VikingBags Saddlebags: An Exercise in Murphy's Law

A few months ago I was on the hunt for some durable, attractive saddlebags for my Harley Davidson Iron 883. I wanted bags that would go with the classic cruiser look fitting my bike, but that would also lock and be large enough to fit a jug a milk, and pack enough gear for a short camping trip.  

After an extensive search, I purchased the “Sportster 883 Iron Viking Sportster Specific Motorcycle Saddlebags” from Viking Bags. These bags, as stated in their title, are tailored to fit the Iron 883, and I was pleased to notice that it wouldn’t require me to relocate my tail lights in order to install them After reading several reviews, and watching a few youtube videos, I decided that I would be able to mount them myself. 

Upon receiving the bags, I was really pleased with the build quality. They were sturdy, made with quality leather veneer over thick plastic, and had an excellent locking mechanism. However, as I set aside a day to mount the bags to my bike I ran into several major problems. 

First of all, the bags did not come with paper instructions. I had to go to their website to find a single page of low detailed instructions. There was no visual guide on how to remove the tail sections of my bike to mount the bags, in fact it wasn’t even clear which way the mounting plates were supposed to face. 

Second, the bags did not come with pre-drilled mounting holes. I thought this was odd since the bags were supposedly built specifically for my model of motorcycle. Not a big deal, thanks to the community workshop Moto Republic, I was able to drill the holes in the correct areas with no real trouble. 

The major issue came from the bolts, they weren’t the right size or length. I’ve read in other reviews that this has happened to other consumers, although it may not occur with every purchase. The bolts fit the holes in the mounting plates, but would not fit in the holes they were meant to be mounted to on the bike. 

This made the whole process increasingly frustrating. What should have been a 1-2 hour job ended up taking all day. I had to remove my rear tire, drill large holes into my bike’s subframe, and make a quick run to the hardware store to purchase the correct bolts and spacers. Again, these bags are supposed to be made specifically for this model of motorcycle. 

To top all of the frustration with getting the bags mounted, they do not really fit perfectly. The bags fit too snuggly against my taillights, and my license plate will not stay in the correct position. Because of this fit issue, I am unable to lock the bags because of the way they bulge out. 

The bags look great, and they are well built, however I don’t think one can say that a set of bags are completely specific to a model of motorcycle while not including the correct set of bolts or ensure that they will fit correctly. 

I know that there are several positive reviews for these bags, and perhaps my experience was unusual, but if you plan on purchasing bags from Viking Bags, proceed with caution and be ready to run to the hardware store.