Look through any custom motorcycle magazine or website and it’s easy to think that to put your mark on the bike that you own you need to spend thousands upon thousand on your bike to personalize it. But that’s not true, whilst some modifications like heavy duty engine and exhaust modifications which are very labor and parts intensive may be expensive, there are plenty of mods and custom work that can be done that doesn’t break the bank and is in fact very affordable to do.
We’ve listed 10 ways to customize your motorcycle on a budget, that won’t break the bank and will make your motorcycle look the business.
1) Show plates / Custom number plates
Show plates or custom number plates, as they are sometimes known, are a very affordable way to stamp your own personality, loyalties and affiliations onto your bike. A good custom number plate maker, whether they are online or offline, normally offer a wide selection of fonts, backgrounds, borders and badges to choose from. The best number plate makers may even allow their customers to upload or send their own badge design and, in some cases even photos, to give their plates an ultra-personal touch.
This is especially good if you want to show your affiliation with a local sports team, organization or even a photo of your kids on your plates. In many cases, custom slogans can also be added which is excellent for advertising a business or just making a statement that reflects your personality and attitude. An example is below:
Depending on your location the rules surrounding the road legality of show plates vary, with certain countries, such as the UK, having very strict rules regarding number plate fonts and what can and cannot be used on the roads. Therefore you should always double check with your number plate maker, what is and what is not permitted in the country or state your motorcycle is primarily used in. A quality number plate maker should be able to provide you with the relevant information for your area.
Customizing number plates is also a nice way to enhance any expensive or cherished number plates that may be displayed on the bike.
2) Vinyl Wraps
There’s nothing like getting a fresh coat of paint on your vehicle, whether it’s a car or a bike. A slick custom paint job can really help you stand out from the monotony of the stock vehicle crowd, and get you those looks on the street and the likes on Instagram.
While a custom paint job can look stunning, it is still quite expensive, prices for good quality basic tank work can start from $694 (£550) from reputable service providers and go higher into the thousands for more detailed work.
A much more affordable alternative to paying an arm and leg for a custom paint job is to apply a vinyl wrap to your bike. Vinyl wraps are often available in a huge variety of matte and glossy colors and finishes including the weird and wonderful like Arctic Camo for example.
With prices starting from as low as $435.92 (£345) for a full bike wrap, bike owners have a lot more choice to be creative with some very eye-catching colors and patterns like the one below:
It has to be noted that whilst vinyl wraps are very good for personalizing motorcycle bodywork, as with any modification of bodywork, a reputable vehicle wrapper should be used to avoid bubbles, folds and other signs of poor quality work.
A general rule of thumb to separate quality service providers from cowboys is to always check out the businesses online profile, including feedback and reviews on social media sites like Facebook, as well as third party sites like Trustpilot and others.
3) Aftermarket Grips, Brake handles and more
When we personalize and decorate our homes the smallest touches and details in a room can have the most impact and nicely finish off that magazine cover look we were going for.
It is exactly the same when it comes to customizing a bike on a budget, there are a number of aftermarket parts which can be purchased from reputable online and offline retailers such as kapscomoto.com and others.
Some of the more affordable aesthetic motorcycle mods, which add a bit more visual gravitas include aftermarket grips and brake / clutch levers which can come in a variety of different styles and colors to suit and match the look and style of your motorcycle. For example, KapscoMoto.com list a variety of levers and grips on their website including styles such as the spike hand grips below:
And these flame shaped brake and clutch levers:
There also additional novelty items which can be used to replace stock parts such as novelty bolts and foot pegs, all which can be combined to deliver a really personalized look.
4) Wheel Lights
For fans of the Iconic movie Tron, Wheel lights are an excellent way of adding a real “Tron bike” style look to your Motorcycle this works especially well on sports bikes if the lights fixed to the wheels are blue, although a variety of color options and effects are available on the market. Although nothing quite beats the effect of a fast bike speeding past in a blaze of bright blue. A good example is below:
Please be aware that there may be legal restrictions in certain countries and states in relation to external vehicle lighting, for example, in the UK the use of Blue lights are explicitly reserved for the police and emergency services, whilst other colors are permitted. It is always best to check with the local authorities in your area before committing to a specific color light.
Prices for wheel lights start from less than $9.99 which is a very affordable way of customizing your bike.
5) Custom Decals
Although somewhat similar to vinyl wrapping, custom decals can add real character and personality to a stock motorcycle, whether it’s through the use of a humorous image or something to enhance the aggressive look of a bike, like shark teeth for example:
Decals provide Motorcycle owners with the flexibility of adding interesting touches to their bikes without going overly drastic or simply adding specific details like sponsor ads or meaningful numbers.
6) Performance Air Filter
Customizing your bike doesn’t have to be restricted to the external features of the bike only, there are some really good ways of squeezing extra power out of your machine without breaking the bank on incredibly expensive engine exhaust modifications.
One very straightforward way is to replace the stock air filter with a performance filter that allows for improved airflow, and potentially better throttle response or increased BHP. Well-known brands like K&N produce a whole swath of suitable filters for different bike models, so most popular brands and models should be covered.
Sometimes performance air filters come in a cone shape design, this could be combined very well with the Spike style air intake kits available on kapscomoto.com, which provide protection to the air filter whilst also enhancing the look and feel of a bike, especially so on the cruiser style bikes where this type of bike decoration looks the best.
7) Air Induction system
If the power gains from a performance air filter are not enough, then the next step up is a full blown air induction kit. An Induction kit combines a performance air filter with additional parts to force cooler air that is further away from the engine into the combustion chamber of the bike engine, resulting in a much more efficient fuel burn that yields more power and also in some cases fuel economy.
It is recommended that you send information of all mechanical modifications to your insurance company as it may result in an adjustment to your premium, failure to disclose such modifications can result in your policy being declared void.
8) ECU Remapping
Remapping the ECU or “chipping” as it is also known, is an excellent way to increase the power, performance and economy of a motorcycle without actually making any mechanical modifications, although it can be combined with other mechanical modifications should they be present.
The ECU controls many of the key elements that determine how efficient a motorcycle is and its level of performance. By modifying or remapping the ECU its is possible to adjust the settings for both better performance and economy, this is because in many cases these factors are not determined by physical restrictions of the engine or another mechanical element of the Motorcycle, but rather the restrictions are put in place by the manufacturer such as maximum speed limiter for example.
Whilst an ECU remap is an effective modification it is not an overly expensive one, with costs in the hundreds as opposed to thousands.
9) HID Bulbs
Swapping stock Halogen headlight bulbs for High-intensity discharge (HID) lights also known as Xenon lights produce a very intense bright light as compared with the traditional halogen counterparts, this not only improves the road visibility for riders with HID bulbs but also makes their bikes especially noticeable at night.
Whilst halogen bulbs are more commonly found on bikes, there are plenty of cost-effective and affordable HID conversion kits available on the market for motorcyclists. Although you must check the regulations surrounding HID conversions on vehicles in your country or state, for example in the UK most HID conversions can lead to an MOT failure.
10) Tinted Windscreen
Customizing your motorcycle by tinting your windscreen is an excellent way to complement the body color of your motorcycle as well as being a practical way of reducing glare from the sun. With the vast variety of different colors available and the relatively low cost of screen tinting film, it is relatively easy to do a DIY tint.
Although tints can be applied to all types of motorcycle or scooter, reflective or polarized tints tend to look the best on Sports Bikes, whilst darker gradients tend to look good on most different types of motorcycle.
Written by Hamid Shah a regular petrol head and technophile on behalf of the UK-based online show plate maker Angel Plates