Ruggedizing the Vario cases

Discussion in 'Equipment' started by Timthai, Nov 30, 2012.

  1. Timthai

    Timthai Never still

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    OK, time for crazy ideas... Has anyone tried ruggedizing the Vario cases?
    I bought the Vario cases with my GS, and now thinking I should have held off...
    I like them for commuting, but I can clearly see they are not much chop for anything more than pure city/highway work.
    I started looking at alternatives, then wondering to myself, what am I going to do with an expensive set of Varios once I fit racks and more substantial luggage?
    Then I got to thinking... Maybe I address some of the weaknesses in the Varios to make them a little more "practical", and use them till their trashed before I lash out on new luggage?
    The obvious weak points (apart from the actual box construction), appears to be the mounting points/latch and, the lack of lateral support on the bottom rear corner. I'm thinking if I can address these two issues, it's then just down to the actuall boxes themselves, and while they might be a bit more fragile when extended, in the narrower position, they will probably take a bit of punishment. (Occy straps and gaffa tape being an essential first aid kit!)
    Anyone tried? Or anyone with experience with the the Varios in an off that might highlight other weaknesses (or convince me that I'm just being stupid?)
    I haven't really started looking at "how" yet, I thought it would be better to see if anyone else has attempted it first... I'm not THAT stupid!
    Cheers.
    #1
  2. Ceri JC

    Ceri JC UK GSer

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    I was thinking the same thing as you a while back. I decided to opt to just keep using them as if they were tougher and then, if they did break, I could more easily justify the cash for some Metal Mules. In the interim, I get the benefit of the Vario system, which is a godsend for business travel when I often want to lock my leathers on the bike (and keep them dry while doing so), but without making my bike so wide it's no good for lane splitting.

    In terms of how mine are holding up, I have had a number of drops with mine, including one that wrote the bike off and put me in intensive care. I used to trail ride with them on regularly (no real reason for stopping doing this, just haven't needed to of late). About 35K of miles with the Vario luggage in place.

    NB: I tried the same thing with my non-ruggedised P&S camera when I was thinking of splurging on a Lumix FT-3. Just treat it as you would a ruggedised one and see how it holds up: Coolpix camera lasted 2 months before I needed to spend on a proper one!
    #2
  3. Timthai

    Timthai Never still

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    Exactly my thought. I actually like the utility of the Varios, my main concern was breaking a mounting point, but your experience suggests they are tougher than they appear.
    Sorry to hear about the serious crash... I don't need to test them out that much! Glad your back on the bike!
    Cheers.
    #3
  4. LaurelPerryOnLand

    LaurelPerryOnLand Long timer

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    1. Yes...the latching points are weak, particularly the RIGHT case, REAR-ward latch.
    These seem to 'snap off' with regularity.

    Some have said BMW actually made these latches to 'break away'...to 'protect' you.
    Others think this is simply a way to get you to buy a $114 replacement bottom.

    2. Lateral stability...somebody (else)...has already see this, as well and produces a horizontal ROD with rubber feet on the ends to provide some more support of the cases. .
    .http://www.ukgser.com/forums/showthread.php?p=2905883#post2905883
    Source: http://www.cymarcbikeparts.co.uk/bmw-r1200gs-vario-pannier-stabiliser-bracket-83-p.asp

    3. THE BIGGEST PROBLEM MANY HAVE WITH VARIOS? They tend to do "unauthorized departures" from the racks.
    This is caused by improper attachment to the 'mushroom' bolts.

    4. You can also take additional steps to secure your cases to the racks.
    For example, drilling a 1/4" hole through the cases back and then through the mounts. Insert a 1/4" lynch pin through both. The cases won't go anywhere.

    Also, you can drill a 1/16" hole in the forward latching mechanism and insert an "R" pin. This insures that the latches don't OPEN if you hit a bump.

    See this thread for specifics:
    "100 Thread"
    http://advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=836736
    Item #38

    PS...some day I'd like to meet the German? who stayed up nights designing this marvel. For all the engineering that went into these...they're cheap!

    No real engineering in the aluminum cases...IMHO.
    #4
  5. Britome

    Britome Get Free

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    My buddy has varios and I'm totally bumme he wot buy other bags. When he goes down off road something always braks and we have to spend an hour finagling something. Then for the rest I the trip using the bags is a pain.

    Then he thinks he has a good fix for the next trip and the cycle repeats itself. Cut your losses and save your self headaches... Buy metal boxes.
    #5
  6. Timthai

    Timthai Never still

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    Thanks LaurelPerryOnLand, some great resources, and appreciate the time you spent putting your post together!
    I figured there had to be plenty of things tried in the past.
    Cheers.
    #6
  7. rhafe123

    rhafe123 Adventurer

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    I recently bought an '07 with Varios and discovered one of the mounting hooks was cracked. They are just hollow plastic. Took a small piece of aluminum and epoxied it from the inside. Better than new. Clearly, they are not designed to take serious abuse. Work fine for everything else though.
    #7
  8. LaurelPerryOnLand

    LaurelPerryOnLand Long timer

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    pics of repair available? Common problem...you might have found THE answer.
    #8
  9. Wild Pig

    Wild Pig Looks like avatar.

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    +1 on the right sided case with the rear mount snapped off, but used some stainless steel bolts. Epoxied the remainder of the hole closed and rattle canned it flat black. Better than before!
    #9
  10. Dan-M

    Dan-M Long timer

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    Yes, pics please.
    #10
  11. Wild Pig

    Wild Pig Looks like avatar.

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    Here it is mounted on the bike. The piece is just some aluminum stock I had laying around. I bent it into shape and drilled some mounting holes in it. I then put the case on and taped the aluminum in place where it would hold the case snugly. I marked the case and drilled the holes.

    [​IMG]

    Here is the case removed. You can see where I siliconed the remainder of the hole where the original mount broke off.
    [​IMG]



    Here's the inside. Note the excessive and haphazard use of silicone. Not necessary for all applications. I believe I was 3 or 4 beers into the project by then. Another hint, if you are using the bolts, install the back one first. About an hour's worth of work, and no cost as I had all the stuff already.

    [​IMG]
    #11