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MC How-To

Step by step: From general maintenance to complete restorations, we share tips and tricks for working on classic bikes.


Install a Ventura Bike Pack System on a Norton

Ventura Bike Pack System on a 1974 Norton 850 Commando 
The Ventura Bike Pack System installed on a 1974 Norton 850 Commando. 

We’ve wanted to check out a Ventura Bike Pack System ever since we first heard about it a few years ago. While the majority of riders do their motorcycle touring on newer machines, there are still plenty of owners and riders of vintage bikes who relish piling on the miles. Editor Backus makes at least one 750-plus-mile run on his Laverda every year, and we have a few close friends who regularly take their Nortons and airhead Beemers for weekend runs to Colorado or Arkansas, where the roads are just a bit curvier than they around here.

Ventura Motorcycle Accessories has a selection of racks and bags available to fit a variety of vintage bikes, including Norton, Triumph, Honda, Moto Guzzi, BMW, Vincent and more, and they agreed to send us a complete system with their 51-liter Aero-Spada VII bag to install on Motorcycle Classics’ tech Q & A guy Keith Fellenstein’s 1974 Norton 850 Commando.

We came away with two important impressions from this install. First, on the Norton the installation couldn’t have been easier. It didn’t take much more than 15 minutes to bolt on the custom L-brackets that hold the Ventura racks. Second, the quality of our system was top-shelf. Once the L-brackets are installed the racks (Ventura sent us three; the full-size Pack-Rack, the smaller Sport-Rack and the Grab-Handle for those times you don’t want any rack at all) can be installed and removed in less than a minute. There’s nothing hinky about this system; it’s good stuff built to work exactly as promised. The Aero-Spada VII bag with L-brackets and a Pack-Rack runs $449. A Sport-Rack is $75 and the Grab-Handle $29.

Ventura Bike Pack System rack parts 
Here's our system as received, including L-brackets and mounting hardware, a Pack-Rack, a Sport-Rack and a Grab-Handle. 

 Ventura Rack Install Photo 2 
We started with the right L-bracket. They'll only fit one way, so don't worry about getting them mixed up. The first step is to remove the upper shock mount nut and then locate the L-bracket on the bolt. 

 Ventura Rack Install Photo 3 
Next, take one of the supplied chromed clamps and line it with a piece of the supplied rubber buffer strap. 

Ventura Rack Install Photo 4 
Slip the chrome clamp over the frame tube as shown and loosely bolt it to the L-bracket. 

Ventura Rack Install Photo 5 
Next, disconnect the battery and remove the mounting nut for the left upper shock mount. The battery disconnect is to keep you from inadvertently grounding your wrench on the voltage rectifier, that odd-looking disc with all the wires attached to it. 

Ventura Rack Install Photo 6 
Now you can go ahead and loosely install the left L-bracket. 

Ventura Rack Install Photo 7 
With both L-brackets installed, slip whichever rack you have into place (we used a Grab-Handle) and tighten all the mounting hardware, then check for any binding. Although we didn't have to, you might find you have to adjust things a little. And that's it. All that's left now is to put your seat back on and go riding! 

Venture Rack Install Photo 8 
Here's a clear shot of the Ventura system with the Grab-Handle installed; 

Ventura Rack Install Photo 9 
here's the smaller Sport-Rack installed; 

Ventura Rack Install Photo 10 
and here's the larger Pack-Rack installed. Note that on our Commando Roadster the Sport-Rack and the Pack-Rack can be installed facing rearward or forward, giving you lots of options for what you carry and how you carry it.

 

gerald estes iii
2/22/2013 1:56:39 AM

thnx marc, maybe lott lost an apendage or something due to the advent of fuel...therefore, the rest of my message is in brail. as a kid it was not just frame rails - imagine the 'wheelie experts' yammie 125 enduro... or 'joe motos' rear end in entirety after coming up a wee bit short over a tabletop triple, maico throttle wire stuck wide open... stories well worth forgetting. read another write up regarding this product installed on a late model sportbike no less. sure its uglier than sin - mention was made that the luggage portion can be placed in the passenger position to move the weight forward; double as a sorta backrest. great idea. also having a selection of rack bags makes sense too - always liked something that can be added to...envisioning a short walk from the parking lot to a cozy spot on the beach...towel, speedo, flip flops and six pack of ones favorite sun products all neatly contained in a slung over the shoulder pair of soft side panniers...wow...oh joy. black side down.


ray lott
2/21/2013 4:33:55 PM

It appears to bolt right on, but begs the question, "Why would you want to?" Besides being about as attractive as a bicycle rack on the back of a mini-van, that system appears to put any packaged gear about as high and rearward as possible. It might help if you are into wheelies, or low-siding, or dropping your bike in a motel parking lot, but otherwise I don't see any socially redeaming value. Then there is the issue that Mr. Burkardt mentioned about loading the frame loop. Sorry to be so negative, but I don't ever foresee one of those things in my future.


marc burkhardt
2/21/2013 2:50:24 PM

Back in the day, when these machine were new- we would use a set of braces from the pillion footrest mount to the rear arera of the frame loop. The frame loop wasn't designed to support much more weight than the rear lamp and fender. Frame loops would crack at the shock mount area. The Interstate model had holes on the shock mount gussets to facilitate attaching panniers, but the bracing was essential to prevent damage. Otherwise, it looks like a nice system, versatile and simple.