The penguin's motorcycling and Jeep blog

Sunday, June 29, 2008


One of the things you do with a motorcycle is customize it to your own needs. Except for squids riding crotch rockets, few motorcycles stay looking the same a year later as they looked straight from the factory.

There's a lot of reasons to customize a motorcycle, but one biggy is to make it physically fit you. So behold Rox adjustable handlebar risers:

I set them to be mostly up, and a bit back. That gets me sitting pretty much straight up and down on the other thing important for me fitting well: a taller seat. Sorry, no picture of the seat, it looks like a motorcycle seat, but I put on the Suzuki gel seat, which is about an inch taller than stock. Any taller would be too high for me to easily handle. But I need that distance between the pegs and the seat because my knees hurt if I'm too cramped in the cockpit.

One thing I had to do was get a longer brake line, the stock one was too short. Everything else works pretty well though. All I had to do was snip off the zip ties holding the wires to the handlebars to have enough slack in the wires, now the zip tie is up at the switch gear rather than halfway down the bar. The zip-tie you see hanging from near the clutch cable is suspending the throttle cables above a protuberance from the frame, the throttle cables normally wouldn't hit that protuberance but now that the handlebars are higher there's no slack left. Other than that, no problems.

Now, another thing you see here is Rick's Shelf. That's the thing that has the Powerlet outlet and another hole on the other side. The hole on the other side is going to be for the switch for the heated grips, when I install them. Heated grips when the weather turns cool in the fall is a real luxury. Now, this thing is CNC-milled out of a hunk of aluminum, and had sharp edges. I whacked the edges with a grinding wheel to blunt them a bit, but you'll notice another of my mods -- split fuel line protecting my cables.

Now, the whole point of all this is to be able to go long distances on two wheels. To do that, you need luggage. Tada: Givi luggage. On Givi racks. The side racks attach to the OEM mounting point at the passenger footpegs and to the four bolts that hold on the rear luggage rack and passenger grab handles, with a cross bar tucked under the rear fender. I had to clean out the threads on the right front luggage rack bolt with a tap. My stock tip for today: Buy stock in Black & Decker, the makers of Helicoil thread repair kits. My suspicion is that this bike is gonna keep them in business, sooner or later that right front luggage rack captive nut is gonna need a helicoil shot into it... and that ain't the only place. Anyhow, the Givis need a good bath, they been living on the Mule too long and are covered with grease and mud. If I had a closer photo of them you'd see just how bad they look, but all they need is a bath and a dose of McGuire's Back To Black and they'll be good as new.

Anyhow, you can see the seat too, as well as the ass end of the Mule. The seat looks like, well, a seat -- ain't nothin to tell ya that it's 1" taller than the stock seat. Also visible are the Suzuki OEM hand guards, which do good to keep bugs (and rain, presumably) from whacking your hands. I had to do a little engineering on the brake side hand guard, the stock mounting method for the lower inboard mount was no good, so I grabbed a slightly larger washer and all is well. Sigh. Factory accessories that are as fiddly to mount as aftermarket accessories. Go figger. But at least they look purty.

So anyhow, the wee touring bike is getting closer to show time. I need to get the fuse panel installed under the seat so I can get my electrics installed, and there's some other fiddly stuff I need to get installed -- first one being the automatic chain oiler, I hate having to keep shooting the chain with WD-40 to keep it from rusting. And of course I need to get the engine guard/skidplate thingy fixed so I can mount my highway pegs (duh, of course I have highway pegs, they're actually left over from an old motorcycle I don't own anymore).

Note that I know exactly what I want on the Weestrom because most of this stuff I'd already had a version of on the Mule, e.g. the Givi racks. I do *not* recommend that you do what I'm doing if you're new to motorcycling and haven't spent a long time getting your prejudices in place as to what you like and don't like. It took me four years to get the Mule to where it was "perfect" insofar as seating position, peg to seat to highway peg locations, handlebar position, accessories, etc., and figure it'll take you as long for whatever sled you buy.

So anyhow, it's time for bed, and I'm tired from all this wrenchin'. G'nite!

-- Badtux the Sleepy Penguin

PS for Gordon: A better photo of the throttle cables. Note that the reason they're at that particular angle is to keep them off the fairing bracket. That's a primo electrician-grade UV-resistant zip tie rated at 20 pounds, not a Cheap Chinese Tool Company special, so it ought to have no problems. Plenty of slack on the other side of that zip-tie.

Motorcycle wheel bearing tool

Hmm, this looks like a slick little setup. Lessee, do I want to risk bumming my wheel with a drift, or no?

No point, just sorta insta-bookmarking another tool for this tool geek to buy next time he wants to extract motorcycle wheel bearings.

-- Badtux the Tool Geek Penguin

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Proper protection

Now, one thing I gotta say about riding a motorcycle. It's dangerous. All those damned fool drivers are trying to run you over, and all you have going for you is your superior acceleration and maneuverability (motorcycles brake about the same as cars, so alas that's not an advantage you have over cagers). And you won't win every time. I'm missing a chunk out of my foot and have a wrist that tells the weather to prove that.

Yet I still see damned fools riding motorcycles wearing t-shirts and jeans. Well, and a helmet, since this is Californication and thus a helmet is required by law, but if not for that law, I betcha they wouldn't be wearing a helmet either.

Now, one argument I hear from the damned fools is the whine, It's hot!. Yeah? So? Guess what. There's this new shit on the market called mesh riding gear. Lets air flow through it. Just like your t-shirt that's riding up your ass and flappin' so I can see your butt-crack as you crouch over on your crotch rocket (eww gross). Except it's got impact armor so your stupid knees don't get shattered to shards when you hit the pavement, and a back protector so you don't get paralyzed when your backbone hits the pavement, and so forth. You know, protection. Duh.

So anyhow, that's what I spent the last couple of weekends doing, was shopping for some new mesh riding gear. I have some old mesh gear I bought in, hmm, must have been 2004, closeouts of the 2002 model year gear that I got for cheap. But technology has moved on since then. Mesh gear was new in 2002, and wasn't very good. Now they got EU-spec armor in them and more Cordura nylon or other such abrasion-resistant materials in places where your ass would get road rash.

Now, the cream de la creme of mesh gear is the Motoport Kevlar mesh gear. That shit don't rip or burn if you fall down. It's stout. It's also heavy as hell and a full suit of this gear costs around $1200. Eeep! I ain't payin' no $1200 for gear that is just gonna shrink so I can't wear it in a few years! (Now, some folks say I eat too much herring in cream sauce and it's not my clothes shrinkin' but the other way around, but same effect, okay?).

So anyhow, I got some Olympia Airglide gear. The jacket looks like this: You betcher life I bought the hi-viz yellow jacket. Like I said, those damned fools out there are tryin' ta kill me! Now, imagine my shark lawyer holdin' that jacket up in a court of law and sayin' to a jury, "This is what my client was wearing. Do you really believe that Damn D. Fool did not see my client?" I betcha that jacket would be worth an extra half a million bucks in punitive damages for general stupidity on the part of the damned fool. Anyhow, it's about half and half Cordura nylon (very abrasion resistant) with nylon mesh panels (so I don't damn well suffocate when it's hot outside), with the Cordura everywhere that you'd normally slide on the thing, plus has a winter liner that'll let me wear it in a wide variety of conditions. Then there's the pants:

I actually got the black, not the silver, but the mesh vs. Cordura nylon shows up better on the picture of the silver. As for why black, well, because when you're riding a motorcycle you're often kneeling on your knees and shit to oil your chain, check your oil level, that kinda stuff. Not to mention that when you're riding in the rain all the oil and shit from the road gets kicked up onto your pants by the cars in front of you. Any other color starts looking like crap after a while. So black it is.

So anyhow, take it from a wise penguin. Wear your fuckin' gear, dipsticks! And now that good mesh gear is available, heat ain't no excuse. And look, that flappin' t-shirt showin' your butt crack as you crouch on your little crotch rocket? Bad taste, dude. BAAAAD taste. Ugh.

-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

Thought for the day

"[A KTM motorcycle] needs maintenance and attention constantly. Like supporting an Austrian hooker." -- CA Stu, KTM owner.


-- Badtux the Kawi/Suzi Ownin' Penguin

A disappointment

This is a Pat Walsh Designs Engine Guard and Skid Plate combo for the Suzuki V-Strom 650. It took them over two weeks to get it to me after I ordered it -- it came in today, and I ordered it back on the 9th. When I called Pat yesterday he claimed that Paypal has not been sending him his email, which is possible, I suppose, the shipment does contain a copy of an email I sent several days ago re-forwarding Paypal's email to me, so obviously his people got my email, but did not reply to it so I had no idea what was going on. Anyhow, the skid plate is the plate. The engine guard bars are the curved bars. The cross bar is the mostly straight bar with the little zig-zag in it. It mounts sorta like this: Click the photo for a bigger picture. The curved bar mounts to the upper engine mount bolt (arrow), the cross bar, and to the skid plate. The skid plate mounts to the curved bar, and to one of the kickstand bracket bolts (lower left arrow). On the other side, the back of the skid plate mounts to the exhaust mount bracket, which is fairly sturdy but the exhaust mount bolt is sorta wimpy so that side isn't as well supported.

Unfortunately, one of the captive nuts welded into one end of the crossbar had a bad weld that impinged upon the thread area. The result was that when I tried to screw the bolt in, it seized. I had to use a pipe wrench on the crossbar and a 4-foot breaker bar to unscrew the bolt until it completely seized and I twisted its head off. This messed up the cross bar (the pipe wrench crushed it) and of course messed up the bolt, but at least I got this mess off my bike. This is the best photo I have of the damage (click on the photo for a bigger picture). You can see the welded-in captive nut, and the crushed area where I held it with the pipe wrench, and you can see the head of the bolt that I twisted off down below. The bolt twisted off at a point within the captive nut where apparently a bead of welding slag came to rest and jammed up the works -- this wasn't a case of me over-torquing a bolt (the bolt would have broken off at the point where head and shaft meet in that case).

I will call Pat on Monday and see if he can fix me up with a new crossbar and bolt in a timely manner. Needless to say I was using the sort of language in my garage that is not fit for polite company. Especially since I had to take that blasted kickstand bolt off again and it was partially hidden by the skid plate, meaning I had to use a box wrench and very slowly one tiny bit at a time unbolt it, plus my garage was hot so I was sweating like a pig... so anyhow, my bike is unprotected again, stripped of all skid plate and crash bars. Sigh.

-- Badtux the Still-unprotected Penguin

Thursday, June 26, 2008

And what were *you* doing at 2AM?

Me, I was working on my Suzuki V-Strom 650 ABS, adding a Powerlet socket to the Rick's Shelf using the Left Front Panel socket kit from Eastern Beaver. I also mounted the Garmin Zumo 550 GPS's RAM ball to the handlebar and used the Garmin Zumo to Powerlet short power cord to plug it in. I also have an adaptor so I can power a regular cigarette-lighter-type electric air pump off of this socket to air up my tires.

The core problem is that I had to take off the gas tank and this was the first time I ever took off the gas tank so it took me a while to get everything off. To take off the gas tank, here's what I did:

  1. Take off the side gas tank panels by unscrewing the one screw at the front that holds them on and popping them out of their rubber donuts that holds the rear part of the panels on.
  2. Remove the rearmost screws on the side fairing panels (there will be two of them).
  3. Locate the center fairing strip between the gas tank and the steering column, and the two plastic retainer buttons at the front. Push in the center peg of those buttons until they make a "snap" sound (use a ballpoint pen or something), and remove the buttons.
  4. Remove the center fairing strip -- the sides just snap under the side fairing, you should be able to pop the side fairings outward a little and it'll just come out.
  5. Remove the seat
  6. Grab a 12mm wrench and remove the single bolt holding the back of the tank on
  7. Take the silver tank prop that serves as the top of the tank mount and lift the tank up enough to prop the tank up with it. DO NOT TRY TO LIFT IT HIGHER THAN THE PROP, there is a stop on the pivot hinge up front that you can damage if you try to lift it against the stop.
  8. Unplug the fuel gauge wire on the left side
  9. Unplug the fuel line on the left side
  10. Unplug the overflow line on the right side (just pop it off the tank)
  11. Unplug the charcoal canister condensate return line on the right side. (Was easier for me to pop it off the frame mounted fitting than to pop it off the tank, also kept clear which line went where).
  12. Remove the prop and let the tank back down. Grab a pair of 10mm wrenches (I had one socket wrench and one box-end wrench), and remove the pivot bolt at the front of the tank.
  13. Lift the tank and slide it backward off its rubber mounts up front, then lift and place aside.
Now you have the top of the bike naked and can just lay the wire from the battery all the way to the front of the bike on top of the existing wires. The only exception is that I ran it around the side of the head instead of through the box and clamp behind the radiator then the hole at the front of the frame. I then plugged it into the Powerlet outlet (which I had previously installed on the dashboard then installed the dashboard), and moved the steering from lock to lock to insure that I had enough slack. I did -- barely. I zip-tied the front in place, checked my steering slack again, still okay, then zip-tied the rest in place all the way back to the battery.

This kit was intended for the left dashboard panel, and was cut to be very slightly longer than required for that purpose. Going rightward and requiring some slack for turning the steering wheel means that I only barely have enough wire to get back to the battery. When I add a fuse panel in the tray behind the battery, I will have to cut off the battery end of this kit and add some longer wires to get to the fuse panel using Posilocks or regular crimp connectors. So it goes.

Now, what took me so long: I was following the directions in the factory service manual, which calls for removing the front side cowling panels also as part of removing the fuel tank. To remove the front side cowling panels, take out all the visible screws. Next you have to remove the chin cowling underneath the headlights. This is done by pushing in the center of a dozen of those button-type fasteners and removing them, then removing two screws hidden deep in the wells of those fake air inlets. You can then wiggle the chin cowling out. Then you'll find out why we had to remove the chin cowling -- there's two more screws hidden behind the chin cowling holding on the side panels. Remove those screws. Then slide the side panels *forward* to get them out of their little rubber donut thingies, and when you feel them "pop" out of the little donut thingy wiggle them out from under the top panel (still sliding forward a bit). Then you'll have a nice open space to work in with no side panels in the way, which I suppose is why the service manual calls for removing these.

Anyhow, it's nowhere near as arduous a process as pulling all the plastics on my old Kawasaki Concours touring bike (now that bike had a lot of plastic on it!), but it was my first time doing it, so I was going very slow and careful. So that's why it took me four hours to do all this yanking of plastics, pulling the tank, running the wire on top of the existing wires, then putting it all back together again, and why I was in my garage until 2am last night. I wanted to ride that bike to work today. And did :-).

-- Badtux the Wrenchin' Penguin

Monday, June 23, 2008

Tip for removing the bar-end weights on a V-Strom

Do *NOT* unscrew the long screw all the way! The bar end weights are held in by a nut compressing a rubber washer. If you unscrew the long screw all the way, the nut will get left behind in the handlebar! Instead, loosen the long screw just enough so you can easily turn the bar-end weight. Then yank.

And oh, if you DO happen to do this, the nut can be extracted using the cleaning rod for a Camelbak reservoir, the long one with the little brush on the end. Just push it through until it goes through the hole in the nut, pull back, and the bristles will catch the nut just enough to pull it out.

Yeah, you know how I know this... :-).

-- Badtux the "oops!" Penguin

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Zen and the art of the centerstand

I have a love-hate relationship with centerstands.

First, let us be blunt: Centerstands are a terrible solution for keeping the rubber side down on a parked motorcycle. The basic problem is that they are narrower than the triangle formed by the wheels and a sidestand, and thus the motorcycle can be more easily toppled off of a centerstand. Furthermore, they are sensitive to tire height -- if you put shorter tires onto your motorcycle you may have trouble getting the bike up on the stand, if you put taller tires onto your motorcycle the tire may no longer be off the ground when you try to put the bike onto the centerstand.

And finally, not all bikes are good candidates for centerstands. Centerstands tend to reduce your ground clearance because of all those levers and rods and springs and such hanging down below your bike, and some bikes have inadequate places to mount a centerstand. For example, on a KLR650 dual sport, the centerstands available on the market mount to the footpeg bolts -- a known weak point on the KLR motorcycle due to the mild-steel captive nuts inside the mounting boxes. A centerstand simply helps those captive nuts strip out even faster than they already do without help from a centerstand.

All of the above is why my KLR-650 has no centerstand. I had one on the bike, but took it off because it did more harm than good. If I need to loft a wheel off the ground and I'm not at home in my garage where I can just wheel the lift under it, it's pretty easy to do -- click the Givi topbox off and place it on the right hand side of the parked motorcycle. Push the motorcycle over onto its sidestand until the rear tire (or front tire) is off the ground. Kick Givi topbox underneath the skidplate at the appropriate place so that said tire *stays* off the ground. Voila.

So on a dual-sport motorcycle, a centerstand is not necessary. If all else failed, I could turn off the gas and lay my KLR on its side and do whatever I needed. It wouldn't hurt the KLR, as long as I kept the cylinder above the oil level so that I don't get hydrolock. My KLR has spent a weekend on its side before when I was off camping and a bear knocked it open and ripped all the luggage apart looking for WD-40 to eat (he found it, BTW -- I have a picture somewhere of the WD-40 can, crushed by bear jaws, holes from bear teeth in it). Didn't hurt the KLR at all, though the luggage was trashed.

So anyhow, now we come to my new Suzuki DL650 V-Strom, and we find one very big reason to have a center stand: There's no skid plate or frame members to use to lift the bike! Yeppers, the oil pan is just a hangin' out there in the breeze, and it's not a *big* oil pan, and you wouldn't want to try to lift the bike on it. So how do you change the tires? Well, look back by the suspension dog bones, and what do you see? CENTER STAND MOUNTING HOLES!

So I researched the available center stands and chose the one that I liked the most -- the SW-Motech, which is a bit narrower than the OEM one, and reduces ground clearance a little more, but does not interfere with cornering clearance. So in my next article, I install this sucker on my V-Strom 650...

-- Badtux the Motorcycle Penguin

Thursday, June 19, 2008

The Menagerie

The Silver Demon, so-called because it whispered in my ear, "Buy me! Buy me!" until I did: The Demon is a 2006 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited with a 2" spacer lift, 32" tires, and an Aussie Locker in the front axle. This was the last year of the classic Jeep TJ design and 4.0L inline 6 engine that could trace its heritage to the Rambler six's of the 1960's. It is slow, crude, evil-handling, drinks gas like it's going out of style, reliable as dirt as long as you keep on top of the maintenance, and it'll go anywhere reasonable for a 4x4 to go, and some places that aren't -- I have a couple of dents on the underside to prove the latter.


The Green Mule, so-called because, well, you'll see: The Mule is a 2002 Kawasaki KLR-650 dual-sport, outfitted here for some serious desert expeditioning. With the 7 gallon gas tank and 40mpg fuel economy it'll go over 250 miles on a tank of gas in relative comfort. The KLR is a crude and simple design that will run on any gasoline capable of being called "gas", is fixable with duct tape and a BFH (Big Fuckin' Hammer), and reliable as dirt. It's main problems are a) very weak on power (as in, top speed of about 75mph loaded down like the picture slowing down to about 50mph on long mountain grades), b) a ton of vibration, and c) a feeble headlight that fireflies laugh at. Unfortunately fixing parts a and b is very expensive and part c is unfixable without dumping the OEM headlight cluster entirely because the square headlight reflector simply won't produce an acceptable headlight pattern. Plus the KLR lacks the electrical generator capacity to run a high wattage bulb even if you did dump the OEM headlight and fairing.


The Wabs: Sorry I don't have a better picture yet, I just brought it home and this is the best that I can do in my garage. This is a 2008 Suzuki DL650AK8 V-Strom ABS. It is a sweet bike that is comfortable for the solo tourer when equipped with hard luggage and a big windshield (which this one will be), but still lightweight enough to be a fun commuter in the city when you strip the luggage off and run with the small OEM windshield. It has nearly twice the horsepower of the KLR and headlights that'll light up the night, especially now that I've put Phillips +50 H4 bulbs in there -- twice the headlight power of my KLR, with much better reflectors that put the light where it needs to be. The Weestrom (as the 650 V-Strom is nicknamed) has only one real weakness as a light tourer, and that's a lack of electrical power. You can run heated grips and a heated jacket liner, and a couple of light electronic gadgets like a GPS and an XM radio, and that's pretty much it. But you don't need auxiliary lights with the excellent headlights that the Weestrom has, so that's not a real problem. The Wee has only one big problem, and that problem is a serious lack of personality -- it is a pleasant bike that is good at everything but doesn't have the character of the KLR or Jeep. On the upside it gets 60mpg due to the more modern fuel-injected engine and while it has all the personality of a blender, it is as reliable as one too.

So that's the menagerie. More on them as we go along...

-- Badtux the Motorin' Penguin

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Adding a GIVI topbox mount to V-Strom 650

This is how to add a Givi hard luggage topbox mount to a 2008 Suzuki V-Strom 650. The Givi kit is the E528 plate kit. It should be identical on everything V-Strom.

When you open the Givi box and unpack the kit, you find this: There are the two brackets that mount on the OEM luggage rack, the top plate that mounts to the brackets, and the hardware packet with all the screws for doing this. There's also an insert (the hard plastic thing), but I never put that on because it makes it hard to take the top plate off when necessary (remember, you have to take the top plate off to get to the luggage rack bolts, and you have to take the luggage rack off to get into the side covers to do things like, e.g., add brake fluid to the rear brake).

To do this task easily, you need these tools: From left to right: a 5mm allen wrench, a 4mm allen wrench, a 10mm open-end wrench, a tube of blue (medium) thread-locker, a pair of bent-nose pliers, a pair of scissors, and a 10mm socket wrench. You can actually do this job with the contents of your Suzuki toolkit plus the thread locker, but it's a lot easier with better-quality tools.

Okay. now here's the ground rules. There's other ways to do some of this. For example, I will take the luggage rack off. But someone with smaller fingers or better eyesight may just need to loosen the luggage rack screws. The way I'm going to do it is the easiest way (not necessarily the way I *actually* did it, mind you, but the way I'd do it again!).

So here we go:

Remove the seat.
Remove the luggage rack by unbolting the following four bolts with your 10mm socket wrench.

Place the rack on old newspaper or some other surface where it won't get scratched up, and remove the rubber top cover on the luggage rack. There are five rubber nubs holding it in. To remove one of the rubber nubs, take the bent-nose pliers and use them to tuck one edge of the flange on the backside into the hole, while at the same time you pull on the other side. If you keep tucking pieces of the flange into the hole while tugging on the other side, eventually the whole thing will pop out. Repeat until all five are out, and lay the rubber top cover aside. (Sorry I have no picture of me doing this, hard for me to take pictures when doing something that takes two hands plus my knees!).

Once the rubber cover is off, we're ready to mount the brackets onto it. Here is the hardware we need to mount the brackets. Note that the FLAT-sided bracket goes on the back. The ANGLE-sided bracket goes on the front. Assemble the hardware as such:

Round-top 4mm allen-head screws with washers on top, washers then the bright-colored 10mm ny-lock nuts on the bottom. Here we are going to put the front bracket on first, which is the bracket with the ANGLED sides. The rear bracket is the one with the FLAT sides. You only need to snug up the bolts, you don't need to twist the heads off, remember we have nylock nuts here which won't come off easily. Note that the front bracket is supposed to point the other way, towards the front. Having it this way moves the mounting plate and topbox backward slightly and gives more room to the passenger, but at the expense of making the top plate harder to mount (since the top-plate nuts are hidden behind the bracket to a certain extent). Experiment to see what works best for you -- this is motorcycle science, not rocket science, and there's no One True Way.

Now bolt the rack with brackets back onto the bike. Put a couple of drops of blue thread locker on each of the long 10mm bolts when you snug them down. Thus far I have not found a Suzuki spec on what these things are supposed to be torqued to...

Now place the plastic Givi mount on top of the brackets so that you can see the bracket's mounting holes through the diamond-shaped holes in the mount. Drop a diamond-shaped silver plate into each of the diamond-shaped holes and position so you can see the mounting bracket holes through the holes in the silver plates. Assemble a 5mm allen head screw and washer, and shove through the hole in the plate and through the hole in the bracket. Now, using your 10mm open-head wrench, take the black nylock nut and position it under the plate next to the screw, lift the screw from the top and then shove the nut into place with your open-head wrench and jam the screw back down onto it. Tighten a few threads using the 5mm allen wrench on top and the 10mm open head wrench on bottom. Repeat for all screws. Now, tighten all four corners so that the nuts are barely touching the brackets, and then position the top plate to your desired position. Snug down the allen-head screws. You're now done! Note -- I never put the smooth cover that says "Givi" onto the Givi mount. It makes it harder to take the top plate off, and the diamond-shaped holes in the Givi top-plate give places to poke bungee cords through the thing when you're using it as a luggage rack rather than a luggage mount. This is how I leave it. And here is my Givi E45 mounted on it:

My SOLAS tape is really doing its job of shining, eh?!

-- Badtux the Wrenchin' Penguin