Construction of pannier frames

This page describes in detail (based on my record of constructing the prototype) how to construct pannier frames for a 1995, non-catalytic exhaust BMW F650. If you have a different model I'm sure these notes can help you along the way. I'm no engineer or draughtsman so the design and its illustration (the sketches are my notes, as recorded at the time, scanned at 300dpi) are not optimum! However the photographs illustrate that it does fit together.


The lower rail from pillion pegs

1 Cut two pieces as shown to make attachment to pillion foot peg bolt. If you don't get the hole quite central then arrange with shortest aspect uppermost.
2 Weld on a 75cm length of tubing, with one end finished to a neat 45 degrees. Do one and then clamp pieces of otherside to it to try to get a matching pair.

The upper rail of frame

3 Make 2 front subframe attachment plates. They may need trimming to fit your bike at frame welding areas.
4 Make 2 rear subframe attachment plates.
5 Cut 4 pieces of square tubing to around 8cm long and 2 to around 33cm. Mitre and mark as shown in diagram. Align and clamp on a thick board prior to welding.
6 Shorten sidearm pieces to 6.1cm on RHS and 6.6cm on LHS. Measure from external edge of tubing and define a straight cut off line to overcome non-square welds. Use a long 5mm drill to make holes INSIDE to allow for gas expansion during later welds.
7 Align a front and rear plate on board with holes at 9.5cm spacing. Tack weld & test fit. These welds are probably the most critical of whole job.
Use first part as a jig to align otherside. Clamp arms onto a board and bolt subframe plates together.
8 The layout of the two pieces should look something like this:
9 Check these pieces fit subframe and do not foul body work, exhaust or seat lock.

Assembly of parts

10 Make 4 corner brace pieces from 3mm sheet.
11 Shorten upper rails to 29cm (having checked this clears exhaust) with 45 degree mitre onto 38cm length of tubing. Use clamps and planking to reduce contraction of angle.
Place corner brace plate 3mm inset from outer surface using spare sheet as spacer and weld from back only.
12 Bolt upper rails firmly onto subframe and lower rail onto pillion peg, not too tightly to permit some movement.
By trial and error align pieces to right angles and use G-clmaps to hold. Check symmetry of left and right by measuring lengths. Find a consensus where angles and lengths give best alignment and scribe rails.
In my case the lower rail was cut off at 67cm and the vertical at 36cm (see next step).
13 Cut notch in vertical tube as shown, so as to fit the tube from footpeg.
Drill on internal aspect of foot peg tubing.
Reassemble, clamp and test, tack weld and retest and if all is well, weld the 2 tubes together.
14 Fit lower corner brace plate, inset 3mm from front of down tube, which will put it towards inner aspect of pillion peg rail.
15 Make 2 pieces as shown and weld onto bottom of open-ended down tube.
16 Make 2 end pieces from 3mm or 5mm strip and weld onto rear of rail assembly with eyes inward.

The rear cross brace

17 Cut a length of 16mm by 1mm round tubing to 30.2cm and clean inside with emery paper. Also cut strip of 20mm by 2mm sheet. Squash one end of tube in vice, heat redness, and continue pressing until nearly flattened. Fit strip inside and squash to tight fit. Braze in place. Clamp onto square tube and heat, press and braze at other end.
Drill holes at 29cm.
This is a view of RHS corner and cross-brace attachment point.

Box mounting points

18 Make 2 each of these from 35mm by 5mm strip. A.B.
19 Weld bracket B onto upper surface of lower rail, close to inner surface (make this so it is in line with the lower corner brace), at a point so that hole centre is 45cm from rear border of frame.
On RHS weld A vertically down. inset 3mm, at front of upper rail. On LHS place A horizontally at upper surface of rail.
20 Cut a small piece of 2mm strip to fit at open end of pillion peg rail and weld into place.
The frame may be painted or powder coated after suitable preparation.
This shows the LHS down tube behind the exhaust.
A view of the pannier frame after powder coating in black.

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