Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Customize your bike

by Rocky Marks
This is the time of the year where the service departments and parts and accessories departments get really busy. Not only does the changing weather bring warmer temperatures and sunshine, it ushers in a whole new season of bike night events, car cruises, and parades.
Many motorcyclists go to these events to see the latest trend in motorcycle accessories. It’s one thing to look at them in a parts catalog, it’s something else to see them on an actual motorcycle. Even though your motorcycle is a reflection of your personality many motorcyclists go with what’s “current.”
The chrome and gold “Live to Ride and Ride to Live” badges once proudly displayed on the derby covers, visors, and mirrors of Harley-Davidsons for the last ten years are making way for the latest trend in dressing up your ride.
The new “chrome” is black. Yep, black. Even though I haven’t given up chrome entirely, I’ve been using much less lately. In ’06 I had a dresser that had every piece imaginable. It was almost hard to tell what color the bike was underneath all of the chrome. Now that bikes that aren’t as flashy, are gaining in popularity, I kind of like where the accessories are going.
Don’t get me wrong, I will still accessorize my bike. That will never go away, but the manner in which I dress up my bike has changed. When thinking about what accessories I want, I try to ‘begin with the end in mind.’ (That’s a term from Dr. Stephen Covey in his book “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.”) It makes sense.
As I take a look at my 2009 Ultra, I ask myself the following questions: Do I want to improve a functional aspect of the bike? Do I want to improve performance or do I want to change my bike’s appearance? Those are the three main modifications that one can make to their motorcycle.
I’m actually pretty satisfied with the stock Harley-Davidson’s performance so I can rule out any engine modifications at this time. I just came off of a bike that had thousands of dollars in chrome, so I think that I’m going to lay low on this one. The one area where I think I’ll make a few improvements is in functionality.
In my opinion, the stock Harley-Davidson touring models come with windshields that are just a few inches too high. I like to look over the windshield rather than through it. So I’ll get a smaller windshield. I like back support, so I will add a rider’s back rest. I also need a place to stretch my feet for those long highway rides, so I’ll put on a set of highway bars, and the only other thing I’d add is a luggage rack to go on the Tour Pac. (It’s great to see the looks of people as you unload your entire shopping cart into your bike at the grocery store.)
I think that’s the best way to go about accessorizing your bike. Think to yourself, what am I going to be using the bike for? Is it for showin’ or goin’? Based on that, you can pretty much narrow down your parts and accessories wish list.
I would definitely start out small. Pick one aspect of your bike that you’d like to improve and make incremental changes when possible. This will help you avoid making serious mistakes that will be difficult (and expensive) to correct.

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