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Friday, April 2, 2010

Homemade Sissy Bar

I love my chopped rear fender but I did a little bit of camping at the end of 2009 and thought it would be really nice to have a sissy bar so I didn't have to bungee my tent to the handlebars like I did:

I started this project in January but it's still not done.  I've been working on it very slowly but I want to finish it up as it's the only reason the Sporty has not been ridden so far this year.  I started by using a cardboard mock-up to figure out how tall I wanted it to be.

Then I started with one bend using nothing more than a MAPP-Pro torch and a bench vise.

Quite a few bends in the vise later...

Here it is mocked up on the bike with some luggage.  I have the license plate zip-tied in place.  One of my goals with the sissy bar was get the license plate up and off the axle bolt.  It catches so much wind down there and I already had one mount break.  I also was never happy with the lighting (LED tag bolts) because the wiring was exposed and messy (they were nice and bright though).

I decided to attach the plate by essentially clamping it between the license frame and piece of flat stock.

Of course, flat stock is boring so I got a little creative with my hand drill and grinder (no fancy drill press or lathe here).  I was particularly proud of the channels where it will grip the sissy bar.  I took two pieces of flat stock, clamped them together, and the drilled straight down between them resulting in a nice straight channel.

To light up the plate, I picked up a license plate frame with 6 white LEDs built in from Custom Dynamics.  The wiring is much cleaner than tag bolts.  The only downside is that you have to notch your licence plate and backing plate so the wiring can exit.

I made sideplates out of flat stock.  I reluctantly decided to move away from the angle bar that allowed my taillights to flip up.  I loved the uniqueness but they never quite looked natural.  I picked up short turn signal mounts from Dennis Kirk to keep them nice and tight to the frame.  They fit the stock turn signals well but the way they mount to the bike is slightly different.  I drilled 3 holes for the turn signal.  The far left one is where I run a bolt through the fender, struts, sideplate, and then into the turn signal.  The second is for the wiring to exit.  The third is threaded for a short bolt.  This is placed so the turn signal can't spin (since it's only actually attached with one bolt).  The hole on the far right is simply another mounting point for the sissy bar to attach to the strut.

I lack the tools and knowledge to weld (I'd love to learn one day) so I made this wooden jig (the same width as my fender struts) so I could take it somewhere and have it done without having to take the bike.

Because I had everything ready-to-go, getting it welded was cheap and quick.  Each side was welded on both the top and bottom.

Here is the test-fit and everything turned out great.

Some minor sanding and then a good cleaning with a wire wheel and it was ready for rattle can primer.

As of today, it's still hanging in my garage but with a few coats of rattle can gloss black (applied last night).  In a day or two, I will sand it, add a few more coats of black, and call it done.  A few days after that, I'll get the Sporty all bolted back up and on the road... finally!!!

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