‘Sissy bars’, often referred to by some people as a ’Backrest’ – for political correctness I suppose – and as a ‘sister bar’ by others, many of whom always have a cool story to tell about the origin of the accessory.
A sissy bar is an accessory designed to be mounted on the rear, behind the backseat of a motorcycle for diverse reasons: to offer a backrest to the rider or passenger and also to hold luggage.
They were initially used to supply a mounting position to the motorcycle’s rear fender because they provided a durable and stable point of attachment. But over the years, sister bars have been designed to do more.
Why Do You Need Sissy Bars?
There are a few spots on your motorcycle to strap on your luggage to, but if you care about comfort and ease, then a sister bar is what you need to perfectly hold your stuff in place.
Maybe you might get to pick up a passenger who isn’t really sure if they should take a ride with you simply because they don’t feel safe in that backseat while a motorcycle is in motion.
A sister bar may offer them comfort that could be reassuring.
Aesthetics is another reason why you might want to consider buying one. There have been really cool innovations in the designs over the years that have made them a fancy accessory for motorcycles.
What Are Some Of The Common Types Of Sissy Bars?
There are several types of backseats that are nuanced by their structure and/or practicality.
Some are designed for no other reason than to serve as a backrest, while some can serve that purpose as well as allow for luggage to be strapped onto them.
Let us take a look at some sissy bars that will interest you:
The Bolt-on has bolts included in its design which makes it possible for it to be attached and detached easily from a motorcycle. They are made of steel or aluminum.
A Bolt-on bar usually comes with three main components:
Uprights are the vertical bars that are attached to a motorcycle’s frame and crossbar.
A crossbar is the second component and it’s a horizontal bar that typically goes between the uprights, offering support to the sissy bar.
A third component you will find in a Bolt-on is a number of parts which include washers, bolts, and nuts needed to fasten the sissy bar to the motorcycle’s frame.
There is some bolt-on that is equipped with a padded backrest and/or luggage rack but a lot of these additional components are often sold separately.
As the name implies, this Backrest design is permanently attached to the rear fender or frame of the motorcycle and cannot be removed or adjusted often, at will.
Its metal frame of steel or aluminum may sometimes have a padded backrest attached to it from the factory; however, it is not a standard accessory.
The frame may be curved to fit a rider’s back shape or have a straight design with studs, chrome paint, etc. as decoration.
There is a variety of fixed-mount sister bar designs available, your specific taste and needs will determine what fits.
Specifically designed to offer both a comfortable backrest to a rider/passenger and also a luggage rack which typically is a strong flat platform or tray, used for carrying gear or luggage on a motorcycle.
It is important to know the right specifications for your motorcycle and the kind /size of luggage you intend to often carry in order to purchase the most compatible luggage-rack.
These types offer a lot of flexibility with their installation. Instead of bolts and screws, a latch or locking system is adopted for fast attachment and removal.
The installation of a quick-detach is highly dependent on the type and model of motorcycle it is to be mounted on, but locating the mounting point on your motorcycle and attaching and aligning the sister bar through its mounting bracket or plate sums up the process of its installation.
This is the type with a classic and quite simple design that offers support to a rider/passenger’s back.
They come in tall, straight, or curved/contoured designs, with either a straight or rounded top, shaped for specific motorcycle types.
Low Sister bar
Unlike the standard ones with a height of between 14 – 20 inches, the Low sister bars are normally only between 6 and 12 inches tall.
They may not offer much comfort in practicality as a backrest but give a cool look to a motorcycle, making it a sleek appearance. Low sissy bars are more for aesthetics than they are for safety or comfort.
Custom Sissy bar
For bikers who want to go the extra mile to achieve a specific custom look or functionality, this is usually the go-to choice as it affords them the modifications they want.
Costing between hundreds and thousands of Dollars, custom sissy bars are made by custom motorcycle manufacturers or builders and will achieve the desired style of the biker.
Factors To Be Considered To Get The Perfect Sissy Bar For Your Motorcycle
Knowing your motorcycle is the first and arguably the most important thing; its make, model, and all that. With this knowledge, what’s next is to find:
Sissy bars are usually designed to fit specific makes and models of motorcycles because mounting systems differ between models.
So you want to understand the structure of the mounting frame on your motorcycle and choose a sassy bar designed specifically for such a structure.
If you are unsure of what mounting system your bike has, you can have your mechanic have a look at it; they’ll know if they aren’t ‘knacks’
This is especially important if you often travel or carry passengers on your bike. A traditional tall, padded sissy bar may be the best option in this case.
Whether it is to make your motorcycle look cooler than it is, or to carry luggage comfortably, maybe you want all of these functionalities all-in-ones, there is a sissy bar for any and all of your needs.
A tall sister bar provides more security than a short one but a short one gives a cooler look to most motorcycles.
Your choice of height may also be influenced by how far your usual riding distance is, a taller sissy bar might be more useful for longer distances than a shorter one.
Your personal style has a big part to play in deciding what to go for.
Sister bars have a robust variety of designs that match whatever style you desire to achieve with your motorcycle’s appearance.
Even if you can’t find one that already fits, a custom bar can be modified to suit whatever style you desire.
Best Sissy Bars To Buy In 2023
Luggage Rack : Fit for Yamaha Bolt XV950 XVS950 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019.
Detachable Backrest: High Quality Detachable Backrest Sissy Bar; Not Included Instructions
WeiSen 24 Inch
Material: Steel Tube with Triple Plating (Copper+Nickle+Power Coated Black) and Gloss Black Surface Finish, aftermarket 100% Brand New, superior quality and durable for rusting resistance and long service time. Pad Cushion made of PU Leather and Polyurethane foam forming.
Fits for Harley Touring 2009-2022 Road King Street Glide Ultra 2009-2022,The Smooth style riders’s backrest looks perfectly at home on the Road Glide Ultra.
Package Include: 1Set Ride Backrest Kits,Simple Instructions
Smooth sweeping curves and the brilliant gloss black finish defines the look of this Sport Luggage Rack. Designed to complement both short or standard-height holdfast-design sissy bar uprights.
This sleek rack adds a practical and stylish touch to the motorcycle.Can be installed or removed from the bike in seconds for a truly versatile touring or cruising machine
Weisen Sissy Bar
Fitment: Fits 2006-later Softail. Will fit models with 200mm rear tire fender only, Can not fit the 150mm fender.
Material: Steel with Chrome Triple Plating. Pad cushion made of PU Leather and Polyurethane foam forming.
Surface Finish: Triple Plating (Copper+Nickle+Chrome) ,High Standard Rust-Proof Plating which can be tested by salt spray 48 hours neutral.
HTTMT MT501- Quick Detachable
High Quality Brand new Aftermarket Sissy Bar
Comfortable Rectangle Cushion: Approx. 9.5 ” (H) x6.25″ (L)
Overall height: Approx. 21″ from bottom of the side plate to top of the cushion pad.
Mounting plates: Approx. 9.25″ center to center mounting points
Low Gloss Black
Excellent Quality ( Not Made in China ) Powder Coated Gloss Black Detachable Low Sissy Bar Upright Short Passenger Backrest Lower Height
Fits 2009-2023 Touring Harley Davidson Like Street Glide Road King , Thanks for Looking at our Quality items , Skip over the China Junk
How To Install A Sissy Bar?
- Assemble the necessary tools needed; including pliers, torque wrench, socket set, hex, and any other tool provided by the manufacturer or written in the manual
- Spot the mounting points on the motorcycle frame which is usually at the rear side of it; might also be slightly covered by the seat but I promise you, it’s right there.
- It is a good time now to look closely at the manual for specific information, precautions, etc.
- Get the mounting brackets and install them by attaching them to the motorcycle’s frame.
- With the mounting brackets now installed, it’s time to attach the sissy bar to the mounting brackets. This is typically done by sliding the sissy bar onto the mounting brackets and holding it in place firmly using bolts, screws, or patches provided by the manufacturer
- Afterward, go ahead and adjust the sissy bar to your preferred position, height, or angle before tightening it with bolts or screws with a torque wrench.
Note that, this is only a general way of installing sissy bars, you will need to refer to the manufacturer’s manual for specifics as it pertains to the model of motorcycle or sissy bar you have.
How To Maintain A Sissy Bar?
- You want to make sure you clean your sissy bar occasionally with mild soap and water solution to get dirt and grime off with can cause rust or corrosion
- When not in use, keep it stored in a cool and dry place. You may remove it for this purpose if the sissy bar is a detachable one
- Inspect it regularly to be able to spot damage before they get worse
- Apply a protective coating to protect it from scratches and fading
- If the hinges and brackets of the sister bar are designed to be movable, apply lubricant to keep its movement smooth
Wrapping it up – Different Types Of Motorcycle Sissy Bars
Passenger backrests are one of the most popular motorcycle accessories and I have just shared with you some common types you can find.
The list is however not comprehensive because the variety of sissy bars is vast, in design and practicality but now you know some of the most common ones you can find.
I hope you have learned something new about sissy bars.