motorcycle 101 guides

Harley Davidson Softail Sissy Bar Installation Guide

Harley Davidson Softail Sissy Bar Installation Guide

Harley Softail motorcycles are famous for their rigid look while having a hidden Softail rear suspension. Due to their low frames, stable handling, comfortable riding positions, and robust suspension systems, Harley Softail motorcycles can be used for highway cruising and long tours.

To complete the tourer look, motorcyclists can install different Harley aftermarket parts, including sissy bars. Harley Softail sissy bars are stylish, affordable, and multifaceted. They also help maintain the minimalist look that most cruiser owners prefer. 

Due to their different dimensions and mounting systems, riders often find installing a Harley Softail sissy bar confusing. This article aims to simplify the Softail sissy bar installation process so you can easily customize your bike at home.

Also Read: Harley Sportster Sissy Bar Installation Guide

1. Installing Sissy Bars on Different Harley Softail Model

Sissy bars can be installed on the Harley Softail Fat Bob, Softail Slim, Softail Street Bob, Softail Standard, Softail Low Rider, Softail Fat Boy, Softail Breakout and Heritage Classic. However, the installation process is not the same for every Harley Softail model. 

For some Harley Softail motorcycles like the Heritage Classic, a quick-release sissy bar is easier to install than a rigid-mount sissy bar. This is because quick-release sissy bars can be mounted on the docking points usually used for factory-installed saddlebags.

Whether you choose a quick-release or a rigid-mount sissy bar, installing a sissy bar on the Harley Softail Street Bob is easy. All you need to do is replace the stock bolts with sissy bar mounting or docking hardware to achieve a stylish custom look.

Installing a rigid-mount sissy bar on a Harley Softail Standard does not require much work. This type of motorbike features two fender mounting bolts on each side. The rear turn signals are located on the far end of the fender strut where they are out of the way.

Depending on the shape and length of the latch system, you might need to relocate the rear turn signals when installing a quick-release Softail sissy bar. But try to install the quick-release sissy bars on a Softail Standard without removing the turn signals first.

When it comes to sissy bar installation, Harley Softail Fat Bob and Softail Slim are two of the easiest Harley Softail cruisers. There are two fender mounting bolts on the fender support suited for installing quick-release and rigid-mount sissy bars. You do not need to remove the fender or relocate the turn signals.

The Harley Softail Low Rider S and Softail Low Rider also have sissy bar-friendly fender struts. However, you may need to remove the turn signals to make room to install quick-release sissy bars.

Always check for fitment compatibility before purchasing a sissy bar. Before installing your sissy bar, check it for defects.

2. Best Sissy Bar Brand for Ease of Installation

Your Harley motorcycle sissy bar’s brand also plays an important role during installation. Some brands design Softail sissy bars that are mounted to the inside the fender strut. This installation process can be complicated and may require removing the fender. 

When installing a sissy bar at home, it is recommended you choose a brand offering easy-to-install sissy bars. For example, Viking Bags takes pride in manufacturing quality sissy bars with a cut-out design. All Harley Softail sissy bars are mounted on the fender strut’s exterior and can easily wrap around the turn signals. Hence, you do not need to remove the fender or turn signals. Bolt the sissy bars right on to give your bike a classic look. 

If you prefer a custom sissy bar, look for an accessory that has an “on the strut” installation design.

Also Read: How to Choose the Right Sissy Bars for Your Motorcycle

3. Best Sissy Bar Size & Finish for Harley Softail

The size and finish of the Harley Softail sissy bars do not affect installation.

Tall black sissy bars complement the rigid hardtail look of Softail models. The tall black sissy bars blend in with the black fender supports. If you prefer a subdued style, then opt for a black matte finish; a glossy black finish will give your bike a sophisticated look.

On the other hand, short sissy bars make a bike look more comfortable and touring-friendly. Short Softail sissy bars with backrests improve the bike’s superior ergonomics. 

Whether tall or black, a chrome finish creates a stark contrast against the rear fender and fender supports. Also, chrome sissy bars complement a bike’s chrome accents and bring out the classic retro style.

Also Read: Best Motorcycle Sissy Bars for Custom Cruiser Riders

4. Harley Davidson Softail Rigid-Mount Sissy Bar Installation

There are two ways to install one-piece rigid-mount sissy bars on Harley Softail motorcycles:

  1. Mount the sissy bar outside or over the fender strut 
    • Straightforward and traditional installation 
    • No fender removal required 
    • Installation takes only a few minutes. 
  2. Mount sissy bar inside the fender strut
    • Requires fender removal 
    • Easy but time-consuming 

Based on a Softail motorcycle’s model and year, most Softail sissy bars come with specific installation instructions for the sissy bars. If your sissy bars don’t come with installation instructions and you cannot install the sissy bars in the traditional way, you will have to use the second method.

4.1 How to Install Harley Softail Sissy Bars Outside the Fender Strut

Installing a sissy bar outside the fender strut is the same for most Harley cruisers. This method involves removing pre-installed bolts, placing the sissy bar over the fender strut holes, and securing it with new bolts.

Tools Required

  • T45 Torx Bit 
  • Socket Wrench 
  • Included Mounting Hardware 
  • Medium Strength Loctite Threadlocker 
  • Glue Gone 
  • Heat Gun 
  • Torque Measuring Tool

Installation Steps

  1. To remove fender mounting bolts on Softail sissy bars, you require a T45 Torx bit and a socket wrench.
  2. If your Harley Softail has reflectors mounted on the fender support, you must remove the reflector to leave room to fit the side plates. The side reflector badges are attached with adhesive tape. Heat up the reflectors with a blow dryer or a heat gun before peeling them off with dental floss or fishing wire. Heat the leftover tape residue and spray on adhesive remover to clean it off. You can also use WD40 and alcohol wipes to clean off any sticky residue. Softail motorcycles with reflectors on above the fender struts can be removed to give your vehicle a cleaner look.
  3. Once you have a clean base, remove the four fender mounting bolts with a T45 Torx bit and a socket wrench.
  4. Align the Harley Softail sissy bars with the mounting holes on the fender strut.
  5. Apply loctite threadlocker on the mounting bolts included with the rigid-mount Softail sissy bars before fitting them into the sissy bar and fender holes. You can fasten the front bolts on each side first or tighten the two bolts on one side.
  6. Use the socket wrench to tighten the bolts and verify the torque applied.

5. How to Install Harley Softail Sissy Bars Inside the Fender Strut

For some Softail models, sissy bars cannot be installed over the fender support due to the two screws inserted into the fender to help secure the fender supports. To loosen the inner screws, you will have to first remove the fender. You can also lift the fender to install Softail sissy bars, but the process can damage the side covers. For this method, you would have to remove the side covers as well.

Note: Follow this installation method to install sissy bars inside the fender strut on the following Softail models.
  • Softail Low Rider S
  • Softail Street Bob
  • Softail Fat Boy
  • Softail Heritage Classic
  • Softail Low Rider
  • Softail Slim
  • Softail Standard
  • Softail Deluxe
  • Softail Fat Boy Lo
  • Softail Breakout
  • Softail Custom
  • Softail Night Train
  • Softail Breakout 114
  • Softail Springer
  • Softail Cross Bones
  • Softail Sport Glide

Tools Required

  • T45 Torx Bit 
  • Socket Wrench 
  • Paper Tape 
  • Loctite 
  • Heat Gun 
  • Fishing Wire 
  • Adhesive Remover (Goo Gone)

Installation Steps

  1. Tape the sides of the fender and the top of the side covers to avoid scratching the paint.
  2. Remove the reflector badges from the fender with the heat gun, fishing wire, and adhesive remover.
  3. Unfasten the seat mounting bolt on the fender to remove the rider seat. With the seat removed, you can easily disconnect the wiring connected to the tail lights and rear turn signals.
  4. Use a T45 Torx bit with a socket wrench to remove the two bolts on both sides of the fender supports. You will have four bolts in total and two connector plates. Remove the bolts securing the fender and fender supports to the chassis so you can remove the entire fender.
  5. Flip the fender and loosen the inner screws holding the fender supports. Although these screws are not directly in the way, they prevent the required clearance to slip the rigid-mount Softail sissy bars in between the fender and fender support. Loosening these bolts screws will create space to secure the sissy bars to the fender.
  6. Turn the fender on one side and place the sissy bar next to the fender holes. Put the metal plate inside the fender and place the fender supports over the sissy bar. Align the holes of all four components (metal plate, fender, sissy bar, fender support) to insert the bolt through them all.
  7. Since the metal plate and bolt pre-installed on the fender were meant to keep the fender and fender supports in place, the same bolt cannot secure the sissy bar as well in between them. Also, the bolt included with the sissy bar may not be long enough to reach the metal plate due to the fender support blocking the way. You may need to purchase a longer bolt to connect the sissy bar and fender supports to the fender.
  8. Mount the fender and fender supports holding the Softail sissy bars back on your motorcycle.
  9. Bolt the fender supports back on the motorcycle’s chassis. Reconnect the turn signal and tail light wiring before putting the seat back on. When putting the seat back on, check that no wires are sticking out.
  10. Verify the torque of all the bolts using a torque measuring dial wrench or a digital tool.

6. Harley Softail Quick-Release Sissy Bar Installation

Softail quick-release sissy bars are easy to install. If your Softail motorcycle has two mounting points on the fender strut, you do not need to remove the turn signals.

However, if there is only one fender mounting bolt on the strut, use the turn signal relocation kit to relocate the turn signals to the license plate.

Tools Required

  • 45T Torx Bit 
  • Socket Wrench 
  • Loctite 
  • Included Docking Hardware 
  • Adhesive Remover 
  • Fishing Wire 
  • Heat Gun 

Installation Steps

  1. Remove all four pre-installed bolts from the fender with a T45 Torx bit and a socket wrench. 
  2. If necessary, remove the reflector badge from the fender strut using a heat gun, fishing wire, and adhesive remover. 
  3. Apply medium-strength loctite threadlocker on the bolts. 
  4. Insert the docking hardware into the fender holes. The smaller docking hardware is installed in the front holes, while the larger docking hardware is installed in the rear holes. 
  5. With the docking points in place, slide the sissy bars onto the front docking points before lowering them over the rear docking points. Press lightly to lock the latch system.

7. Takeaway

Harley Softail sissy bars are one of the best motorcycle aftermarket parts to install on the rear fender. Viking Bags sissy bars are built with the interest of the riders kept in mind. Mounting hardware is also provided to help you mount your sissy bars quickly and easily. If you read the instructions covered in this article and the instruction manual provided with the product, you should have no trouble with sissy bar installation.

Also Read: Harley Dyna Sissy Bar Installation Guide

Reading next

Chrome vs Glossy Black Sissy Bars - Which is the Better Option?
Beginner Tips for Safe & Comfortable Solo Motorcycle Camping Trips

Leave a comment

All comments are moderated before being published.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.