While our 2004 Sportster XL1200C project bike has served us well, it’s always good to have a few basic tools with you when you ride for those unpredictable roadside emergencies. And while we wished we could bring a few along, we’ve spent a lot of time hot roddin’ the Sporty up and didn’t want anything big and bulky detracting from its racy disposition. We found a solution in Harley’s Downtube Bag (Item #93300044 – $149.95) for Sportsters and Dynas.
The bag itself is 10-inches long and 4-inches deep. The back plate is hard plastic while the rest of it is leather. It has two exterior buckles that are more for show as the main storage compartment has a zipper, too, to ensure your tools don’t go tumbling down the road when you hit the bumpy stuff. Overall the storage compartment is fairly small, so make sure you grab the sockets you use most frequently because there’s only enough room for the essentials. The maximum recommended load is five pounds.
While the kit came with an assortment of hardware so it can be mounted on Dynas and XLs, all we needed for installation on the 2004 Sportster XL1200C were four bolts, two nuts, and two mounting brackets. A drill is required though to punch holes in the back of the bag to run the bolts through. At first we wondered why it didn’t come pre-drilled from the factory but then realized it mounts up differently depending on whether it’s a Dyna or Sportster and whether or not the motorcycle has engine guards.
Of course, the drill bits Harley suggested using are off-sizes, 13/32 and 9/32. Those bits cost $10 a-piece at our local hardware store, so we used the 3/8 and 5/16 bits we already had in our toolbox instead and manually made the hole’s circumference a little bigger so the bolts would fit. With the holes drilled, we lined up the first mounting bracket on the exterior of the back of the bag and inserted two button head bolts. Then we opened up the bag and inserted the second mounting bracket, lining it up with the two button head bolts that were already in place. Those two bolts were secured into place from the inside with two locking nuts tightened down to 60 in-lb. Next we pushed two hex head bolts through the upper holes of the inner mounting bracket so the ends were sticking out the back. One of the holes didn’t line up perfectly even though we drilled exactly on the pre-designated spot, so we had to widen it just a touch. We added a couple drops of Loctite to the bolts then screwed them in to holes in the lower frame crossmember, tightening them down to the recommended 25 – 35 lb-ft. Done in less than 15 minutes.
We like that the downtube bag sits low and is indiscreet. Sitting right behind the front tire, it’s going to get filthy. Luckily, Harley included a little leather conditioner in the kit. Having a handful of tools and a roll of duct tape at our disposal when we ride definitely adds a little peace of mind.