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How to Build or Customize Your Motorcycle Sissy Bar

How to Build or Customize Your Motorcycle Sissy Bar

1. Introduction

A motorcycle sissy bar is one of the most functional aftermarket parts available due to being able to carry extra luggage, provide a comfortable backrest, and complement your vehicle’s overall style. Though the sissy bar is an add-on used to customize your motorcycle, you might not have considered customizing the sissy bar itself. If you dislike the standard stainless steel build or wish to increase your sissy bar’s capabilities, it is possible to have it tailor-made to suit your needs. However, you must possess the right tools and know how to reconstruct the sissy bar without accidentally breaking it. This guide will provide helpful tips on how to proceed, what tools you need, and a step-by-step process to help you build your own sissy bar.

2. Things to Remember Before Customizing Motorcycle Sissy Bar

Most stock sissy bars have a simple design, constructed from long stainless or mild steel rods with a space between them that becomes narrower the higher you go until it forms a pointed or blunted tip. However, they have a durable structure that helps reduce damage but also makes it impossible to modify with only simple hand tools. To make the metal more malleable and easier to bend its shape, you will have to acquire electric-powered tools and welding tools. Since many of the tools you will use have sharp edges and open flames, have a clear work area with no clutter that can catch fire or cause you to trip over. Make sure you have a non-flammable platform to place your sissy bar and a way to keep it secure when cutting, bending, or heating up.

Depending on the sissy bar you own, it can be a universal fit or be mounted only on specific vehicle types or models. During customization, it is possible to alter the mounting brackets, fender bolts, or other installation parts to fit different motorcycles than the one originally intended. However, exercise caution when bending or welding since the steel could become irreparably warped due to either process. Applying too much pressure or heat could cause the steel to crack or holes where you insert bolts to become too wide. Also, it might not be possible to return the sissy bar to its original shape without wearing down and weakening the metal.

When installing your custom sissy bar, you may have to use a different rear fender mounting style than the original one to mount it in place. Examples of rear fender mounting styles you can use for the motorcycle sissy bar include the hard, quick-release, strut, and swing-arm mount.

3. Tools You Will Need to Customize Motorcycle Sissy Bar

If you plan to create a custom motorcycle sissy bar, it is best to conduct this in a garage or any spacious indoor area. Your workspace should also be able to store your tools, with all your tools organized and easily accessible. Make sure there are sockets close to your platform to plug in your electric-power tools while making sure no wires are tangled or caught on anything. Above all else, pay attention to which tool you are grabbing to avoid injuring yourself or damaging your workspace or the sissy bar. Though you may not require all of these tools during the customization process, you should make sure to have the following just in case:

  • Gloves
  • Protective Goggles
  • Measuring Tape
  • Simple Hand Tools
  • Clamps
  • Pliers
  • Spanner
  • Blowtorch
  • Welding Tool
  • Metal Worktable
  • Electric Saw
  • Steel Rods (Optional)
  • Bendable Steel Wire (Optional)
  • Steel Bungs (Optional)

4. Step-By-Step Process of Customizing Motorcycle Sissy Bar

When creating a custom sissy bar, it is possible to either build one from scratch or use an existing frame to create a new one. If you want to build a custom motorcycle sissy bar from scratch, you may have to follow a few extra steps and gather more materials than modifying a pre-existing sissy bar frame. Listed below are the steps for customizing your motorcycle sissy bar:

1 Measure the length and width of the motorcycle’s rear end to determine the custom sissy bar’s dimensions. Measure the custom sissy bar’s estimated height as well if you are creating a new one from scratch
2 Examine both sides of the rear fender to determine where the bent angles will be. Measure the estimated distance between the bent angles and the sides of the rear fender
3 Shape the bendable steel wire to resemble your custom sissy bar’s design and hold it against the rear fender. Make and note any adjustments in height, length, and width 
4 If your worktable has openings to insert the steel bungs, place a few to act as supports when you bend the sissy bar or steel rod. 
5 Using a blowtorch, heat the points along the sissy bar or steel rod where you want them to be bent until it glows a bright red and orange. Make sure to wear proper gloves and protective goggles
6 Using inserted steel bungs, pliers, or one of the worktable’s edges, apply pressure and bend the sissy bar or steel rod at the heated, glowing points. (After you finish bending the steel rod, you should have transformed it into a sissy bar) 
7 Repeat steps 5-6 for each bent angle you make. Wait for the steel to cool before handling
8 Hold the custom sissy bar against the motorcycle’s rear end to check if it fits correctly. Make necessary adjustments to height, length, and width by bending by hand or cutting with an electric saw
9 Drill holes into the motorcycle’s rear end where you plan to insert steel bungs and mount the custom sissy bar
10 After fitting the custom sissy bar, either tighten the bolts using a spanner or carefully fuse the steel using a welding tool
11 Use an electric saw to cut off the parts of the stock sissy bar or steel rod you do not need or plan to replace
12 At the tip or the space between the steel rods, you can install a custom design, symbol, or imagery by welding them to the steel rods.

5. Takeaway

Though most riders focus on finding ways to make their motorcycles look cooler, many often overlook how they can achieve the same effect by customizing their sissy bars. Most matte black or chrome sissy bars do not have a complex design, with most motorcyclists only valuing them for their increased storage capacity and comfortability. However, many riders see the potential of a custom sissy bar, taking the time to consider what unique tip or imagery should be attached. When it comes to making your custom motorcycle sissy bar, the process can be just as hard as repairing a motorcycle. But all the work and effort will be worth it when your motorcycle is sporting a fancy new sissy bar at the end.

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