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With 573,000 new motorcycles sold in 2015, there’s pressure to make your motorcycle stand out from the crowd. The best way to make your bike your own is through motorcycle mods.
It can be tough deciding where to start though. We’re going to show you some the best motorcycle mods to stand out and improve performance.
1. Exhaust System
Changing out the exhaust is not one of the cheaper motorcycle mods, but it is one of the most popular. With a new exhaust comes a cooler look, a little more power, and a great new custom sound! And as many bikers say, loud pipes save lives.
This is also one of the few universal motorcycle modifications that all kinds of bike owners will do. Whether the ride an all American chromed out cruiser or a Japanese sportbike built for speed, a new exhaust should be top on the modification list.
Doing the installation is pretty simple as it only requires minimal experience with a wrench. Start the search by looking at and listening to other people’s exhaust systems to find the look and sound that you find desirable.
To install just remove the old exhaust. Double check clearance before installing the new exhaust. Confirm that the new exhaust isn’t too close to tires or wiring. The heat your new exhaust gives off may damage both.
2. Air Filter
If more power and better performance are a priority then the changing out the exhaust alone isn’t enough. The air filter controls the quality and volume of air entering the engine.
K&N filters are more expensive than the stock paper filters but are worth every penny of the investment. With proper maintenance, a high-quality filter can last tens of thousands of miles.
This is the most common material used for air filters in motorcycles. It’s a type of compressed paper that has been pleated.
It’s denser and thicker than typical writing paper. There will be multiple layers or a maze for the air to be filtered multiple times before reaching the engine.
Usually, foam filters are found in more premium motorcycles. The foam is a polyurethane that has been given an oil bath.
The oil catches the bigger debris while the foam catches the smaller particles. The foam has an elastic quality that leads to better performance in high-velocity engines.
Cotton filters are not used in newer bikes. Cotton filters were used in older bikes before the technology of paper and foam were developed.
3. Frame Sliders/ Engine Guards
Frame sliders and engine guards are intended to protect your frame. They can also protect your plastics too.
Frame sliders are seen on sports bikes. They can be found on each side of the bike towards the front in the middle of the main side fairing.
Engine guards are typically found on cruisers. They are a large metal frame that will be two loops on either side of the bike just in front of the foot pegs.
If you are new to riding then investing in frame sliders is a must. It is not a question of if, but when you will drop your bike.
Having frame sliders on the bike when this happens means it can be picked up and everything is fine. Without them, new plastic fairings will be needed to replace the scratched and cracked ones.
There are two styles, cut and no cut kits. Cut kits require the fairings to be cut for them to be mounted, and this makes them more structurally sound. No cut kits on the other hand don’t require cutting your fairings, but can be weaker and susceptible to bending.
Longer sliders will hold the bike up but are more likely to get caught on obstacles or even the road. Shorter sliders will still protect your bike, but be less likely to hit the road on track days.
Don’t go to the track? Then it shouldn’t affect the motorcycle which size is chosen.
Choose a low friction material that is durable and resilient. Synthetic polymers are the way to go as they perform the safest by absorbing some of the kinetic energy.
Sliders that are aluminum, chrome, and the like are not low friction. They will also not absorb any of the energy that is transferred to them. And definitely do not buy carbon fiber! There is no resilience to carbon fiber. They will shatter apart when they hit the ground.
Look for a quality product from a reputable company. It is not wise to buy cheap sliders from online auction sites. This is doubly true with seller who have few reviews or a short history.
Do not buy thin sliders that attach with just one bolt. These will most likely rotate upon impact and the bike will still hit the ground.
4. Fender Eliminator
This the first mod that everyone who buys a sports bike will do. Stock fenders are bulky and ugly.
A cheap model will just include a plate bracket. This might not be legal for local laws. So check your local regulations before you go this route.
A quality fender eliminator will account for potential loss of functionality. This means they will come with wiring for turn signals and license plate light.
This can be a beginner friendly mod with an OEM compatible plug and play model. Just remember to confirm it’s compatible with the bike model.
5. Battery Tender
Keep the battery in top condition while it is in storage or parked in a garage by hooking it up to a battery tender. This mod isn’t one of the sexiest out there but will prevent that dreaded “click” sound.
Make it even easier to use by wiring the battery tender hookup right into the bike. Anyone can do this mod making it one of the best motorcycle modifications.
Unhook the battery cables and slide the connectors from the tender’s plug onto the battery’s posts. Then reconnect the battery cables.
Tuck the tender plug somewhere hidden and out of the way on the bike but still easy to access. For cruisers, this is usually in the space under the seat.
For sports bikes, hide it under a fairing. When the bike is parked, just connect the battery tender to the installed tender plug.
This mod does more than just change the look of the bike. Manufacturers do not invest a lot in this part, which leaves owners with a less than desirable one.
Sports bikes have very small windscreens. It’s important to find one that directs air around the rider, and not directly into the face.
Cruising style bikes tend to have much larger windshields. Choose one that works well for the rider’s height and style.
Almost all windscreens whether sport or cruiser are held on by a few bolts. They can easily be loosened with an Allen wrench or screwdriver.
The old windshield slides out and the new one slides in. Then just tighten the bolts back down.
Manufacturers are designing motorcycles, not tires. The tires are a huge part of the performance of the bike though.
Changing the tire that is put on the bike will change the handling, performance, feel, and overall experience. Tires also need to be bought with the terrain and climate in mind.
Just like with car tires, there are tires designed specifically for hot and cold climates. There are also tires designed for pavement, gravel, and everything in between.
8. Flush/LED Turn Signals
DOT regulations require manufacturers to put turn signals on that stick out from the side of the bike. This is generally considered ugly and one of the first items changed.
Most flush turn signals will use LED bulbs. This makes them brighter giving the bike enhance visibility.
To do this mod the fairings will need to be removed to take the old turn signals off. Once the old ones are off, the new lights can be plugged in and screwed on.
As with the fender eliminator, the state laws should be checked before doing this modification. Also remember that while smoke lights are cool, they may not be the safest.
9. Swingarm Spool/Sliders
A swingarm slider functions very similarly to a frame slider. When a bike tips the swingarm slider will protect the swingarm (back end of the bike) from hitting the ground.
The sliders will also do double duty. They can be used to help lift the bike with a rear stand.
The spools aren’t required to use a bike stand. They are much more secure and reduce the risk of damage over using the pegs on the stand.
10. Professional Suspension Setup
This is one of the best motorcycle modifications that can be done to improve the performance and handling of a motorcycle. Unfortunately, this mod is often overlooked by some riders.
Motorcycle suspensions are nothing like the suspension you find in cars. The weight ratio on a motorcycle is much larger on a motorcycle than a car.
Invest money in having a professional set up the suspension to match the rider’s weight and ride style. The settings for the sag, compression, and rebound will be adjusted to maximize comfort for the rider.
Show off Your Motorcycle Mods
The best place to show off motorcycle mods and get ideas for new ones is at biker events. Whether its a local bike night or a national event, there will be plenty of owners willing to share their experiences.
Start with the affordable and easy modifications like the fender eliminator and battery tender. Then do the flush turn signals and windscreen. Then do the suspension and exhaust last. If you need ideas, check out the biggest motorcycle events to get ideas for your next mod.
Finally, keep in mind that mods should be done for your personal benefit as a rider. Most modifications will not increase the resale value of your motorcycle. And try to remember this when you go to to sell your motorcycle. That way you’re not as disappointed when a buyer doesn’t value your motorcycle mods in the same way you did.