Luggage racks for motorcycles are extremely useful, allowing you to expand your travel possibilities by increasing the amount of storage available on your motorcycle when used in conjunction with a set of saddlebags. The construction process is quite inexpensive if you already have the steel stock and the necessary tools on hand to complete the project.
Take measurements of the mounting points on your motorcycle where you wish to locate the luggage rack, marking them on your graph paper. If possible, draw a full-scale image of how you want the luggage rack to look from the side, top and back. It may be helpful to reference magazines, catalogues or product literature to determine what you would like your luggage rack to look like.
Use the graph paper as an outline to create the individual pieces needed to form the luggage rack. Use the one-inch tube and the bench vice to create compound curves with the round steel stock. Begin with a rectangular shape approximately eight inches wide by 12 inches long. Use a framing square to ensure that the bends are even and at perfect 90 degree angles.
Tack weld the base, completing the rectangle. Double check that the bends are straight and that the tack weld did not throw anything out of true.
Use three to four bars of round steel stock to form the base of the rack. Measure the inside distance between the intended front and back of the rack, then cut the steel stock to size.
Tack weld the base bars of the luggage rack per your diagram. Note that this is not the final welding.
Check all angles and test fit the base platform approximately on the motorcycle where you wish for it to be mounted. If you are satisfied with the overall look, you can continue to fabricate the support brackets.
Use graph paper and a tape measure to determine where you want the support brackets to be placed as well as their final shape. In most cases, the support brackets will attach most easily with the bolts on the back of the tail light housing. It is most efficient to simply use straight bar stock, though if you wish to incorporate a bend in the support brackets as you may have seen on luggage racks in catalogues, do so at this stage.
Ensure that both support bars are of equal length, then tack weld into their final desired position according to your design. Use a bench grinder to create flat mounting tabs on the ends of the bars which will mount to the tail light housing, then drill out holes of the same size as the mounting studs or screws to be used.
Test fit the luggage rack using the desired mounting points to ensure proper fit. Bend and shape the luggage rack into place before you begin to fabricate the front support.
Fabricate a front support for the luggage rack which will utilise the attachment bolt for the passenger seat. It is best to use flat steel stock for this, shaped like an "L" or "Z," depending on your application. Drill a mounting hole in one-end of the tab to mount to the motorcycle.
Test fit the front support bracket against the luggage rack while mounted with the intended bolt to ensure that the luggage rack sits level on the motorcycle and is in the position you desire. Remove all pieces of the luggage rack from the motorcycle and then tack weld the front support bracket into place.
Weld all remaining joints to ensure a strong, tight fit, using a grinder or metal file to remove excess flash burn, as well as to clean the weld spots.
Perform the final test fit of the luggage rack to ensure that all parts line up satisfactorily, and then remove the rack again.
Choose a finish for the luggage rack. You may choose powder coating, painting or chroming. Painting may be performed yourself, while chroming involves employing a reputable chrome shop. Powder coating can be done at home with the right equipment.
Always wear a welding helmet when performing MIG welding, as flash from the welding nozzle can cause permanent damage to the eyes. Test fit everything at each stage of the luggage rack's construction to ensure proper fit.
Do not attempt chroming procedures at home. The chemicals involved are extremely toxic and can poison groundwater as far as a mile from the spill site. Do not attempt to weld parts of the luggage rack while mounted to the motorcycle, since flash burn will damage paint and leather surfaces.
Tips and warnings
- Always wear a welding helmet when performing MIG welding, as flash from the welding nozzle can cause permanent damage to the eyes.
- Test fit everything at each stage of the luggage rack's construction to ensure proper fit.
- Do not attempt chroming procedures at home. The chemicals involved are extremely toxic and can poison groundwater as far as a mile from the spill site.
- Do not attempt to weld parts of the luggage rack while mounted to the motorcycle, since flash burn will damage paint and leather surfaces.