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The Tour-A-Plank Tale

Blog Date - 25 July 2019

By Ren Withnell

Sharon purchased the Z250SL on the premise that Hepco & Becker listed some smart, stylish and yet functional clip-on bags on their website. It eventually transpired Hepco & Becker were listing products they were only thinking of developing, not actual products you could buy. And they never developed the Z250SL luggage system.

The Hepco And Becker C-Bow luggage system on a variety of motorcycles
Thanks Hepco & Becker, for nothing.

This left Sharon "sans luggage". Gosh darn it.

After a few attempts at using various bags, bungees and bodges Her Worshipful Madam Parker was not happy. What this problem needed was money throwing at it. Unfortunately while Princess Parker might have the airs and graces of the upper echelons she doesn't have the pennies.

Endless Ebay searching eventually furnished her with 80 litres of Kriega luggage for the price a humble part time librarian can manage. Straps were fitted under the seat, bags were (over)filled and many adventures were had using said luggage.

4 Kreiga luggage bags attached to Sharon's Kawasaki Z250SL
The Kreiga stuff works, but.

This Kreiga luggage is not without its own problems. Kreiga kit may be stable on the back of a big fat seated Pan Europeans or FRJ1300s. On narrow seated Z250SLs the lack of girth means the luggage will wobble from side to side and unless perfectly balanced be at risk of slipping to one side. 

In an attempt to achieve secure stability Sharon would pull, heave, yank and then tug at the straps. With ultra tightness achieved the luggage might be marginally stable. Of course luggage settles. As Sharon's bike bounced over speed bumps and pot holes the contents of the bags shuffle and shimmy ever closer together, causing the straps to loosen a little. 

Every stop on route would lead to more heaving and yanking and tugging to re-secure the bags. Heaven forbid the bags needed to be opened to retrieve or return waterproofs or a warming jumper. This would entail a 15 minute stop to release all that tension, make the required changes and then reapply all that tension. Ever patient (inefficient) Sharon took all this in her stride, in the meantime I would be removing hair from my head in clumps.

We discussed the fitment of racks. Givi now list a rack and top-box system for the Z125 which is (almost) the same bike. Almost? The rear footrests on Sharon's 250 are welded, the 125's are bolted. This could be overcome though with a little engineering I'm sure. Other racks are available from the far east too. 

The 2 footrest hangars, one is bolted the other is welded
Sharon's 250 on the left, the Z125 right. We could get around this somehow. But.

Sharon has "considered" these. But there is a massive huge BUT! Sharon likes pretty things. Flowers, trees, bumble bees, twinkling fairy lights in the garden, dreamcatchers hanging over the bed, fluffy bunnies and additional cushions. Why the HELL do people need additional decorative cushions that have to be removed if you want to actually sit down like a normal human being? Sharon thinks her Z250SL is very pretty too. It seems there's no way she is going to ruin it with a stonking great top box and/or rack.

A lawn, lost of flowers and plane, breakfast outside and sunshine all in Sharon's little garden
Sharon's garden is so pretty. Tarmac the lot, large workshop, 30 motorcycles rotting under tarps, that's what I'd do.

Being pragmatic rather than aesthetic this perspective escapes me entirely. Nonetheless being pragmatic I have learned that fighting the aesthetic perspective is a fruitless and inefficient path to take. If possible it is better to try and pragmatically engineer around the problem.

I am not allowed to fit ANYTHING to Sharon's bike that cannot be removed within a few minutes. I wish to create something that will provide a solid and stable platform for Sharon's luggage to sit upon. Hmmmmmmm... mmmmmm... mmmmm... mmmmm. I have my thinking cap on.

Bungees stretch. The good thing about bungees is that as the contents of a bag settles and gets smaller the stretch in the bungee takes up the slack. But this same beneficial stretch is also a problem as on a wobbly load the stretch allows the wobble to, erm, wobble. I need tight unstretchable straps on a medium that will not settle or alter it's shape. 

I have 2 "cam buckle" straps. Like ratchet straps but with a much simpler holding mechanism. These don't stretch (hardly). I spy a cut-off of ply in the shed. Hmmmmm... mmmmm... mmmmm.

This is what I come up with.

4 images collated showing tour-a-plank and how it is strapped to the 250
Genius, sheer genius. 

The idea is the straps and the plank are non stretchy and none compressible and none bendy. Once fitted there will be no settling. 

To minimise wobbling from side to side the rear footrests provide the widest anchor points. Unfortunately we cannot use the rear footrests alone as these are forward of the rear seat, the tension in the straps pulls the plank forward off the seat. Luckily there are hook points on the numberplate bracket. 

In an ideal world these numberplate hook points would be further back to counter the pull from the footrests. However they are not. I did consider suggesting to Sharon that I create something bolted on that will provide an anchor point further back to counter the pull. Then I remembered I absolutely totally definitely must not mess wish the beautiful motorcycle.

So as things stand right now Tour-A-Plank does work but has just a subtle desire to move forwards on the tiny rear seat. Plans are in place to try affixing a non-slip material to the underside of the plank to reduce the risk of slippage - or to create another kind of fixing as yet undiscovered. 

Development is slow. While it may seem like we do a lot of camping we don't really. Unfortunately Sharon is not a millionaire so we both have to work. If anyone reading this would like to turn Sharon or myself into very wealthy folks please feel free to do so. In the meantime when I am happy that Tour-A-Plank in complete it will be coming to the market priced at a very reasonable £349.99.

Maybe you can't make us rich but you can still help. Click here.

Reader's Comments

Stuart said :-
Looks good to me - Sharon's garden I mean. Just a thought, my KTM has a separate pillion seat the you can remove. Is the Kawasaki the same and is there any way you can anchor the 'tour plank' too?

26/7/2019 8:43:01 AM UTC
Ren - The Ed¹ said :-
Sharon's Kwakker does have a separate pillion seat. We have looked at sourcing a spare to butcher. Buuuuuuuuuut, there is always a but. Imagine said seat is simply fitted with a pin or bolt through it onto which Tour-A-Plank is attached.

First issue is when Tour-A-Plank is removed there will be a pin or bolt poking out the seat. This will displease the Lady whose motorcycle the seat belongs to. Oh, Oh oh! Oh you think as long as the bike can be returned to normal after the trip is complete? No, no no, the bike must return to normal once we have arrived at the campsite and removed the luggage. Tut, we cannot be having the bike parked on site with a pin poking out the seat.

Second issue. The advantage with Tour-A-Plank *not* being firmly fixed to the seat is in the event of a spill say in a car park or dropping the bike on campsite grass the luggage may come into contact with the ground. At present the hope is the luggage and Tour-A-Plank can move sufficiently that is absorbs a little of the impact but not enough to damage the seat or more importantly the subframe.
26/7/2019 9:49:13 AM UTC
Stuart said :-
Things are never straight forward.
26/7/2019 10:40:03 AM UTC
Ren - The Ed¹ said :-
No they ain't Stuart. Mind you if it was easy we'd all be doing it.
26/7/2019 11:01:47 AM UTC
Bill said :-
Scrap seat as a touraplank mounting with plank permanently fixed to it, take original seat with you to fit upon arrival. Modify plank to have integrated carrier for the original seat.C'mon Ren get toolkit out :-)
26/7/2019 4:21:32 PM UTC
Henrik said :-
So happy about the Givi pre-made rack for Zuma ,.. I use them with the very small E22 side-box and a 50L topbox
Posted Image
28/7/2019 12:39:52 PM UTC
Henrik said :-
Even the very high weight on the Zuma I can somehow appriciate, becourse like a larger bike you can load it more with luggage without it being unstable

So for a litlle weekend-trip I mounted the bigger E41 side-boxes, terrible big for the bike visually, and also it gave me problems, with heavy wind right agains me, using my 6. gear for normal cruise-speed, 90km/t, there would be a nasty 0.5 sek repeating overtone noise like telling that the engine had to much load. Under 85 km/t it would be almost gone, and over 98 km/t the same

But very bad to have this crazyness right in the sweet-spot for normal speed, though I dont fear any problems besides the little noise itself

I then tested without the big E41's and the problem was almost gone

Just all this to say that a loaded 250ccm is always on the edge, and wind-resistance, should be consudered also

I am back on the smaller E22 sideboxes for my upcomming 12 day trip, even though I had hoped being able to use the double-sized E41

With the big bags and a heavy wind against I did an avarage of 76,35 mpg or 3.7L/100km

The Kawa-problem is a hard one to deal with, a very big tank-bag, and small soft luggage each side the tank perhaps

I consider a windscreen for the zuma also wih a little luggage holder in the buttom for smaller things
Posted Image
28/7/2019 1:05:05 PM UTC
Upt'North said :-
You're right Henrik those boxes do look big on there, but if you're going to carry the stuff anyhows then wouldn't it be easier in there.
Nice veggies.
28/7/2019 2:15:15 PM UTC
Henrik said :-
Upt'North ,.. what I just did was a 300 km test-drive, before the big trip

Like said I am not sure its ok, and will therefore use the smaller bags also this time, and wait with the big ones untill later, or drop them, need more testing,.

I will reduce extra gas-cans, water, and food, and do a little more shopping during the trip insteadt

I will be gone 12 days this time, and not just 6-7 days like usual

Yes nice garden, but totalky unlike Sharons :-) we have started experiment with food-production, to be partly self-supplyed when we retire on about 6 years time. Its a big challenge, even more so becouse we are located on cliff-ground, and its been nessesary to develope automatic watering as we are not living here always, as long as we still work

28/7/2019 3:26:11 PM UTC
Upt'North said :-
And in the next addition of Gardeners world.....sorry Ed
Some of the garlic harvest drying out and a bike!
Do you grow Garlic Henrik. Its a very easy crop.
Posted Image
28/7/2019 6:18:04 PM UTC
Henrik said :-
Impressive amount of garlic ,... we dont gave them yet, but on the wishlist, just like a new CRF250L

Don't say I am totally off topic ;-)

After a far to ambissious start last year, we slow down, and concentrate on basics,... various patato, tomato, onions, strawberry, chili, and a few more,.. some new small apple trees

Blueberrys from our forrest for Licor

When we master the basics we will expand slowly with new stuff
28/7/2019 7:01:32 PM UTC
Ren - The Ed¹ said :-
I'd like to show you the crops in my garden. Thing is I'd need a garden first. Then if I had a garden I'd only grow rusty motorcycle parts.

Bill - I have considered getting a spare seat and butchering that. With the Z250SL not being a big seller used parts are not that common. However with the Z125 being almost the same bike there will be some used seats coming on the market sooner or later.
29/7/2019 8:36:49 AM UTC
David Barwick said :-
Here is one;
Posted Image
29/7/2019 9:09:58 AM UTC
Ren - The Ed¹ said :-
HOW MUCH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
29/7/2019 9:16:14 AM UTC
David said :-
£32.99 + £5.95 p+p
29/7/2019 9:30:18 AM UTC
Henrik said :-
That's cheap ,... and likely a rare offer

Guess Kawa would charge at least 10-fold that price, (if they would even deliver quick)

Pricing use to be shameless on such things

29/7/2019 11:58:24 AM UTC
Ren - The Ed¹ said :-
About £150 from Kwakka after a quick look. I guess you all just forget that anything over £1 will always be too expensive to me.
29/7/2019 2:14:53 PM UTC
Upt'North said :-
I didn't forget, I was just waiting for your response. Mr.Predictable.
29/7/2019 7:06:29 PM UTC
Upt'North said :-
Still made me titter.
29/7/2019 7:07:30 PM UTC
Ren - The Ed¹ said :-
I'm glad you're entertained Upt'.
29/7/2019 7:38:19 PM UTC
David Barwick said :-
Ren,how about this rack?
Posted Image
31/7/2019 2:40:54 PM UTC
Ren - The Ed¹ said :-
You'll have to talk to The Proper Honourable Lady Madam Parker. We will humbly await her musings on such an item.
31/7/2019 3:12:33 PM UTC
Sharon said :-
I have seen this type of rack available before. They always seem to be from abroad and I can never work out how they actually fix onto the bike. My Kawasaki Z250SL has no bolts on the pillion peg bars no so I am always unsure how or if they would actually fit.
2/8/2019 12:49:57 AM UTC
Henrik said :-
look at pics ebay

plate under tail-light
2/8/2019 4:49:00 AM UTC
Henrik said :-
And each side like this:
Posted Image
2/8/2019 7:02:14 AM UTC
Henrik said :-
And each side like this:
Posted Image
2/8/2019 7:04:07 AM UTC
Ren - The Ed¹ said :-
From what I can glean from the images there will be some sort of a clamp that goes around the rear bar of the footrest hangar Sharon. The frame will also have a plate that goes between the wheelarch and the number plate hangar. I'm sure it would be fiddly to fit but once fitted it'd work as well and be as sturdy as any other rack.

The question is... would you let me fit it for you Sharon?
2/8/2019 8:14:10 AM UTC
Ian Soady said :-
With Ren's undoubted improvisational (read bodging) skills that would be fitted and working in no time....
2/8/2019 10:02:11 AM UTC
Ren - The Ed said :-
I'm glad to see my amazing engineering skills are appreciated. The hardest part of fitting that rack is the wiring that goes through the centre of the number plate hangar. It would have to be routed through the rack, I presume there are provisions for this.
2/8/2019 3:10:45 PM UTC
Ian Soady said :-
Not cheap at around £150 including postage.

It might be worth talking to this chap who makes very nice racks for classics. You never know he might do you a one-off......
2/8/2019 4:39:13 PM UTC
Ren - The Ed¹ said :-
Thing is, how much would a one-off be? More than £150 I'd have thought.

We've not addressed the initial question - would Sharon be happy with an always-fitted rack... I'm to scared to ask you see.
5/8/2019 9:05:48 AM UTC

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