How-to: Install Side-Mount License Plate on a Harley-Davidson Sportster
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
Time: 1-2 hours
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.