Make Your Own Drivers Backrest

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Written by Paul Bertolino   
Thursday, 10 June 2004
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On one of my many bike tours to various parts of the country I rented a HD dresser that came equipped with a factory drivers backrest pad that made the trip and long days in the saddle much more enjoyable, no more sore lower back from slouching.  Now that I own a Road Star I wanted that comfort for this bike as I do a lot of touring and wanted a factory look, not an after-market, after-thought.  Secondly, I didn't like the high cost of the after-market either.  After studying the Road Star's driver's seat, the passenger seat and its bracket I designed a simple to make drivers back rest that uses a second factory passenger backrest.  Best thing there are no cuts to the seats (unlike some after-market parts) or visible permanent changes.  You can remove it and everything still looks stock! Home Depot sells 3/16 inch thick by 1 ¼ wide by 3 feet long flat stock steel for about $6 that I used.

Let's get started.

First things first, remove the drivers seat and the passenger seat and then remove the bracket from the passenger seat.  This bracket will be slightly modified. Modify the bracket front part which is shaped like a "U". The U shape has an inward formed flange  where the bottom vertical section will need to be cut and bent flat.

  • Use a hacksaw and simply follow the sides of the flange as a guide to cut the lower section to the base.  This dimension  will end up being 1 1/4", the width of the bar stock. This will be the lateral locking point for the soon to be formed flat stock used for the drivers backrest pad.
  • Reassemble the passenger seat bracket on to the seat pad and install.  I used a stud in place of the bolt used to hold that assembly on to the front section  of the rear fender. Screw the stud into the fender leaving about 3/4 inch exposed.  I also used a spot of super glue or use loctite on the threads before I screwed the stud into the frame so it wouldn't wind itself into the fender as I installed the nut. I installed the nut onto the stud just enough to slip the J bar past the stud, you'll see why in a minute.
  • Now for the fabrication of the flat stock.  I rough cut the length to about 1 foot  for ease of forming since it comes in a 3 foot length.  I inserted one end into the vice about 3 inches and made sure it was square to the vice jaws, this will prevent the bar being twisted and hence the backrest pad.  I used a propane torch to heat the flat stock and formed it with crescent wrench into a "J" shape, {the contour of the nose of the passenger seat} You can cut a cardboard female template to the shape of the nose of the seat to accomplish this, it helps as a forming guide.
  • Once this is formed I then took some eyeball measurements where the stud would intersect the bar and cut a slot centered into the 3" flat section that will attach to the modified passenger seat bracket. The slot is the width of the stud to make the fit snug,.  The stud I believe is a 6MM shaft.  Once the slot is cut you then can slide the 3 inch section of the "J" bracket rearward past the stud and nut to get a feel how the bar will snug up against the passenger seat nose.  You may need to tweak the formed "J" bar a little but keep in mind it will need to be snug against the passenger seat or you'll have a little difficulty removing the drivers seat.
  • Once this is tweaked to your liking I then installed the drivers seat with the J bar installed tight with a flanged nut on the stud.. One pain is the limited wrench space to torque the nut on the stud.  It may look tight but it can be done with a wrench or ¼ inch socket.  Now you'll know why I went with the stud and nut ! You may have to move side to side on either side of the J bar to tighten the nut but it can be done.
  • Now onto the pad mounting.  I bought part number STR-5GA41-50-01 which is the same as the standard passenger backrest pad and costs $55. Total cost at this point for the bar and pad is roughly $65.  I positioned the pad against the J bar, remember to make sure the drivers seat in position and positioned the backrest pad just up off the drivers seat, give it about 1/4 inch clearance.  This will ease the removal of the drivers seat for maintenance like oil changes and battery removal.
  • Transfer the top hole in the back pad onto the J bar. There are 3 holes 6MM tapped holes in the pad that form an upside down "V", the top one will be used, a second (3/16) will need to be drilled 2 ¼ inch down inline with the top one to accommodate a rivet.  The  2 on the side will be plugged with common auto trim "Christmas" tree plugs  (about $3 a package) that will be hidden by the passenger seat.  The drilled hole will go into a plastic stiffener in the pad.  I used a large aluminum rivet 3/16 X 3/8 long for this anchor point, it will be hidden by the passenger seat nose as are the 2 plugs.  You can use a sheet metal screw in place but I feel the rivet a better choice for clamp load and overall flatness.  Remember the rivet will lock into a plastic stiffener within the pad.
  • After I got everything mocked up and fitting to my liking I sanded the "J" bar and used some satin black spray paint I had sitting around. The chrome top screw I used was  found in my spare metric Phillips head screw collection (every motorcyclist should have a collection).

I have had my backrest on now for over 6,000 miles and will never go without one again.  Another nice point is your  passenger is not crowded and the pad is low enough to swing your leg over.

Paul Bertolino
October 2002

Make Your Own Drivers Backrest Make Your Own Drivers Backrest Make Your Own Drivers Backrest

 Make Your Own Drivers Backrest Make Your Own Drivers Backrest

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DISCLAIMER: This information and procedure is provided as a courtesy and is for informational purposes only.  Neither the publishers nor the authors accept any responsibility for the accuracy, applicability, or suitability of this procedure.  You assume all risks associated with the use of this information.  NEITHER THE PUBLISHERs NOR THE AUTHORs SHALL IN ANY EVENT BE LIABLE FOR ANY DIRECT, INDIRECT, PUNITIVE, SPECIAL, INCIDENTAL, OR CONSEQUENTIAL DAMAGES, OF ANY NATURE ARISING OUT OF OR IN ANY WAY CONNECTED WITH THE USE OR MISUSE OF THIS INFORMATION OR LACK OF INFORMATION.  Any type of modification or service work on your motorcycle should always be performed by a professional mechanic. If performed incorrectly, this procedure may endanger the safety of you and others on your motorcycle and possibly invalidate your manufacturer’s warranty.


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  Comments (10)
Easier tightening of bolt
Written by kozaturf, on 07-19-2012 18:46
I used a gearwrench or ratcheting box end wrench to tighten the bolt. Only get about 1 or 2 clicks at a time but easier than a regular wrench. Besides it gives you a reason to buy new tools :)
Written by Rodster, on 06-18-2012 06:22
I just bought a Roadstar over the weekend and might give this a try! Thanks
backrest
Written by Calski, on 12-28-2011 22:24
pictures 
Written by allwaysriding, on 09-30-2011 11:07  
i would like to see the pictures of the underside of the seat with the bracket installed thanks
backrest
Written by allwaysriding, on 10-04-2011 22:20
i did this for mine its night and day difference i have had spine surgery and it kills me to ride very far this has greatly improved my comfort i tip just go ahead and tighten that bolt down install the rear seat and just bend the homemade bar up around the nose of the rear seat if you need to take the rear seat off simply just bend it back down just enough to remove the rear seat.it worked just fine for me.
pictures
Written by allwaysriding, on 09-30-2011 11:07
i would like to see the pictures of the underside of the seat with the bracket installed thanks
backrest
Written by bosv, on 03-15-2011 19:13
can you post a pic of what it looks like under the seat?...Thanks
Written by surveywaters, on 08-18-2009 20:41
can you draw a sketch of the mod you are making on the passenger seat bracket?
Written by ks_scot, on 06-09-2009 09:32
Just completed the drivers backrest, and MAN does it help! Usually my lower back started getting tight after only an hour or so. The first day I had the backrest on, I rode for 5 hours, and had no pain at all! Thanks for the tip!
BUY YOUR BACKREST
Written by JOHNBOY, on 07-12-2006 14:31
HEY GUYS 
i was just on [no pork.com ]and they are selling a backrest setup with the pad for $140.00.i made my own and it cost me about $125.00. so this is a deal and the job can be done in less than 15 minutes
Tightening that darn bolt
Written by Shep, on 06-02-2005 18:23
To tighten that bolt under the passenger seat, I have two tips: 
 
1. Hold your tongue correctly. 
 
2. Buy a 10mm wrench and grind the sides down in strategic places, it will be obvious where. It gives you that little bit more clearance, enough to get to the next flat on the nut.

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