Introduction: Toolbox Saddlebags for Under $20


Time and time again I find myself having to pack my rain gear with the loads of other misc. items into my backpack and hope they all fit.
I've always knew that I wanted to use saddlebags to solve this problem but I could never convince myself to dish out $80+.
So I discovered that the most economical and effective alternative was to use toolboxes.
They can be locked and waterproofed but best of all: they're cheap.

Note: These particular toolboxes are NOT waterproof. Use your discretion as to how you'd like to use them and make improvements/adjustments according to your needs.

Step 1: Gather Your Tools and Materials

Of course, a great toolbox saddlebag starts with the toolbox. I picked up two 16" Workforce toolboxes from Home Depot for $7.47 each (amazing yeah?). That's about $15 already. (The 22" Husky toolbox will be for another instructable ;) )

Next, pick up the misc. nuts, bolts and flat/lock washers. I've estimated it to run about $5 but I just found them around the garage (FREE!).

Lastly, you'll need to do some minor custom metal work in order to form a rack for the toolboxes to be bolted onto. I had a couple of old refrigerator racks that I had cut to sizesuper heated with a blow torch and bent into shape. Have fun but be safe! (Fiiiireee gooooood.)

It helps to have a screwdriver with drill bits and pliers of some type to bore holes into the toolbox and tighten the screws/nuts.


Step 2: Form a Rack

So you'll need to use your imagination for this part.

Use whatever you can find around the garage that would make a suitable rack.
As I have mentioned, I found an old refrigerator rack and macgyver-ed something together.
The general shape would suit this particular toolbox best because it will allow you to open the box while fully extending the top cover.
I used a blow torch to super heat the metal and bend them into these shapes.


Step 3: Bolt the Toolbox to the Rack

Once you've made your rack, place the toolbox onto the rack and drill your holes.

Once you've got the holes where you need them, bolt the toolbox to the rack.


Step 4: Attach the Rack to the Bike

My Honda Nighthawk has a bar that runs a short length under both sides of the fairing and is permanently welded in place. You'll want to find a similar place to attach the rack where it will not interfere with the tire, shocks, brakes, turn signals, etc and is permanently attached to the frame of the bike.
I used 4 pipe clamps to attach them to the bar but of course, unless you have the same bike, you might have to find an alternate method.

The clothespins (another macgyver invention I've come up with) acted as mini shock absorber and dampens the vibrations from a bumpy road. To my surprise, it actually worked haha! 

That's pretty much it!
Maybe grab a couple of locks and keys, paint it a different color and you're set.

I've managed to fit my rain gear comfortably and there's still room for more.

Comment and rate please and let me know if you've got some ideas to improve the design or created your own! :)


Step 5: Other Useful Information

So while I have been using these toolbox saddlebags for quite some time now, it's a great idea to periodically check that your pipe clamps are in working order. I've had to replace them a few times because they could not bare the load of what I had inside the toolboxes.

To remedy this, I simply wrapped a bungee cord around the box or better yet, a strong length of string and secured it to the bike's frame. This way, much of the stress is shared between the hose clamps and the bungee/string and the toolbox does not have to bare the full weight of the cargo being loaded. This method has reduced (maybe even eliminated) the need to periodically replace worn out hose clamps with new ones.

I was thankful enough to discover a hidden benefit to having these toolbox saddlebags on my bike and I'd like to share it with my viewers. I've had the unfortunate experience of seeing my bike toppled over onto its side due to high winds while it was parked on it's side stand. My bike is not equipped with a center stand (which may have helped, but I don't know). Nonetheless, the structural damage done to my bike was significantly reduced thanks to the saddlebags. The toolboxes absorbed the impact (bare in mind it did damage the toolbox but not beyond repair) and prevented further damage to the motorcycle itself. I was able to unhook the hose clamps, bend the refrigerator racks back into shape and re-attach it to the bike again. I rode back home without any problems and was able to heat the toolboxes and shape them back to it's original design and it still works haha! I was too cheap to just buy a brand new $7 box but oh well, I guess I ended up with a savings of $7.