Mounting an EZ-Pass toll reader on my Honda Rebel 250

Recently, I found out that motorcycles get discounted tolls with an ez-pass. Huzzah!

EZ-pass was really frustrating via snail mail so I headed over to their NY office in Whitestone, Queens. It’s a traffic jam. I waited over an hour to get my EZ-pass. After a sweaty morning, I finally got a discounted tolling solution.

Some people forgo mounting and use plastic holders or clamps on the handle bar. Other riders just keep it in their jacket pocket to activate when appropriate. And some just let the license plate read since it bills all the same. I wanted to avoid any bureaucratic headaches with license plate reading or forgetting to take my EZ-pass on a trip (which defeats the purpose).

Onward to mounting it on the bike: I wasn’t too confident with the 3M tape mounts that they provided. Having a piece of plastic roll under my front tire at 70 mph isn’t also my idea of fun...so hello zip ties!

Finding the right position to place the EZ-pass can be a bit annoying. I wanted somewhere secure, still readable by sensors, and not staring at me in the face. The top right area over the Honda plastic black box engraving on the front fork worked best for me. I get extra long zip ties and wrapped them around to secure it. I’ve tested it at highway speeds without any movement or wiggling. In addition, the sensor read great at the Whitestone bridge.

Finally, long distance trips here I come!

Installing an aftermarket driver back rest on a Honda Rebel 250

If you are looking for more comfort out of your Honda Rebel, I recommend purchasing one of these back rests. Okay, I admit it, I was jealous of my passengers! How come they can get a nice backrest/sissy for their journeys and I’m stuck with straining my lower back?

I did some research on eBay and came across a small company named Grasshopper that makes aftermarket driver back rests for various motorcycles. In addition to an easy installation, the back rest is removable with just a tug on the rest.

The instructions were terse and included a grainy photo for installation. I thought I’d also document the install on my end along with some notes on quirks along the way.

To begin, remove the back seat by removing the small two bolts in the rear. It will require some handy work if you’ve installed a sissy bar like me. Once you wiggle it out of the housing, remove the bolts holding down the front seat. Take the metal housing piece from the driver seat and align it accordingly on the bolts. The shape should be extruding with the piece rest against the driver seat.

When installing it, make sure you install it tight and snug. Otherwise, it will be difficult installing the back seat again. Work progressively, slowly tightening the bolts in and adjusting the position of the bracket flush with the driver seat. Once you tighten in, reinstall the back street. It will require a little bit of pressure, don’t be shy!

Now, take your driver back rest and check the angle of the metal insert. Remember, don’t jam it in the housing. Just slip it in straight down with the angle of the driver seat leaning back. With a nice snap, it should sit their snuggly.

I love the removable aspect of the driver back rest, just in case you want to snuggle close with a passenger :) One thing that people don’t note is the vibrations you initially feel. It’s kind of like a mini massage for your lower back. Once the housing settles into place though, the effect is less pronounced and you get used to it.

The build quality of the Grasshopper back rest is excellent. Excellent stitching, comfortable padding, and a strong power coated black gloss metal housing bracket and insert. Highly recommended.

Replacing the rear lights is a wiring nightmare on my Honda Rebel

I know, I know, I’m new to motorcycle maintenance. I thought I could do all the fixes myself. But triaging wiring harnesses to install new lights was NOT on the top of my list.

I bought some cheap aftermarket rear lights on Amazon, thinking, “Oh, this should be just plug in play, like installing a bolt.” I was dead wrong.

First, I disassembled the existing housing of the lights. This required some ambidextrous moves with the rear fender, a flat wrench for the nut, and a socket wrench for the bolt. After a good 5 minutes, I was able to disassemble the light cluster.

I don’t know what the engineers at Honda were thinking when they designed such floppy, failure inducing rear lights. The rubber stem doesn’t provide enough support for the heavy lights. As a result, duct tape has become my friend.

The wiring is where the real nightmare begins. There is a tail light wiring harness located under the rear fender, housed in a dusty rubber pouch. I detangled the cables and disconnected the bullet connectors. With no labeling and limited lighting, you have to rely on trial and error to determine the light.

Another issue, I connected my aftermarket light, only for the blinking action to not work. Looks like I also need a relay to enable the blinking switching. Sigh.

Coming from the world of plug and play, macgyvering solutions on a motorcycle requires a lot more patience and ingenuity. Still, keep on marching.

Installing a passenger back rest/sissy bar with a luggage rack for Honda Rebel 250

I love the unique experience of carrying a passenger on my motorcycle. I feel like I'm taking them on a journey that is so involved with all of the senses. Man and nature are fused into one...

But with the Honda Rebel 250, the passenger experience can be a little bit uncomfortable. It can put a serious strain on your back. In addition, I wanted to be able to carry some items. I really was missing my scooters little driver trunk space.

So I did a little search on eBay for some aftermarket sissy bars. I came across this awesome, well built three piece set. It includes a backrest for your passenger with a (relatively cheap) foam and faux leather backing, a luggage rack, and the bracket to install it on the side struts on the rear fender.

Even though the instructions were not included from the package, it was easy to figure out.

First, I recommend that you assemble the pieces all together before you put it on the bike. Trust me, it makes it much easier. You’ll need a hex screwdriver to fit the pieces and a phillips screwdriver for the back rest. Tighten them with a snug fit, leaving no gap between the metals. I layered the pieces with the back rest inside and the luggage rack outside, placing the rear fender mount in between. For the back rest, I had to drill holes in the plastic housing. Align it first, measure twice, cut once, etc. 

To install on the rear fender, use your existing bolts or purchase a M8 x 40mm screw with washer and nut as well as an M8 x 16mm screw, with washer but no nut needed, a set for each side. Then, it's a matter of tightening the bolts. The service manual does not indicate the torque value so use your best judgement. It may feel a bit tight screwing the bolt in but take your time. Don’t over tighten the bolt!

Once you’ve got it on, it should be rock solid. I was able to carry 30 pounds of items using ROK straps (never use bungee cords with luggage racks unless you want a stressed and snapped wire at 80mph…).

And the verdict from my passengers? They LOVE IT! They feel a lot more secure and comfortable riding on the back. I recommend it if you want to take your passengers out for journeys longer than 20 minutes.