Simple Steps to Trick Out Your Motorcycle
Motorcycle enthusiasts love riding the roads for hours, the wind in their faces and the miles both ahead and behind. Sitting in the saddle of your motorcycle can be your favorite place in the world. Whether you’re a weekend warrior or a hardened commuter, chances are you want more out of your bike than simply stellar performance on the road. You want it to stand out.
Some motorcycles are totally tricked out: low-riders with handlebars so high they look impossible to steer (also called “ape hangers”); sport bikes with super-low windscreens to create a streamlined moving bullet; and huge trikes with extra-fat tires. Each of these unique rides are often one of a kind and fit their riders to a tee.
Customize Your Bike
What can you do to trick out your ride? The answer is: pretty much anything you like. Motorcycle manufacturers and aftermarket suppliers sell a wide variety of parts, from cube light cages and extra-long footplates to gold trims and carefully crafted sprockets. But before ordering anything, look at other bikes or go online to get some ideas.
Motorcycle USA organizes an annual Ultimate Builder Custom Bike Show where you can see some of the world’s best bike builders’ babies. It’s a great place to gain insight on what’s possible and what you’d like. In addition, Build Your Bike offers a fun, though limited, free online tool to customize your virtual bike and see what all these customizations might look like on one bike.
Once you have an idea of what you want, here are some pointers to get you started.
Prepare Your Bike
- Get the manual. Make sure you consult your owner’s manual before changing anything on your bike. It typically contains valuable information on essential parts, as well as how replacement parts affect things like engine performance or suspension. If you don’t have the manual, contact the dealer or manufacturer for a new one.
- Be safe. Always keep safety in mind when customizing your bike. If you’re not sure how something will affect your motorcycle, or you’re not confident about the technical aspects, talk to your mechanic.
- Remove stickers. All new bikes come with warning stickers on various parts. Assuming you understand what the stickers are for, removing them is a good way to strip your bike down to a clean palette. First, spritz the sticker and surrounding area with a spray lubricant, then carefully heat each sticker with a hairdryer until you can peel it away. If there’s any residue, use warm, soapy water to wash it off.
Choose Your Style
- Determine the look you want. This is where the fun starts. Do you want a retro look? A subtle customization? A wild, pimped-out chopper? Consider some suggestions:
- Remove all emblems and fill in the seams. Even if you only want to make some slight changes, removing brand names can be key to making your bike unique.
- Get after-market chrome. You can get anything from bolts to exhausts in pretty much any color or metal you like, but chrome is still a favorite among bikers.
- Replace your exhaust system. TT exhausts, double exhausts, high exhausts: Each one gives your machine a totally different look. Browse different models to see which you like best. Bear in mind, however, that replacing the exhaust can affect performance, so refer to the manual and, if necessary, let a licensed mechanic do the heavy lifting on this one.
- Get a custom paint job. There are body shops that specialize in motorcycles where you can get any type of paint job you want. Get a bold color, have your name painted on your bike, or even design a paint job to match your tattoo… or vice-versa.
- Customize the seat. Check out different types of seats. The winner of the Ultimate Builder Custom Bike Show 2012-2013used a round wooden seat on his bike. Use your imagination!
- Steampunk it up. Combine brass, copper, chrome and retro elements with chunky bolts and custom sprockets to get a steampunk look.
- Engrave it. Have your favorite design engraved on chrome parts, like this notable entry in the Ultimate Builder Custom Bike Show 2012-2013.
A word of advice: When you customize your bike, you change its value due to added parts. Make sure to save all receipts for insurance purposes and consider aftermarket coverage that can be tailored to your needs.
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