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The 10 Most Important Modifications You Can Make To Your Motorcycle: Part 2

Creating A Better Bike � One Step At A Time

In part one we discussed seats, brake, bars, tires and suspension . Now we move into practical modifications you can do with your lighting, windscreen and beyond.

  • Upgrade Your Lighting and Add Modulators � Here's an area manufacturers don't want to spend much money in. Simply put a DOT-approved headlight and tail light on the bike and ship it. But there's quite a bit of technology around today to help you see further and be seen.

    The list is long with all the headlight modifications you can make. You can upgrade your bulbs to HID, you can add auxiliary lights and you can insert a headlight modulator into the harness to grab drivers' attention. You don't have to settle for what shipped on the bike.

    For the tail light, you can modify it as well with a deceleration warning unit that pulses your brakes when you initially engage them. You can add on LED accoutrements and inset LED lamps into some luggage on the market.

    David Hough makes a good argument for adding LED lights to the rear in line with the brake lights. Do you want to trust one lamp in the casing you can't see behind the seat to tell the driver behind you you're hitting your brakes. Well � what if it burns out? Then what?

    Anytime you upgrade your lighting, be sure to pay attention to how much additional draw you're pulling on your electrical system. LED's hardly draw much additional power, where as an auxiliary pair of running lights on a smaller bike may all but drain your battery in the first few miles.

  • Replace Your Windscreen � If your bike has a windscreen, chances are there are some optional ones made for it, either by the manufacturer, or by an aftermarket company such as Givi. But before you replace the windscreen, ride the bike for several hundred miles and see if the turbulence is truly annoying. If it's not � don't replace it.

    In the case of my bike, it was, and interestingly enough Yamaha made a larger replacement for it that got the job done in toning down the turbulence.

    On one of my other bikes, it had a third party larger windscreen attached when I bought it used. Fortunately, I was provided the original windscreen during the sale. I rode the bike around and was incredibly annoyed at the turbulence. I removed the third party screen and replaced it with the stock screen. Much better.

    The lesson learned. Go ahead and try a new screen if you like, but keep the original handy in case it's the better of the two.

  • Add The Right Luggage � It's easy to add the wrong luggage, but dialing into what's right for your bike and style of riding is bit more of an art.

    If you're riding around with a 100 liter duffle bag lashed to the back of your bike with a rubberized net, you have probably not dialed into the best luggage scenario for you and your bike. You need to consider how accessible items are during the day, where they are situated, how well suited the luggage is to bumps in the road and what kind of surface areas you'll be riding on.

    Honestly � an Ortlieb marine dry bag lashed to the back of a dual sport with a bungee net is about as practical as trying to find an upscale sushi restaurant in Baker City, Oregon. Keep digging!!! You're better off with an option like hard boxes or a multi channel soft bag unit that connects to the bike with a D-ring system and will better distribute your gear and provide easy access to the things you need during the day.

  • Re-Paint Your Bike � It's your bike and you're gonna have to live with it. Did it come in a color your really liked? If not, repaint it. I'm not a fan of adding chrome and pin stripes and all the little fancy leather and bell things you can put on a lot of bikes, but if it's just downright ugly, do something about it. Whoever dreamed that metallic midnight blue was going to look nice on a bike. Not me, but when that was the only color I could get my Yamaha in I took it. Then I fixed. As a tribute to the Yamaha racing team, I painted it a two-tone yellow over black. And it's a bit more viable as a result.

  • Lose Some Weight � There are a ton of Kevlar replacement parts for bikes that will lighten the weight of the bike substantially. But if you aren't some skinny jockey-sized rider already, dropping 10 pounds or more of your own body weight will be a better addition to your bike than any space age fantastic-plastic add on.
  • PT/Winter 2010


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