Harley-Davidson Customizing Guide: Improve the Function of Your Motorcycle

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Harley-Davidson Customizing Guide

You can’t mistake a Harley Davidson for any other bike on the road. They’re big, bold, and brash. And with a history dating well over a century, they’re the oldest company in the business.

This is a testament to the iconic status it endures among bikers, and no other brand can compete.

The appeal lies in bikes that are laid back when you want them to be, or give you all the power with a slight flick of the wrist.

Models seemingly unchanged for decades speak of this timeless allure, even for the pedestrians amongst us, and yet the company has managed to innovate, conceiving two-wheeled marvels well ahead of the times.  

Individuality is what entices first-time buyers. That and the thrill of owning a bike that is an extension of yourself.

More parts, both genuine Harley or aftermarket, are available for Harley Davidson bikes than any other bike maker.

Bikes can be ridden unchanged straight out of the showroom, or modified to any extent. Don’t like the look of the handlebars?

Get customised bars in the materials, styles, and finish you want from hundreds of suppliers. Need a bigger seat or some extra padding?

Swap it out, and enjoy miles of endless comfort. Want more push from the throttle? A few mods and you’re cruising way past the speed limit.

Producers of aftermarket Harley parts have recognised the love bikers have for their bikes and have poured a lot of effort into bringing out products that improve on near perfection.  

Customisation Options 

To list all the changes you can do to your bike would be almost impossible. Literally, anything can be changed.

With six different families of bikes and trikes, both new or old, there are millions of parts on the market.

You can add a little comfort or convenience in longer rides, swap out parts that look better, or increase horsepower and torque figures to rival sports bikes.

In fact, no two Harleys are the same. And each is a reflection of its owner.

Comfort and Convenience 

You can handpick the seat with your new bike, or get an aftermarket seat. Materials vary, but leather is the most common choice, with vinyl for those looking for more durability, especially in the rain.

Vinyl also tends to last longer in direct sunlight. Comfort levels depend on the padding and design. Foam offers a good balance, not too firm or too soft, but you can also choose seats with gel padding.

Bucket seats look good on the bigger tourers, like the Glides, but maybe overkill on the Street models. Choose a seat in the right width to avoid cramping in longer rides, and of the right height.

Also, tend to passengers with matching pillion seats and adequate padding. Handlebars are just as important as seats.

Get the handlebar that is not too high, with wrists positioned roughly below shoulder height. Numb fingers and hands are the results of anything higher.

If you like the look of tall bars, get higher ape hanger bars or install risers on what you’ve already got. Also, consider the width of the bars.

Wider handlebars give you more leverage in corners. Designs vary, and besides ape hangers, you can get drag bars, T-bars, tracker bars, and many other designs.

These can sweep towards you, or are straight.  

For better footing, there are heaps of options with different footpegs. The right length and width help in properly distributing your weight and balance in cornering. 

Bikes can be equipped with different audio kits. Speakers, speaker grilles, and amps won’t look out of place on the bigger bikes.

And these too come in different designs and finishes. You can also add CB antennas and mics, charging ports, and phone holders.  

Styling 

If the paintwork on your Harley has sustained a few chips, you can always touch up the imperfections with custom paints, brushes, and pens.

Alternately you can get a whole new paint job. This is where things can get messy, and cost you a pretty penny.

Custom paint jobs are offered by Harley Davidson UK, but the limited-edition packs cost nearly as much as the Standard Softail. If you’re set on new paint, choose a respected shop.  

All Harley parts can be changed for a different look. Chrome accents and details can be added to mirrors, radios, fuel caps, front and rear wheel nuts, water pump and oil cooler covers, skid plates, air intakes, you name it.

If you’re not a fan of chrome, get the parts in black. You can also add nameplates with the Harley logo.

Bigger changes involve the wheel fenders, bigger spoked or alloy wheels, changes to the fairings, and black or chrome exhausts.

Performance Upgrades 

Newer bikes like the Sportster with the liquid-cooled 1250cc V-twin engine churn out roughly the same bhp and torque figures as the legendary air-cooled Milwaukee Eight Screamin’ Eagle 131 engine with 2151ccs.

Roughly 120 bhp in both bikes, but the bigger displacement bike gets better low-down grunt. You feel the torque pushing harder the more you turn the accelerator.

These are bikes that you might not want to modify.  

As for other bikes, you can do different stages of engine tuning. Stage one involves changing the exhaust and air intake to get cooler air in and prevent unwanted airflow restriction.

You can choose ‘2 in1’ exhausts for twins which integrate the separate header tube into a single, wide end collector.

Alternately, ‘2 in2’ exhausts just include wider, straighter piping for each tube. Either way, you get a few more horses.

Mufflers can silence the typical Harley rumble and are required in restricted zones. Combine new exhausts with bigger air intakes for cleaner air, and more of it.

To calibrate the mods, an engine remap is done. 

Further up, a Stage 2 tune involves cam changes, which either produce more low-down torque or more power higher up in the rev range.

You can also increase displacement figures by going for big bore cylinders and modified pistons to get an extra 35 percent increase in power.

This squeezes in more air and fuel, meaning faster acceleration times. The last change to the internals means changing out the cylinder heads and throttle body for the biggest air and fuel mix possible.

A bike with a four-stage tune will be quicker off a standstill, accelerate faster, and have a higher max speed.  

You can customise your Harley for better looks, more functionality and comfort, and of course, speed. Source your Harley parts from certified aftermarket dealers or direct from Harley Davidson UK.

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