There's more to seating position on a Harley bagger than comfort. You have to feel confident as well; confident in the fact that when it comes to unloading your bike off the kickstand, your footing and balance is in check so you don't flip right over to the other side. Having solid footing is important when it comes to stops as well, especially when loaded or carrying a passenger. One slip of the foot or an unsettling move by a passenger and a simple stop could turn into a very dangerous situation. Unfortunately, not all of us were born with the inseam of an NBA starting center, and while the height from the seat to the ground of many of the Harley touring models isn't significant, it's great enough to put those with shorter inseams in some peculiar situations.
After Harley redesigned its touring frame in 2009 and came out with a two-piece design, Fat Baggers Inc. (FBI) saw it as an opportunity to provide riders with new seating geometry without the extensive task of having to cut or weld the frame. Creating its own rear sub-frame, FBI offers Drop Seat Kits for '09-later Touring models in either a Drop Seat Narrow or a Standard Drop Seat. The Narrow version is intended for riders with shorter inseams as it puts them closer to the ground and, as the name implies, is narrowed to provide additional clearance for the legs. The Standard kit is intended for taller riders as it sets lower into the bike than stock, but also further back so they can stretch their legs. The kits come with a new sub-frame, seat, side covers, battery box, and longer electrical connections/mounts. Both kits start out at $1,995.95 and are available with painted side covers and/or different seating options for additional pricing. Installation is pretty straightforward and only requires basic handtools. However, if you catch FBI doing installs at one of the major rallies, you can pay an additional $300-$400 (depending if the bike has ABS or not) for them to install the kit.
We ran into John Curry at the FBI booth this past year at the Sturgis Rally. John had just purchased a brand-new 2012 Electra Glide Classic from the Black Hills Dealership (no really, the bike only had 158 miles on the odometer) and while he loved the bike, he just didn't feel completely safe handling the 900-pound bike with the stock seat height and his short inseam. Measuring in at 5 feet 7 inches, John decided to spring for a Narrow Drop Seat Kit to give him better footing and stability when stopped.
01 Here are the components of the Drop Seat Kit: new seat, sub-frame, side covers (these are unpainted), fuse box, turn signal module mount, and extended battery/ground cables.
02 The FBI sub-frame features all the same bungs and mounts as the stock unit so it can easily be bolted in place. Additional/new tabs were added to help relocate/secure items such as the TSM, ECM, and coil. From the side you can see where the dropped section comes into play lowering the overall seat height. The new sub-frame also has the battery tray incorporated into it and orients the battery lengthwise in line with the frame.
03 To get started, FBI tech Jim Oaks removed the stock seat, then had to disconnect the wiring to the rear fender, and Tour Pak. He also had to disconnect the battery, ECM, and air lines to the shocks.
04 After removing the tour pak assembly, fender strut side covers, and saddlebag support assembly, Jim was able to remove the fender bolts and the fender.
05 The stock plastic fuse tray was removed since it will be replaced with a new billet box.
06 Jim then removed the top shock bolts followed by ...
07 ... the remaining sub frame mounting bolts. There were three on each side of the frame, two up top and one down below.
08 Here's what the rear of the bike looked like once the sub frame was completely removed.
09 The new sub frame comes with tabs to mount the coil, so Jim removed the stock coil mount.
10 He then removed the stock plastic battery box assembly.
11 Next, the coil was secured to the front of the battery box. In order for the posts on the coil to fit through the stock holes in the underside of the frame, the coil had to be mounted upside down. This tab (arrow) is where the TSM will be secured.
12 The TSM fits into this new mount and the bolt at the bottom slides into the hole in the tab specified in the previous caption and gets tightened in place with a supplied nut.
13 The new sub-frame was then maneuvered into position ...
14 ... and bolted in place. Jim made sure to use red thread locker and torqued the bolts to spec.
15 The ECM was plugged back in and secured to the inside of the right side of the sub frame.**
16 Jim then plugged the coil wires back in.
17 This is the new billet fuse box that comes with the kit.
18 The fuse tray was slipped inside the new box, then the box was secured to the left side of the frame.**
19 After installing new (longer battery/ground cables), the battery was installed. Jim then began reassembling the rear of the bike, by securing the top of the shocks ...
20 ... and installing the fender bolts and saddlebag supports.
21 Since the top rails of the new sub section are much lower than the stock, the top mounts for the saddlebag guards (arrows) don't match up to the frame any more. Therefore each side had to be cut off.
22 FBI offers these chrome caps that fit over the cut end of the saddlebag crash guard. Of course if your bike doesn't have the crash guards then there is no need to cut anything.
23 The battery cables were then connected ...
24 ... followed by the shock airlines. Jim then reinstalled the Tour Pak followed by the fender strut covers.**
25 The stock rubber side cover grommets were then pushed into position and the new side covers were installed.
26 After about four hours, Jim secured the new seat into position and installation was complete.
27 Here's what the bike looked like with the new Drop Seat Kit installed.**
28 And here is bike owner John with his feet firmly planted on the ground. In its stock form John wasn't able to securely place both feet flat on the ground. The kit lowered the seat height a good 3 inches and narrowed the front of the seating area, which helped give him a more stable base when stopped. It's now definitely a much more comfortable and safer ride for John. B