Using equal parts steel, leather and labor, Willie and Max has become a storied motorcycle legend among riders and enthusiasts alike. Our master craftsmen have inherited the rich tradition of pride of work, using premium leather and time-honored techniques to make iconic, durable saddlebags and road gear. Willie & Max has earned its wings as the authentic American riding brand, designing and crafting the highest quality saddlebags and gear on the road today.
It’s the story legends are made of. The year: 1972. Two friends, nicknamed “Willie” and “Max”, were planning a three-day ride from suburban Chicago around Lake Michigan. They searched in vain for luggage to fit their Triumph Bonnevilles. Harley Davidson had heavy leather bags for its motorcycles, but they were expensive and not suited for other brands. The friends resigned themselves to roping clumsy duffel bags onto their seats (those were the days before bungee cords) and hoped they wouldn’t lose or drench their gear.”
THE BIRTH OF AN IDEA
Willie, a talented artist, sketched a saddlebag design on a lunch napkin during their ride, wishing he had the proper gear to give him peace of mind on the road. Max later took that design to the contract sewing company he worked at. It was at that moment that an idea was born. Soon after, they had working prototype saddlebags that suited their needs – strong, durable and handsome bags that would hold what they wanted and attached the way they wanted.
THE SNOWBALL EFFECT
At the first stop of their inaugural ride, they pulled into a diner as other riders were leaving. The bikers asked Willie and Max where they had gotten their leather saddlebags. Max replied that he’d made them. One rider after another offered to buy the custom bags. When declined, Max was often asked if he would make a set for them and was handed names and numbers. That same scene played out at stops all along their route. By the time the friends reached home, they had collected 10 orders. The seeds of a business were sown.
Willie and Max sought the best vinyls — with the best quality roller pin buckles, and chrome studs and conchos for decoration. Later, they released more styles and sizes and developed adjustable yokes, which go over or under the seat allowing the bags to fit nearly any motorcycle.
Today, all Willie & Max bags, including touring trunks, tool pouches, and swingarm bags are quality-made from premium leather and vinyl. “It isn’t really necessary”, stated Max, “but we know how much our customers obsess about their rides.”
WILLIE & MAX: EVOLUTION
Willie & Max bags have evolved through thousands of rider miles to feature both classic and modern designs, and includes two different mounting options to truly fit your cycle (both hard mount and traditional throwover). Available in a variety of sizes, styles, materials, badging and trim, the Willie and Max brand has grown from obscurity to icon, allowing every rider to experience a custom look that is as custom as their own ride.