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DIY $20 Saddlebags

Discussion in 'Modifications and Projects' started by mattb, Mar 13, 2009.

  1. Thanks to QuaterWit for this idea - he ran into a cat who gets around on, as his only transport, a BSA Bantam, and he had these saddlebags in use. Below are some old and beautiful saddlebags I bought, which have tin boxes inside them, but which - while very functional - are too bulky on the SR500, a bike which I like for its thin crew-cut aesthetic, especially as they'd need to be mounted permanently, and I want saddlebags I can put on only when I realy need them. So instead...


    ...go to Army Disposals or whatever shop in your area sells army surplus style gear, get two shoulder bags ($10 each). Remove the strap from each and thread it into the other bag like so below:


    Remove your seat and place the bags on like so:


    And hey presto!


    Excuse the quality of the shots, which are taken at night time. The bags look better coloured in daylight; at any rate, as I don't trust any bike that doesn't have at least a bit of oil, grease and rust on show, I might rub a little motor oil into the bags to darken them up a little, and to give them a sweet scent. I took them for a test ride: they sit soundly, protected from the wind by my legs, and they are unhlikely to rub on the wheel (if they do it's easy to fix that with a coat hanger). I will be sewing a cloth bag inside one of them which will have a zip, for extra security for my valuables. Even on one day rides I like, if I can, to carry flat tyre foam, sometimes a map, a camera, lunch and so forth - this removes it all from my shoulders. But moreso, it means that I won't have to use a backpack when I tour. Of course I'll need to travel light, but that's the name of game anyway. And of course if necessary I can just spend $30 and get bigger bags!

    • Like Like x 1
  2. Not bad mate, bloody good idea.
  3. Not a new idea but still a bloody good one and great to see again.
    3 thumbs up mate!

    I'm most impressed by the lack of "name brand glamour" that seems to be everywhere else in motorcycling these days... :roll:
  4. I may well give it a go mattb. I've often thought of having some cheapass saddlebags on my commuting Spada and I think they'll fit the bill. At the best, I'll have extra storage for carrying stuff to work. At worst, I'll have an extra shoulder bag.
  5. I have a "cheapass" motorcycle so these are perfect!! I'm doing it tonight...

    You do realise though, matt... We'll have matching saddle bags when we cruise now, how lame are we going to be!

    I'm going to the op shot today too, so I'm thinking of buy some old belts and see if I can add them to the design, we'll see how it goes.

    Top job Matt.
  6. Good idea, I was thinking of spiral-stitching some leather or vinyl ones with bootlaces but this seems a whole lot easier. Plus, the disposals is a whole 3 blocks from my house.

    Thanks for the idea - boingk
  7. I didn't get to buy any bags because the store near mine was closed... So I stole my brothers and tested to see what it would look like.


    I think it looks good. I'm going to buy some today.
  8. Count me in as well.

    We're going to look like right proper nonces going for a ride with the same panniers. But looks great on older bikes and is cheap as chips.

    I take full credit for this amazing discovery. :cool:

    Lets not mention the guy who had this on his Bantam who gave me the idea in the first place.
  9. I'm fairly sure the place near me has black as well as the standard canvas colour in stock. Give them a yell if you want, their website is here. Otherwise just get a sachet of dye from the local chemist.

    Cheers - boingk
  10. You could customise them with some fabric paint or iron on transfers if you really wanted to. :LOL:

    Using fabric paint would also give them a modicum of water resistance as well. Alternatively get some heavy duty plastic bags to put on the inside.
  11. Linseed oil would waterproof them quicksmart. Any harware store will have some.

    - boingk
  12. or the spray on gear
  13. I bought two for $14 at the Aussie Disposal in Elizabeth St today.

    I might do a slight mod where the straps connect to the bag. As they are now, they attach to the bag sides, I might move them to the back. It would sit better. Pretty excited about it though...

    Iron on transfer is a good idea! I might do nice black CZ logo. Sweet.


    Just use the white bits, but black... could look cool.

    I love this idea.
  14. Tony, I admit I was tempted by these http://cgi.ebay.com.au/set-of-9-Mot...3286.c0.m14&_trkparms=66:2|65:1|39:1|240:1318 Might still do it, before QuaterWit or Devery do - otherwise together we'd look like complete...!

    Linseed sounds good.

    Check out the next addition below, tossing out the Yamamag. If I do that, it will be a while before I can do the rear, so I might make a big square hession pannier to cover the rear. I would get away with that fau pa, because guys on Elizabeth Street like to show their knowledge by staring with the demeanour sophistication at my tarted-up 70's dirt bike and trying to decide whether its a Rudge or BSA, as they do with QuaterWit's which has 'Yamaha' on the engine covers and the tuning forks on the tank. The same happens to people on the GR650 forum!! I've not yet reached QuaterWit's level of cynicism, where he corrects them and declare's which old Brit bike it in fact is! But I have given up hope that people - bike lovers - notice glaring details.

  15. Just bought a pair and will need to work out a way to keep them on without anything getting caught anywhere. I reckon they're brilliant.

    I'm thinking to keep all contents dry, and to give the bags a solid feel rather than flapping around, I might see about finding some plastic containers with lid that fits them just right. Tupperware maybe?

    Thought I did well at $8 each till I saw Deverys' post. They had slightly smaller ones at $6 a piece, maybe I should've gone for those.
  16. jorge_k - I wouldn't be worried about the price. I'm always willing to pay a bit more if the item has better functionality. I think the palce here sells the backpack-style ones for ~$12 and they have secured front and side pockets, you'd just need to connect the straps of each with a buckle or a reef knot.

    On another note, the original canvas ammo pouches would be pretty handy too, I imagine. I bought one once and it had a newspaper from the 50's in it, probably forgotten since it was packed up after WW2. They're cheap, and convenient size for stuff like wallets, phones, pens and a notebook, or a can of coke and a mars bar. Might be worth seeing what they end up like on a bike...

    Cheers - boingk [runs off to local disposal store]
  17. Awesome idea !!! :idea:

    I'm commuting with a backpack atm, or using bungy ropes on a gym bag on the pillion seat.

    This will be a good alternative.

    Kudos !
  18. Haven't had a chance to use them during the week, so I gave them a go today as I needed to pick up a few items from the supermarket.

    Securing them wasn't the easiest as the extra wide straps made knotting them together difficult. I threaded the straps over the rear side panels and back onto the original bags. The problem now was I had to secure the dangling straps so they couldn't get caught up in the chain or anywhere else for that matter. Will need to cut them short as I'll look into sewing the bag straps to each other, thus making it easier to remove the bags as one piece to carry if need be, rather than unthreading the bags and then trying to secure them again. Too time consuming.

    Needless to say, I had a great laugh and they worked a treat. It was fantastic having them on the bike. Thanks all for the idea.

    *just added the pics*

    [​IMG] [​IMG]
  19. Pattern 37 webbing.


    Very handy stuff. Usually take a bren pouch when I go hunting for very similar reasons you'd have it on the bike.
  20. Great stuff guys, you could form a club :grin:

    I love the saddlebags in 'Harley Davidson and the Marlboro man', the ones Harley has on his bike, they're horse saddlebags and my mum has some nearly identical so when I eventually get a bike i'm gonna use those, and just sling 'em over the shoulder when leaving the bike somewhere.

    nice work with the army bags, ingenious. Could also use an ammo pouch or something for tools.