Saddlebags and Zip Ties

I reach down to open the saddlebag on my boyfriend’s Harley, and realize, once the top springs free, that the back half of the bag is no longer attached to the bike.

“Oh. Uh-oh,” I say, wiggling the hard bag up and down. “The back bolt is gone on this saddlebag.”

“Seriously?!” My boyfriend pops his head out of his garage and rolls his eyes.

This is the thing they don’t tell you about Harleys, especially if they’re built; they can shake so much, they’ll back bolts right out of their holes. (Don’t tell my mother.) This leads me to do the jiggle test on my backrest and grab bars before any rides.

My boyfriend reappears from the garage, clutching a plastic bag. He bends down and pulls out a zip tie– every shade tree mechanic’s best friend. When I first met him, I thought the zip ties holding on his license plate were an ironic anomaly, a very un-Harley-esque diss to the prissiness of most Harley riders. Or at the very least, a convient coincidence.

Not so.

My boyfriend slips the zip tie through the bolt hole and pulls it tight, wiggling the bag to double check it’s secure. He bites his bottom lip, intent and serious, and then flashes me an impish smile.

“That should do it.”

Poor girl. She’s got some scratches and scrapes, has been doctored here and there; she’s well-used and well-loved in an interesting sort of way. She’s certainly not a show bike, but she’s carried us thousands of miles.

And who can’t say they haven’t traveled a mile or two in life with some of our “mildly essential” parts and pieces strapped on or duct-tapped, missing a few “optional” nuts and bolts, but still making it, still cruising?

This is what my boyfriend’s Harley makes me think of as he finishes yanking the zip tie tight and snaps down the lid of the saddlebag.

“Ready to go?” He asks with a smile.


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