I can hear you now. Why would anyone want to put soft saddlebags on a Nomad when it comes from the factory with such beautiful hard bags? Well how about:
- They have a classic look to them.
- You forgot to tighten the hard bag bolts and the bag fell off your bike on the highway.
The latter was Jim's incentive to create this great looking alternative.
What You'll Need
- Set of Kawasaki OEM hooks from the back of your hardbags or part # 11051-1104
- Set of saddlebags. The ones shown here are "XL Slant River Road" (studded) from Chaparral Motorsports. Part 310-8940 for non zipper ($143.99) or 310-8964 for zip-off ($158.99). These are leather-like material which tends to hold shape and wear better than real leather.
- Pieces of Plexiglas or other stiff material that will be large enough to cover the inside (back) of your bags. This will help stiffen and support the bag.
How To Do It
Trace an outline of your bags onto the Plexi-glass (or other backing material). You will want to cut this slightly smaller to fit on the inside of your bags, it does not have to be exact but you want a tight a fit as possible. Be careful to round off any sharp edges to avoid puncturing the bags.
Cut the material to shape. I used a hand electric jigsaw, go slow but do not stop once started. The plastic will tend to melt especially if using a high-speed saw. A dremel cutting wheel could be used if you are brave, but be extremely careful, as it will melt the plastic quite easily. If it’s not perfect, don’t worry, you can fix it with a belt sander if you have access to one, or a flat file, or sanding block. (I cheated and took my rough-cut pieces to a local lumberyard where the plastic was smoothed and beautifully shaped and they didn't even charge me).
Using the hook hardware that you removed from your hard bags (or purchased separately), carefully locate and drill holes in the backing material. Again, the plastic melts easily, try using a variable speed drill at a slow speed but keep it steady. Locating the position of the holes is critical and you should take careful measurements. I then used a spring-loaded center punch to locate the holes prior to drilling. If you don’t have one, try using a small bit to make a pilot hole. The finished holes should be ¼ inch in diameter. Use the hardware as a guide and locate them so the hardware is flush against the top of the backing material.
Measuring your bags depends on the shape. If they are square, simply take the widest measurement and find the center to locate the hook bracket. If they are slanted, you need to find the “effective” center as follows:
Using a large Tee square with an edge across the bottom, take the measurement from the inner edge of the vertical arm of the Tee Square to the opposite edge of the top of the bag. Divide by 2 to locate the middle and center your hardware at that point.
Now, simply bolt them on. You may have to use longer than Nomad OEM bolts. I used longer bolts and also small fender washers on both the inside and outside to help protect the integrity of the leather bags and also the hardware holes which are very close to the top. Depending on the length of your bolts you can use either acorn nuts, or “stop” nuts. (Those little nuts with fiberglass inserts). You can drill holes in the leather as they are being mounted.
The bags will now neatly slip right into place onto the hook receptacle of your existing mounting brackets. To secure the bags from popping out, I used miniature bungies on the sides and bottom. To remove, simply unfasten the bungies, and lift straight up! My bags have carrying handles sewn in resulting in “instant” luggage.
You now have bags that are easy on/ easy off to check tire pressure, e.t.c. Without fear of scratching those expensive hard bags! You can still revert back to the hard bags at any time if you remembered to order an extra set of hook bracket hardware.