Removing Vaquero Saddlebag Reflectors

One thing that a lot of us dislike is the bulky reflectors on the saddlebags of the Kawasaki Vaquero. One would hope they would be simple to remove from the inside of the bag, or adhered with double-sided tape, but such is not the case.

First, they are screwed in from the inside of the bag door. No problem, right? Unfortunately Kawasaki decided to use a combination of glue and rivets to secure the inner door panel to the shell, making it very difficult and damage-prone to try to separate the two parts.

Note, this outlines the steps specifically for a 2013 Vaquero, but should be virtually identical for any year (and perhaps any model with side-opening bags).

What You'll Need

  • Drill with sharp drill bits, 1/4" and 3/8"
  • Magnetic pickup tool (optional)
  • Caliper, or at least a tape measure
  • Square (recommended)

How It's Done

The following steps are for both doors. I suggest doing the left one first as mistakes are more easily covered by the pouch Wink Also, I removed my doors for painting which makes this process easier, but if you don't need to remove them you can still get rid of the reflectors.

Quick summary of key measurements:

  • From the edge of the rivet head to the first (front) screw: 1.80 inches (45.72 mm)
  • From the edge of the rivet head to the second (rear) screw: 4.00 inches (101.6 mm)
  • From the bottom of the bag door to the two screws: 2.20 inches (55.88 mm)

On the Left Door

For the left door you'll need to gain access to the area where the reflector is attached. Use a good sharp drill bit, 1/8 - 3/16 inch, and drill the lower rear rivet holding the pouch. Drill fast with little pressure. As soon as the outer ring of the rivet comes loose you should be able to pop it off with a screwdriver and knock the rest of the rivet into the door. There's really noplace else for it to go, but after you remove the reflector you might be able to retrieve it with a magnetic pickup tool.

Detailed Steps for Both Doors

  1. With some tape in place to mark on, measure from the edge of the nearest rivet head toward the rear of the bike. The first point is 1.80 inch, the second is an even 4.00 inches. Note that I measured from the edge of the center "head" of the rivet in the saddlebag, not the very edge of the flange. Mark the tape and use your square to draw a pencil line on the plastic area over the reflector. While a square is recommended, it's not absolutely crucial to place the hole exactly over the screw; you have some room for error.
  2. Now measure 2.2" from the bottom of the bag and draw a horizontal line across your fiest mark to indicate the drilling point. This should be about 1/8" - 1/4" from the edge of the plastic.
  3. Drill a pilot hole with your 1/4" (or smaller) drill bit, then drill it out to 3/8". This is a soft plastic, so keep your RPMs high and pressure light to maintain control. The pilot hole will help prevent the larger bit from grabbing the plastic quite so much.
  4. With a magnetic pickup tool it's a simple matter to retrieve the screws through the holes. At this point the reflectors will pop right off. You can put a 3/8" rubber plug or grommet to cover the drilled holes if you like.
    1. If you drilled through the left-side pouch rivet, and really don't want it rattling around your left bag, here's where you can remove it (This is easier with the door removed) Use the magnetic tool to grab it and remove through one of the 3/8" holes you just drilled.
  5. Once you're all done, use a pop-rivet or short screw to attach the pouch back onto the left bag door.

Now do what you like for the outside holes. There are a lot of options....

  • Plastic push-in hole plugs (may have to enlarge the exterior holes)
  • Some small stick-on emblems
  • Reflective or other decorative tape. Perhaps detach the glued-on OEM reflector from the black housing and reattach it for a slimmer look.
  • LED markers or flashers (This is where putting a grommet in one of the drilled holes would be handy.)

And the end result.... No reflector. As you can see, my purpose was to repaint the bags. I had started working around the reflector and decided I'd really rather remove it for a better job.

This article is based on a post at Thanks to jestephens, Devin W and ZZVaquero!


Share It

Be the first to comment