blank 05/28/13 08:14AM Custom Bikes, custom motorcycle, guest blog, Harley

Customizing Your Motorcycle
Guest Blog

Customizing Your Motorcycle Is Like Stamping It With Your Own Fingerprints

By Phil West

Harley Davidson motorcycles are practically everywhere. You can Harley bikers dressed up like they are outlaws or pirates or overall mean guys but actually they are just ordinary citizens like you and me who works to earn a living and pay their bills..

Harley is a recognizable brand. They have been around for over a century. That is why Harley Davidson aftermarket parts and accessories have abundant presence. When you want to upgrade your bike depending on the model and year you won't have a hard time looking for particular parts because Harley aftermarket department almost always have it.

Just thumb through an HD catalogue you will see a plethora of accessories to deck out your bike. You will get plenty of ideas and inspiration on how to make your bike uniquely an expression of who you really are.

Half the fun of riding a motorcycle is customizing it. Upgrading is a never-ending process. It can be difficult at times because you will have to spend time removing bike parts in order to install some new parts, but mostly it is rewarding knowing your beloved bike gives you comfort while riding.

Nowadays, customization of motorcycles take on a new and different level. From touring, cruisers, sport bikes, dirt bikes to scooters, each riders have numerous options on how to customize their bikes.
Whether it's your first time to own a Harley bike or you have been riding it for years, you certainly want to customize it from subtle details to large impact changes. How do you want to personalize your bike?

Doing this will get you more for less

Upgrade few but large parts. Those that will have the biggest impact on the bike's aesthetics, functionality and comfort like- saddles, frame, wheels, forks, triple trees, tires,windshields and handle bars. You will decide on the more subtle details like kickstand, highway pegs, black or braided cables and the tiny decorative skull, nuts and bolts after you have done replacing the larger parts.

Planning ahead to avoid this costly mistake

Motorcycle parts are not only the expenses you are going to be making when customizing your bike. Factor in the labor cost as well. For example you want to upgrade your tires by changing it to whitewalls, you have to think ahead if you want to buy new spacers, new rotors and new bolts. And if you want them chromed as well. It is a visual disappointment to see all chromed wheels but the spacers and bolts are stainless steel.
Another example is when you decide to change the handlebar, think ahead if you also want to change the cables, hand grips, hand controls, mirrors and bolts. Think in terms of "groups" so you customize the bike all at once. Plan ahead so the changes can be made all in one-go. No more back jobs and twice labor costs.

So again remember, if you don't want to pay twice the cost in labor do all the changes, upgrades all at one time. It is a waste on time and money if you have to dismantle the parts again because you forgot to add a few details. Be wise. Plan. Do your research.

Customizing ideas for your motorcycle:

1. Have themes or motif when starting to pimp out your beloved cruiser. Do you want super heroes, skulls, Uncle Sam, pirates etc.? Do you want designs on your bike that goes with single color or hard candy metal-flake paint job on your bike? Do you want to replace OEM graphics and decals to your own individual artistic tastes?

2. Another great option for customizing your motorcycle is lowering the suspension to fit the rider's height and seating position especially if the biker is of shorter stature. As it is of great comfort to the biker if he can touch the ground with both feet particularly at stop lights or when parking. Or you may just want to adjust the suspension to give the motorcycle a slammed or squat look.

3. The most sell-able and popular aftermarket item is a custom exhaust system. If you don't like the sound of your stock exhaust system you can upgrade your pipes. Aftermarket pipes are one of the most popular items when it comes to customization It is pretty much plug and play.

If you decide to go full blown chromed exhaust system or maybe just some nice flat-back tips just make sure the style of pipes you want to add your bike is compatible with the bike's lines and curves. A curvy exhaust system on a straight bike lines will stick out like a sore thumb. There are plenty of pipes to choose ranging from: True duals, two in one, stepped headers, slip on mufflers, shorty, fishtail and straight pipes. You can accessorize it with decorative pipe guards.

Stock exhaust systems are heavier and a bit restrictive. If you want to add tree-pulling horsepower to your bike get shorty pipes because this kind will allow more gas emission to exit which consequently gives it more power. The more fancy the exhaust system the less power you get.

A good pipe system will improve your bikes performance, torque, speed, horse power and that distinctive sound it will produce. It will also improve your bikes fuel efficiency by increasing the gas mileage.

There are various brands of aftermarket exhaust systems like Vance and Hines, Cobra, D & D. A custom set of pipes can really make a difference in your bike's performance, sound, overall looks and gas mileage. You can buy custom pipes for your Harley in all shapes, sizes and configurations. They come in chrome, ceramic and black painted finish.

Bike owners typically do a stage1, 2 or 3 upgrades to improve performance. A stage 1 upgrade consists of a brand new Harley exhaust system, air cleaner and remap if it is fuel injected or rejet if its carb. As you may well all know stock Harley pipes are silent, heavier, restrictive and do not flow that well. Get K & N air filter because they last long and flow the best. You get the best bang for your buck.

4. Chrome- Some bike owners can blow their money on having their bike chromed. You can have every nooks and crannies of your bike with chrome accent like handgrips, pegs, trims and handlebars. If chroming most of all these parts is a bit too much for you then by all means get different bursts of color scheme and have them powder coated. It will add another flair to your motorcycle.

5. Headlights-you can add extra light units unto your headlight system to improve your visibility especially when riding at night. Headlight mount kits are readily available on any motorbike. Headlight and tail light visors are available in hooded, round,square, skull or any shapes. These tiny details add a bit of character to your bike.

6. Front fender-you can customize it by painting any style you want. You also add chrome trim to match the front fender.

7. Gas tanks can be painted to match your front fender.

8. Luggage racks-you can install these to fit your bike's requirements and provide space for luggage. You can put any size saddlebags whether hard, detachable, leather, synthetic, throw over, plastic, studded, fringed or fiberglass. It is great to carry personal items such as clothes, camping equipment with you. If your main thing is going on a long motorcycle hiatus then a luggage rack and saddlebags would be a great buy.

9. Mirrors,battery cases, primary covers, oil filler cap, air cleaner cover.

10. Forward controls. They are easy to install. It does not require a lot of your time. They are inexpensive too.

11. Add passenger seat, backrest and sissy bars whether standard, tall or short. So your riding companion feels comfortable while taking long rides with you.

12. Windshields- For hopping around town you need a sporty kind, short but functional. For long tours you need a taller windshield to ward off wind fatigue, bugs and debris.

13. Wheels and tires---you can choose spoked, alloy or solid whether in chrome, black, brushed steel etc. When buying tires always take into consideration the tread type, size and mileage warranty. Look for the safest and most durable tires that are multi-terrain. Opt for black or white wall depending on the style and model of your bike.

14. Add electronic gadgets-intercoms, sound system, GPS systems, video cameras, game systems and communication system.

15. Motorcycle security systems- motorcycle theft is a crime of opportunity. To avoid your prized bike from being pilfered and stolen get hi technology, fool proof motorcycle security system and you wont have to deal with anger and frustration that go with bike theft.

16. Handlebars-you can choose apehangers, mini-apes, drag bars or low rise depending on how your arms stretch forward and what feels comfortable to you. That is why it is advisable to get to know your new motorcycle first. Check how does it ride. Spend some time with it to know what are the necessary upgrades or changes you are going to be making.

The pattern, style and the combination will be uniquely your own ride even though you are buying off the rack modifications,

Harley Davidson Pic from Muscle Bikes of America

Phil West enjoys all motorsports. Read his article on Harley Sportster 883 at his Harley Davidson Accessories Guide blog.

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