Willie & Max Motorcycle Touring Upgrade Kit
(This Gearlab item was published in the November 2012 issue of Rider magazine.)
If you ride a bare-bones metric cruiser, you may wish that your bike were better equipped for touring with a full fairing and hard-shell saddlebags. To address this need, the folks at Willie & Max in Manitowoc, Wisconsin, have introduced a Touring Upgrade Kit that includes a
bat-wing-style fairing with inner and outer sections, and a pair of lockable saddlebags. The component parts are of thermoformed ABS composite, and made in the USA.
I tried the Kit on a 2012 Yamaha V Star 1300, which I first rode bare (the bike—not me!) to find that the wind struck me fully from the ankles on up to the helmet, largely in a clean and quiet airflow. Then I personally watched as Ken Stout of Willie & Max installed their Touring Upgrade Kit on the bike, along with the optional Fusion radio with speakers. The installation was clean, with the steel brackets and ABS bags going on in about 30 minutes, and the fairing with radio in a little less than two hours. Note that Ken is the engineer who designed the system, so this may have given him an edge—it will likely take an inexperienced person longer.
Out on the highway with the classic-look fairing installed, running 60-70 mph, the wind still reached my lower legs but was diminished above the knees. The bat-wing fairing kept most of the wind off the area between the insides of my elbows, and only a little residual wind reached my chest. My helmet took some buffeting with the standard nine-inch windshield in place, but it was not unpleasant. The additional sound meant I had to turn up the radio to hear it. Optional windshields include 3.5-inch tinted and clear shields in 7- and 12-inch heights. The fairing brings added wind protection and comfort.
The saddlebags also have a classic shape and the entire top opens; they measure 25 inches long by 13 high and 11 wide, and hold 22 liters each, according to Willie & Max. Rubber grommets allow them to float on their mounts to minimize vibration. The doors pivot outward, and I would have preferred if they could have stayed open by themselves. Note that it’s not possible to extract the keys without locking the bags, so they cannot be left unlocked for ease of loading. However, they hold a good deal and all inner space is usable. Liner bags are available for just $21.99 each.
Prices for the Full Touring Kit (including fairing, saddlebags, windshield and mounting hardware) start at $1,600.99 in primer, or $1,888.99 in the gloss black shown. Custom OE color matching is also available. Please note that our Kit shows the optional polished stainless-steel bezel below the windshield ($39.99) and Windshield Storage Pouch ($61.99). Fitments at this time include the Honda VTX1300 and VTX1800, Stateline, Interstate and Sabre, the Kawasaki Vulcan 900, Suzuki C50 and Yamaha Road Star and V Star 950, 1100 and 1300. The fairing and bags are available separately and other fitments are coming.
To install the radio, order the fairing with an inner portion having the cutouts for radio and speakers. The Full Radio Kit includes the Fusion RA-200 Marine Grade Radio with speakers, grilles, USB cable and hidden antenna, and sells for $419.99. It is fully featured and will also accommodate a personal digital device.
Full product details are available online at willieandmax.com, or email the company at firstname.lastname@example.org.