A Sturdy Mean Streak Backrest and Luggage Rack

An Alternative to the Fire and Steel Backrest

Fire and Steel Backrest
If you have a Vulcan Mean Streak (2002 - 2008), you'll find that the options for a made-to-fit backrest are limited to the Fire and Steel backrest. Though this one works great, there are a few issues:

  • They're hard to find
  • They can be expensive if you do find one
  • There is no luggage rack available to fit them
  • And, maybe, it's a little shorter than you'd like

Additionally, the existing luggage rack options for the Mean Streak either a) rely on the stock strut covers and won't work with saddle bag brackets or b) mount to the helmet lock brackets which aren't exactly sturdy.

So where can you turn if you want a sturdy backrest/luggage rack setup? E-Bay, of course! Or, more specifically, Honda. It happens that the Honda Shadow VT600C and VLX600 (1999-2007) backrest fits just fine on the Mean Streak if you're willing to drill just one hole in each side.


What you Need:

  • (1) Backrest mentioned above
  • (4) 8mm x 60mm bolts, preferably chrome round-head socket bolts but stainless steel looks just as good. If you can't find them locally Amazon has some.
  • (4) spacers. If you already have the Fire and Steel backrest or billet strut covers, you can use the spacers you already have. Otherwise see below to make your own.


How to Do It

Honda backrest on a Mean Streak
This sample shows the installed backrest using the existing rear bolt holes. New holes were carefully drilled in the front of each bracket to match the mean streak's bolt pattern.

Mock up the installation by removing the rear fender bolts, inserting the spacers and bolting the backrest in place loosely. Adjust the backrest to your desired position, see where the holes should be drilled and mark them. The holes should be 8-10mm diameter, 119mm center to center.

Drill the holes from the outside ("good" side) to minimize the appearance of any flaking chrome. To make sure the brackets matched, I first drilled one bracket, then matched them up good side to good side, clamped them, and drilled the second.

Some of these are on Amazon, but check Ebay and you might find a better price.


Making the Spacers

If you don't already have a Fire and Steel backrest or billet strut covers, you'll want to make some spacers between the backrest brackets and your frame. As you can see, the rear struts are countersunk to accommodate the original bolt heads.

The spacers don't really need to be this exact shape, but here's the one included with the Kawasaki backrest and strut covers:

A nice, thick bushing that's about 7/16" O.D. and 5/16" I.D. (for an 8mm bolt) should do the trick.

Share It

This is awesome! Just ordered the backrest off ebay for $45. Also have some quick release brackets on the way for the saddlebags. This was just the setup I was looking for! Thanks!
Excellent, that's exactly what I did, used Ghost/Edge/Easy brackets (can't remember which) and it's been working great.
Also how big were the spacers you put between the frame and the backrest?
I'm also thinking instead of just drilling holes in the backrest I was going to drill slots so the backrest could just slip on and off by loosening the saddlebag bolts instead of completely removing them. What do you think of that?
I like that idea and was also thinking of options. You'll want a way to lock it in place, so a HD kit might work. Amazon has some: https://amzn.to/2Zjf8vb. In conjunction with the removable saddlebags it might get more complicated though, and you'll need a good flat surface which the stock strut covers don't provide (but the backrest does).
Also do you remember how long the bolts are that go thru the quick release into the frame?
Good point. I updated the article with a pic of the OEM spacer and the bolt info. To use the removable saddlebag brackets, add the thickness of the mounting piece, in my case it's almost 20mm thick so I used 8mm x 80mm bolts that I got from Amazon: https://amzn.to/2HodNgy. I couldn't find them locally.