Top Down Products
Roto-Plate starts at $279
Roto-Plate Jr. starts at $229
I’m puttin’ down the road on my custom bike, not a care in the world. All of the sudden I see flashing red lights in my rearview mirror. I quickly assess my situation. I’m wearing sunglasses, my customized 2007 Softail Custom is inspected, I didn’t just race through a school zone, I am not sporting apes in a no-ape state and a simple glance at the speedo shows that I am within the prescribed speed limit. I don’t get it. A moment later, I realize I have been stopped for (gasp!) displaying my license plate in a vertical mount—not in the horizontal mount as specified by law. I don’t understand exactly why this constitutes a crime, but I take my ticket and wish I had never gotten that custom mount for my plate. There has got to be a better way, and let’s face it, some law enforcement officials have too much time on their hands.
There are some states that place a heavy concern on whether your license plate is mounted horizontally or vertically. If your bike has been even a little bit customized, as most are, you may have a vertical mount. If you do, you may be risking enforcement action in your home state, or the state the big rally is in. You may wonder how to stay legally compliant and show off custom touches at same time. I have found the answer, and it is called the Roto-Plate, manufactured by Top Down Products.
The Roto-Plate is a fixed-mount plate that can be rotated and locks into position in one of several orientations—horizontal, to be legal, or vertical to be stylin’. Not wanting any more tickets, I thought I would give the Roto-Plate a try. I contacted the owner, Dennis Sauro of Top Down Products, and we had a good conversation about his product fulfilling a specific need for the custom builder or customizer. The value of a product is not all about the dollar if it fills the need and is a quality product at the same time.
Along with the ability to horizontally or vertically (or anywhere in-between) rotate and fix the position of the Roto-Plate, the product has several other features. It includes a very bright LED brake, running and license plate illumination with a central wiring channel to prevent damage during rotation, is made of billet CNC-machined aluminum and is available in chrome, gloss black or flat black powder coat, or unfinished. The Roto-Plate mounts to the lower shock mount, or you can purchase the product with an optional mounting kit, depending on the model of your bike. The Roto-Plate Jr. has all the features of the Roto-Plate with the exception of the brake/running light or license plate frame.
Since my Softail is black, I decided to install a gloss black Roto-Plate Jr. to match my bike (I opted to forego the brake/running light feature). I did, however, want my license plate lit, so I also chose the LED license plate frame for an additional $35 (you can use your own license plate frame if you prefer). There are two mounting options for my bike. I could choose the axle mount, or mount it to the swingarm tube. Thinking ahead, I decided to go with the axle mount (this option is an additional $20). That way I have a place to mount a small swingarm bag on the left side of the bike, and the plate will not be in the way. Note that there are other mounting options for other Harley models.
When I got the assembly unpacked, the quality was quite apparent. There is nothing flimsy about this product. The fit and finish is top-notch. The instructions are complete and clear. If you tinker with your bike at all, you can install a Roto-Plate. However, since I was having a new wheel and tire installed at Tramontin H-D in Hope, New Jersey, I decided to have the boys in the back install my plate as well. The most difficult part is getting power for the light. The rest is simple and straightforward. For my selected install options, we removed the cotter pin from the axle nut (castle nut), removed the axle nut, replaced it with a new castle nut from the kit, torqued it to spec and installed a new cotter pin. We then bolted on the plate adapter, installed the plate arm, ran the wiring through the wire harness, installed the plate and rotated it to the desired orientation.
Once the Roto-Plate is installed, you will not be disappointed. You can tell at a glance that your hard-earned dollars were well spent on this product. You can go to the show or park on Main Street USA and display your bike with the plate rotated vertically. A quick change to horizontal before riding off, and you will be ticket-free (for your plate, at least).