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A parade flag holder for your touring bike with pics

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A parade flag holder for your touring bike with pics

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Old 06-25-2013, 10:06 PM
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Default A parade flag holder for your touring bike with pics

I am a staunch patriot, but I do not belong to the Patriot Guard Riders or to the Rolling Thunder organization. I respect their missions greatly and support them vicariously. I hope to become active with the PGR once I retire and have the time to commit. BUT, this post is not about PGR or RT.

I consistently fly a small US Flag and usually a South Carolina state flag (on the left side) off the back of the tour pak. I have always wanted to be able to fly a 3' x 5' US parade-sized flag for quite some time.

Well, it's getting close to the 4th of July with all of the nice local parades, so I started the search process to see what others were doing for mounts. It appears that Rivco makes a popular mount, but with some escort speeds approaching 65 on interstates, many have found it necessary to add bracing to the $200+ Rivco to control the flexing.

Others have fabricated mounts for their bikes that attach to back rests, luggage racks, muffler mounts, you name it. All with various levels of success.

I enjoy searching for alternatives and fabricating items for the bike that are useful, easy to replicate, something anyone can build with no special tools, made from locally available parts, and are relatively inexpensive.

I was at Walmart looking at some of the marine hardware and saw a nicely built stainless steel adjustable rod holder. It was heavy to the feel and it cost $39. I starting thinking how it would make a good nucleus for a parade flag mount since it was designed and built to take a lot of force from salt water fishing abuse. So I purchased it, thinking that I could return it if my idea didn't work out. Here is a picture of what it looks like:



My idea was to mount this rod holder to the right side bag guard. These bag guards are strong and stout and will, in my opinion, support the forces applied by a parade flag and it's support pole. I took the rod holder apart to see how it was designed and the parts that comprised the clamping mechanism. I didn't take any pictures of the mechanism, but it consists of 5 screws of various sizes. I decided to use some JB Weld to fill the cast cavities of the clamping mechanism, locked the base screws in place with the JBW, and applied JBW between the clamping mechanism and the body of the rod holder so all is solidly attached. You can probably skip all of this, but I went this route to add a bit of reliability. I also replaced the stainless clamp bolts with 2 Grade 8 1/4 x 20 steel bolts with lock washers.

Here is the rest of the parts list:

-Walmart Clamp-on Rod Holder, Stainless Steel. These can also be found on Ebay. Price at Wallyworld is $39.

-1/8" x 3/4" x 36" flat steel stock (approximately $4 at any hardware store and you use about 16" of it)

-One 1/4 x 20 x 2" grade 8 bolt with washers, lockwashers, and nuts.

-Two U-bolts, 5/16" x 2" x 4.5". The 4.5" legs are a tad long and will be trimmed. Washers, lock washers, nuts for the legs.

-My flag pole slides snugly down into three 1.32" ID PVC couplers that I tapped down into the rod holder. I had to dremel-out the stop ring inside the straight couplers so my flag pole would slide through them. You will have to design a snug fit for your flag pole if it's different than mine.

-Flag pole...Available at Home Depot or Lowes. It's a chromed, steel, closet rod, 6 feet in length, heavy duty and very nice looking and about 1.3" OD.

-You will need a couple of eye bolts for your flag pole and two small carabiners or chain repair links to attach to the flag grommets.

-Flag...3x5 feet, Tuff-Tex open-weave polyester, designed for high-wind applications. Also available at WalMart for $35. Flag made in the USA.

-Go to any auto parts store and purchase two 1 7/8" muffler clamps with the gripping cradle. You will only use the two gripping cradles. Here is what I am talking about:



Tools needed: Drill with appropriate bits, wrenches, hack saw

Once you put all of this together on the bike, it looks like this:



You can see in this photo where you will use the existing bolt location where the bag support bar is attached to the bottom of the bag guard. This is where the grade 8 2" bolt will go and will replace the HD bolt:



Here's a look at how the U-bolts are arranged. One leg of each U-bolt shares a spot on the flat steel. This configuration "locks" the bottom of the rod holder in place. In this shot the excess length of the threaded legs of the U-bolts have not yet been trimmed:



Once it's all together, it is easily removed by loosening three fasteners. (the one down low near the front of the right bag and the two grade 8's holding the rod holder to the bag guard) The U-bolts, once attached in the proper position on the rod holder body, stay attached. This is a very fast on and fast off rig.

I have tested this holder at speeds over 60 mph. My flag pole and flag are not the "light duty" stuff. The pole and flag are heavy duty, weighing in at 5 pounds, so you need a heavy duty mount. It has been rock solid so far. I have not tested it at sustained speeds over 65, but I have confidence that it will perform just fine.

The height at which the flag is held by the 6 foot pole keeps the bottom of the flag well above the muffler area, so it has no chance of touching anything hot.

This mounting configuration also allows you to keep the flag pole vertical instead of the "leaning" configuration you see on so many rear mounts. I personally believe the flag pole should be as near vertical as possible. I believe it looks better, more respectful of the colors, and darn sure flies better..fully furled and horizontal to the ground.

When operating the motorcycle, you cannot even tell there is a flag this big on the bike at all. Your rear signals and brake lights are also visible, something that rear mounted flags may interfere with from time to time.

Riding with a passenger with this configuration is possible once the u-clamps excess threads are trimmed. The flag being on the right side does not block your view to the rear from the right side mirror.

OK, so that's it. A parade flag holder anyone can build with simple tools and locally sourced parts. It's solidly integrated and I believe an option for folks like me that want to keep the cost reasonable. By the way I have a total of about $130 invested in this set-up. That's everything...mount, flag, pole, hardware, everything. I do have an eagle flag topper ordered to top it off the correct way!

Ride safe and fly the colors at every opportunity!!
 
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Old 06-25-2013, 10:30 PM
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Excellent description! I had a pole mounted on my former metric bike positioned roughly in line with the rear axle. We were lined up for a Patriot Guard Mission facing north with a southerly wind. Just as I released the clutch to go, a wind gust blew the flag forward and wrapped around into my face. That is my only word of caution with your setup.
 
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Old 06-25-2013, 10:36 PM
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Originally Posted by Mercianbike View Post
Excellent description! I had a pole mounted on my former metric bike positioned roughly in line with the rear axle. We were lined up for a Patriot Guard Mission facing north with a southerly wind. Just as I released the clutch to go, a wind gust blew the flag forward and wrapped around into my face. That is my only word of caution with your setup.
Thanks. Yes, that is a possibility depending upon the wind when stopped. But as long as you are aware of the wind while sitting still you should expect and be prepared to deal with that situation. Always good to keep this possibility in the forefront of the thought process when flying any parade flag set-up.

The height of this flag is such that if the wind did blow it into the rider during a stop, it tends to hit your right arm and your arm will tend to block it's flapping until you can get underway.

If you use a very light, nylon, thinly made flag, it is going to flop around more than the high-quality Tuff-Tex polyester flags designed for high wind applications.
 

Last edited by Lowcountry Joe; 06-26-2013 at 07:48 AM.
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Old 06-26-2013, 12:13 AM
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This is one of the best write-ups that I have read on this site. Creative and durable for sure.

Would it be possible to drill all the way through pole holder and bolt the strap with a pan head right to pole tube (at the bottom of coarse), in lieu of the exhaust clamps.
 
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Old 06-26-2013, 07:43 AM
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Originally Posted by bent trix View Post
This is one of the best write-ups that I have read on this site. Creative and durable for sure.

Would it be possible to drill all the way through pole holder and bolt the strap with a pan head right to pole tube (at the bottom of coarse), in lieu of the exhaust clamps.


Sure, that's possible, but to lock the steel retention strap in place, it must be bound at two points along the vertical plane of the rod holder. I am not saying that the single bolt would not work, because the function of the steel strap is to work in conjunction with the built-in rod holder clamp to hold the rod holder in place while you are at speed. But it's my opinion from a mechanical view that the strap really needs to be locked in place and not allowed to move just on one attachment axis or you run the risk of scratching your bag and your bag guard if your fasteners were to become loose for whatever reason.

Another consideration is the angle of the steel retainer strip as it comes up from the bottom of the bag guard. You have only so much angle to play with there before you get too close to the bag or come to rest on the bag guard and scratch it as well. I am not a big fan of the U-clamps either, but I could not come up with any other design short of having something fabricated in a metal shop. And going to a metal shop would have defeated the objective of a simple, anyone can do it, design.

Thanks again for the nice comments.
 
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Old 06-26-2013, 08:58 AM
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I tried a setup similar to yours several years ago. And like Mercianbike said, you can get slapped and blinded. But also note that center mounted flags can act like a sail at highways speeds. You will get blown around by crosswinds much more than rear mounted flags. And think about what happens to your passenger in a crosswind coming from the right.

And don't panic when you do get up to highway speed..... no one is shooting at you. That flag will make a serious CRACK noise at 65mph. It sounds just like .762 going by.
 
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Old 06-26-2013, 09:10 AM
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Originally Posted by shooter5074 View Post
I tried a setup similar to yours several years ago. And like Mercianbike said, you can get slapped and blinded.

I suppose anything is possible.

But also note that center mounted flags can act like a sail at highways speeds. You will get blown around by crosswinds much more than rear mounted flags.

The flag is not "center mounted". It is mounted rear of my buttocks on the rear 1/3 of the bike. I am still testing, but so far I have felt no impact from the flag or from crosswinds.

And think about what happens to your passenger in a crosswind coming from the right.

Agree that this is not the best setup for a passenger. But I don't do passengers very often so it works for me.

And don't panic when you do get up to highway speed..... no one is shooting at you. That flag will make a serious CRACK noise at 65mph. It sounds just like .762 going by.
Thanks for the warning, but I have been over 60 and this flag seems to stay fairly quite.
 
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Old 06-26-2013, 09:19 AM
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Great fab job, but, looks dangerous to me. Too close to the rider. Been on lots of PGR Missions, always they are mounted at the rear of the bike away from the rider. Only takes one time getting slapped in the face and you and others are at risk. Think of the guy next to you on a 200 bike PGR escort getting wacked in the face by your 3x5 flag. You ride very close to each other on PGR missions. Just sayin, looks dangerous.
 
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Old 06-26-2013, 09:28 AM
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Originally Posted by KCFLHRC View Post
Great fab job, but, looks dangerous to me. Too close to the rider. Been on lots of PGR Missions, always they are mounted at the rear of the bike away from the rider. Only takes one time getting slapped in the face and you and others are at risk. Think of the guy next to you on a 200 bike PGR escort getting wacked in the face by your 3x5 flag. You ride very close to each other on PGR missions. Just sayin, looks dangerous.
Thanks for the observations. However, if I pull up beside rear mounted flags, and stop right beside them, I am just as likely to be slapped in the face by those flags as much as they seem to flop around. I don't see much difference. And not that it matters much, but as I stated in the opening paragraph of the post, I am not a PGR mission rider. I like to ride around flying the colors all by myself, so not everyone with a parade flag holder rides in groups.

Safety is always a consideration, and there may be some legitimate issues that will surface with this configuration. I'll be the first to voice them if they do rear their heads, you can be sure of that.
 
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Old 06-26-2013, 11:31 AM
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THANKS JOE!!! Great idea, great project and great write up!!!
 
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