Sunday, December 27, 2009

Swingarm Bag Review And A Problem Solved

A while back I posted about a guy I met through the wonders of the cyber world named Shaun Oneal. He makes custom leather products like seats, tool rolls and swingarm bags. I'd had my eye on a swingarm bag for awhile and after reading some reviews on Shaun's work and visiting with him a little via email, I decided I wanted an SO Kustom swingarm bag.

So that's where the blog came in. I introduced Shaun in a previous post, and now, after receiving my bag and trying it out, here's the review.

First off, the bag is heavy 8-9 oz. leather, which make it rigid and sturdy. This is something I was a bit concerned about. No one likes saggy bags, LOL! Second, the twist clasps are both functional and not a headache to get into like comparable bags with buckles. And lastly, the bag is ample size for a tool kit, sun glasses, gloves, some bandannas, and a bottle of water, or whatever.
When it came time to mount the bag, I was concerned that the zip tie method of securing the bag to the swingarm would damage the powdercoat over time. So, I employed a little ingenuity and came up with a mounting system that utilizes the existing belt guard holes.
1 - piece of 1/8" Diamond Plate
2 - 15/16" Coupler Nuts
2 - 15/16" Bolts
4 - Chrome 15/16" Button Head Bolts
4 - Large 15/16" Washers
5 - Small 15/16" Washers
Red Loctite
Blue Loctite

First I started by cutting a piece of cardboard to make a template of the back of the bag in order to transfer the shape on to the diamond plate. Next, I didn't have a way to cut any heavy steel or metal so the aluminum diamond plate was great for me. I used an $80 tile saw I already had and it ate through the diamond plate nicely. I took a flat metal file and cleaned up the edges. To wrap it up, I used a wire wheel on my bench grinder and really put a smooth finish on the piece. Here's a pic of the plate and the method I used to get the dimensions correct:

I wanted the bag to look like it was floating, no brackets visible from the side. By using the existing belt guard mounting holes, I took avoided any alteration of the frame and was able to achieve the look I wanted. I used two 5/16" coupling nuts. I installed the front one using the OEM beltguard bolt. I had to use 5 washers to bring the front coupling nut flush with the rear due to the mounting tabs being mounting at different depths on the tubing of the swingarm.

The rear coupling nut posed a bit of a challenge. The rear mounting hole on the belt guard is actually a threaded hole, so I had to use my coupling nut with some threaded rod that I cut to length and fashioned a bolt for this application. I used Red Loctite to secure the threaded rod in the coupling nut. See below:

Now it was time to mount the plate to the bag. I drilled 4 holes (one on each corner) of the plate to align with the holes Shaun had already put in the bag. I used 4 5/16" chrome button head screws and inserted them through the plate, and the bag and used a secured it with a large washer and 5/16" nut.

Once the bag and plate were joined, I simply put all the pieces together and added some Blue Loctite for good measure. I had previously drilled holes in the plate that aligned with the coupling nuts. The finished plate looked like this:

As you can see, clearance was perfect.

After putting it all together the finished product was exactly what I wanted. A clean, strong mounting system that won't damage the powdercoat and helps me get the most out of the bag.

Ride Safe and Happy New Year!!!


Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Fatboy Just Got Fatter!!!

I posted several months ago that I had a major mod in the works. Well, this past week it finally came ot flourishion. I have loved 3/8" spoke wheels every since I started researching mods for my bike 4 years ago. My lovely wife decided to pick me up a set last June from KC International. The wheels are made by DNA and called Mammoth 52s.

I decided to deviate from the stock size of 16x3.5 and go with a bigger diameter wheel. The 18x3.5 was a nice comprimise between stock and radical and allowed me to still run my stock fenders without modification. I also took the opportunity to add a DNA Superspoke pulley and rotor set. This combination really set the bike off and I can't imagine it could have turned out better.

After going back and forth on doing the install myself and posting pics. However, after examining my honey-do list and considering Christmas is 10 days away, I decided to take it in to a local indy shop called American Motorcycle Trading Company. They are good to work with and seem to value my business, unlike the local HD dealers. Dropped it off at 11am and it was ready by 2:30pm. Not bad for a project that took 6 months to gather all the parts.

I finished the conversion off with a set of Avon Venom X tires. I again deviated from the stock size on the front tire by going with a 140mm instead of a 130mm. There are no clearance issues and the tire fills out the stock fender nicely. I've only ridden a short distance so far, but I am looking forward to the stickier tires.

Okay, without further adue, here's the good stuff:

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Shaun Oneal Kustom Leather

Since I bought my Harley, I have searched near and far for different parts and accessories to take my sled to the next level and make it "MINE". I mean, that is what we all want right? To make these factory motorcycles unique and put our own personal imprint on them. Through the evolution of my own motorcycle, I have often ran into vendors, dealers, etc. that seem to think that I am privileged to buy their product or ride their motorcycles. I actually have grown quite tired of this attitude and, as a result, have stopped doing business with these individuals.

However, that's not what this is post is about. I am pleased to be able to introduce you to a business I've discovered that specializes in leather products like swingarm bags, tool rolls, and custom seats. I have had the opportunity to converse via email with the owner, Shaun Oneal. What I have found is the same that many of his customers have found. He is friendly, eager to answer questions, and happy to have your business. That's something I've found a shortage of in the motorcycle aftermarket. People just don't seem happy to have your business anymore. If you take a look at Shaun's website, you will see his craftsmanship is stunning and he can do just about anything. I am a frequent poster at, and Shaun regularly receives rave reviews from customers. While, I haven't ordered my swingarm bag yet, it won't be long. I will certainly post pics and reviews afterwards. Until then, here are some pictures of Shaun's work that I've gotten off his website,, with his permission of course.

My personal favorite, the solo swingarm bag. I'm not a fan of saddle bags. At least not on my bike. However, I do like to have a few essentials with me. This bag makes it possible without converting to 100% bagger.

Another option for personal storage is the tool roll pictured below:

And lastly, these seats scream old school craftsmanship!

From my short emails with Shaun, I have found that he is a family man, loves to ride, and is carrying on a family tradition in working with his hands. These are all qualities I embrace, and I hope you will visit his website, or jump over to and ask for references, you'll get plenty.

Ride Safe,


Saturday, August 22, 2009

A Break From The Heat...

Summer time is the best time of year if your a biker. The days are longer, sunnier, and, if you live in Texas, just plain HOTTER (not sure if that's a word). I don't mean to be a buzz kill, but Summer is pretty much my least favorite time of year to ride my bike. I guess the one week a year it gets below 30 is probably worse, but that's just a week.

Anyway, I know you folks up north love the Summer and try to put on as many miles as you can before the white stuff starts to fall. Then it's time for Stabil and the battery tender, and driving the cage to work. Not so here in the Great State. I love the fall weather, and would rather bundle up than get sunburned, so I am looking to the coming months with much anticipation. The days when my air cooled twin cam won't roast my legs and I can actually put on a pair of jeans without having sweat rings in all the wrong places.

I know for a lot of folks, riding season is winding down...but for me, it's just about to begin. Bring on the Winter!!!

Ride Safe, see ya down the road!

Saturday, June 13, 2009

It's Been Awhile...But, New Mods Are Coming!

Hello to everyone out there who reads my blog (when I have the opportunity to post). Pics to follow soon, I'm excited about this one. I'll try not to keep you waiting too long.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

First Ride Of Spring

I had the opportunity to get out this weekend and ride my bike for the first time in six weeks. As I have recently discovered, Mr. Motorcycle and I share the same occupation. I work in the insurance industry specializing in catastrophe work. I mention this because my work schedule is what has kept me off the two wheeler for such a long stretch. I got to spend a good chunk of the last several weeks bouncing around a few states for my job.

However, Saturday I got to ride over to a buddy's place and we put the bikes up on the lift and did a full service. We got all the fluids changed, new filter, checked primary chain adjustment, belt tension, greased the steering head bearings, etc., etc. Today, I pulled her out and gave her a good wash and will get her nice and polished up this weekend.

The fatty is officially ready for riding season. Now I get to park her again and head to Austin to work a hail storm. Oh well, at least I got the first ride of spring in, and I may just get the second in before I leave.

Mr. Motorcycle, good luck in Fargo.
Fasthair, I took your advice and changed the background to color in my signature photo. I like it better that way.


Friday, February 20, 2009


Well work has been busy. I'm back at it, travelling, chasing the storms. But, in the mids of it all, I made my last payment on the Harley today. As the title of my post indicates, "she is mine"!!! Paid her off in a little over 3 years. Not bad, especially for also having two kiddos in that same time span. Now the Harley is paid for, the other two are still costing me money. But what a joy they are. Anyway, greetings to all of you in blogger land. I am still around, just a little busy.

Greetings and best wishes to all.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Still here...

It's been awhile since my last post. I have been around, but just haven't gotten around to posting. The past year has been a hectic one around our home. My job keeps me away from home for several months a year. I work in the insurance industry and I work in the catastrophe division of a very large insurance company. Anytime a natural disaster hits, we basically go in and handle the resulting large volume of claims. Our normal work week is 6 days X 12 hours/day. On the flipside, when I am not deployed to a storm site, I do not have to report to an office and I can work remotely via laptop and cell phone. So, this gives me the opportunity to spend a lot of time with my wife and two boys.

Anyway, this past year was an extremely busy year for us. We had a record hail and tornado season, and then we all know about Hurricane Ike hitting the Houston/Galveston area. All this activity translated into me working an above average number of days and being away from the family a lot. My beautiful wife is probably the strongest and most understanding person I know, she balances 2 wild and crazy boys, one is 2 years old, the other is 11 months. She also manages to juggle a full course load of college classes (and get a 4.0 gpa) and a part time job. So, when I get home, I try to give her as much help as possible while getting some R&R myself.

Of course, I also try to get out on the Harley as much as I can as well. It has been 70 - 80 degrees here the last several days. I actually got to go riding in short sleeves yesterday. However it's back to 30's and 40's tomorrow. I also got to do a minor modification to the bike this week.

I removed the cheap looking plastic mudguard and replaced it with a polished stainless steel panel that really opens up the rear wheel area of the bike. See pics below:

It's nothing complicated, but did give me the opportunity to turn a wrench and add some more shiny stuff to the Fatty.
So, the reason my posts have been few, is because I am soaking up as much "family time" as possible. Soon the phone will ring and the road will beckon and back to work I'll go. God has blessed my family abundantly. Although, I am away from home a lot, I am thankful for my job and even more thankful for my family.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Bikes, Blues, and Barbeque 2008

2008 provided me the opportunity to head out on a road trip with my buddies (minus one black pearl Road King) to the beautiful land of Northwest Arkansas. For anyone who has never journeyed to this enchanted place, it is absolutely beautiful. We made the 1000 mile round trip back in September for the annual Bike, Blues, and Barbecue Rally, which is the largest charitable bike rally in the country. No tickets needed, but a portion of all proceeds from vendor and food sales goes to charity. The usual suspects were in tow, Mike and his "very popular" Honda ACE, Chris and his "hmmm, twenty-somethingth Harley (this one is Dyna Wideglide), and Javier on his Suzuki Boulevard.

We left on Friday morning after breakfast at What-A-Burger. For those of you who don't have the privilege of eating at What-A-Burger, you are missing out. We got on the road about 9am.
The ride out was uneventful. We took a roundabout route through northeast Texas and into west Arkansas. We headed straight north up to Fort Smith, AR and then hit the home stretch. We pulled into Fayetteville, AR around 5pm and headed straight for the rally grounds. Here are some shots of the parking lot.

We walked around to all the vendor boothes and saw a lot of cool bikes. I saw a Fatboy with a wide tire kit on it that I loved, and then I got to stradle this beast.
Not sure I would want to invest $40K of my hard earned cash into one of these, but it would be fun to rip open that V8 going down the interstate. The bikes sat really well for their size. Friday night was the public voting for the barbecue contest, so we paid $10 which got us a paper plate, a post-it note, and two drink coupons. We took the plates around to about 30 different trailers and was served sample-sized portions of anything from ribs to chicken to brisket. I probably had the best ribs I've ever had from the XXX Barbecue team. On the way out, you jotted down your vote on the post-it and turned it in.

So with our bellys full and our butts soar, we decided to head to the hotel. I bought my first pair of chaps (now I'm a real biker) that night, so like a kid at Christmas, I had to wear them to the hotel! I didn't mention before that coming through Ft. Smith, we erroneously decided to take the business route which funneled us through a lot of traffic and stop lights, instead of the interstate which would have saved us about 45 minutes. Well, since we were staying in Bentonville, AR (about 30 miles north of Fayetteville) we had a short ride to the hotel. However, we decided (erroneously, again!) to take the business route. So we got a steady of diet of stop lights and traffic. We finally get to the hotel, and crashed out. It had been a good day of brotherhood, barbecue, and of course, chasin white lines.

Next morning, Mike (owner of the lovely ACE), headed to the Yamaha dealership to get a new rear tire, since he noticed that his was down to the threads. The rest of us slept in until he called to say he was ready. Chris slept in more than the rest of us due to his wearing ear plugs. He had to due to the fact that Javier snores like a mountain lion with a head cold. Here's a pic of Mike and my handsome self at the Yamaha dealership.

Once we were all up and running, we headed back down to the rally grounds, then over to Dickson Street where the real party was going on. This is the original location of the rally but it has grown so much, it has been expanded to the fair grounds as well. There were bikes for miles, it was great. I saw some of the nicest bikes I'd ever seen, and some rather strange ones too. The one that sticks out the most was Harley Night Train someone had tricked out, but it still looked very much like a Harley. I guess, given all the glamour and prestige of the customs, I am still partial to the Harley design. Here's a shot of Dickson Street.
I thought this sign was great!!!

After lunch, we met up with a friend of Mike's who lives locally. He rides a sport bike and he lead us through the twisties between Bentonville and Eureka Springs. This is some of the most beautiful country I have ever ridden through. Here are some pics of the roads we traversed.

Notice the sign in this picture.

After the afternoon ride, we all headed back to the hotel for some chill time, and then we went to a restaurant that Mike recommended for a steak. The restaurant was very local, evidenced by the fact that there were only about 6 bikes in the parking lot and ours were 4 of them. The food was great and the conversation was good too. Back to the hotel and fast asleep (I know, we're a boring bunch).

Sunday morning we hit the breakfast bar hard and packed up all our gear. We posed for a picture at the hotel to commemorate the occasion and of course, I wore the chaps.
On the way home, we took the direct route. We headed out of west Arkansas and into eastern Oklahoma. We put the hammer down and was making great time when it happened. You know what I'm talking about, someones bike broke down. So, we ended up spending an hour trying to get the bolt replaced which held Mike's rear brake linkage to the rear brake peddle. Now, of course, the bolt hole was located somewhere only a small child could fit their hand, and it had to be located directly between the hot exhaust pipes and the hot crankcase.

We got back on the road and pointed our headlights south, for the last leg of the trip...we thought. Riding in the following order, Chris, Me, Mike, Javier, we were making good time through southern Oklahoma when a very odd thing happened. Chris has a habit of directing the oncoming traffic if he thinks they are intruding on his riding space. He not-so-discretely waves his hand in the direction that he wants the car to move. Well, he was in the act of doing this when an oncoming tractor trailer clipped his hand with his side-view mirror. It was wild, I heard a pop, and the mirror flew off the truck and almost hit Mike riding behind me. We immediately pulled over, not knowing what exactly had happened. The truck never looked back. There was no serious damage done, just heavy bruising and an immediate need for Advil. Here's a pic of Chris's hand.
The latest string of events prompted us to stop for lunch. We stopped at a little diner that had a full parking lot, assuming the place must be good if everyone in town was eating there. It did not disappoint. I polished off a hamburger and we let Chris gather his wits and let the Advil kick in. Back on the road, we crossed the Red River back into Texas and had an uneventful ride home. All in all, I would say the trip was fantastic. I had a great time hanging with the boys for a weekend, and it made coming home that much sweeter.

The most memorable thing about the trip for me, was when we pulled into a gas station upon arriving in Fayetteville. I stood their in the parking lot and all I heard was motorcycles. No traffic, even though we were 100 yards from an interstate, nothing but the rumble of exhaust pipes. It was amazing, and I had a grin on my face from ear to ear.

I am really looking forward to wherever 2009 takes me, as long as it is on the back of a motorcycle.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Pics of the bike, with a twist.

I decided to try my hand at some amature photography. Since my kids won't sit still long enough, I opted for the Harley. Here are some of the end results. I really like the different angles and how the individual parts have character of their own. Of course, a little help from Photoshop doesn't hurt.