The Smoothie Saddlebag Review
[This Smoothie Saddlebag Review was orignally published as a Web Exclusive for American Rider magazine]
The Visual Lowdown: How these saddlebags look
They didn’t give the Smoothie saddlebag its name for no reason. Created with a Resin Transfer Molding process that promises a more consistent and precise product than other molding practices, the Smoothies have an incredibly, well, smooth look. All hinges, bolts and rivets are hidden on the inside of the bag and the lock and lid latch/pull are recessed into the lid. A 3.25-inch moderate stretch and slammed styling give this bag a really clean, yet unconventional look.
Visually, the Smoothie walks the line between saddlebag tradition and evolution very eloquently. The smooth, slammed styling of the bag departs from the boxy, traditional look of the stock FL saddlebag nicely—when you put the Smoothie next to a stock FL saddlebag it’s almost like a 1980 Ford parked next to a 2009 Ford. Both are great cars but corners, edges and flat parts have been replaced with a smooth all over aesthetic. The eloquence of the Smoothie’s evolution comes in their ability to depart from tradition and distinguish themselves as a unique, alternative saddlebag option while not departing so far that the bag alienates riders with very traditional tastes.
The bonus: What makes the Smoothie saddlebag bag cool?
Picture this: You’re at a tollbooth in Wisconsin. You pull up and realize your wallet is in your saddlebag. Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to just reach back from the saddle, open your bag, get your wallet, pay the nice lady and then put your wallet back in the saddlebag? If you have Smoothie saddlebag you can!
The Smoothie bags are designed with lids that open outward (away from the bike) and compression latches that easily disengage with a push (to pop the pull part of the latch up) and a turn (to unlatch the bag). The latches are strategically placed to allow riders access to the bags without leaving the saddle. In my book, this added functionality is a really cool extra that could make the lives of many touring motorcyclists easier.
Installing your saddlebags
According to the installation instructions, installing the Smoothie onto any 1993-or-later Harley-Davidson Touring model can be done in four easy steps using the original hardware that comes on stock H-D Touring rigs. Simply remove the pins holding the stock saddlebag in place by rotating and pulling away from the bag brackets, lift and remove the stock bag, set the Smoothie in the location where you just removed the stock bag and replace the stock pins by inserting them back into the quick-detach pin locations and turning them until they are back in the locked position.
To install the Smoothie on an H-D FL Softail you will need an aftermarket hardbag bracket kit such as the Bagger Tail Bag Mount from Cyclevisions (as suggested by Dead Center Cycles). Once the bags are installed they are set for life or easily detachable depending on your day-to-day needs. Since the Smoothie is still in its introductory stages, at this point, Smoothie bags are only outfitted to fit H-D Touring models and FL Softails without modification.
Packing and Toting Field Test
With a 3.25-inch moderate stretch and slanted, slammed style the Smoothie bag is a great travel companion in terms of load capacity. For my fantasy five-day trip I packed the following items comfortably into one Smoothie saddlebag:
- 3 pairs of pants
- 5 shirts
- PJ pants and top
- 5 socks
- 1 hooded sweatshirt
- 1 Backpack for toting my stuff when I got to my destination
- Toiletries: Shampoo, Conditioner, Face wash, bar of soap, Toothpaste, Toothbrush and sunscreen
The list above all fit comfortably into the body of the bag with no overflow…but the Smoothie wasn’t done there! The lid of the Smoothie is rounded and hollow leaving room for a good extra layer of gear that I call the “cram” layer. After I comfortably filled up the body of the Smoothie I added another bulky jacket on top of the load. When the Smoothie bag was open, the jacket stuck out above the lip of the bag, but when closed, the hollow lid easily swallowed it up and the bag locked into place without any issue. I probably could have fit in some more toiletries and a road map or two if I needed to as well.
In terms of toting, the Smoothie isn’t really a detach-and-go kind of bag. Yes, it is detachable, meaning it is not permanent, but you’d have to remove the stock pins and go through the whole installation dance on an H-D Touring model. Because of the nature of the Smoothie’s hard, impenetrable resin body/lid and thanks to the standard built-in top lock, there’s no way anyone is breaking into this bag anyway. I would feel totally comfortable leaving this bag on my bike as an accessory attachment. I would recommend using saddlebag liners when you pack your Smoothies, though. This will make your world a lot easier when you dismount at the Holiday Inn and want to grab your clothes and toiletries fast.
In Conclusion and my Favorite Part
Your motorcycle is a part of you and how your motorcycle looks reflects a part of you as well. I think the Smoothie saddlebags are an excellent option for those people out there who love the convenience of hard saddlebags for touring but are tired of the boxy, traditional stock look. I think the styling of the Smoothies is very thoughtful. The bags do a great job integrating hinges and bolts in a seamless way that allows the bags to truly live up to their “smooth” name.
My favorite part? I love that you can access the inside of the bags from the saddle thanks to the outward-opening lid and the location of the lid latches, but my favorite part is that these bags are 100% molded, manufactured, assembled and created in Washington State by real people with names that you can talk to. The owner and founder of Dead Center Cycles, Willem van der Hoeven, is a regular guy who, after working as a Test Manager for Microsoft, decided to combine his knowledge of science with his love for riding. I love buying accessories from real people who really care about what they are producing.
What you’ll find in the box and how to order your own
The Smoothies saddlebag from Dead Center Cycles Ltd. will be available for public purchase in early June 2010. The saddlebags come in a set with lids, latches, locks, keys and hinges for $1,399.00. Custom paint matching is available. To order your set of Smoothies saddlebags for Harley-Davidson FL Softail and Touring models please visit Dead Center Cycles online at www.deadcentercycles.com, call 206-762-3372 or visit a dealer near you (dealer locator available online through the Dead Center Cycles website).