Kawasaki Ninja 250R Tail Trunk Saddles
As the Ninjette was purchased primarily for commuting duties I have been on the lookout for a means of adding some utility with out compromising the look, feel, or fuel economy of the bike. As summer 2006 approached and warmer weather hit North Texas it became apparent that the old back pack method of carrying items back and forth to school was going to get quite hot and uncomfortable. A further consideration was that light touring which the 250 really excelled at required additional on-bike storage.
Most means of stowage require expensive, unattractive, and rather permanent tail-rack systems that add nothing to the Ninja's appearance or necessitate the use of bungee cords, straps, or magnets which could wear on the bike's finish. Rack mounted tail trucks tend to sit well behind the rider which would increase aerodynamic drag so I wanted a system that would tuck in the slipstream of the bike and rider as much as possible. Additionally, such rearward placing would tend to increase the load behind the rear wheel rather than over it and tend increase torque on the rear frame overhang. Saddle bags looked as if they were not very aerodynamic either and could really damage the paint on the side panels. I have had great success with magnetic tank bags not damaging the finish and being handy on trips, yet, I didn't want to use one for daily commuting because you have to remove it to fill the fuel tank and eventually you will scratch the tank surface. Tank bags were a last resort.
The solution was to purchase an extra saddle and mount a small tail trunk directly to it. When I wanted to make a day trip or carry someone pillion I had the stock saddle. For commuting and single touring I would have the tail trunk saddle and could change between the two with little difficulty.
Note on the basic design concept: tail trunks are designed to fit and mount on luggage racks which typically are level to the ground and very open toward the rear of the motorcycle. The mounting system design includes a raised adapter to level the trunk mounting bracket and assure that the body work of the Ninja 250Rs do not interfere with the operation of the trunk's rear clasp and locking system or visa versa.
Basic Procedure (2007 and earlier)
A used saddle was acquired from a Ninja 250 Riders Club member. I selected a JC Whitney Medium Motorcycle Travel Trunk as it looked to be the best combination of size and price. The width of the trunk selected was just over 17" so it would tend to tuck in aerodynamically behind the rider and introduce little wind loading on the saddle frame. Once the saddle and trunk were secured, careful measurements were taken to assure the Ninjette's grab handle would not interfere with the tail trunk when mounted.
All vinyl and foam was removed and the saddle frame cleaned. A basic wooden platform was then constructed to support the tail trunk mounting bracket. There was a good deal of fitting and refitting during the construction of the wooden platform. The platform was enclosed so it could be upholstered. Holes were drilled through the platform and the saddle frame so bolts of sufficient length could be employed to "clamp" the tail trunk mounting bracket to the saddle frame with the wooden platform "sandwiched" in between. The idea being that any lateral or fore/aft loading would be spread between the tail trunk mounting bracket and the saddle frame keeping any direct loading of the wooden platform to primarily compression. The saddle and bracket were then sent to Terry's Trim Shop in Greenville, Texas for custom foam sculpturing and upholstering.
The saddle returned from Terry's Trim Shop with two extra layers of foam, one a soft open cell top layer and the other a stiff closed cell layer laid on top of the existing and additional structural foam. The seating area was leveled and widened to a more touring shape. The tail trunk mounting bracket was fastened to the saddle via appropriate length 5/16" bolts, stop nuts, flat washers, and fender washers inserted fully through the saddle frame/wooden platform combination. Shims made from rubber-cellulose gasket material were used at motorcycle frame to saddle frame contact points to raise the overall the saddle structure to prevent interference of the thicker than stock upholstery with the top of the Ninja's side panels.
Cortech Sport Tail Pack Addition
My participation as Christian Motorcyclists Association member at the Republic Of Texas Biker Rally in Austin, Texas necessitated taking additional space to transport extra clothing. After examining several soft packs, including strap mount tank bags, I chose the Cortech Sport Tail Pack to provide the extra luggage capacity. The Cortech tail pack uses a Velcro and "parachute clip" arrangement to securely attach to the associated Cortech Sport Saddle Bags. I used this feature to mount to tail pack to the existing tail trunk saddle.
Adhesive Velcro was strategically placed on the top of the JC Whitney Medium Motorcycle Travel Trunk. The clips were positioned in such a manner that the tail truck can be opened while the Cortech tail pack is mounted. Stainless steel hardware was used to mount the female clips to the Travel Trunk.
The Cortech tail pack, which sits behind the shoulders and back of a seated rider, is minimally effected by wind loading from forward motion. The extra height and weight, however, are noticeable as is wind loading from cross winds, semi-trucks, and rider tucking. In the end this addition was abandoned.
Photos (2007 and earlier)
Saddle frame with the basic tail trunk platform mounted.
Underside detail of saddle frame showing trunk platform mounting.
Saddle frame with enclosed trunk platform (Note markings for tail trunk mounting bracket to saddle frame bolt holes).
Saddle frame with enclosed trunk platform front view.
Saddle frame with enclosed trunk platform and forward seating area foam in place.
Saddle as returned from Terry's Trim Shop (front view).
Saddle as returned from Terry's Trim Shop (side view -- Note the holes for the 5/16" bolts).
Underside detail of saddle frame showing trunk platform mounting with bolts, stop nuts, and washers.
Top detail of saddle frame showing trunk platform mounting with bolts and washers.
Tail trunk mounted on the saddle.
Tail Trunk Saddle on the Ninjette.
Velcro and forward clips.
Velcro and rear clips.
Detail of forward clip mounting.
Detail of rear clip mounting.
Cortech Sport Tail Pack addition atop the tail trunk saddle.
Basic Procedure (2008 and later)
After some searching a used pillion saddle was acquired from ebay. The same model JC Whitney Medium Motorcycle Travel Trunk was used as in the earlier installation. The latest iteration has an improved mounting bracket. The stock saddle pan is of course not designed to handle the lateral loading that a tail trunk will place on it. Care was taken to ensure that mounting area would include a plate to reinforce the pillion saddle pan.
All vinyl and foam was removed and the saddle frame cleaned. A basic wooden platform was then constructed to support the tail trunk mounting bracket. Holes were drilled through the platform and the saddle frame so bolts of sufficient length could be employed to "clamp" the tail trunk mounting bracket to the saddle frame with the wooden platform "sandwiched" in between. The saddle with mounted platform were then taken to Terry's Trim Shop in Greenville, Texas for custom foam sculpturing and matching faux black ostrich upholstery.
The saddle returned from Terry's Trim Shop. The tail trunk mounting bracket was fastened to the saddle via appropriate length 1/4" bolts, stop nuts, flat washers, and fender washers inserted fully through the saddle frame/wooden platform combination and the fabricated reinforcement plate to prevent the stock pillion saddle pan from being ripped apart.
Photos (2008 and later)
As the pillion saddle pan arrived in the mail
All Cleaned up
Wooden trunk support mounted on pillion saddle pan.
Upholstered base with mounting bracket attached (top view).
Upholstered base with mounting bracket attached (side view).
Upholstered base with mounting bracket attached (forward view).
Upholstered base with mounting bracket attached (bottom view).
Upholstered base with mounting bracket attached (bottom view).
Base attached to Ninjette II.
Tail Trunk assembly attached to Ninjette II (corny red plastic trim was painted black).
Ninjette II in full sport touring guise with tail trunk, tank bag, and touring windscreen.
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