xorl %eax, %eax

How-to: Install Side-Mount License Plate on a Harley-Davidson Sportster

with 21 comments

The people who follow me on twitter already know that I got this part a couple of weeks ago but unfortunately, it took me more than two weeks to find some free time to install it. Anyway, let’s start…

Everything discussed in this post is about Harley-Davidson Sportster XL motorcycles but the same steps with a slight difference on the mounting bracket can also be applied on Dyna models. Something that some of you might not know is that all these models ship with side-mount license plate only in USA but even in USA the side mount is just a piece of plastic, nothing special.

Example bike: 2011 Harley-Davidson XL833N
Applies to: All 2004-later Harley-Davidson Sportster and Dyna
Cost: 200-500€
Time: 1-2 hours
Level: Intermediate
Parts: (1) side-mount license plate kit, (2) appropriate sized license plate, (3) additional frame rail nuts (optional)
Tools: (1) Standard Phillips screwdriver, (2) Torx wrenches, (3) Allen wrenches, (4) Socket wrenches, (5) Torque wrench (optional)

This post will be divided in two parts, one for how to remove the existing mounting bracket and a second part for the installation of the Harley-Davidson side-mount license plate kit (part number 60972-10).

Warning: Changing the license plate location and license plate’s size might be illegal in some countries. Please check your local laws before proceeding to any of these.

Removing the Stock License Plate Bracket
So, in Greece Sportster models ship with a rear license plate bracket with light that you see in the following photograph with the license plate being removed.

This is bolted with a Phillips screw you see on top of the rear fender and the two frame rail nuts on each side of the bike. First locate the two side frame rail nuts. Here is a photo highlighting the nut I’m talking about.

To remove this use a T40 Torx wrench along with a 13mm socket wrench from the inside of the fender. Proceed following the same steps for the other side of the bike. Next, remove the seat screw which is highlighted in the picture below.

After removing the seat you will see all the cables of the rear lights. In case you have the newer LED rear turn signals then you’ll almost certainly have something similar to the following…

Here the two grey cables are the turn signal lights and the black one is from the license plate bracket’s light. Consequently, disconnect the black one and have a look underneath the rear fender now. You will see that the cable is guided through some plastic clips. For better understanding here is a picture highlighting the those clips.

Carefully remove the cable leading to the license plate light and at last, remove the second Phillips screw from the top of the fender and this will release the existing license plate mounting bracket. Here is this bracket when removed.

And this is pretty much how to remove the stock bracket. There is a possibility that a metal plate will fall off when you remove the last top screw, in case this happens do not forget to put it back when finished since this is used to reinforce the rear fender. We can now move on to the next section which is how to install the side-mount license plate kit.

Installing Side-Mount License Plate Kit
Before moving on with the installation, here is the installation instructions shipped with the kit.

Okay, now take the license plate mount you see here.

And take the kit provided LED light and screw it using a Torx T20 wrench.

Follow the same steps to install the license plate frame using the two Torx T25 flat-head screws…

Next, go to the right side of the bike where the license plate bracket will be installed and remove the two frame rail bolts using a Torx T40 and a 13mm socket wrench. Use the same 13mm socket wrench to also remove the turn signal’s bolt. Disconnect it and carefully remove the frame rail cover. Here is a photograph of the frame rail after removing the turn signal light along with the frame rail cover.

And here is the frame rail cover with the attached turn signal light…

From the service manual you’re advised to discard the original screw from the turn signal light and replace it with the new one which is included in the kit. So, simply remove the old and replace it with the new one…

Now take the mounting bracket you see below and place it between the frame rail and the rear fender.

Bolt the frame rail cover along with the turn signal light using the stock bolts for the rear screw and the turn signal. For the third screw use the longer one provided in the kit.

As you can see I haven’t bolted the rear nut. In case your previous license mounting bracket was similar to mine (see above) the last frame rail screws did not use any nut from the inside of the fender. So, if you have a similar mounting kit, then buy a couple nuts for these screws before proceeding with the installation…

Next, bolt the license plate mount to the mounting bracket using the two smaller top Torx pan-head screws. To do this use a T15 Torx wrench. This is also a good time to route the new license plate’s light cable through the plastic clips and plug it to the connector where the previous one was.

If your previous license plate mount did not have a light you can use the kit provided wire harness to get a connector for the newly installed light.

And connect everything, test them and then put back the seat.

You can now screw the three button-head screws along with their washers using a No.10 Allen wrench. In case you happen to have a torque wrench you are advised to torque them to 8-10 ft-lbs (10.8-13.5 Nm).

Finally, we have to install the new license plate which should have specific size. Its size has to be 7″ x 4″ (178mm x 102mm). To have as clean look as possible, I decided to use the kit provided 3M stickers you see below.

To install the frame cover locate the two small holes underneath it. Here is a highlighted photograph of one of those holes…

And use the two small Allen set screws to install it…

Here is the end result from the inside of the fender:

Finally, as in most of my how-to posts, here are two photographs before and after the installation of the side-mount license plate kit.

Written by xorl

October 9, 2011 at 13:25

Posted in motorcycles & cars

21 Responses

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  1. hey, nice blog. I was wondering if you still have your old/stock license mount kit.
    Here in canada we’re not allowed to use the side mount kit and they don’t sell the under-fender ones.
    I’m interested in buying them if it will fit my 2012 sportster 48. Let me know. Thanks.


    March 29, 2012 at 10:59

  2. Thanks Andrew.
    I will send you an email.


    April 1, 2012 at 11:10

  3. Iv’e done this today on my ’09 nightster. The torx screws to fit the light will not screw in. They are way too large. I’m sure they are the wrong one’s.Hell of a job. Stripped one of the screws. Had to drill it out. It took about 6 hours in all. The “indicator ” bolt is too short and now has no bolt on it. Is going to need more work. It’s on and I can ride

    Gregory Lynch

    May 12, 2012 at 22:13

  4. I’m sorry to hear that Gregory.


    May 13, 2012 at 21:49

  5. Hey xorl great blog. Got the HD Iron and just tried to do the same job removing UK plate from back of bike. All went well until I put the side plate mount between the fender and frame rail. I found that I could re-attach the rail cover with the screws in kit but the long double threaded screw which attaches the turn signal just didn’t seem to have enough length with the plate mount added….the screw didn’t come through far enough to attach the nut under the fender. Any ideas where I’m going wrong? Thanks

    John Henderson

    June 21, 2012 at 00:33

  6. Hi John,

    The only thing I can think of is not screwing the double threaded screw too far (all of its outer threads) into the turn signal in order to gain some additional space from the inside of the frame rail.
    Hope this helps.


    June 21, 2012 at 18:31

  7. Has anybody else solved the issue with turn signal double bolt bring too short. once it butts up against the rear frame, there is not enough length on the side thats goes through the frame and licence plate holder.
    Thanks 2012 Iron

    Andy B

    July 31, 2012 at 16:38

  8. Looking at the closeup of the plastic/metal bracket where the cables clip through. The hole where the double bolt goes through is recessed on the 2011 model but its flat on the 2012. Maybe wrong, but this might be the reason that the bolt is too short. How much did your bolt tighten on to the nut, was it fully on, or just a few threads on. Thanks

    Andy B

    July 31, 2012 at 23:55

  9. Follow up, if anyone is keeping track….:-) The metal plate on the 2012 is recessed by a small amount, so can’t figure out why the bolt doesn’t fit. I bought a 5/16″ threaded rod that is longer, I will fix a nut part of the way down, that should work. parts on order so not sure yet.

    Andy B

    August 1, 2012 at 23:03

  10. You have to manufacture on for it. Trying to get your hands on non-metric stuff in the uk is possible but difficult. I got a stainless steel bolt and cut the nut off. A little grinding and you’re sorted. You lock tight to make sure it stays put. It a Harley. If it doesn’t work make it work. If this fails,beat the hell out of it with a hammer. This won’t fix it but you will feel a lot better! ;)

    Gregory Lynch

    August 2, 2012 at 12:27

  11. where can I buy this side mount? needed one for
    my iron head 883 2010

    Ryan Joseph de Gracia

    August 16, 2012 at 06:35

  12. Hi Ryan,

    You can order it at any Harley-Davidson dealer. Its part number is: 60972-10



    August 16, 2012 at 10:30

  13. The bolt I manufactured out of 5/6 threaded rod worked perfectly. I glued a bolt with Loctite metal glue part of the way down, so all good fitted and back on the road. The final result looks great, especially as I added the brake light for the chopped fender. One last question to Xorl, the holder moves inwards above 90KM/hr, now is it supposed to do this or do you think its a little loose. Not sure how to tighten it, but will figure something out if its is loose. Thanks

    Andy B

    August 16, 2012 at 14:07

  14. Hi Andy,

    Thanks for the tip with the 5/6″ threaded rod!
    About your question, I went to a lot of rides recently with steady speed of about 120km/h (+/-20) and it didn’t move at all. I suppose that it is indeed a little bit loose.


    August 16, 2012 at 16:44

  15. Thanks for the info Andy, tried it again tonight before looking at this thread and the stock double thread bolt is is definitely too short. Will give this a try!

    John H

    September 3, 2012 at 20:03

  16. Im left with a uneven gap when i put the mounting plate between the Frame rail and fender it doesn’t look flush like the non plate side of the bike
    It’s like the mounting plate is warping the fender
    Help , I don’t want my candy to crack, I want it flush


    December 11, 2012 at 13:29

  17. So in 2012 model it is necessary to build itself a double bolt ?

    seems incredible

    I have the problem of the short double bolt also :(

    I ordered one time in one shop. I think they deceived me.

    Then ordered through other reseller but waiting for arrive.

    If this double bolt ART. 5531 will be equal i will be desperate.

    The weird thing was when i compare original double bolt with new 5531. I measured the same length :(

    So sad !


    May 7, 2014 at 14:56

  18. Have the same problem as Jas, should it be like that?


    March 18, 2015 at 22:34

  19. Hi how do you wire it the plug don’t fit my stock 3 pin as the side plate has a 2 pin plug any ideas please


    May 10, 2015 at 15:56

  20. Hi, could you tell me which harness I need to purchase? Thanks

    Sam Collins

    March 18, 2017 at 13:56

  21. Thank you for this info.. it’s great.. I have the same bike and just fitted mine.. the only part I’m confused with is where it says fit the mounting bracket between the frame and the fender.. before that it says to remove some parts.. frame cover etc.. do I need to remove the plastic inset inside which is riveted on? Even with changing the bolt for the indicator it still isn’t long enough which makes me think the plastic inner part should be removed? Also I had to cut the led wiring as the plug did not fit at all.. any help would be much appreciated

    Thank you



    January 24, 2018 at 11:29

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