Gear / Parts Parts Reviews Happy Trails SU Rack Review: Long-Term Test

Happy Trails SU Rack Review: Long-Term Test

Happy Trails SU Rack Review: Luggage Mounting System

For the past two years, I have been using Happy Trails’ SU rack to mount the Idaho company’s Sahara pannier bags to my 2011 Kawasaki KLR650.

Although Happy Trails no longer sells the Sahara bags, the SU (Structurally Unique) rack is designed to use with a variety of soft or hard luggage sets.

I bought these racks primarily for commuting duty, and they have easily fulfilled this role along with the occasional overnight trips. To date, the Happy Trails SU racks have remained stable and in place. Apart from the collection of road grime, they look brand new, despite benign neglect on my part.

Happy Trails SU Rack Review soft bagsThe four-point mounting system includes mounting hardware. The SU rack uses 5/8-inch thick round tubing for the arms and 3/4-inch thick square tubing for the luggage attachment area. This ensures the racks stay stable under loads, and varying surface conditions. Along with the mounting system, the SU rack uses a bumper support strongly welded between the two side racks for strength, stability, and protection.

Additionally, the racks improve the motorcycle’s rear subframe’s structural integrity by adding protection in case of tip-overs. Yes, unfortunately, I have tested this added support and happy to state this added feature has kept my KLR650 intact.

Mounting the Happy Trails SU racks to the KRL650 is a rather straightforward task. It does not involve disconnecting the blinkers’ electrical connectors, though the turn indicators do need to be removed to remount on the installed racks.

Happy Trails SU Rack ReviewHappy Trails claims the job should take about 15 minutes, and I found myself taking 20 minutes as I wanted to make sure I had correctly followed the well-illustrated, step-by-step instructions—the “measure twice, cut once” approach.

The rack’s rigid, one-piece construction makes installation easy—a nice side benefit to the design. When it comes time to mount luggage, you may have to purchase some additional adaptive hardware depending on the luggage brand.

One feature that I have yet to take advantage of is the inner tool plate with mounting slots on the left rack. The slots allow strapping on Happy Trails’ Cap-It! top bag, a small tool bag, or a PVC pipe section to carry basic tire tools and a spare tube.

Happy Trails SU Rack Review: Long-Term TestThe SU rack is not designed exclusively for the Kawasaki KLR650. There are SU racks for most popular dual sport or adventure motorcycles, and even a few outliers such as the Buell Ulysses, Moto Guzzi Quota, and Triumph Tiger 995. Otherwise, motorcycles from Japan, Germany, and Austria are covered nicely.

Overall, the Happy Trails SU rack has proven to be a solid, reliable accessory, and I do plan to take advantage of the mounting feature next year.

Happy Trails SU Rack Review rear look

Happy Trails SU Rack Fast Facts

  • Weight: 11-12 pounds, including hardware, depending on the application
  • Typical W x H x L dimensions: 10.5 x 18.5 x 13”
  • Finish: Black powder coating
  • Happy Trails SU Rack Price: $269 MSRP, including mounting hardware

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