ABOUT WILLIE &
Willie & Max™ are avid motorcyclists, who like
our "Pony Express" ancestors, believe in riding
hard, traveling light and giving 100% in everything they
do. They design, construct and test all of their Willie
& Max Saddlebags with these beliefs
Their products are designed to be totally functional as
well as aesthetically pleasing. Willie &
Max Saddlebags and accessories are constructed
using the finest materials to ensure ruggedness and reliability
in all kinds of weather. All of the Willie &
Max Saddlebags and accessories are priced
to be affordable. Willie & Max saddlebags have versatility
combined with classic designs and outstanding American craftsmanship.
These are qualities not often found in today's manufacturing.
That is why their soft luggage is your best choice for your
here for Surfside's full range of Willie
& Max Saddlebags.
WILLIE & MAX SADDLEBAGS STORY
Written By: Ken "Hawkeye" Glassman
Printed in Roadbike, May 2002, pg. 82.
In the late '70's, two friends, nicknamed Willie and Max,
were planning a three-day ride from suburban Chicago around
Lake Michigan. They searched in vain for luggage to fit
their Triumph Bonnevilles. Harley Davidson had heavy leather
saddlebags for its motorcycles, but they were expensive
and unsuitable for the Triumphs. The friends resigned themselves
to tying clumsy duffel Saddlebags onto their seats (those
were the days before bungee cords) and hoped that it wouldn't
rain and drench their stuff. Then, Max had an idea. The
contract sewing company he worked for had just received
a sample of a new synthetic leather material called "naugahyde".
He thought something could be made out of the stuff to fit
the bikes. Willie, a talented artist, sketched a Willie
& Max Saddlebags design on a lunch napkin,
and Max took it to work. Soon after, they had prototypes
that suited their needs - strong, lightweight, waterproof,
good looking luggage that would hold what they wanted and
attached securely. At the first stop on their ride, they
pulled into a diner as other motorcyclists were leaving.
The bikers asked Willie and Max where they had gotten their
& Max Saddlebags. Max replied that
he'd made them. One guy said he would like to buy Willie
& Max Saddlebags like that, asked Max
if he would make a set for him, and handed them his name
and number. That same scene played out at stops along their
route. By the time the guys got home they had 10 orders,
and the seed of a business was sown.
From the start, the partners were sold on the synthetic
leather material. Because of the irregular size and shape
of natural hides, there is a lot of waste when cutting them
up for patterns. That makes real leather twice as expensive
as synthetic and prices many folks out of the market. Leather
saddlebags are heavier, require maintenance to keep them
looking good, and aren't waterproof. They did ask the manufacturer
of the synthetic leather to make some changes. They wanted
the material thicker and therefore more rugged, and a UV
coating was added so that sunlight wouldn't cause it to
fade or deteriorate. They use the best quality roller pin
buckles they can find, D-rings that wouldn't rust, and chrome
studs and conchos for decoration. Later, they brought out
more styles and sizes and developed adjustable yokes, which
go over or under the seat, so the Willie &
Max Saddlebags fit just about any motorcycle.
Now, all Willie & Max Saddlebags, including touring
trunks, tool pouches, and sissy bar Willie &
Max Saddlebags are lined with corrugated plastic
to maintain the Willie & Max Saddlebags' shape, even
when empty. "It wasn't really necessary", says
Max, "but we know how much our customers care about
their bikes' looks."