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In 1991, a friend of mine was planning to ride his motorcycle around the world. The only thing he was having problems with, was what sort of luggage he should use, and eventually decided on aluminium boxes. After a long and fruitless search, he asked me if I knew of any companies that manufactured aluminium pannier systems. I didn’t know of any such companies, but as an aluminium fabricator and welder, I offered to make some for him.

At the time, I was working for a small company, making aluminium parts for racing and rally cars, including radiators, fuel tanks, turbo charging ducts, complete water and fuel systems and anything else that the owners/drivers wanted making from scratch., that were not available “off the shelf”.

I eventually based the pannier boxes and lids, on the Cosworth fuel cells, and believe it of not, the funnel used for re-fuelling, was used as a pattern for the lids!.

The brief was simple, to make a set of panniers that were secure, water proof, tough and spacious enough for a world trip.

The steel frames were made on the first day, and bolted to his BMW R80GS. After about four attempts, with many drawings being done on the back of cigarette packets in the bar, the boxes were finally made, and attached to the bike. The lids were simple to make, as they were copies of the templates I had made for the Cosworth fuel funnel. A hasp and staple were used to secure the lids, and stout padlocks locked the whole assembly together.

In 1994, my friend returned, after three and a half years on the road, and I was amazed to see my panniers were still intact, and still securely mounted on his bike. They were severely dented, scratched and generally showing signs of three and a half years of constant use, including many accidents and tumbles. But they still remained totally water proof, dust proof, and secure, even after being attacked by thieves, three times on his journey.

The panniers were eventually sold separately from the bike, and are believed to be still being used by a despatch rider in London, twelve years after I made them!

In 1998, I was planning to ride around the world, on my 1994 BMW R1100GS, and set about “kitting my bike out” for the trip. The panniers were made using exactly the same pattern, as I had used before, and were fitted very securely to my bike, in a very short space of time.

Unfortunately, in January 1999, I was involved in a serious road accident. My injuries prevented me working anymore, and my trip was put on permanent “hold” while I recovered.

In January 2001, a club was formed for GS motorcycle riders in the UK. In March 2003, a picture of my panniers appeared on the UKGSER web site, attached to my bike. The interest was phenomenal, with many people wanting me to make them a set. I had absolutely no intention of marketing these panniers, but people kept insisting that they wanted a set, so I really had no choice but to oblige.




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