A Beginners Guide To Modifying Your Bike
So, you've got yourself your first set of wheels (woop woop!) It's only natural to want to customize the hell outta 'em, for both cosmetic and comfort reasons. Modifying bikes might seem intimidating and not totally newbie-friendly, but today I'm going to walk you through some quick and easy mods that are so simple, even someone with no experience can pull them off.
That being said, I would like to preface this post by saying this: If you don't feel confident attempting any of these mods yourself, please do not feel pressured to do them! There’s a lot of resources online that can help you, but if you’re feeling totally out of your depth you can either ask a friend with experience or take your bike to a garage to have parts fitted. Take it from me, it’s much better to do it right the first time and usually saves you a lot of tears in the long run!
I figured I’d start this list with one of the quickest and easiest mods for your motorcycle: changing your handlebar grips. A fresh set of grips is an inexpensive way to improve both the look and feel of your bike and can be fitted in just a few minutes (with a little bit of know how). Personally, I like the Biltwell Rubber Grips. They come in a bunch of different sizes, colours and finishes and at around £19 a pair you can’t really go wrong.
Before you get started with installing your new handlebar grips, I’d highly recommend checking out this video from Revzilla: https://youtu.be/bg4-fJNWoiU
It’s also a good idea to have a look online for any information you can find about changing the grips on your particular make and model of bike before you start this project. As Lemmy explains in the video above, some bikes can require a little more work than others. But if you’re reading this and you own a 125, it should be relatively straightforward.
I don't know if there's an unwritten rule which says that stock bikes must come with dorky mirrors, but it certainly feels like it. Luckily for you, changing the mirrors on your motorcycle is one of the easiest mods out there. Most bikes will come with mirrors that you can simply unscrew and replace with a new set which are more to your taste. Alternatively, you may decide to opt for some bar end mirrors. These ones are just as easy to fit, as long as you buy the correct size for your handlebars. Simply pop off the metal bar ends from each side of your handlebars, slide in your bar end mirrors and secure into place.
Before you get started, check out this mirror installation video from XLMoto: https://youtu.be/DyoiEQWj8-I
Top tip: If you’re opting for bar end mirrors, ensure to test the throttle on your bike before and after the installation and compare. If the throttle feels at all different after you’ve installed the mirrors (slow to release/stuck in one position etc.) try loosening them slightly. If the issue persists, seek some professional help. Do not ride your motorcycle if the throttle is in any way inhibited.
Seats are another stock part which (on the whole) absolutely suck. You may not notice it at first, but head out on a long road trip and you’ll soon realise that you’d appreciate a lil’ bit of extra cushion in the butt department. Luckily for you, seats are soooo easy to change over. All you’ve got to do is pop the existing one off and then click the new one into place. There might be a screw here and there depending on your motorcycle, but it literally takes seconds to fit a new seat. The hardest part is choosing which one to go for! Whatever you do, make sure that the seat you buy is designed to fit your exact make and model of motorcycle for a perfect fit.
Now on to my favourite category… exhausts! 💨 Not only will a new exhaust transform the look of your bike, but it’ll also give it a brand-new sound (and maybe even a little more oomph in the power department too). Just to be clear, I’m going to talk about slip on exhausts here rather than a full exhaust system which is much more complicated to install. Slip on exhausts are just as easy to fit as they sound, simply unscrew a few bolts to remove your existing end can, then fix the new one into place. It really is as simple as that.
When choosing your new exhaust, you’ll need to make sure that the one you’re buying is designed to fit your make/model of motorcycle. Most retailers have search options on their websites where you can enter your bike details, and they’ll show you the various available options. If not, check the specs online and ensure your bike is listed as one of the models that the exhaust will fit before buying.
You’ll also want to have a little look on YouTube to see if you can find any videos of your potential new exhaust, so you can get a feel for how it’ll sound and look when it’s actually on your bike. For me personally, I’m all about the sound (loud pipes save lives) so that’s what I look for in a slip-on exhaust. However, you might be more interested in performance or aesthetics, so you should do your own research to see which exhaust is going to be right for you.
Top tip: Don’t sell or scrap your stock exhaust end can (unless you absolutely have to). If you want to sell your motorcycle in the future, buyers tend to look for bikes with all the original parts. This goes for just about everything, so try to hold on to all of your stock parts if possible.
Now onto another love of mine, luggage. Why do I love luggage so much I hear you ask? Well once you’ve figured out how to carry a good amount of luggage on your bike, the world really is your oyster. Not only does it make your motorcycle much more practical for day-to-day riding, but it opens up the possibility for long road trips, camping, you name it!
I recently installed a sissy bar (with a luggage rack) onto my motorcycle, and its made a huge difference. If you’re used to riding around with a rucksack on your back (like I used to), you’ll probably be familiar with the back/shoulder ache that you experience after a long day’s riding. But now that I can strap a bag onto the back of my bike, my back ache is finally a thing of the past.
I’m not going to delve too much into all the different types of luggage you can get for your motorcycle (because there are literally hundreds of different options out there and this post would go on forever), but what you can get will very much depend on your specific needs and the type of bike you have. Like everything else on this list, you should do a bit of research to figure out what’s best for you.
That being said, there is one luggage product on the market that I think every biker needs in their lives: ROK Straps. Take my word on this one, these straps are amazing. Specifically designed with motorcycles in mind, they won’t scratch your paintwork and can secure just about anything to your bike. I literally don’t go anywhere without them now! They come in all different shapes and sizes, but I recommend the 60”/25mm for strapping stuff to your bike.
You can find ROK Straps here: https://amzn.to/3uJUx4O
Alrighty then ladies, I think that just about wraps this one up for now! Good luck with all your mods, I’d love to see your pictures so please tag me on Instagram with #ridelikeagirl.co and until next time... stay safe and happy riding!