ACCESSORY CLEARANCE TEMPLATE, Kawasaki EN500
and how to make one for other machines

Many of us wonder how far down and/or forward we can mount saddlebags without contacting the wingarm and/or shocks. Here Alaska Bike Run ready Red Wing shows a foul weather gear cargo tube and saddlebag possibly at risk from both!

Red Wing is a 2006 Kawasaki EN500 Vulcan cruiser. The white four inch PVC tube below the saddlebag is outside (wider than) both the shock and swingarm and is not at risk. (It is a storage tube for travel gear)

Is the gap ahead of the saddlebags enough? When the suspension works, the shock moves back and up, and this gap will get smaller! An Accessory Clearance Template can help determine if this gap is sufficient to clear your mounted saddlebags.

From here onward, comments applicable to each picture are BELOW the picture, like normal captions.


This "naked" template is for a Kawasaki EN500 Vulcan.

This template requires a 9" x 15½" starting panel. Dimensions are on the template itself, and at right. the center height and bottom width allow you to locate this point without a protractor. I used cardboard. Any flat material is OK. Plexiglass works better if you are doing another bike. You can see through it.

Full length top edge ==========13-1/4" Tolerance, plus nothing to front from fender rail bolt holes, rear flexible
Full height, right edge =========8-1/8" Tolerance, plus nothing, minus 1/8"
Full length, bottom edge =======8" Tolerance, plus nothing, minus 1/8" to front, match top length to rear
Full length, lower left slope =====10-1/16" Tolerance, plus nothing, minus 1/8"
Full length, upper left slope =====2-3/4" to 2-13/16" Tolerance, plus/minus 1/16"
Holes, center to center ========8-13/16" (strong 8-3/8") Tolerance ZERO if you wish good press-fit "hang"
Top edge to center end, bottom = 9" Tolerance, plus nothing, minus 1/8"
Angles, clockwise from top rt. == 90°, 95°, 130°, 88-90°, 135° Not needed if you use all the measures above, ±1°

All existing cargo gear has been removed from this left side of the bike.

A new Universal Fit Accessory Fender Rail is installed -- the new bags will be mounted on this. Other users may have different saddlebag standoffs or brackets, but the location is the same. The naked template seen at the top now hangs on the fender rail bolts. It reverses for the other side of the bike. It just clears the absolute maximum shock location, when the tire bottoms under the fender. It just clears the absolute maximum swingarm height, when the tire bottoms under the fender. It also clears the seat, since the seat may interfere with a front hinged saddlebag. From here on, the term "shock" means the motorcycle's shock absorber unit.

Here the template is placed on the fender rail bolts, and my Givi mount-in-progress is loosely bolted on top.

(Givi makes dedicated mounts for SOME bikes, but not the EN500. I had to design my own.) You are interested in the upper plexiglass section only. The following are outside the area of template concern.
The 2"x2"x1/8" aluminum angle is the mount for the PVC cargo tubes (bad weather gear, tire irons).
The 1-3/4"x4" aluminum rectangle tube behind the angle is storage for bungee cords.
The plastic blocks that you can barely see behind the rectangle tube are spacers.
The lower part of the plexiglass saddlebag mount panel is bolted to the back side of the spacers.
The plexiglass is supported top (fender rail) and bottom (cargo tube mounts/bungee box/spacers).

The new mounting panel for the Givi E21 saddlebag is complete and installed. This picture from alongside the front edge of the saddlebag allows one to see a small, but clear section of the template. This means the bag will not contact the shock. Although you cannot see it, the bottom of the 2"x4"x3/4" spacer blocks align with the bottom edge of the template.

EXTRA USEFUL INFORMATION DEPARTMENT

The specs says rear suspension movement is 3.9 inches. Axle movement is 4 inches from the swingarm hanging on the shock when the wheel is off the ground to tire contacting the fender, so the template being cut this way is very close!

Fender Rails are 10-3/4" wide outside to outside, so 1" thick/wide saddlebag mounting brackets or stand-offs (at least one member used 1" x 1" square tube for this) will allow you to go another inch or so down (until your accessory hits the axle bolt head or axle nut). If your mounting brackets / stand-offs are 2 inches on a side wider than the fender rails, you can go all the way DOWN to the mufflers (which do not move) if you wish as this clears the axle (which does move). You still need to have some concern for hitting the shocks.

The Swingarm is about 13" wide, outside to outside, plus another 5/8" on the left, and about 1-1/4" on the right for the axle.

Many saddlebags (especially hard ones) have some curve to the corners and you can, with care, go a bit closer (lower and/or further front) than this template. Within the boundaries of this template, you are ABSOLUTELY SAFE FROM CONTACT.

Most shocks are slightly smaller for the bottom two plus inches, so you can go SLIGHTLY past the template near the bottom of the lower front slope.

 

MAKING A TEMPLATE FOR OTHER MOTORCYCLES

For those with a different model of cycle, this is how to make your own template for your particular cycle.

The positions of the shock and the swingarm change with suspension movement. We need to find MAXIMUM movement so we KNOW we will not have unexpected contact with saddlebags, etc., and not just hope for the best! It is almost impossible to compress the suspension completely, much less hold it that way while we work! It might not be good for the shocks even if we could! So we will remove the shocks. THIS MAY NOT BE A GOOD IDEA FOR MONOSHOCK BIKES! They do not have shock clearance problems anyway, and it is relatively easy to stay wide enough to clear swingarms and chain guards.

Use the centerstand (if any), or other jack or block system to raise the rear wheel off the ground. I used four half concrete blocks for a stable base, square tube that will not roll, and the square tube I have bolted under my bike specifically for jacking purposes. This made a great on-the-bike jack for my Honda Rebel 250, but the Vulcan is simply too heavy for this to work well. That is why you see the floor jack, which is a back saver for any setup except a centerstand.

Remove the shock absorbers. For some bikes (EN500), you may need to remove the seat first.
Using blocks, tie-down straps, bungee cords, etc., raise the swingarm until the tire contacts the fender.
I lifted the right side, so I can work on the left (chain) side, which sometimes has chain guard clearance issues.

As I made this template step by step for pictures, I realized hardboard is the hard way because one cannot see through it! This sample used a piece of storm door plexiglass. It was a bit undersized and will have to be spliced later, but it was 55 miles to more! This template is taller, for clearer seat clearance, and matches my Accessory Fender Rail (for the EN500.)

Draw a straight line across the panel, near the "top." Mark hole locations to match fender rail bolts.
Verify the separation with a tape/ruler! Just to be neat, I made the rear hole 1" from the vertical rear edge.
Because my mounts use 3" aluminum bar with holes ½" from the bottom, my line is down 2½" from the top.
My EN500 holes are 8-13/32" apart. Plexiglass does not like to be drilled, so BE CAREFUL!

My EN500 fender rail bolt heads are 10mm.

A 7/16" hole is a snug "press fit" on these. This lets the template "stick" or hang on the bike when the holes are pressed onto the bolt heads. Plexiglass tends to shatter when the drill bit breaks through the back side, so CLAMP the plexiglass tightly onto a backer board, or drill partway through from each side. NOTE: Plexiglass CLIMBS THE DRILL BIT ENTHUSIASTICALLY WHEN IT BREAKS THROUGH! HOLD DOWN FIRMLY! Also, I almost always drill plexiglass undersize, then "hog" it out with the proper bit. (Here I drilled 1/4" then hogged out to 7/16".)

Some cycles (Kawasaki EN500) have seats wide enough to interfere with some saddlebags.
Mark the location of the seat -- allow at least ½" clearance for flexing of the cushion.
Cut along this (upper left as we are looking at it) line on the template for seat clearance.

Replace the template on the fender rail bolts.
Replace the lower shock bolt loosely in the swingarm bracket to mark the lower shock location.
Only half of the shock is behind the mounting stud and bolt. These are about ½", so you have ¼" already.
Measure the diameter of the shock. Subtract that ½". Divide by 2. You need a spacer this wide +1/8", minus 0.
Find a carpenter's square (as I did) or metal strip or square tube to match this modified ½ the shock diameter.
Place this square / strip / tube where it contacts the studs or bolts to show where the rear half of your shock will be.
This is the maximum rear position that accessories must clear, and will be the front of your template.
My old medium sized square is corroded, but it is the right size. Be sure it sits firmly on the upper stud and lower bolt.
Mark two places on the rear edge of the square / strip / tube "shock" on your "template in progress."
A sharpie marker works really well for this. This picture has a slight parallax misalignment.
Mark two places on the upper edge of the swingarm on your "template in progress."
Again there is a slight parallax misalignment, but the picture for both is close.

Remove the template from the bike.
Draw the lines for the edge of the shock and the top of the swingarm.

Cut along the lines. I have a table saw for wood panels. A circular saw or jig/sabre saw works well. Even a handsaw works with wood. I also like to saw plexiglass. Those who use score and snap won't need a saw for plexiglass.

Now you need to install your own saddlebag standoffs or other base. This is my Universal Accessory Fender Rail.

Your template should now be finished and mounted on or under your own mounting system locating your bags. If your panel was large enough, you now have a template that looks much like the one at the top (for the EN500). Since my panel was a bit undersize, I have added an index card extension to represent the missing section and give a truly complete profile.

To see how the template is used to locate saddlebag positions, I repeated the last two pictures in the EN500 section.

Here the template is placed on the fender rail bolts, and my custom Givi mount is loosely bolted on top.
(Givi makes dedicated mounts for SOME bikes, but not the EN500. I had to design my own.)
You are interested in the upper plexiglass section only. The following are outside the area of template concern.
The 2"x2"x1/8" aluminum angle is the mount for the PVC cargo tubes.
The 1-3/4"x4" aluminum rectangle tube behind the angle is storage for bungee cords.
The plastic blocks that you can barely see behind the rectangle tube are spacers.
The lower part of the plexiglass saddlebag mount panel is bolted to the back side of the spacers.
This supports the plexiglass top (fender rail) and bottom (cargo tube mounts/bungee box/spacers).

The new mounting panel for the Givi E21 saddlebag is now complete. This picture from directly alongside the front edge of the saddlebag allows one to see a small, but clear section of the template. This means the bag will not contact the shock. Although you cannot see it, the bottom of the 2"x4"x3/4" spacer blocks align right at the bottom edge of the template.

You may find it handy to bolt or clamp a piece of angle iron or aluminum on the front and bottom edges to actually set a saddlebag on the template. This would make it easier to know if you have gone past these critical edges and by how much. Because the bottom of the shock is slightly smaller, you can go slightly across the template end in the bottom 2" or so.

Roadrunners

Darryl Petrak and Red Wing
House, NM, USA 88121-0665
darpatnm@yahoo.com