DIY luggage rack - KLR650 with Ortleib panniers

A reader dropped an email asking about the DIY pannier/soft luggage rack on my KLR650. The Ortlieb thin dry bags that I use are perfect for my needs - lightweight, low-profile and absolutely waterproof - They can be thrown over most motorcycle saddles as-is, but the way the passenger handles stick-out on my KLR keep the panniers too far forward. I found the bags would hit the back of my legs while standing on the pegs. Big problem off-road, especially on steep downhill sections.

Making this rack let me mount them at least 6" further back, with the rear luggage strap looped through the passenger handles. The rack also keeps the luggage away from the exhaust and off of the side panels. Perfect.

I mocked-up each rack in cardboard to get the bends right. I cut the perforated stainless steel bar with a hacksaw, rounded the sharp corners with a file, and bent the steel with vice grips on a table edge.

I bought long metric bolts and washers to attach the bar to the KLR luggage rack, and the standard  passenger peg bolt worked fine for the lower attachment point. Blue Loctite all around. Total cost $10-$15

The bend on one side is slightly different than the other.

Route 381-1594

After: Note the difference, look at where the back of the pannier lines up relative to the North Face duffel bag. Much better. I don't even notice the panniers when riding off-road.

Sure, these racks get a bit bent out of shape in a tip-over, but the beauty is, you just bend them right back!
I've run these from Canada to Panama without a hitch.
@AmericanSahara and I had a laugh on twitter when I wasn't sure what to call this kind of rack: On a KLR it's "the cheapest way possible" on a BMW it would be an "Adventure Brace™"

4 Response to "DIY luggage rack - KLR650 with Ortleib panniers"

  1. Nick T Says:

    What camera would you have used on shots like these?

  2. Lorenzo Mann Says:

    Great looking site and with great photography. Please visit my site, "My KLR650 and KZ650 Adventures." I have linked to your site and hope you will return the favor. Ride safe!

  3. Anonymous Says:

    Hi I'm reading this from Panama lol! trying to get out in the backyard of Panama a bit more. kuddos

  4. Unknown Says:

    Cost is everything

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