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After years of resisting my wife's desire to get a dog, I finally gave in and we got one -- a little female... That was three years ago.
Admittedly, I now carry more pictures of my dog than of my children or grandchildren. She has enriched my life beyond measure. But since then, I've noticed that the wife and I do much less riding together. I guess that means she prefers the dog's company to my own. Can't say I blame her.
Actually, the truth is, the idea of leaving the dog home, while we go have fun, just seemed wrong somehow. We just wanted to be together -- all three of us.
In an effort to include our pup on our rides I looked into many solutions. See Appendix - Other Options at the end of this article, for a description of other options I discovered.
The best solution, at least for us, was a tank-mounted system:
- My pet would be within my view. That way I could keep an eye on her without distracting my concentration.
- I would be free to focus on the road... even if she caught a glimpse of a squirrel or garbage-truck (her sworn enemies).
- She would be tucked safely behind the windshield, and in a carrier; no Doggles (doggie goggles) required.
- She would have enough room to adjust her position for comfort.
- The carrier could be easily altered for warmer or cooler weather.
- The passenger seat is left free for the wife.
- The carrier could be quickly installed and removed, as needed.
- We would be able to use the carrier as a tank-bag for trips where we needed extra storage, and are without the dog.
Unfortunately, however, I could find no existing supplier for such a product. I would have to build one myself.
Note: Try as I might, even after a severals months of search, I could not find a local upholsterer, outdoor gear manufacturer, luggage manufacturer, or pet related supplier interested in developing this idea.
In the end, I decided to purchase a ready made, soft-sided, meshed, airline approved pet carrier. This allowed me to focus my efforts on the challenges unique to my application:
- The carrier must be held securely in place. I did this using nylon strapping and hardware I got online.
- The carrier should sit roughly level on the tank. This turned out to be the most complicated part. I first tried using some simple padding on the tank, but my dog was nervous about her steep angle, and it wasn't very secure. Then I built an upholstered, foam, pillow-wedge to go between the tank and carrier. This looked promising... Then she moved to one side, which compressed the pillow, and the straps came loose. In the end, I built a fiberglass and plywood wedge, shaped perfectly to the tank's contours, and exactly matching the footprint of the carrier.
- My motorcycle's custom paint job must be totally protected from any harm from the carrier/mount. This was accomplished by using padded upholstery material (sold by Home Depot as vinyl shelf liner) to cover my custom wedge. This material has a clinging quality that helps keep the carrier 'stuck' firmly in place, and even looks like black leather.
- The speedometer must be clearly visible. I accomplished this using the speedo display on my GPS unit.
I have not written this article as step by step instructions for every detail. Every dog, every rider size, and every rider's preference is different. So I thought it best to share the procedures and the dimensions I used. That way, you can change sizing, materials, and techniques to fit your needs.
Important Disclaimer: You assume all responsibility for all risks with respect to carrying your pet on your bike. I make no claims of safety for anything written or shown herein. What I feel works for me may not work for you.