Pillion Pooch | Motorcycle Dog Carrier (Canceled)
Award winning motorcycle pet carrier for small/medium size dogs (<30kg). Engineered for safety, lightweight yet sturdy and durable.
Why did this all start?
We've always been dog people. In Australia we'd holiday with our dog as much as possible, planning the trip to meet our needs and wants as well as hers. But we got around in a Nissan Patrol 4WD so it was easy to throw the dog and all the camping gear in the back and take off.
Desperate to see more of the world, we soon realised that motorbikes had a lot more potential and were a much cheaper way of travelling than a car. At first we thought taking a dog around the world was impossible but the more we researched, the more straightforward we realised it was. Convincing our family and friends was the real challenge, they just thought we were crazy.
But how could we incorporate our dog on a motorcycle adventure? Options for motorbike travel with a dog include a trailer, sidecar or pet carrier. Trailers and sidecars were restrictive and cost prohibitive while pet carriers on the market were mostly for toy dogs and provided little protection. We trialled one of the well known pet carriers, the Beastriders, and although it was a very well made product, we found our dog struggling with anxiety from the exposure and we were never happy with the lack of protection it offered. We quickly realised that we'd need to come up with our own design.
We both have Bachelor of Engineering degree's from the University of New South Wales in Australia and have worked in project management so felt aptly qualified to take on such a venture. We sought advice from an experienced fabricator specialising with motorcycle accessories and had our first prototype produced in Sydney. At this stage we had no intention of manufacturing the Pillion Pooch for sale, but was rather just a single unit for our own personal use.
We knew the product was good, otherwise we would never have trusted it with our beloved dog. But 2 years into a trip where we constantly put it under pressure in harsh environments and tough riding conditions, not to mention dropping the bike and relying on the roll cage to support the weight of the bike and for it to have held up so well is testimony to the time and effort that went into the initial design.
The Pillion Pooch became more than just a pet carrier, we used it extensively for extra storage space. Even with a larger dog, there is sufficient room at the sides to store camping gear, sleeping bags, food (dog or human but with obvious risk depending on your dogs behaviour), wet weather gear, a cask of wine or a 6 pack of beer, etc, etc. We just secured everything with an elastic cargo net on each side and made sure the heavier items were stored towards the leading edge hard up against the frame.
We want to share our Pillion Pooch with the world
We received great feedback and interest on our travels, drawing attention everywhere we go. The response from passers by is most commonly amazement accompanied by pointing and laughter as we fly past; the bright yellow beacon can't help but draw attention. At fuel stations, parking outside restaurants or in towns inevitably a crowd gathers around us asking questions of interest; where are we from, where are we going, is it difficult travelling with a dog, that's so cool.
We would say about 10% of the conversations have resulted in someone saying they want one or knew someone that would. And this got us to thinking that with the positive response we get from everyone we meet, perhaps we could design, manufacture and distribute to riders and their furry friends all over the world so they can enjoy the pleasure of riding together through all terrain and climates like we have.
With 2 years of travel under our tyres, we recently presented a couple of talks at the Horizons Unlimited UK Event in June 2016. The focus of our presentations was on our biker dogs and their travelling stories. We also entered our motorbike into the Bike Show and the Pillion Pooch was awarded first prize for Best Innovation.
Now for something a bit technical
Now that you are getting your head around the concept and probably getting excited, lets talk technical. The design is constructed from 6061-T6 grade aluminium, the highest weldable grade of Aluminium available. All fastenings are made from AISI 304 Stainless Steel. The design incorporates a roll cage engineered to support the weight of a 250kg bike. The harness point is designed to safely restrain a 30kg dog while undergoing greater than 3G's deceleration.
The Pillion Pooch is designed to be narrower than the handlebars and lower than all but the shortest of riders (seating position and rack height dependant). So you will not be taken by surprise when you ride into a tight squeeze. The dimensions are 680mm wide by 450mm deep by 560mm high. The complete unit weighs in at just under 10kg including the frame and canvas. Please consult your motorcycle and/or rear rack manufacturer to ensure they are sufficiently designed to hold the weight of the Pillion Pooch, dog(s) and any luggage you intend strapping within.
The base attaches to the bike via a rear rack. Specific mounting hardware is not included since the rack type will determine the requirements. However, in most cases it is simply a set of u-bolts, either 6 x M6 or 4 x M8. Holes will need to be drilled to suit the u-bolts and lined up with the rack and although a competent 'Do It Yourself'er' could manage the installation, we highly recommend employing the services of a professional.
If you do not have a rack to suit, we can recommend the Happy Trails or the Metal Mule Rear Racks. We have personally used the Happy Trails Rack for the past 2 years and been very impressed by its strength and versatility with the Pillion Pooch. We also visited Metal Mule's factory in the UK and compared their rack and believe it to be of a similarly high standard while covering a larger range of motorcycles. There are a great deal of other rack manufacturer so finding a suitable rack is not too difficult.
The other issue to consider is panniers, hinged panniers such as that supplied by Metal Mule and Happy Trails are not suitable since the Pillion Pooch inhibits their opening. We can recommend the ArdCases as suitable panniers which are compatible with many other pannier rack systems including the Metal Mule system or can be provided without mounts installed so they can be sourced from the rack system supplier.
Are you a dog person? Do you like to ride?
Its a very specific market that we are reaching; people who ride motorcycles, own dogs and want to ride with their dogs. But apart from that there are no rules or requirements as to how much you want to use the Pillion Pooch but here are some ideas to inspire you and your pal:
- going out for coffee, breakfast, lunch;
- Sunday ride with friends;
- romantic getaways;
- camping and motorbike events;
- the long way round.
Don't let people tell you that its too hard to travel with dogs, those people are just looking for the easy way out. Sure it takes a little more planning, but once you get the hang of it, its actually much more pleasant than not having them. We are constantly saying how boring our trip would be without our girls.
We have paused our journey to fully invest our time and energy in developing the Pillion Pooch. Friends we made on the road recommended Kickstarter as a platform to launch our product and after some research we realised it is ideal. Kickstarter is community based and focuses on creative and unique ideas, not on sales and profit figures. We want to deliver something meaningful, well designed and of high quality that will put smiles on peoples faces and promote welfare of dogs.
When we arrived in the UK it took us a couple of weeks to settle in to our new home, visit extended family, adjust to operating a vehicle on the left side of the road again and do a heap of paperwork for our motorbike imports. Janell got a job pretty quickly so we had some money to live off and purchase the materials and labour to fund the creation of the project.
Our first real step together was to brainstorm all the tasks from design to promotion to production and delivery and formulate a timeline. Having both worked in project management we understand the importance of deadlines in keeping a project progressing, motivation through achieving milestones and getting close to reaching the end goal and staying on budget.
Getting to this point was a steep learning curve but certainly a rewarding experience. We've had to learn an awful lot about Computer Aided Design (CAD), manufacturing, materials, shipping, warehousing and associated logistics, business management and tax systems in multiple countries.
Stu has been working full-time on this project since March this year. However, preliminary work began in November last year when he started working through comprehensive YouTube tutorials to learn how to use FreeCAD (open source CAD software). A big thank you to the Learn FreeCAD channel for comprehensive tutorials that gave Stu the knowledge and skills to proceed with the design drawings of the Pillion Pooch.
We identified the tasks and split them up logically. Stu focused on the design, material sourcing and fabrication of the prototype while Janell worked through a marketing and promotion campaign.
We've tried to keep this project real. The best way to do that is to get outside opinions and feedback as well as advice from experienced and knowledgable professionals. One adventure rider friend in particular, Jeff Baidacoff of Toronto Canada, was invaluable throughout the design stages. We met Jeff through an online motorcycle community (ADVrider.com) where he gave up his weekend to go hiking and riding with us and fix some problems on Janells motorbike. Jeff is a mechanical engineer specialising in production engineering in the automotive industry and bounced back and forth with Stu's design, material selection and construction options and has been vital to the refinement process.
Our reward is the Pillion Pooch, either as a single unit, a club order of 5+ or a retail bulk order of 14. Each unit will be available in a range of colours with backers deciding exactly which if these colour they want. Resellers can elect any combination or be supplied with colours based on the most popular choices throughout the campaign.
The Pillion Pooch will include required hardware for securing a dog from its harness to the apex of the Pillion Pooch and a 'The Pack Track' branded bedding for your dog to sit on. To secure multiple dogs (up to a total of 30kg) additional chain and clip will need to be purchased and can be sourced through any hardware store.
The mounting hardware required to fix the base of the Pillion Pooch to your specific rack will need to be purchased separately through any local hardware store. For most racks a set of U-bolts will suffice. If you are in any way unsure whether your rack is compatible then get in contact with us and we'll provide assistance.
Canvas colour options include
- Sunflower Yellow
- Fireengine Red
- Deep Sky Blue
- Lime Green
- Hi-Vis Orange
- Veronica Purple
- Hot Pink
- Silver Grey
- Midnight Black
- Want a colour that isn't listed or some crazy multi-coloured design, ask and we'll see what we can do.
Included with each unit
- Dog Securing Chain and Clip
- Pillion Pooch frame including all assembly hardware
- Pillion Pooch canvas
- Mounting hardware (specific to bike and rear rack)
- Dog harness (specific to dog)
- Chain and clips for additional dogs
We also have a $1 reward whereby we will post a supplied photo (or drawing if you wish) of your dog on our Facebook Wall. Photo's must comply with Facebook terms and conditions.
Import Duty and Tax
The Pack Track has established an international company with distribution centres in Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States to serve these regions.
The Single and Club 5+ rewards destined for Australia, the European Union (including the United Kingdom) and the United States will all have their import duty and tax (GST, VAT or Sales Tax respectively) paid as part of the shipment (inclusive). For all other countries, import duty and tax will be the responsibility of the recipient.
Customs clearance, import duty and tax is the responsibility of all recipient of the Retailer reward as well as collection from the local sea port.
Legislation Regarding Dogs on Motorcycles
Below is a summary of all the relevant legislation for animal transport in a vehicle. The Pillion Pooch complies with all of these legislations and many more. Please consult the appropriate authority for legislation in your country if not listed below and feel free to notify us of any changes/updates in legislation.
New South Wales | Road Rules - Animals and Vehicles
- A driver, motorcycle rider, bicycle rider or passenger must not lead an animal, including by tethering, while the vehicle is moving.
- Animals should be seated or housed in appropriate areas.
- A driver must not drive with an animal in the driver’s lap.
- A motor cycle rider must not ride with an animal between the handlebars and the rider.
Victoria | Road Rules - Animals
- You cannot drive a vehicle with an animal on your lap, while you or a passenger is leading an animal or while an animal is tied to the vehicle.
- There are no road rules about securing animals in a vehicle while driving. But, there may be laws in Victoria, such as those preventing cruelty to animals, which may need to be considered when driving with animals in your car.
- You must not ride a motorcycle with an animal between you and the handlebars (except for working farmers who can ride with the animal for up to 500 metres)
Queensland | Road rules - Road rules for everyday driving - Other common road rules
- It is an offence to drive with an animal in your lap or to drive when you don't have proper control of your vehicle. We recommend animals travelling inside your vehicle be restrained in some way for the safety and welfare of the animal and the occupants of the vehicle. The road rules do not specifically require an animal to be restrained while travelling inside a vehicle.
South Australia | The Driver's Handbook - Miscellaneous Rules
- A driver must not drive with an animal or passenger on their lap.
- Neither the driver nor the passenger can lead an animal while the vehicle is being driven.
Western Australia | Ride Safe - Motorcycle Rules and Regulations
- Animals must not be carried between the rider and the handlebars. The only exception is if the person who rides with the animal travels a distance of no more than 500 metres on a road for the purposes of a farming activity and that safety is not compromised.
Tasmania | Road Safety Rules - Motorcyclists
- No animals between rider and handlebars. Animals can't be carried between the rider and the handlebars of a motorcycle.
Northern Territory | Road Rules for Motorcycle Riders
- A motorcycle rider or passenger must not tether or lead an animal while the motorcycle is moving. Animals should be seated or housed in appropriate areas.
- A rider must not ride with an animal on the fuel tank.
Australian Capital Territory | Road Transport Legislation - Amendment Regulation 2010
- It is an offence to ride a motorbike with an animal on the petrol tank.
UK | Highway Code - Rule 57
- When in a vehicle make sure dogs or other animals are suitably restrained so they cannot distract you while you are driving or injure you, or themselves, if you stop quickly. A seat belt harness, pet carrier, dog cage or dog guard are ways of restraining animals in cars.
Other European Countries
- Legislation throughout Europe varies from country to country. While most follow similar rules to that of the UK, in some European countries, the law does not allow dogs to travel loose in vehicles.
- Legislation in the US varies state to state with the most restrictive laws requiring dogs not cause distraction to the driver. There is also a movement in many states to introduce restraint laws for animal transport.
Creative Commons Licence
Our goal is to allow the safe travel of dogs on a motorcycle. For that reason we have decided to release our design under the CC BY-NC-SA 4.0 licence ensuring that all dog owners have access to a highly engineered and thoroughly tested design rather then putting them at risk in an inferior product.
However, the design is restricted to personal use only and the resale of any product based on this design or any adaptation thereof, either from the design drawings or reverse engineered from the product or photos, is a breach of our copyright.
The release of the design will occur after the delivery of all Backer Rewards.
Risks and challenges
At this stage of the project, most risk has been realised and overcome. Remaining risk lies in the manufacturing and distribution processes. Both of us have worked extensively with risk management systems and throughout the project have assessed and evaluated Risk and Mitigations. Below is a list of Risks and associated Mitigations for the remainder of the project as well as who is to accept the risk.
Risk - Running over budget
Mitigation - The majority of the funding for the manufacturing and shipping process will be provided by reaching our Kickstarter goal. However, we have sufficient capital to absorb even significant oversight and accept this as our own risk.
Acceptance - The Pack Track
Risk - Loss of shipment
Mitigation - Shipments will be insured. However, loss of shipment will result in a delay as items are resent or inventory is moved to other distribution centres. This delay must be accepted as a risk to the backer.
Acceptance - The Pack Track
Risk - Manufacturing errors
Mitigation - A high level Quality Management System has been developed by our manufacturer and enforced along every stage of the production line with redundancies and accountability. Highly skilled and qualified machinists will be producing these units using the best materials and machinery available. Although we do not anticipate any issues with our product, we will not hesitate to replace an inferior product immediately.
Acceptance - The Pack Track
Risk - Delays due to over subscription
Mitigation - Products will be manufactured in batches with rewards shipped in order of purchase. Therefore, customers will receive their Pillion Pooch's on a first come first serve basis. Late comers need to accept this risk. However, we can attest to it being worth the wait.
Acceptance - Late comer backers
Risk- Delays in manufacturing
Mitigation - We are working with a professional manufacturer with set production dates. Although every effort will be made to ensure the schedule is maintained, unforeseen circumstances may arise and delays must be accepted as a risk by backers. As this is a safety device, quality will be our priority over meeting deadlines. Be assured that the end product will be worth any minor delays.
Acceptance - Backers
- (37 days)