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Best Ways to Protect Motorcycle Sissy Bars from Rust

Best Ways to Protect Motorcycle Sissy Bars from Rust

A sissy bar is a motorcycle add-on attached to the rear of the motorcycle. It can be used to provide a passenger  backrest or carry extra  luggage.

Sissy bars need to be treated with extra care as they are made of stainless steel highly vulnerable to rust. In this article, you’ll learn why  motorcycle sissy bars  are prone to rusting and ways to protect sissy bars from rusting.

1. Why Are Sissy Bars Prone to Rust?

A sissy bar is often made of iron, steel, or aluminum. The most common material used to construct a sissy bar is steel. They are usually powder-coated or chrome-plated to prevent rusting and improve appearance. Sissy bars can begin to rust if the powder coating or chrome plating becomes too thin.

Rust can form on the sissy bars if they are exposed to water and oxygen. Various types of rust can coat the steel surface if exposed to water and air for a long time, but Fe2O3 is the most prevalent form of rust.

2. Best Ways to Remove Rust from Motorcycle Sissy Bars

2.1 Household Remedies

White Vinegar

When white vinegar interacts with rust, it causes the ruddy coating to dissolve. Listed below are the steps on how to use white vinegar to remove rust:

  • Clean the sissy bars by pouring white vinegar over the surface or wipe it down with a cloth soaked in vinegar. Wait for the vinegar to soak into the rust.
  • To remove rust, try covering the aluminum foil in white vinegar and using it as a brush. Although not as abrasive as steel wool, it is still an effective means to remove rust.
  • You may just soak your rusted mounting hardware in regular vinegar for up to 24 hours before rinsing. This approach doesn’t require as much scrubbing.
  • After scrubbing, wash off the sissy bars and dry them completely.

Baking Soda

Baking soda works best on light rust stains. Listed below are the steps on how to use baking soda to remove rust:

  • Mix baking soda with water to make a thick paste. The thin or runny paste will be less effective in removing rust.
  • Evenly spread the paste on the sissy bar and leave it on for a couple of hours. Then remove the paste by using a wire brush or steel wool. Carefully scrub off the paste at a slow pace to avoid accidentally scratching the sissy bar.
  • Keep repeating the process as you gradually remove more rust with each application. If the paste stops being effective when removing rust, you may need to make another paste.
  • Use soap and water to remove any residual paste and leave it alone to air dry.

Lemon & Salt

Lemon and salt is another simple yet effective way to remove rust from sissy bars. Listed below are the steps on how to use lemon and salt to remove rust:

  • Sprinkle salt on the rusty areas before squeezing a lemon onto the salt. Wait for two to four hours to soak into the rust.
  • Scrub the mixture off. You can use leftover rinds to remove the mixture, but you can also use steel wool or a wire brush.
  • If required, repeat this procedure safely.
  • Remove the leftover mixture of soap and water before drying.

Note: Do not rough when using a wire brush to avoid scratching the sissy bar.

Dish Soap & Potato

Dish soap and potatoes work well when removing light rust. Potatoes have oxalic acid, a substance that naturally loosens and removes rust. Dish soap and potatoes together can cut through filth and oil. Listed below are the steps on how to use dish soap and potatoes to remove rust:

  • Cut the potato in half, then put the sliced side into a dish soap container. Wait for the soap to soak into the potato slice.
  • Lay the potato slice's soapy side on the rusty surface of the sissy bar and wait for one to two hours for the rust to become loosened.
  • Then use the potato slide to scrub off the rust. If required, remove tougher rust with steel wool or a wire brush.
  • Lastly, rinse the sissy bar with water and let it air dry.
  • If required, repeat the process safely.

2.2 Chemical Rust Removers

Many rust-removing chemicals are available in the market. They are usually made of oxalic or phosphoric acid that can severely damage the skin. When using a chemical to dissolve rust, always use caution.


WD-40 can dissolve rust and weaken its bond to metal. Listed below are the steps on how to use WD-40 to remove rust:

  • Spray the sissy bar with WD-40. Apply enough to the rusty areas, then let it sit for 10 minutes.
  • Then scrub the sissy bar with a wire brush or sandpaper to remove the rust.
  • If you are having difficulty removing rust, reapply more WD-40 to weaken the tougher rust and continue scrubbing the surface.
  • Once the rust has been removed, spray the surface with WD-40 to prevent further corrosion.


CLR (calcium, lime, and rust remover) quickly removes and dissolves rust on metals. It is advised to put on safety gloves before using CLR.

Listed below are the steps on how to use CLR to remove rust:

  • Make an equal mixture of warm water and CLR in a bucket or container.
  • Take a brush or cloth, dampen it with the solution, and apply it directly on the rusty surface of the sissy bars. Allow the solution to soak for almost two minutes.
  • Scrub the sissy bars with a wire brush to remove all the rust before washing it off with cold water.
  • Inspect for any remaining rust. If and remains, repeat the process.


Evapo-Rust is an industrial-strength chemical that quickly and safely removes rust. Evapo-Rust is non-toxic and harmless to your skin.

However, do not use it in direct sunlight, for the best results. Listed below are the steps on how to use Evapo-Rust to remove rust:

  • Prepare the sissy bar by removing any grease or dirt.
  • Then apply the gel using a roller or a brush and wait for one hour.
  • Remove the gel and rust by wiping with a soft dry cloth.
  • If the rust does not come off, repeat the procedure.

2.3 Acids to Remove Rust

Citric Acid

Citric acid is the best way to remove severe rust due to its strong acidity. However, citric acid is strong enough to remove paint from the metal so handle it with caution. Listed below are the steps on how to use citric acid to remove rust:

  • Fill a bath with hot water and add 2-3 tablespoons of citric acid.
  • Submerge the rusted sissy bar and leave for several hours, even overnight if necessary.
  • Take the sissy bar out of the solution and scrub the flaking rust with a wire brush or steel wool.
  • Rinse the sissy bar and let it air dry.

Oxalic Acid

Oxalic acid is a well-known rust remover. Before using oxalic acid, take the proper precautions by wearing protective clothing, rubber gloves, and goggles. Listed below are the steps on how to use oxalic acid to remove rust:

  • Add a tablespoon of oxalic acid to a container of warm water, mix it well, and apply it onto the rusty surfaces of the sissy bar with a cloth.
  • Let it dry for a few hours before rinsing it with water.
  • If not all the rust was removed, repeat the process.

Muriatic Acid

Muriatic acid is a strong, inorganic mineral acid used to remove rust.

Before using muriatic acid, it’s recommended you take precautions since it can burn the eyes and irritate the skin. Wear safety gloves, and glasses, and work in a well-ventilated space. Listed below are the steps on how to use muriatic acid to remove rust:

  • Dilute muriatic acid with water and pour the diluted water-acid mixture into a spray bottle.
  • Spray the mixture onto the rusty sissy bars, wait for 10-15 minutes, and scrub off the rust with a brush.
  • If rust still remains, repeat the process.
  • After the corrosion has been removed completely, submerge the sissy bar in water to neutralize the acid.

Sulphuric Acid

Sulphuric acid is a strong, potent, and highly corrosive mineral acid.

Handle with caution as it can cause severe burns even at low concentrations. Listed below are the steps on how to use sulphuric acid to remove rust:

  • Pour sulphuric acid into a large container and dilute it with water.
  • Submerge the sissy bar inside the container for several hours or overnight.
  • Scrape the surface with a brush to remove all the rust.
  • Repeat the procedure if the rust does not come off.

2.4 Abrasive Tools to Remove Rust

You use abrasive tools to remove rust by scraping it off.

You can use steel wool to rub the rusted surface of the sissy bar. Rub it back and forth until the rust is removed.

With an electric sander, guide this tool in an orbiting motion on the rustiest area of the sissy bar while slowly moving towards the finer area. Keep repeating until the rust is removed.

Use sandpaper with a grit number between 320 and 400 to scrub the rusty surface of a sissy bar. If the rust remains, you may use sandpaper with slightly coarser grits. Continue scrubbing the surface until the rust is removed.

3. How to Prevent Motorcycle Sissy Bars from Rusting

3.1 Proper Care

Taking good care of your sissy bar will help to prevent rust. Keep them clean of any grease, dirt, or other debris. Debris can retain moisture and speed up rusting. Dry the sissy bar immediately after getting wet.

Even a small drop of water is enough to cause corrosion if left for too long. Keep the sissy bars dry and place them in an enclosed space with low humidity levels.

3.2 Prevent Scratching

When steel becomes scratched, the exposed areas may hold more moisture. This leads to rust forming inside the scratches which can cause a lot of damage within a short time. Handle your motorcycle sissy bar with care to prevent it from scratching or cracking.

3.3 Apply a Rust Primer

Importance of primer can’t be neglected in preventing rust. Priming is the key to preventing rust formation on motorcycle sissy bars. It chemically transforms the rust by converting the iron oxide into iron phosphate.

3.4 Apply Solid Coats of Paints

Painting the sissy bar will provide a waterproof layer that will protect the surface from rain and prevent oxidization. In this way, the paint will prevent oxygen and moisture from interacting with the metal which prevents rust formation.

3.5 Rust Converter

A rust converter helps prevent rust from spreading across the sissy bar. Resembling spray paint, it functions much like a primer as it add a protective layer of paint.

By spraying the sissy bar, you can prevent rust from spreading further on the stainless steel. However, this method might not be as effective as completely removing rust from the sissy bar. Only use this method if you intend to paint the sissy bars afterward.

4. Last Words

A  motorcycle sissy bar  is a multi-purpose tool that can help carry extra gear and provide better comfort for the rider. They are typically made of steel, iron, or aluminum covered with chrome plating. If the chrome plating becomes damaged, the metal underneath becomes exposed to water and oxygen which causes it to corrode. To remove rust from sissy bars, you can use household remedies, chemical rust removers, acids, and abrasive tools. Additionally, you can also prevent your sissy bar from rusting by carefully handling them, applying a rust primer, and spraying on a rust converter.

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