We all know that not every modification to a vehicle is beneficial or worthwhile. There are plenty of ghastly modifications out there to cars, trucks and motorcycles. We’ve even blasted all the terrible ones before. When it comes to motorcycles, modifications can be especially tricky.
Maybe it’s because of the size of motorcycles or the fact that the rider is hanging out in space while driving, but motorcycle modifications can go wrong pretty quickly. Sometimes with terrible results. That said, the right modifications can work wonders on a bike. Here are 10 decent motorcycle modifications worth considering.
10. Upgraded Windshield
If there’s one part of a motorcycle that is neglected, it’s often the windshield. Most people tend to think of the visor on the motorcycle helmet as the windshield. No matter what, the rider’s head is going to be above the bike’s windshield. For this reason, most motorcycle manufacturers give scant attention to the windshield, preferring to slap on any old thing that will help get the bike sold. Windshields vary greatly – from tiny screens on sport bikes to huge ones on big touring motorcycles.
In reality, windshields on motorcycles matter a lot, since they direct air flow around the bike and can result in drag if not aligned and installed properly. For these reasons, as well as aesthetics, you’ll want to change the stock windshield out for something more suitable. Keep in mind that a tinted windshield provides a more custom look.
9. A Motorcycle Stand
The goal with a motorcycle, at all times, is to keep it upright. That means while driving and also while it’s parked. This is where a decent motorcycle stand comes in handy. A motorcycle stand protects a bike and the investment you have made in it. While most motorcycles come with some sort of factory made stand, they are normally pretty flimsy and often unreliable.
People with a smaller bike, such as a sport motorcycle, should consider purchasing a rear stand. A rear stand is sturdier and more reliable. It also lifts the bike up, making it easy to mount, start, and do any chain maintenance needed. Washing a motorcycle is even easier with a rear stand. For large touring motorcycles, consider a front wheel stand. You can drive into it and it keeps the motorbike standing straight up.
8. Fender Eliminator Kit
Most young motorcycle riders purchase a fender eliminator kit before any other modification. This is because the fenders that come on new motorcycles are often bulky, ugly and generally ruin the appearance. But be careful when installing a new fender on the rear of a motorcycle. Some cheaper models don’t properly relocate the tail light or rear turn signals, and this can get bikers in trouble with the police.
Quality fender eliminator kits factor in the rear lighting and relocate all the required lights, ensuring that a bike complies with the law. Be sure to check the laws in your area before choosing a fender eliminator kit so that you are sure to get a safe and reliable one. Also consider having it professionally installed by a licensed mechanic. This is the best way to ensure that the fender eliminator kit is on properly and safely, and won’t cause problems down the road.
7. Frame Sliders
Frame sliders are like roll bars for a motorcycle. They help keep your frame away from the ground in the event of a crash or if the bike accidentally tips over. These simple and inexpensive modification can save big bucks if your bike ends up on its side. Get a decent set of frame sliders that stick out only far enough to protect the motorcycle’s fairings from touching the ground at all.
Some frame sliders are made of cheap plastic and do little to actually protect the motorcycle. Spend a little bit of extra money to get a decent set that will actually do their job and protect the motorcycle. It’s the cheapest insurance money you’ll spend on your bike.
6. Air Filter
Standard air filters on motorcycles are, well, standard. An upgraded air filter can do wonders in terms of helping the engine’s performance. Decent air filters help the exhaust system on a motorcycle breathe and enable the engine to ramp up and perform better. A well-ventilated exhaust system is required to get extra air into the motorcycle’s engine and help it perform at an optimal level.
Really good aftermarket filters aren’t cheap, but they will pay for themselves over time as most last tens of thousands of miles. Despite the outlay of cash, you can’t go wrong with a performance air filter for your motorcycle. It sure beats the standard filters in bikes – some of which are made of flimsy paper. Sad but true.
5. Battery Tender
Motorcycle batteries are somewhat notorious for dying on their owners. The batteries tend to become drained over the winter months when the bike is sitting idle in a garage or shed. As a result, batteries that should last many years tend to only last a couple of seasons. However, there is a way to avoid this problem and save yourself from having to splash out on a new battery every 24 months or so.
It’s called a battery tender, and it keeps the motorcycle’s battery topped up and in great condition after every ride. Easy to install, the system requires only that you hook a couple of cables to the battery and then plug the tender in when the motorbike is resting in a garage. Great for use over the long winter months and when the motorcycle has been put away for the season. It’s not a glamorous modification, but a practical one that will keep your bike revved up and ready to go for many, many years.
4. Turn Signals
The turn signals that come standard in most motorcycles tend to stick out and come off the side handlebars of the bike. This can make even the sleekest motorcycle look dorky. Plus, turn signals that stick out on a motorcycle can become a hazard in the event of a crash, making the damage to the bike and rider a lot worse.
For these reasons, many owners ditch the standard turn signals and opt instead to have custom turn signals installed that are flush with the motorcycle and do not stick out at all. Flush turn signals also tend to come with brighter and more visible LED lighting that makes the motorcycle safer when driving at night. Other motorists can see these LED signals more clearly even though they are flush with the side of the bike. Flush turn signals will need to be installed professionally, but for many owners this is an investment worth making.
3. Engine Guards
Engine guards aren’t necessary for every type of motorcycle, but they are recommended for larger touring motorcycles and cruising bikes. An engine guard basically protect the bike’s engine in the event of a crash or spill. They consist of large bars of steel that separate the engine from the ground should the motorcycle go down. This can save big bucks on repairs if you are unfortunate enough to flame out on your bike.
Engine guards take the brunt of a crash, and it is better to have the guards scratched and damaged than the motorcycle’s engine. As with the frame sliders, think of the engine guards as an additional insurance policy for your motorcycle. The money you spend mounting the engine guard is tiny compared to what it would cost to replace an entire engine after a nasty wipe out.
2. Professional Suspension
If you really want your motorcycle to perform optimally and to respond to you with pinpoint accuracy, then you need to get the suspension professionally adjusted. That is, get it tuned so that it responds to your exact weight and body type. Keep in mind that motorcycle suspensions are radically different than the suspensions found in cars. Because of the size of the bike, the ratio of your weight to the weight of the bike is significantly larger than in a typical car. For this reason, it is important to get the suspension set correctly for your weight and overall size.
A professional suspension that is configured to you will improve the motorcycle’s handling, responsiveness, braking, and the overall ride quality. You can bet that you’ll enjoy driving the motorcycle a lot more with a professional suspension adjustment. A mechanic can set the sag, compression, and rebound settings so they match you, providing a comfortable experience.
Most motorcycle manufacturers put a generic, multipurpose tire on the bikes they make. That’s because the tires wear down, so manufacturers don’t invest a lot in them. Unless, of course, it is a custom made bike. For this reason, you should consider getting new tires on your motorcycle – ones that suit the terrain and weather conditions where you live and will be riding. After all, tire type can greatly affect the motorcycle’s handling and the quality of the ride.
Getting a set that works for the environment where the bike is being used means moving away from generic tires and going custom. The good news is that you can find and order tires online, and you can sell the tires that originally came with your motorcycle to help offset the cost of new ones. There’s also lots of information available on the internet to help you find the perfect tires to go with your make and model. With the right tires attached, you’ll be riding off into the sunset on your bike in style.