Motorcycle Rack and Headlight Support

Hello everybody!

My name is Diogenes (Dio) I just had a chance to know the VHS Space yesterday and I got super excited about it!

I’m looking to make a simple motorcycle rack and some brackets for a new headlight, but I have zero experience with metal (I use to make stuff with wood), and I would like to know if there’s any workshop or something like this so I can learn how to use the tools.

Also, since this is the first time working with metal, I would like to ask if someone knows the best way to approach this, like the best materials, welding etc. I’m attaching some drawings with the idea.

Thank you so much! Hope you all have a great week!!

Cheers!

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Cool!
I’ve done a few small things for my bikes at VHS, and I have another project I need to do soon.

First, GREAT designs and drawings. Having this drawn up makes life way easier, and you’re already way ahead of many people who look to start a project like this.

I always find it easiest to find a similar project, and use that as a base.
I found this: https://adventure-motorcycling.com/2012/07/15/building-an-overlanding-rack-1/
where somebody is building similar parts.

For metal, I’d suggest steel tubes, and welding. I’d use MIG as I’m most comfortable with it, but there are more experienced metalworkers than me on this forum who will likely chime in. Bending is going to be he hardest part, but it shouldn’t be too bad. What I’d do is set up a wood form, and use a bit of heat to bend some long steel tubes around the forms. You have some leeway, since you can just hammer it till it’s close enough, then weld on the tabs after to match up exactly.

For process of learning, your best bet is to decide how to do something, and ask if anyone has some spare time to help you achieve it.

Get your hands on the raw material, plus a bunch of extra to learn with. There will be mistakes, but mistakes are actually a pretty cheap way to learn!

Here are a few prices of steel I ran up for the luggage rack, ranging from normal rack, to mother of all racks that could hold up a truck.

Hi Rob!

Thank you so much for all the information, this is a great starting point for me, I’ll read the link you sent more carefully, I didn’t think about looking for other similar projects, I completely forgot about it for this one haha.

For the materials, I was thinking on something that I could minimize the welding points, so it would be more strong, also I think that since I don’t have experience, bending would be easier than welding everything.

Where did you get this price from? Someone told me about the Metal Supermarket but I don’t know if there’s another better/cheaper place to buy from.

Thanks again for spend some time on this =)

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Don’t be afraid of the welder. The joints are very strong, ideally stronger than the tube. And it looks great after grinding and paint. As for experience, this is a great first welding project, and as long as your timelines aren’t tight, you can find more experienced people to help do the welds. There are really only about 10 welds to do on the thing, it’ll be quite easy. Getting everything prepped is the time consuming part. In fact, I find bending is much harder than welding. I’m not sure you can easily get the bends in your drawing with the tools we have right now at VHS

I think I’d make the rack as two pieces, that join in the middle. Pretty much split it down the middle vertically from the top view in your drawing.

This is from Metal Supermaket! I just did some pricing out for a different project, and it’s generally the easiest place to get stuff. There may be cheaper, but buying from metal supermarket eliminates a variable, as you get exactly what you expected.

The Panel part looks like it’ll be just bending some sheet metal. I don’t have a ton of experience with it, but we do have a metal bender at the space now, so it’s in theory doable! Again, somebody with more experience can chime in.

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i concur with everything rob said. dont be scared of the welder. mig is reasonably easy to learn and a great skill to learn.

With almost everything i have built for my bikes. the first idea was never the last. each iteration gets better.

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Cool project! Can’t wait to see it done.

One of the last steps will be painting, and as of recently we are well set up for that! Hang your part in the spray booth, turn on the exhaust fans, and hit it with some spray cans. Wear your PPE.

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Note, it looks like the top 3 here are actually the wrong type of steel, from a bit of research.

Oh wow thank you so much for all your replies! That’s awesome!!! To be honest I was almost giving up on this project, I’m trying to find a place and or professionals to do it since last October!

I’ll do some mockup in real size for this parts so I get more accurate sizes etc. For the front panel, some people that I’ve shown the idea, told me that would be easier to do it on a lazer cutter, I don’t know if there is something like this at VHS.

Tonight I’ll search more about the materials and tomorrow night I’ll go to the Open House at VHS to see when I could start it.

Cheers!

Our laser can’t cut metal. But it CAN cut a paper template that you can follow with other tools, exceptionally well.

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…and we have a plasma cutter. Which can cut steel and follow wooden templates, which you can cut on the laser cutter.

Tubing would be stronger and much lighter than building the thing out of solid plate, but bending is more work and its easy to collapse thin wall tubing when bending. Solid steel rod is a compromise as its fairly easy to bend, decently strong, but heavier than tubing without really a gain in strength.

I would be tempted to bend solid steel rod for the corners, then weld it to a piece of tubing for the straight runs. More welds and slightly heavier but easier bends. There are also techniques to pack the tubing with sand, and bend it that way.

We do also have a metal brake that can bend up to 16 gauge steel for the bottom panel.

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Hi people!

I’m going to buy the stuff tomorrow to start the fabrication, for the rack I’m going to get some solid 3/4 mild steel, but for the front plate, what would be the best/easier material to get for cutting and bending?

Cheers

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So… 3/4" steel is going to be really, really heavy (like 30lbs/sf) and a right bastard to work with (not sure what the max cut capacity of our plasma is but I would be surprised if it can even cut more than 1/2"). You don’t want to be carving steel as if its wood, you will have a bad day.

We use 1/2" mild steel plate for rigs holding up entire train cars, steel is stronger than you think basically.

Thickness and material are going to depends on what kind of loads you are putting on the thing but my guess is you’d be looking at something like 5/16" or 3/8" round for the curved bars and 1/8"or 3/16" x 1" flat bar for the tabs, could also build up the bottom pate from a series of flatbars welded together.

We also cant put anything thicker than about 16 gauge sheet on our metal brake if you are planning to go that way for anything, 1/8th and 3/16 flat bar can be bent in a vice with a hammer pretty readily.

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Thanks @dbynoe, the front plate will only hold two headlights and the instrument panel, basically plastic stuff, and will be placed on the frame, so I don’t think it will have problems with overload. The rear rack will be holding just my backpack with a gas can when I’m travelling or my bicycle that will be attached to that eventually, but the rack will also be mounted on the frame of my bike, will not be hanging like some motorcycles. I’ll do as you said, and get thinner mild steel then…

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