Monday, February 17, 2014

Quick detach bags

Soon after I got my Dyna I realised that if I wanted to use it for anything practical I needed some luggage capacity. So I went looking for bags, scouring the parts catalogues, eBay, Kijiji, and anywhere else I might be able to find something suitable and priced right (i.e. less than retail). And I did, finally.
Then, years later, after tiring of having to empty the bags every time I stopped somewhere overnight, I thought how nice it would be to have some sort of quick-detach system so I could just pop them off and carry them into the hotel room with me.
And so when the folks over at Viking Bags asked me to do a review of their quick disconnect system this winter it was a no-brainer. Of course I’d try them out. A couple of weeks later the box arrived.
First impressions: The brackets are solid, heavy-gauge steel and seem very well constructed and nicely finished. A large collection of various sized nuts, bolts, spacers, etc. is also included, as is a brief installation instruction sheet.
Before starting any project I make it a habit of running through the process mentally, thereby (hopefully) anticipating problems before they arise. When I did so in this case I discovered an interesting issue: the 4 docking posts had 2 different sized bolts and inside (bolt-hole) diameters, one at 3/8” and the other at 5/16”. There is no technical reason for this  so I contacted the company directly to ask why but they were unable to explain the rationale. It simply creates confusion (which part goes where?) and requires additional tools for the installation. Viking Bags offered to send replacement parts to match but I declined, instead going with the ‘standard’ product as that’s what you would get.
After staring at the pile of parts for a few days I was finally satisfied that I knew what I was doing. The installation then went very quickly although the first time I installed the docking posts backwards. That was my bad for relying on intuition (not always a smart idea). The instructions specify that the docking posts have to mount with the smaller diameter end facing out. This is somewhat counter-intuitive as it is the larger diameter end Mounting poststhat is better finished with rounded edges, etc., and so one would expect that would be the outer, visible face. Not so, as I discovered. However that was easy to fix and by using the longer bolts provided I was also able to retain my existing QD backrest. Having stacked docking posts does mean that the pins are a bit long and obvious with nothing attached, however that won’t often be the case so I can live with that for the added convenience.
Likewise mounting the H-D bags to the brackets was very easy. The main mounting holes in the brackets lined up perfectly with the existing holes in the bags so I only had to drill one additional hole in each bag. Unfortunately the bolts provided were a 1/2” too short for the reinforced mounts on my H-D bags (probably not an issue with most after-market bags), but once I got the right length bolts it really was a simple bolt-on effort.
A turn of the key and the bags slide on and off effortlessly.  The lock is designed in such a way that you cannot accidentally leave it unlocked – the key won’t come out if you do – so they should be very secure. The mounts seem good and solid and only time will tell how they hold up with loaded bags, but I don’t anticipate that to be an issue as they are quite robust. And even though I’ll probably keep the bags mounted most of the time, it will be nice to be able to snap them off, even if just for basic maintenance and a quick wash now and then.
But, (and this is really a nit-picky point) the two locks require different keys. Having them keyed the same so one could avoid having to carry yet another key on an already overloaded key chain would be a really nice feature. And finally, a small piece of plastic to cover the adjustable lock slot visible in the picture above would go a long way to improve the overall appearance. But those are minor issues, largely offset by the fact that these units are currently selling at a significant discount to their competitors.
What is the final verdict? Overall I am quite pleased with these mounts and would recommend anyone considering detachable luggage give them a try.
If I could suggest one final improvement it would be for Viking Bags to offer a strap handle to which you could clip the bags for carrying, like a suitcase. Or make the docking posts available as a separate purchasable item so one could make their own handle, or put mounting posts on the garage wall to store the bags when not in use, or even use the bags on multiple bikes. Do that and these would be perfect!

8 comments:

  1. Plus a cover for the lock would keep out dirt, snow and water. Having to deal with a jammed lock in a rainstorm would be a pain...

    Otherwise, they look pretty nice and a clean look when they aren't being used.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Good point about a lock cover. When the riding season finally gets here I'll find out pretty soon if that's going to be an issue. I hope not.

      Delete
  2. Canajun - it was the ability to detach the bags that sold me on my new luggage as well. Do these brackets work with bags other than rigid HD style bags?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. VStar Lady - They should work with any after market bag. I just happened to have the H-D style ones installed.

      Delete
  3. Canajun:

    Having detachable bags is a real convenience. I don't understand the different bolt diameters either, and having two locks keyed together would be more convenient.

    All you have to do now is figure out where to go.

    bob
    Riding the Wet Coast

    ReplyDelete
  4. Quick connects are the way to go. So much easier being able to carry the bags into the hotel or tent.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Interesting post. Great to know there are some viable after market bags. Thanks.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Gotta have the bags. So much easier to just throw stuff in. Mine are detachables too and I have never taken them off LOL!

    ReplyDelete

Please feel free to comment, but any comments with commercial links will be deleted. You have been warned.