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Dowco Willie & Max Swingarm Bag Review

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Dowco Willie & Max Swingarm Bag Review Summary
Review Summary
The Dowco Willie & Max swingarm bag is a compact, yet surprisingly useful bag that makes a great option for additional storage on bikes with a triangulated swingarm. A combination of high quality synthetic leather, hard inner plastic shell and double layer closing features keep your belongings safe. False buckles hide the closing buckles to maintain a sleek, and stylish look. The Dowco Willie & Max Swingarm bag is at a more competitive price point than other options on the market, such as Harley Davidson and Viking Bags.
Design
Build Quality
Form & Fit
Protection
Ease of Use
Value for Money
Pros
High quality synthetic leather that is easy to clean and stands up to harsh weather
Hard inner plastic shell that maintains the bags shape over time
Discreet, integrated look which compliments the bikes profile
Competitive price point from other market alternatives while bolstering the same benefits
Cons
Expensive when compared to a cost to storage ratio
Blocks passenger footpeg from being tilted up when not in use
Can only be used on bikes with a triangulated swingarm
3.6
Average, With Drawbacks

Dowco Willie & Max Swingarm Bag Image Gallery

Dowco Willie & Max Swingarm Bag with sunglasses and various bottles stored.Dowco Willie & Max Swingarm Bag with sunglasses and various bottles stored.

Closeup of the Dowco Willie & Max Swingarm Bag with clothes stored insideCloseup of the Dowco Willie & Max Swingarm Bag with clothes stored inside
Side view of the bag installed on the motorcycleSide view of the bag installed on the motorcycle
Rear view of the bagRear view of the bag
Closeup photo of the swingarm bag and dual leather straps securedCloseup photo of the swingarm bag and dual leather straps secured

Closeup of a leather strap with protective film providing rubbing protectionCloseup of a leather strap with protective film providing rubbing protection

Swingarm bag mounted to the side of a motorcycle near the footpegSwingarm bag mounted to the side of a motorcycle near the footpeg
Side view of the Willie & Max swingarm mounted to a Harley Davidson motorcycleSide view of the Willie & Max swingarm mounted to a Harley Davidson motorcycle

Closeup of the buckle on the swingarm bagCloseup of the buckle on the swingarm bag
Closeup of paint on battery cover showing signs of damageCloseup of paint on battery cover showing signs of damage

Interior leather straps on the swingarm bag to keep belongings securedInterior leather straps on the swingarm bag to keep belongings secured
2011 Harley Davidson Iron 8832011 Harley Davidson Iron 883
Dowco Willie & Max Swingarm BagDowco Willie & Max Swingarm Bag

Buy Now
Amazon USAmazon CADowco Website

Review Summary​

  • The Dowco Willie & Max Swing Arm bag is made out of high quality synthetic leather
  • The price point is cheaper than other big name competitors
  • The bags dimensions are ‎26.67 x 29.21 x 11.43 cm and it weighs under 500 grams
  • Installation is quick and easy
  • Great value for additional storage on bikes with a triangular swingarm

Side view of the Willie & Max swingarm mounted to a Harley Davidson motorcycleSide view of the Willie & Max swingarm mounted to a Harley Davidson motorcycle

Sunday morning.

The sun is shining without a cloud in the sky. What better day to enjoy the open roads on your bike?

You grab your motorcycle jacket, gloves, boots, helmet and…backpack? You know you should’ve bought a saddlebag to keep a few necessities, but they just didn’t fit the bike “image” you’ve been building.

Regardless of how much of a minimalist you may be, everybody has their own list of essentials. Is it a long list? Probably not! But likely enough to warrant a need for extra storage.

What if I told you that you could finally retire that tattered, uncomfortable, parachute of a backpack and replace it with something that’ll not only compliment your style, but traveling needs?

Dowco Willie & Max Synthetic Leather Swingarm Bag​

Swingarm bag mounted to the side of a motorcycle near the footpeg
Swingarm bag mounted to the side of a motorcycle near the footpeg

The bag blocks the passenger footpeg from being tilted up when not in use.

What do you get when you combine practicality with style? Dowco Willie & Max’s Swingarm bag.

This motorcycle saddlebag is as durable as it is good-looking. The shape perfectly mimics the Sportster’s triangulated swingarm, making it look as though it comes stock on the bike.

Side view of the bag installed on the motorcycleSide view of the bag installed on the motorcycle

Are you going to fit a week’s worth of laundry in it? Absolutely not. Are you going to fit a bottle of sunscreen, sunglasses, a hat & more? Yes, with ease!

It is important to note that the bag blocks the passenger footpeg from being tilted up when not in use. If that is a deal breaker for you, perhaps the Viking Bags alternative will work better.

Small Bag, Big Convenience​


Coming in at ‎26.67 x 29.21 x 11.43 cm and under 500 grams, I am able to comfortably fit a spare change of clothes, along with a few drinks. What does this mean? It means I no longer have to wear jeans & motorcycle boots to backyard barbecues in 30 degree heat.

Closeup of the Dowco Willie & Max Swingarm Bag with clothes stored inside
Closeup of the Dowco Willie & Max Swingarm Bag with clothes stored inside

Shirt, shorts & a hat easily stored inside the bag.

It means that when I’m riding in a group and we stop for a bite to eat I can reapply my sunscreen, throw on a hat, a pair of sunglasses, and lock up my helmet.

Dowco Willie & Max Swingarm Bag with sunglasses and various bottles stored.
Dowco Willie & Max Swingarm Bag with sunglasses and various bottles stored.

Sunglasses, a hat, waterbottle and sunscreen can be stored for day trips.

Convenient? Yes. Or would you prefer to get sunburnt?

As I’ve touched on, you aren’t going to pack for a cross-country trip using this swingarm bag. If your storage requirements surpass a spare change of clothes, you’re better off checking out our list of the Best Canvas Saddlebags You Can Buy.

On the other hand, if you’re like me and like to keep a few items handy, you need not look any further. I made great use of this bag during my Ontario road-trip. I was able to have quick access to essentials without dismantling the rest of my luggage.

Closeup of the buckle on the swingarm bag
Closeup of the buckle on the swingarm bag

“Mimic” buckles hide the clips that close the top flap.

Rain in The Forecast? No Problem​


The high quality synthetic leather that makes up this bag will keep your belongings protected when caught out in the rain. The interior of the bag has two flaps of leather that button together to keep your belongings in place. The top flap is then locked in place by two clips on the exterior. These clips are concealed & disguised as buckles for added looks.

The entire bag is plastic reinforced for further weather resistance, as well as for shape retention. I would refer to it as weatherproof as opposed to waterproof. There is not a compression seal or other like mechanism to provide 100% protection from water, but unless you’re caught out in torrential downpour, your belongings should remain dry.

Interior leather straps on the swingarm bag to keep belongings secured
Interior leather straps on the swingarm bag to keep belongings secured

Interior synthetic leather flaps buckle together to provide a secondary seal for belongings.

Installation Really is as Easy as 1, 2, 3!​


Included in the package are 3 leather straps with buckles, as well as strips of clear, protective film. The film is placed along your swingarm and other mounting points to prevent any damage from occurring as the bag rubs on your bike. Installation is quick and easy and can be done in 3 easy steps.

Closeup of a leather strap with protective film providing rubbing protection
Closeup of a leather strap with protective film providing rubbing protection

Top right leather strap fastened to the swingarm with the protective film providing protection from rubbing.
  1. Place the clear protective film along mounting points. The back of the bag is a hard plastic and has the potential of damaging painted surfaces.
  2. Loosely secure the straps by looping them around the swingarm. Be sure to avoid any moving parts on the bike. Leave the straps loose so that you can adjust the bag into its final position
  3. Tighten each strap by fastening the buckles on the inside of the bag. Watch how the bag adjusts as you tighten each strap. It may be necessary to loosen one strap to tighten another to get the bag into the correct position.
Closeup of paint on battery cover showing signs of damage
Closeup of paint on battery cover showing signs of damage

Paint on the battery cover is beginning to show signs of damage from the bag being positioned too tightly against it.

Be mindful of not allowing the bag to rub against your battery cover. I made the mistake of doing so and overtime the bag caused some damage to the paint. While it isn’t very noticeable, it could certainly have been avoided.

Buy Now
Amazon US Amazon CA Dowco Website

Overall Quality​


The bag feels good – especially for its competitive price point to others on the market. At no point during the opening, installation, or during use have I thought that it felt cheap. The synthetic leather feels good, and shows no sign of weathering after months of continuous use.

I had a tough time tightening the straps as much as I would have liked, and as such they have a bit of slack in them. Nonetheless, they don’t show any signs of wearing after 1000’s of KM’s of use.

For comparison, a similarly styled bag bought directly from Harley Davidson will run you over $135 USD, and the matching Viking Bags Sportster Swing Arm Bag for $119 USD . The Dowco Willie & Max, however, is listed for just over $100 USD on Amazon.

Maintaining Has Never Been Easier​


Closeup photo of the swingarm bag and dual leather straps securedCloseup photo of the swingarm bag and dual leather straps secured

While I have been caught out in the rain with it before, I use a plastic bag to keep excess water & soap off of the bag. Typically, a quick wipe with a microfibre cloth to remove road dirt & debris is enough to keep this bag looking new.

For a more thorough clean, I’ve made use of car upholstery products to bring the synthetic leather back to a brilliant black shine.

Rear view of the bagRear view of the bag

Small amounts of discolouration & damage are beginning to form on the backside of the bag. While not very troublesome because it cannot be seen, it can likely be avoided by better positioning.

Overall Impression​


This bag was one of the first purchases I made when I got my Sportster – and for good reason. As many of you will know, it’s just simply not comfortable wearing a bag over back protection. Especially considering that most of the time I was only carrying a few things.

Perhaps that wouldn’t be such a big deal for those who like to cruise in nothing but a T-shirt. But for those of us wearing motorcycle armour, it’s not practical.

And that’s exactly what this bag is. Practical.

Everything I need is in one quick, easy to access, bag. I know it’s safe, protected, and there when I’ll need it.

2011 Harley Davidson Iron 8832011 Harley Davidson Iron 883

As for the quality, it is beyond acceptable. Unless you’re paying top dollar, you shouldn’t expect top quality. The same applies to this bag. The price point is competitive, yet the product you’re receiving will exceed expectations.

For all my fellow riders with a triangular swingarm, I’d recommend giving this bag a go!

Buy Now
Amazon US Amazon CA Dowco Website

Pros​

  • High quality synthetic leather that is easy to clean and stands up to harsh weather
  • Hard inner plastic shell that maintains the bags shape over time
  • Discreet, integrated look which compliments the bikes profile
  • Competitive price point from other market alternatives while bolstering the same benefits

Cons​

  • Expensive when compared to a cost to storage ratio
  • Blocks passenger footpeg from being tilted up when not in use
  • Can only be used on bikes with a triangulated swingarm

Important Links / Where to Buy​


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