Anyone who’s spent any amount of time on a Harley-Davidson’s passenger seat knows a backrest can make the open road that much more enjoyable. However, many Harley-Davidson riders prefer the clean lines of their motorcycles without backrests. To provide the best of both worlds, Harley-Davidson offers an easily removable backrest that can be detached in seconds without tools. Installing a quick-release backrest requires an additional kit that provides the necessary docking bobbins to secure the backrest to the rear fender supports. Installation is fairly straightforward, but requires some familiarity with your motorcycle’s rear fender and electrical system.
1. Remove the seat from your motorcycle using a Phillips-head screwdriver or by unscrewing the seat bolt by hand. Remove the left side cover located below the rider’s seat, if needed, to access the battery. Disconnect the black negative battery cable from the battery using a Phillips screwdriver.
2. Unscrew the forward fender strut bolt located nearest the rider’s seat using a Torx driver. Remove the nut from the inner face of the fender. Mount the forward docking bobbin in place over the fender strut bolt hole, then insert the bolt included with the docking kit into the bobbin. Screw the matching nut from the kit onto the bolt on the inner face of the fender by hand, then tighten the nut and bolt to 27 foot-pounds using a torque wrench.
3. Remove the rear turn signal lens using a Phillips screwdriver. Push the signal bulb into the turn signal housing, then twist it counterclockwise until the bulb can be removed completely. Follow the turn signal wiring from the signal housing to the inner face of the rear fender. Open the plastic wire clamp, then pull the wiring forward and into the signal housing.
4. Remove the rear turn signals from the rear fender supports using a socket wrench. Pull away the turn signals and cut the signal wiring 3 inches away from the base of the signal housings using wire cutters.
5. Remove the rear fender support bolt located at the end of the rear fender support using a Torx driver. Install the new turn signal mounting bolt and the rear docking bobbin into the rear fender support, then screw the corresponding nut into place. Tighten the signal mounting bolt and nut to 22 foot-pounds. Screw the turn signal housings onto the signal mounting bolt until it is aligned and level. Tighten the signal mounting bolt jam nut against the base of the signal housing using a combination wrench.
6. Push the turn signal housing wiring through the signal housing and the mounting bolt. Join the cut halves of the turn signal wiring together using a soldering iron. Push the turn signal bulbs into the turn signal housings, then turn the bulb clockwise until the bulbs are locked into place. Reinstall the turn signal lens.
7. Reconnect the negative cable to the battery’s negative terminal. Reinstall the seat onto the motorcycle.
8. Hold the detachable backrest at a 45-degree angle against the rear fender supports. Slip the catch on the front of the backrest side plates over the forward docking bobbins. Lower the rear of the backrest down and onto the rear docking bobbins. Lift the release tabs at the rear of the backrest side plates and push down until the backrest is seated over the rear docking bobbins. Lower the release tabs to lock the backrest onto the motorcycle.