Motorcycle accessories are expensive. In fact, I remember reading once that when you buy a motorcycle, you’re really just making a down payment on accessories. My experience bears this out.

Yesterday I was riding solo and stopped by Van Sant Airport in Bucks County, PA – a regular gathering place for bikers. As I was munching on a hotdog from the snack bar, I noticed a Kawasaki KLR-650 pull in. The KLR is a similar bike to my V-Strom, so my interest was already piqued, and this particular bike had what looked like a very unusual set of panniers and topbox.

When I looked more closely and chatted with the owner, it was clear that this luggage set up was so ingenious and uniquely frugal that I had to write about it. Here are some pictures. See if you can figure out who makes this luggage set (apologies for the picture quality; I didn’t have my digital camera with me so these were taken with my iPhone):

KLR-650 with unusual luggage…

Another angle.

Close-up of the pannier. The sticker is from a local motorcycle shop, not the manufacturer.

Close up of the top box.

So here’s the deal. The owner (Pete) put mounting brackets on his bike ($200 from the local dealer) and jerry-rigged plastic bins from two large containers of Kingsford Charcoal Briquettes ($14 each). The bins are completely waterproof and accessible, albeit not secure against theft. Then he found a box from a DeWalt tool set in the trash and mounted that straight to the stock KLR luggage rack (cost: $0). The box has plenty of space for gear, and like the charcoal bins, is completely waterproof. The paint and paint scheme I don’t entirely understand, but when I asked him about the color choices, Pete said, “That’s just what I had in the barn.”

Pete went on to say, “The dealer wanted $1,000 for luggage. That’s a lot of travel money to me, so I wanted to find something cheaper. This is what I came up with.”

I’ll admit it’s not as flashy as a set of Touratech luggage but, damn! I’m impressed with Pete’s resourcefulness. As they say in baseball about an ugly hit, “Not purdy but effective.” The same holds true for Pete’s home made motorcycle luggage.