Dyna Saddlebag Project – Part 2 Bag & Bracket Installation

Princess Di’s New Ride

Once I had come to grips with relocating my turn signals I set to work deciding on the saddlebags themselves.  I was looking for as much space as possible without looking big & bulky, in a bag that would fit a Dyna – something that would neatly blend with the lines of my bike.  Throw-over styles were not an option because one of my primary objectives is to open up my rear fender and allow it and its lovely rack to be seen for their beauty, so covering it back up with a cheesy slab of leather would defeat the entire purpose.  My Mustang seat (as well as my chaps) have a simple braided trim, which I would’ve liked to duplicate if possible.  I did not want lots of studs, conchos, and other gaudy trim items.  I didn’t really know ahead of time, but as I researched I determined that I really like the slanted styles as opposed to the big boxy-looking straight ones (which turned out to be a good thing because of the exposed shocks on my Super Glide).  I definitely did not like anything I saw with bold harsh lines to it, preferring smooth curves instead.  I settled on the Revolution Swooped Hard-Mount Saddlebags by Willie & Max in synthetic leather (item code 03436).

Willie & Max Revolution Saddlebags

Although I intend that the bags will remain on my bike nearly 100% of the time, I decided that it would be worth the expense to invest in quick-detach mounts that would make it easy to remove the bags for bike cleaning (as if that ever happens), or to take all of my luggage into a hotel room instead of pulling everything out and carrying it individually.  I decided on the Easy Bracket for my bags.  I am also still considering getting an Easy Tote carrying handle and/or some type of saddlebag liner tote.

When my saddlebags arrived, I almost cancelled the order for the Easy Brackets because of the shape of the back side of the bag.  Since it is not flat, the Easy Bracket would likely need some kind of alteration in order to fit.  And the top of the bag overlaps the side a bit, so I wondered where & how the key-lock mechanism would fit & work.  I was unable to get any information on the exact (or even approximate) dimensions of said bracket, so I have had to judge from photos of them attached to bags.  Long story short – I decided to toss it in the air and see if it would fly.

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Jay had been extremely worried about the docking posts not fitting into the threads left behind by the bolt that originally attached the turn signal.  I wasn’t sure what the heck he was talking about, but he was absolutely correct.  It is not that the posts don’t fit into the threads, there are no threads at all!  Since the bolts originally holding on the turn signals were mounted from inside to outside, there is no need for threading on the inside of the fender strut.  We needed to purchase the docking hardware kit for detachable accessories (part # 53961-06) in order to replace the rear fender mounting bracket with one that is threaded.  (The picture below shows a side-by-side comparison of the old piece and the new one.  If you look closely you can see that the new one is threaded inside while the old one is not.)

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As a temporary hold while we waited for my Easy Brackets to arrive, we used the rest of the kit to bolt the fender strut back on.  (Note: the kit only comes with two bolts, although you need two for each side.  How Harley-Davidson expects you to attach this stuff with only two bolts I have absolutely no idea!  We used leftover parts from an old kit to finish the job.)

Harley-Davidson docking hardware for Detachable sissy bar

Once my actual brackets finally arrived, we set to work installing them.  Then we quickly realized that we really hadn’t needed the docking hardware kit because the rear bolt doesn’t need anything to thread to.  It just slides through the hole in the same manner as the turn signal bolt did and is held in place with a nylon lock nut on the inside.  Having already installed the replacement (threaded) inner bracket we were worried that we’d have to take it back off again, but the rear bolt for the Easy Bracket is only 5/16″ so it slid right through the 3/8″ threading and installed perfectly.  Altogether this step took about 15 minutes of pondering and about 5 minutes of actual work to complete…it is as easy as changing out 4 light bulbs.

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Easy Brackets

The brackets slid on easily, but were not so “easy” to remove.  They are machined so perfectly to exact specs that they are actually a very snug fit.  We couldn’t get them back off without banging on the bottom edge.  Not really wanting to have to bang on my saddlebags once they were installed, Jay ground out the edges of the holes just about 1/32″ for a little better ease of removal.

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Remember I said the back of the bags were not flat?  Well Jay came up with another ingenious idea to combat that problem.  He took some 3/4″ plywood and cut them out to the shape of the back of the bag, then he carefully routed out the curves from the “saddlebag side” of the board.  This created a new flat surface for mounting the brackets and also gave the bags themselves more rigid support.  We painted and lacquered the wooden forms before assembling everything.

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As anyone who has ever mounted saddlebags can probably attest to, positioning them properly is probably the most nerve-wracking, if not difficult, part of the job.  The saddlebags need to be aligned vertically, horizontally, rotationally, and in coordination with each other – all at the same time as being sure to clear the shocks, pipes, axle, swing arm, belt drive, and just about anything else you can imagine!  Once you actually get it aligned where you want, marking the bracket is pretty difficult too…since you have to reach around and get the pen in between the fender and the bag then make a mark without messing up any of your alignments!  This was also very awkward due to the fact that the bike was sitting on an angle on its kickstand.

Once we made the initial marks, we laid the bags out side-by-side and compared measurements, tweeked the positions a little, then re-drew a nice solid border around the easy brackets and marked the positions of the holes to be drilled.

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After drilling out the holes, we temporarily bolted the brackets to just the wooden forms so we could easily re-check the alignment on the bike.  We actually even hung the bags over the wooden forms to see how they would look all together.

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Mounting everything together required longer bolts than the ones that came with the kit, so we made a trip to the hardware store to get them.  While we were there we also picked up some stick-on rubber forms that we used to fill in some of the uneven spaces between the wood & the back of the saddlebag.  We drilled holes in the round ones and used them similar to a washer to absorb some of the vibration and make it a more structurally sound mount where the bolts went through.  Then we used the long strips around some of the edges for a nice snug fit.

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Easy Bracket Attached to Willie & Max Revolution Saddlebag

The last step was certainly the easiest.  Once everything was mounted where it needed to be, all that was left to do was slip the keyhole slots of the Easy Bracket over the mounting posts on the fender strut and drop the saddlebag into place.  This went off without a hitch…I totally understand how they got their name!  Reaching the key to engage the lock mechanism was less of a challenge than expected  because our wood plates filled in a lot of the saddlebag top “overhang” creating much better clearance for the key.

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Here’s the final product.  Now I am completely ready to “Go Places” this riding season.  I removed my tail bag and doubled my storage space at the same time (and I still have the option to use the luggage rack for more space if needed).  I rediscovered my bike’s sleek lines by opening up the back fender, and kept the minimalist look.  What do you think?

Dyna with Saddlebags

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Fat Rear End

8 Responses to “Dyna Saddlebag Project – Part 2 Bag & Bracket Installation”

  1. Nice work.

    I put saddle bags on my Dyna a year or so ago. At the time I thought of using quick detach fittings but decided that once they were on I probably wouldn’t ever want to take them off. I was right. I can’t imagine not having the convenience of a bit of storage now.

    Enjoy your new bags.

  2. As we worked through the project from beginning to end I wondered to myself many times “tell me again why I am doing all of this when I am probably never going to take these bags off???” LOL But I knew that in the end the versatitlity would be worth it, just for those rare times when I actually did want to remove the bags.
    ~
    I am already pyched about the extra storage space! I rode to work the other day and could actually fit my lunch box without having to take out the rain gear! 🙂
    ~
    Two trips coming up…we shall see just how much I can pack in those bags!

  3. im about ready to do a similar mod to my softail deluxe. yours turned out EXCELLENT!

    hey, the fender rail/bag bolts, would you say that was a one or two person job to swap out?

  4. The bolts? I’m thinking a 10-year old could do that part by himself!

  5. YAY Cool! i have long/low dresser fender so fingers crossed that i can reach behind the fender and rails as easy as yours. fun!

  6. Wrenchin’ fools! Those are some nice bags. I’m a lazy ass so I just bought my bike with bags already on it. lol….just givin’ you two a hard time. Very cool, very cool.

  7. Three weeks altogether from ordering the pieces to finished product. I was actually feeling like a wrenching fool at times too. That’s ok though, give me a power drill over a clothes iron any day!

  8. What a great article! You’re one step closer to making that trip to Sturgis now!

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