My 2-up luggage rack dilemma

With the purchase of the much needed detachable two-up luggage rack (54215-09) I ended up in a situation that required a choice between options that are or seem equally unfavorable or mutually exclusive, a dilemma. I knew I would have to cross this bridge from the first day I saw a Road King Classic, but how best to solve the issue, without moving the bike into “illegality”, had to be addressed right now.

Harley-Davidson’s advertisements are optimized, painting a ideal world of ideal products, but can you spot what is missing on this picture of the detachable two-up luggage rack?

Exactly… where is the bloody huge yellow number plate? Please believe me, this original Harley-Davidson luggage rack does not grant you the license to drive without a number plate, you will loose this argument with the friendly police officer or UK MOT technician.

Here is how my Road King looked with the rack and original number plate

Outch, the plate was too large, and the rear red reflector even raised it more. The plate had to be bent backwards and will surely break within the next 100 miles and damage the delicate chrome of the rack.

I was facing 2 problems: the size of the number plate, and the location of the required red reflector. It is my understanding that the actual size and shape of the number plate is not regulated, only the size of the font, i.e. the height of the letters and numbers.Theoretically you could paint your car yellow and glue black letters on it, or shape it rund, like some Lexus and old Rovers have

The same applies to the rear red reflector, also called catseye, their size and shape seems also not regulated, just the requirement to have a red one to be seen at night without any electric lights on.

Some bikers just glue a small round sized reflector on the back of their bike, and report no problems. But is this a solution or just some dodgy DIY job to please the authorities?

I decided first to reduce the height of the number plate, very slightly, without noticeably changing the font size, by reducing borders and removing all advertisement, fitting all on a 7 x 5.5 inch plate. The original plate was 9 x 7 inch.

Then I removed the red reflector, which finally gave me enough space to fix the new plate below the luggage rack – onto the original number plate holder.

Yes, this picture still shows that my accident damage from when I was hit by a Land Rover, is not yet repaired. Most parts are at the dealership, but the (painted!) rear fender and left saddlebag takes some more time.

And the red reflector? I could glue one onto the number plate each time a MOT is required, but another solution is already on order with Harley-Davidson, and it is called a Rear Fender Tip Light (59685-10). This (expensive) addition will hopefully please every MOT technician and pass as the required rear red catseye.

After a car run into me from behind and I ended in a ambulance, I am happy to be a bit more colorful at the back of my Road King. That is also why I use smoked turn signal lights at the front, but kept the original amber ones at the back. The front view is now in simple dual-color tone black and silver, while the rear is – as legally required – very colorful with black, silver, red, amber and yellow parts.


One Response to “My 2-up luggage rack dilemma”

  1. What a palava. I have just got my 2003 RK through the MoT yet again. Everytime I just cable-tie a reflector to the standard chrome rear mudguard stay to get it through, then cut it off when I get home. I have red reflective tape tailored on to my backrest, which does a better job than the reflector, but this is not MoT compliant and anyway I often ride single-seat. What a LoB!

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