, such as Givi and DriRider are geared toward road bikes. They’re usually rounded, and made of rigid black plastic. They make sense on a bike that you’re afraid to drop, where the fairing is worth much more than the top-box, but on this bike, and on this trip, the case needs to be considerably tougher.

Most dual-sport pannier and top-boxes are made of aluminium, which is reasonably strong, but doesn’t tend to spring back to its original shape after taking a hit. The only decent plastic dual-sport top-box I’ve seen is the Gobi series, made by Hepco and Becker. The top case and panniers are made from double-walled plastic which looks quite durable, and the wall cavity can even be used to store water or fuel. Unfortunately they’re also around $450, not including the adapter plate to attach them to the bike.

The alternative is to use a storage case that is not actually designed as a motorcycle top-box, such as a Pelican case. Most of these are pretty heavy, and most of them don’t come in “cube” configuration that would hold a helmet. They’re also as expensive as a Gobi or similar.

Taurus 353434

Taurus 353434

Enter Trimcast, a Bayswater-based company that makes rotomoulded plastic transit cases for commercial, recreational and military applications. They seem to be made from a similar material to the Gobi cases, though these are single-walled. They meet all the criteria, except for the fact they’re not actual motorcycle cases. The Taurus Modular Spacecase 353434 is, as the name suggests” a ~35cm cube, which is dustproof, lockable, durable and light. At around $130, it’s also remarkably cheap.

But that does leave me with the problem of mounting it to the bike, though I think I have a solution.

The first step will be to use a large nylon (or plastic) chopping board and chop an inch-wide – or better still, tapered – strip from either side of it. The cut, rather than perpendicular to the surface of the board, will need to be at 45 degrees. This will leave the two outer strips with an “overhang” bevel, while the centre piece will have a “rooftop” bevel. I’d mount the two outer strips to the top of the rear cargo rack on the bike, and the centre piece to the bottom of the case. This would create a slide-in fitting for the case, much like a quick-release head on a camera tripod (sorry… it’s the best example I can think of right now).

The case would be stopped from sliding forward by the narrowing gap between the two side strips At the other end of the case, in one of the side recesses, I’d attach a patio bolt lock that locked down into the side-strip of the chopping board material. Most manufacturers make a push-button lock that only requires the key to unlock it. Since there’s no pin going into the case itself, the dust-proof properties of the case won’t be compromised. Since the bolt will be going into the chopping-board material, I don’t have to worry about the strength of the existing rear rack, or the about drilling into it to accommodate the bolt.

So, that’s where I’m going with all that. Sorry if it’s not the most riveting read… but it’s a brain dump, just so I don’t forget.

UPDATE: I’ve found a source for the the chopping-board material, and it looks as though I might be able to get it in black, which is even better! (I also updated my analogy about the camera tripod, which is probably no clearer than the one it replaces.)

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