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A sissy bar is a bar fitted to the seat of a motorcycle or bicycle that allows the rider or passenger to lean backward against it while riding. Sissy bars come in different sizes and styles and can vary greatly by the type of bike. The sissy bar is also referred to as a passenger backrest.
On a cruiser-style motorcycle, a sissy bar will typically be attached to the rear fender struts. A sissy bar is often made of a steel and has a padded back for the rider or passenger's comfort. On a touring motorcycle, the backrest is generally shorter and simpler. Some low sissy bars, which are not high enough to be leaned on but are designed to be held onto, are known as hand grips.
The sissy bar can also be used to attach items, such as a helmet or a sleeping back. Sissy bar accessories, including bar bags and backpacks, are sold by motorcycle companies such as Harley Davidson. They are specially designed to be attached the sissy bar of a motorcycle, and are often made with a cyclist's needs in mind. This may include special, easily accessible side compartments to hold water, maps, or other important items and documents. Custom made sissy bars can be several feet long, and designed to serve as mounts for flags or other objects.
For a bicycle, a sissy bar is a narrow, metal bar in the shape of an upside U that is attached to the back of the seat, generally a banana seat. It allows the passenger on a bike to have something to lean back on or hold onto. It also acts as a kind of roll bar for a rider who is riding alone, preventing them from sliding too far backward.
These types of sissy bars on banana bikes were especially popular on children's bikes in the 1960s and 1970s. A sissy bar would generally come much higher than an ordinary backbar, which served only to hold up the seat. Though not especially safe, the sissy bar was often used as a backrest for passengers on banana seats.
For some, the sissy bar is a key component of style for motorcycle or bicycle. Elaborate sissy bars can be installed to customize a bike. Others prefer to use a removable sissy bar, allowing them to go without when riding alone.