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Life of the party

By Robert Filla

Saddlebag Latch Kit with Bottle Opener—ball milled and Horn Flask with Mounting Bracket (chrome or black powdercoat)

Billet Boys


Few things complete a great day of riding more than a refreshing adult beverage once the kickstand is down and the keys are stowed for the evening. And in this day when bar-hoppers are the rage, the crew at Billet Boys has found two unique ways to transform your touring bike to compete in that genre—a bar-bagger.

A few months back, a clever writer with Thunder Press described the Billet Boy’s Horn Flask as the perfect snakebite emergency kit (Partz, Dec. 2010). This little wonder features a spring-loaded base that firmly secures a 6 oz. stainless steel container of life-saving nectar by pressing the cap into an internally machined recess. Simply push the bottom of the Flask into the holder and snap the cap into its docking port. Mounting in place of the stock cowbell horn on most H-D Touring bikes, the Flask uses the OEM rubber mount on the left side of the bike near the fuel outlet. Personally road tested up to 85 mph, the Flask remains secure in its moorings until that pesky rattlesnake rears its ugly head, requiring a much-needed antidote against a most certain demise. (A chrome bracket is also available in lieu of this black model for the same price.)

For those riders wishing to preserve the original location of the horn, for an additional $25 a small custom unit is also available from Billet Boys that will mount right alongside the Flask unit. I chose to maintain the clean aesthetics of my mini-bar and relocated my horn into a new, hidden position.

Saddlebag latch replacements were one of the first items that fell onto the bagger aftermarket years ago in an effort to replace the stock units with those ghastly red reflector inserts. But up until now, they were only cosmetic and featured nothing more than an ornamental upgrade. The Billet Saddlebag Latch Kit with inset Bottle-Openers brings a utilitarian aspect to your two-wheeled tavern, providing instant relief for those who prefer brewed hop-and-barley beverage containers of the non-twist-top variety. And with each bag housing an opener, the Latch Kit prevents long lines of thirsty friends waiting their turn. Carved from billet aluminum, graced with ball-milled grooves and coated with a fine chrome finish, these beauties will accent any bike.

Installation of both items is simple. The Flask bracketry takes every bit of two minutes to install and uses the stock, single hex nut. Unfortunately, the narrow filler opening on the Flask requires a longer “install” time, even with a steady hand. And even after repeated attempts to replenish the Flask with snakebite antidote, emptying the contents into a tumbler of ice and repeating, my speed never improved. Actually, after emptying the tumbler following the first couple of test runs, my lap times increased. Go figure.

The Latch Kit utilizes the existing mounting screws from the stock saddlebag except for a stud that is installed inside each of the billet panels and two chrome screws that replace the outside pair of plain black ones, both included. (The two outside bolts are not the standard torx and you will need a hex key to install them.) Although no instructions are included with the Latch Kit, just keep track of how you took it apart and assemble in reverse order (you can always use the other unassembled latch as a reference). Since saddlebags seem to suffer an abnormal amount of vibration, a dab of blue thread lock here and there during assembly will go a long way to insure your new goodies stay intact for the ride. (I highly recommend installing the Latch Kit before repeated testing of the “refilling the Flask” procedure above.)

One somewhat strange aspect of the opener is that while normally when using such a device you push your bottle of suds in a downward motion to open, on this Latch Kit you pull up (my only thought is that this particular action reduces pressure on the sidewall of the saddlebag, preventing fiberglass fractures, and places the force against the lock itself). Whatever the thought process behind this engineering, the unit works efficiently and fluidly with nary an injury to operator or beverage—but… the latch must be in the “locked” position; otherwise the upward movement opens the unlocked hinge mechanism.

I pulled into my buddy’s garage after a frosty 100-mile ride, looking forward to the camaraderie and fellowship that old friends seem to incite. I’d slowed down on purpose while coming through town and caught every red light I could on the way to his house. By the time I wheeled into his greasy excuse for a garage, the French cognac I’d loaded into the Flask was warm. And while I sent him off in search of two beers and a rattlesnake, I relaxed knowing this would be a tasteful ending to a tasty ride.

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