What Is a Sissy Bar? Origins and Uses of the Not-Sissy Bar

If you’re a newbie biker, you may have heard the term sissy bar used before and been unsure what it meant. If you’re wondering what is a sissy bar, you’ve come to the right place. Keep reading for the one-stop-shop guide to the history of sissy bars, what they are, how to use them, and more.

What’s In a Name

Also known as a sister bar, a sissy bar is a backrest at the back of your bike that supports the passenger or rider. The sissy bar enables you or your passenger to recline as you ride for enhanced comfort and back support. A motorcycle sissy bar typically connects to the back fender struts.

Some sissy bars feature leather pads, and others come without that extra support. You can also use a sissy bar to support your essential gear like your helmet or backpack. Back in the 1960s and 1970s, sissy bars became widely popular with the custom bike and chopper enthusiasts. It was always designed as a backrest for passengers but was also a preferred accessory for its stylistic elements.

The original sissy bar that had its heyday in the 1960s and 1970s was considerably smaller than the modern version, and as commonly found on wheelie bikes like the Raleigh Chopper and Schwinn Sting-Ray. The backrest was not only functional but allowed the passenger ample support to lean on and hold onto besides grabbing hold of the rider.

The motorcycles of today have modified the sissy bar to provide increased support and less of a bar. Cruiser motorcycles typically have the sissy bar secured on the fender struts with a foam pad and chrome-plated steel design. Touring motorcycles frequently have far shorter and simpler sissy bars affixed to the top box.

How Much Do Sissy Bars Cost?

Now that you know what is a sissy bar, you’re probably wondering how much purchasing one will set you back financially. The good news is, sissy bars come in a range of prices and specifications. A sissy bar with fewer accoutrements and more basic functionality could come with a lower price tag than a sissy bar with all the bells and whistles. 

You’re looking at anywhere from roughly $50 to upwards of a $100 for a quality powersports sissy bar.

Sissy Bars Support People

When you decide to transport a passenger on your bike, it’s a good idea to have an additional handhold or back support to keep them comfortable and secure in transit to your destination. Sissy bars with medium to tall height will allow your passenger to lean back during the ride. Depending on the model you select, some sissy bars also feature a leather back pad for additional comfort and plush.

If you choose a shorter sissy bar, you might have a handhold for your passenger but not much else. It is also worth noting that specific state laws mandate particular a particular height or design for sissy bars that riders use, so look into your local regulations before you select your device.

Sissy Bars Secure the Fender to Your Bike’s Frame

Sissy bars can be an invaluable accessory for both style and functionality, whether you have a -wheeler or a 3 wheel motorcycle, prefer used motorcycles or new. The first and primary use of a sissy bar is to secure the finder to the frame of your bike. The original sissy bars weren’t much more than a fender strut required to support the rear fender.

Those old bikes had a bent piece of metal or strut linking the fender to the frame — and that was about it. The sissy bars of today have the same purpose of securing your motorcycles fender to the structure, but manufacturers have greatly improved on the original models, extending the struts to afford them heightened practical and stylistic components.

Sissy Bars are Fantastic for Storage

Another valuable use for a sissy bar is to store your gear and any other cargo you like to take on the road with you. With a sissy bar, you can mount your load with ease and stow it all away securely without needing to worry about them coming loose on a windy road.

Extended sissy bars mean you can carry more at once and stack up your gear to keep things narrow in the bag. If you like to hit the road often with your motorcycle, you might find that sissy bar makes carrying your duffle way more manageable than before.

Besides carrying your cargo, a bonus advantage to being able to store your gear with a sissy bar is that you might enjoy some additional back support if you’re riding alone. You can lean into your duffle or bedroll and enjoy some quality back support, which is invaluable for hours on the road!

You can also add some fun bonus accessories to your sissy bar as you need to, depending on your preference and how lengthy your trips are. From flag holders to bottle openers to lights to custom pipes — a sissy bar can serve a wide range of purposes.

The Aesthetic Factor

Besides the precise functional purposes that sissy bar accomplishes, it can look aesthetically pleasing as well. A favorite of bikers everywhere, depending on the design and look you select, your motorcycle’s sissy bar could be nothing short of a work of art.

If you’re concerned about new motorcycle prices or used motorcycle values for resale value down the line, plenty of bikers install sissy bars on customs and stockers. With a quality sissy bar, you can get the best of both worlds in terms of functionality and style.

Tips for Picking a Sissy Bar

If you’re new to the concept of using a sissy bar, here are some helpful tips to ensure you pick the right one for your biking needs.

● Sissy bars with a clean and straightforward construction are just as useful as ones with custom components and multiple moving parts.

●  Sissy bars with one-piece construction and removable pads are handy because you can take off the pad when you prefer or reattach it for additional back support.

●  If you need to secure a sleeping bag, roll pack, or any other kind of gear, these types of sissy bars will get the job done.

●  You’ll also want to consider how much you want the sissy bar to stand out visually from the fender. Do you want the curved mounting to match up to the frame so it’s not so noticeable, or would you prefer your sissy bar to stand out with custom finishes and imprints?

You can typically install a sissy bar in half an hour or less, and you won’t have to make any significant changes that could affect the value of your bike or hike up your costs for motorcycle insurance. Be sure to use the adhesive tape and affix it near the mounting areas during installation to protect your motorcycle from unwanted knicks and scratches.

Deciding whether or not to incorporate a sissy bar into your bike’s design is purely a matter of personal preference.

If you would like additional space to secure your gear or give your passenger something else to hold onto while you ride, a sissy bar could be a worthwhile investment. If the idea of custom sissy bars to rev up the overall look of your bike gives you a thrill, there are an endless amount of alterations you can make to achieve the aesthetic you want. 

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