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Adapting a Magnetic Tank Bag for use on my Honda ST1100

How to adapt a magnetic tank bag for use on a Honda ST1100 (one of many ways, I am sure!)

NOTICE: This is a personally designed and installed modification on my motorcycle and it's parts. It is published here for the sole purpose of showing how I did this. Anyone wishing to copy this method must assume any and all risks of death or injury that could possibly occur as a result of something (ANYTHING!) going wrong and causing an accident or other unfortunate event. In other words - YOU are responsible for all risks - not me!

Design Criteria -

I already owned a Wolfman magnetic tank bag for use on my former bike - a '79 CB750F. When I got my ST, I didn't want to have to replace the tank bag. And being the frugal fellow that I am, I wished to adapt it for use on the ST for a minimal cost. I also decided on the following additional criteria that were important to me: It had to be quick and easy to put on or take off, it needed to be stable at speed, and I wanted nothing "showing" when the bag wasn't installed. I also didn't want any "loose parts" to keep track of aside from the tank bag and bike. Oh yeah, one other thing - I didn't want to drill any holes or make any other "permanent" modifications to the bike. So with these criteria here's what I came up with...

Tank Bag mounted in operating position viewed from right, slightly rear.

View from Right side, further back...

Viewed from rear of bike...

And if you were wondering about stability - yes, that IS my Laptop computer mounted on top of the tank bag! And yes, I can/have and do operate this way occasionally.... Coupling the Laptop running Delorme's Street Atlas USA and my GARMIN GPS III, I can have voice navigation in my helmet speakers - normally running with the laptop closed, but if the route gets unclear, it's a simple flip up of the screen at a light or pullover and I'm on track again. Now is THAT an ultimate farkle? :-)

Haven't lost the laptop yet!


What I needed....

I went to a local fabric/sewing store and purchased the following (ALL I would need to do the job, and total cost < $6.00!)

  • 1 ea. - 8 Ft. Length of 1" wide black nylon web strapping
  • 2 ea. - Standard 1" wide black plastic web buckles
  • 1 ea. - Thin, tension-release 1" wide plastic web buckle

I already had the following on hand:

  • 1 ea. - roll of heavy-duty thread
  • 1 ea. - heavy-duty sewing needle


Here's how to do it:

Prepare the tank bag attachments -

Two five-inch length of strapping are cut off. One male standard buckle is threaded on one piece (permanently, by sewing the short end back on the remaining strap) and one female buckle attached to the other piece in a similar fashion. These two components are then attached to the tank bag by sewing onto the magnetic "flaps" - high up and close to the bag itself, and forward so that the ends of the buckles are just short of flush with the front edge of the bag.

Showing the female buckle end sewn to the right side of the tank bag.

A closer up view of the same...

Showing the male buckle end installed onto the left side of the tank bag...

Notes: The buckles were threaded on and then the short free ends sewn making them permanently attached. The longer free ends were then each sewn onto the tank bag "wings". I took care to only stitch through the upper layer of the magnet pockets. I didn't want to sew through the rubberized lower part for reasons of the integrity of the rubber as well as ease of sewing. The "goopy" appearance is sometimes visible is a dabbed on product to prevent fraying of the strapping.

NOTE: Using one male and one female is critical in order to allow for the forward bike strap to be clipped to itself around the steering head which allows for it to remain secure on the bike yet almost invisibly so.


Prepare the Forward Bike Strap -

Cut off approximately 44 inches of strapping and attach one buckle end permanently by sewing (doesn't really matter which one is used here as the other end will be left "free"...).

This is a close-up view of the male end stitched onto one end of the front bike strap

And this is a view of the completed strap already installed onto the bike as follows in the next section.


Install the Forward Bike Strap -

The "free" end of this strap is threaded down one side of the steering head through the factory supplied strap attachment wire loop (very near the bottom of the steering head), then over the front of the steering head (just below where the brace to the dash assembly attaches), through the opposite factory loop, and then up the other side of the steering head. Be sure to route the strap UNDER the hydraulic line on the left side, and OVER the wiring harness on the right side (Sides referenced as if sitting on the bike in riding position). Be sure that the male/female ends of the strap and the already installed tank bag buckles match. If they don't, simply remove and re-thread the forward strap from the opposite side you started on in the first place. Once correctly threaded through you attach the other buckle end on the "free" end of the strap which is left with a 3-4 inches of free end. This allows for tightening or loosening of the forward strap which will allow control of how far forward or back your tank bag ultimately sits. It also allows for easy and complete removal of the forward strap should you want/need to for any reason. When not in use to attach the tank bag, you cross the two ends over each other and around the steering head. Be sure to tuck them in close to the steering head at the rear where the false fuel tank cover attaches, and then with the handlebars in the straight-ahead position, and one buckle in each hand, wrap the two ends around to the front of the steering head, and buckle the ends together. This is a little tight but it will just fit. It may take some practice to do it, and having small hands is a help, but mine aren't that small and I can do this in less than 15 seconds... When done properly, there is no interference with the movement of the steering or the steering lock mechanism.

This is a shot looking DOWN from the top on the left side of the steering head. Note the routing of the strap under the hydraulic hose and the factory wire attachment point is clearly shown

This is a shot looking up from below and front of the bike. It shows the installed front strap in it's "tank bag un-installed" position.

This shot on the left shows how the installed front strap is wrapped around the steering head and tucked out of sight when not in use....


Prepare the Rear Bike Strap -

You should have a 42 inch length of strapping left which becomes the rear attachment strap. This is essentially the same as the front strap save the fact that it uses the thin, tension release buckle, and it threads through the two factory provided wire attachment loops located on either side of the fuel tank just underneath the forward part of the seat. Attach the male end of the strap permanently (by sewing) to one end of the strap.

This is a detail shot of the special "thin tension release" buckle. You can see that it's not a lot thicker than the strap itself!

And this shows the thin buckle installed and latched... Note the little "button" where the free end of the strap threads to the male section (lower half of photo) - that's the tension release which allows you to easily put slack into the system when re-attaching this buckle.


Install the Rear Bike Strap -

Remove the bike seat and thread the free end through the left factory attachment loop. Pull the strap through and across the rear of the gas tank (and below the front seat attachment post) and then through the right side attachment loop. The female end (the one with the tension release) is then threaded onto the free end of the strap. When not used for attaching the tank bag, the two ends are attached and then the buckle and loose strapping are stuffed down between the right side cover and the fuel tank, and the seat re-installed.


Using the system -

To mount/use the tank bag - disconnect the front strap buckles and unwind from around the steering head, leaving the two ends laying on top of the fuel tank cover. Remove the seat and disconnect the two ends of the rear strap and let them lay down on either side cover. Re-install the seat. Now, place the tank bag on top of the fuel tank cowling with the magnetic flaps open. Connect each end of the forward strap to the two matching buckles installed on the tank bag. Pull the bag rearward until the front straps are tight. If it's too far back, you can simply snug up on the free adjustable buckle end to position as needed. Now, thread one end of the rear strap up over the seat and through the tank bag carrying handle, and then connect to the other end of the thin buckle. Pull on the free adjustable end to tighten. That's IT! Reverse to remove tank bag.

To fuel the bike, simply release the rear strap, and slide or flip the tank bag forward to access the fuel filler door. When completed, replace tank bag to position, use the tension release to give some free slack to the buckle and re-connect the buckle. Pull on the free end to re-tension and you're done!

Conclusion -

I hope you find this information useful should you be faced with the same problems to solve. I am very happy with how this works for me. Feel free to use and/or modify this design as you see fit. And don't forget to GO RIDE! :-)

Comments/questions welcome to wgr@sprynet.com

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