Invisible Saddlebag Support

Thanks to Fast20

Cruisers like the Kawasaki Vulcan Classic frequently roll off the sales floor and onto the street in a very basic form.  There are no appendages like windshields and saddlebags.  It isn't long before the new owner discovers the lack of storage space can be an issue when it's time for longer rides.  Looking at options the rider finds they have a choice of bags designed to throw over the back seat or they can buy hanging systems such as Easy Brackets and Ghost Brackets.  Both of those options are excellent but add roughly $150 to the cost of mounting saddlebags.  Fast20 has come up with a system that will set you back less than $10. 

What You'll Need

2 - Plastic Cutting boards (about $3 at any department store) /files/includes/images/f201.jpg (33761 bytes)

12 - Bolts, nuts and large washers (assorted length, see instructions below) /files/includes/images/f204.jpg (15898 bytes)

How To Do It/files/includes/images/f202.jpg (24375 bytes)

1. Remove whatever strap or panel is attached to your saddlebags attaching the two for throwing over the back seat.  Lay your saddlebags down and place the cutting board on the back.  Mark the cutting board to match any  curvatures or angles on the bags as shown at right.  Remove the excess plastic using a bandsaw or cutting wheel.  Mark plastic for and drill four holes in the plastic and bags.  Make sure the bolts that will be on top are low enough so they won't interfere with the fender trim you'll be attaching the plastic to.  Attach plastic to bag using four bolts (length depends on the thickness of your saddlebag) using washers on the inside to avoid tearing the leather when bags are loaded. 

2. Hold your new bag/bracket assembly against the rear fender and determine where you want your mounting /files/includes/images/f203.jpg (25404 bytes) bolts/holes.  If there are existing fender trim bolts you'll use those.  Apply a bit of shave cream to the head of the bolt and place the bag/bracket assembly against the bolt.  The foam will mark the spot on the bracket where you need to drill mounting holes.  If you don't have fender trim and there are no existing bolts you'll have to drill holes in the fender/frame as appropriate.  Drill holes in plastic and bag as shown at left.  The holes you drill may be spaced differently than shown depending on your bike brand/year/model/files/includes/images/f205.jpg (26562 bytes)

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3.  Using a large washer on the inside (the larger the better to avoid tearing when you overload the bags) push the bolts through the newly drilled holes as shown at left.  Assembly should look pretty much like the photo at right when you're finished.  Paint the hardware black and it'll all but vanish from view.

/files/includes/images/f206.jpg (31259 bytes)


4.  Remove existing bolts from fender trim as shown at right and push your new bag/bracket bolts through the holes. If you've shopped and measured carefully the two bolts you chose to replace the OEM bolts are longer than the originals (to account for thickness of your saddlebag and the plastic) and are the same thread pitch so they'll screw right in.  If you had to drill new holes you'll have to secure the mounting system with nuts and washers.

5. /files/includes/images/f209.jpg (48929 bytes) Many riders will be finished at this point and you'll have a great looking solid mounting system /files/includes/images/f208.jpg (41976 bytes)for your bags.  No more ugly leather straps thrown over the back seat (that a passenger may not enjoy sitting on) and maybe $150 in extra change left over for other projects. 

Some riders will want to take the new system one step further and paint the plastic black so it becomes next to invisible.  If you choose to take the extra step use a paint specifically made for plastic such as Krylon Fusion or Rustoleum Spray Paint For Plastic.  The specialty paints are worth the little bit of extra cost as they'll bond to the cutting board and won't bead up on the plastic during application.