As I frequently tour on the Valkyrie, I often need to pack plenty of stuff on my machine. I have used a set of throw-over leather(ish) saddle bags for years but those come with several problems:
- They are not at all waterproof, or even water resistant (as a matter of fact, I rather think they attract water). Anything in them will be wet if you are caught in even minor amounts of rain.
- For all their bulk, they really do not hold much.
- Mine are getting old and falling apart.
- They are kind of a pain to get on and off the bike as they are simply tied on. When staying at a hotel for example, I have to empty the bags and bring all the stuff in to prevent theft. Taking the bags themselves off was too time consuming.
- The wheel guards (chrome rails to keep the bags out of the tire) remain on the bike after removing the bags, and detract from its appearance and serviceability.
Anyway, it was time for a change. As I am headed out to parts unknown this summer (including Alaska and the Yukon), I needed more space and superior durability. I also wanted them easily detachable, with minimal hardware remaining on the bike when they are removed.
Since I am also on a budget (I gotta have a little gas money to go 10,000 miles) price was an important consideration.
Since nobody anywhere seems to have anything in stock anymore (hear this retailers, you can't sell it if you don't have it!) I did a lot of internet browsing looking at the different available hard-bags.
LeatherLyke bags seemed to fit the bill. For the price, they hold the most, detach the easiest, and leave the least hardware behind on the bike. Their service was great. They arrived within 4 days of my order.
As usual, a successful installation is all in the preparation . . . or in my case, the build-up. When the bags arrived via the UPS guy, the wife eyeballed the rather large box and asked, "Are they hard to put on?"
"Oh, terrible. I'm really not looking forward to it." was my ready reply.
As a result, when the time came to install them, the wife--naturally figuring I would be sweating, cursing, and making many trips to the hardware store (I've absolutely no clue where she got that idea)--grabbed her purse in vacated the premisis (escaped).
Pick a side to start on. Remove the rear fender bolt. Stand around for ten minutes pondering in awe that the darn fender had not fallen off quite some time ago (the bolt was loose and only in by about 1/4 turn, but that was hidden from view by the bag standoffs for my old throw-overs). Replace the bolt with the provided bolt and spaces from LeatherLyke.
Here is the bag hardware installed. This is all that remains on the bike with the bag removed:
Do the same thing on the front bolt. Only 5 minutes of pondering in awe is needed this time.
Install the bag. Put in the pins.
Picture of the pin retaining system:
Repeat all the above on the other side of the bike, but note how rapidly you get accustomed to things as you find yourself surprised that there are any bolts left at all holding the fender on. Shrug.
Ponder for some time peeling off the cool reflective "LeatherLyke" label. If is said something manly like, "Bite Me" or "Valkyrie" I might have left them there. As it is, I am looking for some of that black 1" wide striping that reflect bright red at night (there really is such a thing).
Picture of the bag installed:
Since installation only took about 8 minutes (not kidding), and the wife expects you to be swearing, hot, and sweaty all day, you are free to get on your bike and go for a two-hundred mile test ride.
The bags do not attach anywhere low, they only hang on the pins. I was concerned that they would flop around but I must admit that they have not done so. The only thing I am not happy with is that the cover is somewhat flexible so they are really not all that secure (as in locked). A good pull on the corner of the cover and they will pop open.
I am happy with the look, and ease of removal/installation, and their spaciousness. I will report on their duribility after my summer trip (Alaska).
Followup....I've had some problems...be sure and check out my Mods page