Step by step: From general maintenance to complete restorations, we share tips and tricks for working on classic bikes.
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.
Here's our system as received, including L-brackets and mounting hardware, a Pack-Rack, a Sport-Rack and a Grab-Handle.
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.
Next, take one of the supplied chromed clamps and line it with a piece of the supplied rubber buffer strap.
Slip the chrome clamp over the frame tube as shown and loosely bolt it to the L-bracket.
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.
Now you can go ahead and loosely install the left L-bracket.
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!
Here's a clear shot of the Ventura system with the Grab-Handle installed;
here's the smaller Sport-Rack installed;
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.