Let’s Answer Your Questions About Riding with Your Dog
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT MOTORCYCLE DOG CARRIER
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We Know You Have Lots of Good Questions
We have divided the frequently asked questions into three sections.
Do you have a question that we haven’t answered here? Please send it to us by completing the K9 Moto Cockpit Contact Form. Just click the button below.
Questions About Motorcycle Riding with a Dog
How does it feel to ride with a dog?
Riding with a dog in the K9 Moto Cockpit feels like a mix between riding with a duffle bag and a human passenger. The Cockpit keeps your dog’s weight low and as far forward as possible. In part, this causes the load to feel a lot like having a duffle bag secured to your pillion seat and luggage rack. Also, the dog’s torso, chest, and front legs, which are the heaviest parts, are located directly on the pillion seat. So, the best description is that riding with a dog feels like riding with a duffle bag with a head that moves around to catch the sights and sounds.
How does having a dog with you change the riding experience?
Riding with your best furry friend changes the experience in a variety of positive ways:
- It’s better in the same way that walking, hiking, or anything else is better when you bring your dog along.
- Your dog’s inherent excitement and curiosity during the ride and at your destination is infectious and will invigorate you.
- You will tend to spend more rest stop time at natural places like fields and rivers for cool drinks and playing fetch, and less time at gas stations and quicky marts.
- You will become more approachable to others and find yourself engaged in more spontaneous interactions with strangers.
- You will put a smile on strangers’ faces, which can’t help but put a smile on your face.
And now for the negatives:
- The road-tripping Griswold family will always unload from their air-conditioned minivan to take selfies with your dog at the end of a rest break and just after you put your helmet and heavy leathers or Cordura jacket back on.
- You can’t swing a leg over the bike and bolt off to quickly escape ‘the Law’ without first strapping your pup in and clipping on their goggles.
- The number of double-takes you see from other drivers will make you think there is a serious glitch in the Matrix.
Seriously though, the only potential negative in our opinion is that other drivers can tend to pull closer than you prefer in order to snap a photo. So, always remain vigilant.
How do I know if my dog will like riding?
No one has ever reported that their dog refused to ride or remained terrified of it after completing K9 rider training. Still, some dogs leap right in while others need a little coaxing. Signs that a dog will take to it more quickly include:
- Sticking their head out of the window when driving in the car
- Experience on boats, kayaks, or other watercraft
- Generally active, vigorous, and/or daring
- Eager to please
How can I train or acclimate my dog to riding?
We have distilled it down to 12 Easy Steps for Training Your Dog to Ride a Motorcycle. You can get it free by clicking here.
But one thing to highlight here is the importance of SRDs. Once you have gotten your dog into their Cockpit, ride someplace nearby but with lots of exciting smells. It’s what we call a Scent Rich Destination. This will go a long way towards establishing an enjoyable experience. Eventually they will learn to enjoy the riding itself, but SRDs will help them get over the initial intimidation.
What gear do I need to pack for riding with my dog?
- Collapsible bowls
- High-value treats
- Mother Hucker fetch toy
- Rain jacket or K9 Moto Cockpit Rainfly (coming soon)
- Cooling vest
Since luggage space is always limited on a motorcycle, there are some clever ways to pack for your dog, including attaching small packs or duffle bags to the outside of the Cockpit.
How safe is it to ride with your dog on a motorcycle?
Similarly, every rider and dog owner should make their own assessment of the safety risks involved in riding a motorcycle with your dog.
That said, we have designed the K9 Moto Cockpit to be a solid metal frame with cushioned bars in order to protect the dog. Additionally, we have tested it over more than three years, 10,000 kilometers, and multiple on- and off-road crashes.
What happens when you crash with your dog?
- The Cockpit is securely mounted to the motorcycle and
- The dog is securely tethered within the Cockpit.
To further increase the dog’s safety in a crash scenario, we recommend riding with metal panniers / side cases or fully packed soft pannier bags. This increases the crash angle, keeping the dog further from the ground and less likely to suffer harm. That being said, we have not tested the Cockpit in a high-speed crash or roll over.
What kind of protection does the dog need?
The exposed metal components of the Cockpit are cushioned and upholstered to prevent injury in the case of a crash or jolt due to a sudden maneuver. We also recommend securely harnessing the dog into the Cockpit using webbing or tethers and a purpose-made riding harness.
We further recommend goggles – Rex Specs is our brand of choice – to prevent eye injury or infection. Rex Specs also makes ear protection apparel – Ear Pro – that might safeguard the dog against prolonged loud noise exposure. Lastly, a cooling vest or jacket might be appropriate when riding in hot or cold temperatures. Keep in mind that the dog might experience low relative temperatures due to wind chill when riding at high speed.
How long can a dog ride without a break?
We find that many dogs can ride for long stretches – often as long or longer than their rider. This is because the Cockpit allows them to remain in a comfortable, laying position. Also, when you tether them in securely with a slightly elastic strap – Rok Straps is our brand of choice – they can adjust from side to side during the ride for greater comfort.
Our German Shepherd Moxie can ride for up to 3 hours without a break. However, we prefer to stop for a break every 1 – 1 ½ hours for the Moxie’s comfort and ours.
How fast can I ride with my dog?
The speed that you can ride with your dog depends on:
- The capability of your motorcycle
- Your proficiency and comfort as a rider
- Road and other external conditions
We have ridden comfortably with our German Shepherd Moxie at speeds exceeding 75mph / 120kmh. No matter what speed you ride at, always ensure that the Cockpit is securely and properly mounted before starting a ride.
Can I ride off-road with my dog?
As with any external load that you add to your motorcycle, such as a top case or other luggage, the Cockpit and dog will affect your ride dynamic. Therefore, if you choose to ride off-road with your dog, practice your skills first, start off slowly, and don’t let your ego push you beyond your skill level. There’s nothing wrong with letting your dog down to run alongside when the trail becomes more challenging.
What temperature range can I ride with my dog?
It is always ideal to bring a dog jacket for cooler conditions. Keep in mind that the relative temperature that your dog experiences depends on the speed, geometry of your motorcycle, and other factors. Similarly, consider bringing a cooling vest for warmer temperatures and take more frequent breaks for shade and water.
Can you ride with your dog in the rain?
Yes. When riding with your dog in the rain, we recommend using dog goggles – Rex Specs is the brand we recommend – to protect the dog’s eyes from infection. We also recommend outfitting your dog with a rain jacket. The rain jacket might not keep the dog 100% dry, but it can help keep them warm. Keep in mind how rain and high speed might affect the relative temperature that the dog experiences as a passenger.
Even better still, our K9 Reaper Rainfly is very nearly ready so check back often or reach out to us and we’ll notify you when it’s available.
What are the legal issues around riding with a dog?
In our experience riding with our German Shepherd Moxie throughout Mexico and Central America, law enforcement is often more interested in waving and taking photos than in assessing the legality of the activity. Still, every country, state, or region has their own laws around the appropriate and legal way to transport live animals.
For example, we believe that the K9 Moto Cockpit complies with the vehicle code in our home state of California, which states that a driver may not transport an animal in a motor vehicle unless:
- the space is enclosed or has side and tail racks to a height of at least 46 inches extending vertically from the floor,
- the vehicle has installed means of preventing the animal from being discharged,
- the animal is cross tethered to the vehicle, or
- is protected by a secured container or cage, in a manner which will prevent the animal from being thrown, falling, or jumping from the vehicle.
We highly recommend that you consult the website of the transportation department or ministry for your country or locality for specific requirements.
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K9 MOTO COCKPIT
Questions About the K9 Moto Cockpit
How does the K9 Moto Cockpit work?
Most motorcycles are designed to carry a human passenger on a passenger (i.e. pillion) seat. They are not designed to carry heavy loads behind the passenger seat. To solve this problem, the K9 Moto Cockpit places most of your dog’s weight on the passenger seat.
To achieve this, the design incorporates several innovative features:
- It places the dog in a laying position for greater comfort and to keep the weight low
- It creates a lightweight protective frame to protect and secure your dog in place
- It only includes a bottom to the rear of the luggage platform
Since the entire forward portion of the Cockpit does not have a bottom, the pillion seat directly supports the dog’s heaviest parts – the head, torso, front legs, and belly. This means that the Cockpit ‘carrier’ only carries the smaller portion of the load that is to the rear of the pillion seat.
The benefits of this design are huge:
- Minimal stress on the chassis
- Less impact on the ride geometry
- Lower, sleeker carrier profile
- Greater comfort for longer rides
This creates a ride dynamic that is closer to what is intended by the manufacturer. Riding with your K9 copilot feels like a combination of human passenger and duffle bag or top case.
Importantly – and unique to the Cockpit – this design is what allows the motorcycle to carry not only small and medium dogs, but also large, heavy dogs as well!
What types of motorcycle can you mount the Cockpit on?
Adventure, tourer, and cruiser-style motorcycles are the most ideal motorcycles as a category. However, the Cockpit can be mounted to any type of motorcycle as long as chassis of that specific motorcycle can support the load. In cases where specific motorcycles have few or no weight bearing components to the rear of the rider’s seat, mounting the Cockpit can be difficult or unadvisable.
For example, in most cases, mounting the Cockpit to sport and naked style bikes requires removing the pillion seat and/or building out additional support brackets.
What does the K9 Moto Cockpit Build Guide include? What tools, materials, and skills do I need?
The K9 Moto Cockpit Build Guide is a guidebook to provide experienced DIY builders with the key information, measurements, and strategies to build and mount a Cockpit to their motorcycle.
The Build Guide is not a kit – it does not include any tools or materials. Nor is it a step-by-step instruction manual – it does not provide specific instructions for how to mount it to specific motorcycles or aftermarket accessories.
The Build Guide describes the:
- Materials needed and approximate quantities
- Measurements and layouts for the Standard and Mini Cockpits
- Process we use to devise the custom mounting for various motorcycles
In order to follow along with the Build Guide and construct the Cockpit, you will need intermediate level metalworking skills and the tools associated with measuring, cutting, bending, and welding. Upholstering the Cockpit requires expert level upholstery skills.
How do you keep the dog from jumping out of the Cockpit?
A variety of opinions exists about the safety of harnessing the dog to the carrier vs. not. In our experience, harnessing the dog into the Cockpit is absolutely safer than not harnessing the dog to it. Our German Shepherd Moxie has never suffered an injury throughout more than a dozen crashes and tip overs. However, the one and only time she rode untethered, she came off at a stop sign and scratched her paw as she jumped off.
The Cockpit features welded anchors at every corner and the front center for securing tethers. We also developed the K9 Moto Harness for securing the dog into the Cockpit.
It’s all explained in this Gear Guide.
Can I attach external luggage to the Cockpit?
Yes. The same welded anchors for tethering your dog into the Cockpit can be used for securing packs and small duffle bags to the Cockpit’s exterior. Keep in mind that the Cockpit is positioned higher than side cases. So, any packs you secure to the Cockpit should be used for lightweight items to free up space in the side cases for heavier gear.
For example, we secure a Giant Loop Possibles Pouch to each side of the Cockpit. The waterproof pouches start the trip empty and are used for collecting souvenirs. It’s also a great way to allow for, but also limit, your souvenir-hunting.
For more luggage ideas and information, check out the Gear Guide.
Can I put more than one dog in my Cockpit?
We have not tried or tested putting more than one dog in a Cockpit. However, it is reasonable to imagine that two smaller dogs could be secured side by side in the place of one much larger dog.
My dog is more than 100lbs / 50kg – can I still put him in a Cockpit?
In most cases, larger adventure, touring, and cruiser-style motorcycle can support the load of a very large dog. We first recommend that the rider consider their comfort and skill level to manage a large motorcycle with the weight of a very large dog.
We suggest that you first try strapping a duffle bag that weighs as much as your dog plus 25 lbs and take some test rides to determine:
- How well your bike handles the load
- How comfortable you feel riding with the load
If it is not comfortable to ride with the load, we recommend practicing over several rides. This will help you determine whether or not you will grow accustomed to riding with the load.
How do I determine the right size Cockpit for my dog?
We recommend using the simple diagram below to measure your dog for a Cockpit. The dog’s measurements should fall comfortably within the footprint dimensions of the Cockpit size that you are considering.
To visualize how your dog will fit into the Cockpit, we recommend the following exercise:
- Lay a towel on the ground and fold it to the Cockpit dimensions that you are considering.
- Reduce the width by 2 inches / 5 centimeters and reduce the length by 1 inch / 3 centimeters. You now have the interior footprint of the Cockpit.
- Place your dog on top of the towel in a laying down position. The butt and hind legs should be completely on the towel. The front paws can extend beyond the front of the towel.
- Adjust the towel dimensions and repeat step 3 until you identify a footprint size that is comfortable but only minimally spacious for your dog.
What position is the dog in when riding in the Cockpit?
Do you harness the dog into the Cockpit or leave them untethered?
Our experience tells us that it is always best to secure your dog into the Cockpit. It’s also far better to harness your dog into the Cockpit at the front and rear. Securing the dog’s rear to the back of the Cockpit can prevent them from somersaulting in the case of an emergency stop or swinging out in a tip-over. Also, be aware that harnessing the dog into the Cockpit might be a legal requirement in some jurisdictions.
What type of harness do I need for my dog?
The K9 Moto harness features a large chest loop for tethering the torso. Another loop is located at the top of the butt to secure the dog’s rear to the back of the Cockpit. The K9 Moto Harness features a solid webbing interior and durable woven exterior. It comes in two designs and five colors, and it is custom made to your dog’s measurements.
Check out the K9 Moto Harness Gear Guide for a detailed breakdown of the materials, techniques, and performance features.
How does the dog get into the Cockpit?
You can train your dog to leap right onto the rider’s seat and then onto the Cockpit. Older or infirmed dogs might find this more difficult. In this case, we recommend lifting them onto the Cockpit.
How heavy is the Cockpit?
The standard Cockpit weighs approximately 25 lbs / 12kg while the Mini size comes in around 15 lbs / 7kg. Please keep in mind that the final weight will be greater if your motorcycle requires support bars or other brackets to mount the Cockpit.
Can I still ride with a passenger?
Almost certainly not. The Cockpit is positioned over the passenger seat because this is where the motorcycle is engineered to best carry the load. We do not recommend trying to mount the Cockpit further rear to accommodate a human passenger.
Can I ride with my top case?
No, the Cockpit will almost certainly be positioned on top of or in place of the top case rack. Moreover, the Cockpit will probable use at least some of the same mounting points as the top case.
Can I mount the Cockpit even if I don’t have a luggage rack?
Yes. In these cases, we often build support bars or brackets that connect the Cockpit to the chassis at the points that would otherwise be used for installing a luggage rack. Even when a luggage rack is available for mounting, we recommend mounting at other locations as well to better distribute the load and stresses.
Will my panniers / side cases open with the Cockpit mounted?
That depends on the size of your Cockpit, the distance between the side cases, and how they open and close. The Standard Cockpit is narrow enough (40cm) not to obstruct the panniers on most adventure and touring bikes. Cruisers are usually narrower but the cases often open outwards and do not interfere with the Cockpit. In our custom Cockpit builds, we always consider these factors in order to devise the best configuration for the dog, the rider, and the motorcycle.
CUSTOM K9 MOTO
K9 MOTO COCKPIT
Questions About the Custom Cockpit Build Process
How long does the build take?
The custom K9 Moto Cockpit build usually takes 8-10 weeks from start to finish. The breakdown is like this:
Pre-build process – 1-2 weeks
Metalwork – 1-2 weeks
Painting – 2 weeks
Upholstery – 3 weeks
Please keep in mind that your Cockpit is entirely custom and there are no prefabricated components. We build it from scratch to suit you, your dog, and your motorcycle. So, the custom build process is subject to occasional delays due to issues such as:
- Major holidays
- Large order volume at the start of the riding season
- Uh, you know, a global pandemic
We are in contact with you throughout the build process to keep you informed of our progress and timeline projections.
Our delivery schedule is a best estimate, not a guarantee. Let us know if you have an upcoming trip or event and we will try to accommodate you. We recommend starting the build process as soon as possible.
Can I mount my Cockpit to multiple bikes?
Yes, in most cases we can build your Cockpit to mount to more than one motorcycle. There is a fee of $100 for each additional motorcycle because we have to design and build unique mounting components for each one.
Can I mount to a Trike? a Can-Am? What about an eBike?
Yes, yes, and yes. In general terms, we can build your Cockpit to mount to pretty much any vehicle. The vehicle must be able to support the weight and have weight-bearing components accessible to which we can mount the Cockpit.
What elements can I customize about my Cockpit?
We have two standard Cockpit sizes: the Standard and the Mini. When necessary, we modify these models to accommodate your dog and motorcycle. In addition, you select the color and texture of the vinyl upholstery, the color stitching, and whether or not you want reflective ribbon around the exterior.
How long does it take to install the Cockpit?
As with any aftermarket or custom accessory, the first installation always takes longer and we recommend that you:
- Take it to a mechanic for the first installation
- Take your time and be thorough
- Reach out to us with any questions
After the first couple of installations, the Cockpit usually only takes 5-10 minutes to mount or remove. But don’t be surprised if you decide to leave it installed semi-permanently because, you know, why would you want to ride without your dog?!?
What tools do I need to install the Cockpit and what is involved?
Most builds use screws and/or U-bolts to attach the Cockpit to the motorcycle. In cases where the Cockpit requires additional mounting fixtures – such as a support bar that U-bolts to a pannier rack – the additional fixtures are removable and connect to the Cockpit frame with screws.
We provide all the screws and/or U-bolts that you will need for mounting your Cockpit except if you need to replace the OEM screw(s). Please note the following examples.
We provide the screws:
- The baseplate that connects the Cockpit to the motorcycle’s luggage rack
- The U-bolts that connect the Cockpit’s support bars to the motorcycle’s pannier rack
- The screws that connect the Cockpit’s support bars into the sissy bar bracket
We do not provide the screws:
- The OEM screws to mount the Cockpit directly to the motorcycle’s luggage platform / grid
- The screws that connect the Cockpit’s support bars into the fender along the rear wheel hub
We provide screws that are M11 hex head with washers and matching nuts. The U-bolts we provide are also M11. This means that you will probably need two metric size 11 wrenches for the installation. We also recommend that you use Loctite or, alternatively, replace the nuts that we provide with ones with nylon threads. In addition, you will need the appropriate tools to remove or adjust any OEM screws or components that might require removal or adjustment during Cockpit installation.
Can I mount the Cockpit even if I have aftermarket accessories installed on my bike?
Yes. The range of aftermarket accessories that riders have is the primary reason that we do not prefabricate the Cockpit or build it according to the motorcycle manufacturer’s specifications. We custom build your Cockpit according to the specific motorcycle and aftermarket accessories that you have installed.
Can I mount the Cockpit myself even if I don’t have any mechanical skills?
We absolutely recommend taking the motorcycle to a qualified mechanic to review and install your Cockpit. If you decide not to take it to a mechanic, then installing your Cockpit involves working with wrenches and screws.
Where is the custom Cockpit built?
We build your custom Cockpit at our metal workshop in the beautiful village of Panajachel on the shores of picturesque Lake Atitlan in Guatemala. By the way, it’s a can’t-miss destination for any motorcycle trip through the Americas.
Our painter and upholsterer are located in Guatemala City. We ship your finished Cockpit to you by UPS or DHL out of Guatemala City.
What materials is the custom Cockpit made from?
The Cockpit frame, baseplates, and mounting components are made from plain steel tubes and flat bars. We use pre-catalyzed primer and matte black paint. The upholstery consists of a variety of non-leather vinyl options and nylon thread. The frame cushions are made from pool noodles because they are firm, soft, and highly resistant to the elements. Lastly, the removable Cockpit seat cushion is filled with medium-soft polyurethane foam.
How come the custom Cockpit is so doggone expensive?
The custom build is more expensive, but the results are far superior in our estimation.
If we designed the Cockpit to be a one-size-fits-and-mounts-to-all accessory, we could manufacture in bulk and offer it more cheaply. But that would sacrifice the unique characteristics that make the Cockpit so extraordinary:
- Safer because it mounts to multiple weight-bearing components, not just to the luggage rack
- Sized specifically for your dog
- Mounting configuration and components for your specific motorcycle
- No drilling holes or removing aftermarket accessories
- Upholstered according to your preference
What shipping methods do you have for the Cockpit and what countries do you ship to?
We ship the custom Cockpits by UPS and DHL. We decide which carrier is most appropriate and cost-effective based on your location, and the weight and dimensions of your Cockpit.
Do I have to pay customs fees or duties?
Maybe. That depends on whether or not your country charges customs fees on imports from Guatemala. When we ship your Cockpit, we record a very moderate valuation on the shipping and export documentation. We are not responsible for any customs fees or duties associated with the shipment of your Cockpit.
How much does shipping the Cockpit cost?
The actual cost of shipping can vary widely depending on the destination country, weight, and dimensions of your Cockpit. The shipping cost that you pay at checkout when you purchase your custom Cockpit represents an average.
We reserve the right to apply an additional shipping fee if your custom Cockpit turns out to be larger than normal or includes support bars or other mounting components that are significantly heavier than normal. These cases are rare, and we will notify you during the pre-build process if there will be an additional charge.
How do we communicate during the build process?
Each custom build has its own unlisted project page at goruffly.com with a unique URL. Once you complete your purchase, we create your project page and send you the link. This page provides tons of information to guide you through the pre-build process. You will also use your project page to upload your photos and measurements, approve your build diagrams, and make your upholstery selection.
Of course, we are also available to you anytime by phone, email, or video call.
What do you need from me for the custom build?
You have an essential role to play during what we call the ‘pre-build process’. You use the project page that we create for your specific build at goruffly.com to provide the information we need.
As part of your role, you will need to:
- Take a series of photos of your dog and motorcycle with a smartphone or digital camera
- Perform a series of measurements according to instructions that we provide
- Review and approve the build plan diagrams that we create for your custom Cockpit
- Select the upholstery and stitching for your Cockpit
We are in communication with you throughout the process by email and by phone as needed. If you have questions or need support, we will schedule a video call to go through the measurements and/or diagram review together.
Your role during the pre-build process takes usually between 30-60 minutes if you do not require our assistance.
Is there a quick-release mechanism for installing and removing the Cockpit?
No. All mounting components are secured to your motorcycle by screws and/or U-bolts. If you have identified quick-release devices that you want to use, you are welcome to substitute them in place of the screws or mounting components that we provide with your Cockpit.
What if the custom mounting doesn’t fit on my motorcycle?
If a screw hole needs to be made larger or a few washers need to be added, the time and cost will be minimal and will be your responsibility.
If a larger adjustment is necessary, we will always work with you to (a) identify the cause of the issue and (b) achieve a satisfactory installation. If the adjustment needed is the result of build error on our part, we will work with you to resolve the issue and reimburse the costs.
If the required adjustment is the result of a measurement error on your part, we will not reimburse you for the additional expenses. However, we will support you or your builder until the proper installation is achieved.
Our mission is to help get you riding with your dog and that principle guides us throughout.
What is the cancellation and return policy?
We do not accept returns or exchanges for the custom Cockpit. It is custom-built for your motorcycle and cannot be repurposed or resold.
Please also refer to the question: What if the custom mounting doesn’t fit on my motorcycle?
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K9 MOTO COCKPIT
Custom K9 Moto Cockpit
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