Customizing on a budget: Making a bike unique without breaking the bank

Publish Date: 
May 20, 2014
By Bruce Steever

WHILE SOME customers might be perfectly happy with their new motorcycles, the majority of buyers won’t keep their machines stock for long. For most riders, customizing is an ingrained part of the two-wheeled lifestyle. But at the same time, because so many bikes will have aftermarket parts added at one point or another, customers often find their unique new rides look just like everyone else’s.

Customizing doesn’t have to mean $40,000 choppers or wild one-off sportbike builds by big name celebrity builders, but it shouldn’t just be a bunch of me-too bolt-on accessories, either.

But most owners aren’t Jesse James or Roland Sands; they don’t have the time, money or skill required to create a custom machine from scratch. So help your customers find that custom touch they’re looking for without the headache, and take their bikes beyond the usual pipes, chrome and bolt-on standards.

For sportbike riders, performance is a strong driving factor, but style is often just as important. Adding a truly different look takes more than a slip-on muffler and a windscreen, so something like a new graphics package makes quite an impact.

To do so without resorting to expensive paint and design work, graphics are now available as complete wrap kits from companies like Factory Effex and Bikeskinz. Factory Effex kits retail for $249.95 and include fairing upper, lower, fuel tank, nose cowling, front and rear fenders, and swingarm pieces to add a completely new look to the machine, with design options including Rockstar Energy, various in-house designs and the ever-popular screaming skulls style. Bikeskinz retail at the slightly higher price of $399, but offer a much wider variety of baseline options, plus the ability to customize graphics packages to varying degrees. Both options will set a bike apart from the crowd.

On the performance side of things, both sportbike and cruiser riders can benefit from improved chassis components, such as new suspension or wheels, but these big-ticket items can be a tough sell. By comparison, braking improvements offer real advantages to any rider, feature friendlier price tags and can give a bike a big boost in performance, style and street cred.

Galfer USA provides all three with its range of Wave Rotors and braking components. In addition to the performance benefits of stainless steel lines (reduced swelling for improved pressure and response, improved durability, custom-fitted per application), Galfer can produce lines with a variety of outer sheath colors to match nearly any paint scheme, with a full set of lines retailing for around $150-$200. And Galfer’s patented Wave rotors (priced from $140-$330) offer greater benefits, with each laser-cut rotor offering improved cooling for consistent braking response. Plus, they look really cool, and that’s enough for many riders to step up, whether they ride Harley, metric sportbikes or most anything in between.

A similar strategy can be applied to get maximum style for riders looking for the “slammed and stretched” sportbike look. Instead of making the leap to a full custom swingarm for several thousand dollars, C&S Customs creates a range of bolt-on swingarm extension blocks that provide the strength to handle drag racing abuse while providing a quicker and easier path to the long-swingarm style.

And if you want to really see style, check out the latest C&S extension application: the Honda Grom 125. For $355 (plus a longer chain and brake line), your customer’s Grom is ready to turn even more heads.