Review by Jess Giese
[This Leatherlyke Saddlebags Review was originally published in the April 2010 issue of American Rider magazine]
LeatherLyke Saddlebags are ABS plastic products that mimic the look and feel of real leather. A laminate of two types of ABS (acrylonitrile butadiene styrene), the inner layer is a structural ABS and the outer layer is a trademarked leather-textured ABS laminate. The two parts are combined using a process called co-extrusion.
In addition to saddlebags, the LeatherLyke line of motorcycle luggage includes a variety of trunks that they call Cruiser Cases. All products are available in two different styles. One style is the Traditional, which has studs and conchos, and the other is the Contemporary style, which is a plainer, smooth design.
For our test we chose the Cruiser saddlebags to mount on a 1992 Harley-Davidson FXR. The installation went very well, and the instructions were quite clear. As our test bike was actually a former Police Special, mostly akin to an FXR, a slight adaptation had to be made. This involved drilling one extra hole in each bag. Even so, it was an easy fix and the installation looks clean. The hardest part was changing the turn-signal location from the stock position to a location on the tail light, but the kit came with everything needed and turned out fine. The angle brackets provided for this relocation could be a bit nicer; a little chrome here would dress things up a bit. The instructions state that the turn-signal wires must be extended, and wiring is provided, but as it turned out our wires were long enough without modification.
We’ve road tested the bags around town and on the freeway with no problems. Two clips on the inside of each bag make them simple to mount and remove. The quality is good, the lock is very secure and a closed-cell neoprene foam-lined interior provides cushioning for the contents. Both bags are equipped with a helmet clip so you can lock your helmet. Interestingly, the instructions include a reference to using the bags as an ice chest for drinks, a great idea. They say that the bags can be drained afterwards and excess water blotted up, leaving the lids open for the interiors to air dry. The foam liners, being closed cell, do not retain water.
As far as being like actual leather, you’ll find the ABS a tad harder than leather, but the grain is pretty convincing and the product mimics a leather bag with a rigid liner. This is particularly true from a distance. I had seen these bags on other bikes before we received our test set, and I was surprised that they were as hard as they are; they just don’t look that rigid. They are definitely an improvement over the leather bags that they replace on this bike. The only thing that could be better is the depth of the bag; it would be nice if they were bigger. LeatherLyke does make a larger bag called the Cross Country but not for our model.