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: