Everyone loves a brand new bike – but we also know there are some things you need to get it looking and sounding right before you really start throwing some miles on. We put together this list of all the essentials for you…so let the modding begin!
Taking a brand new bike home from off the showroom floor is one of the biggest thrills you can get as a rider! The tight, solid feel of a brand new machine, the smell of fresh rubber and factory lube, the odometer in the single digits…all are awesome things about a getting a new bike, which is a feeling most of us only get to experience a handful of times.
But as sweet as it is to take home a flawless new motorcycle, there are also all those annoying things about brand new bikes that get under riders’ skin…things like that weak exhaust note, a big, ugly rear fender, protruding turn signals, and more. There are a handful of things most riders will do to hook up a new bike, so we put all the most popular ones in one place.
We know you’re itching to get that first round of parts to personalize your ride, so browse through these motorcycle improvements and get started!
- Exhaust System – Unleash your new bike’s sound!
- Air Filter – Let your new exhaust breathe
- Frame Sliders/Crash Bars – A lot cheaper than fairings or an engine case
- Fender Eliminator – Streamline your bike with sleek license plate/signal kits
- Battery Tender – Take care of your battery, and it will take care of you
- Windscreen – Get that wind out of your face
- Tires – Just cause your tires are new doesn’t mean they’re good
- Flush/LED Turn Signals – Stock signals are ugly and can damage your bike
- Swingarm Spool/Sliders – More protection, and they help with maintenance
- Professional Suspension Setup – Everyone’s different; get your bike dialed in to you!
- Bonus – Stands; they make owning a bike so much easier!
One of my favorite exhausts ever – the Vance & Hines ‘Big Radius.’ These bad boys are loud!
This isn’t the cheapest or most common mod that most riders do; but I’d make a bet that it’s the one they’re usually most excited about! An exhaust looks cool and unlocks some power, but most importantly, unleashes the loud roar that gives every bike its personality.
This is a mod that is pretty universal among riders too; from rumbling American V-twins to screaming Japanese 4-bangers, every bike on the road just seems incomplete without an aftermarket exhaust to let that signature sound rip! Installation is usually pretty simple; even an amateur wrencher can install most systems, which makes this mod one of the all time favorites for new bikes.
Shop almost 200 different exhaust systems here!
A K&N air filter on an HD V-twin. Looks better, and performs better.
Accompanies your new exhaust system by letting your bike breathe easier. After all, your exhaust will never give you the extra power you want if you’re not getting extra air into your engine to create it. Nice aftermarket filters like K&N are more expensive than the stock paper variety, but they pay for themselves over time; they can last tens of thousands of miles with proper maintenance! If you’re going to invest in “the last filter you’ll ever need to buy,” it may as well be a performance one, right?
Frame Sliders/Engine Guards
Frame sliders are meant to protect your frame; but they can save your fairings too!
Engine guards can save your engine, frame and more…plus they look badass.
Frame sliders are a simple add-on that helps keep your frame away from the ground in the event of a crash or tip-over. They’re sturdy and solid, and some models stick out just far enough to protect your fairings from touching the ground too. OEM bike parts are a lot more expensive than plastic frame slider replacement pucks, so consider these some seriously cheap insurance!
Engine guards serve a similar purpose for cruisers and Big Twins, putting a protective bar of steel in between your bikes big engine and the ground if she should go down. Scratches on these would be a bummer…but scratches on your engine case or tank would ruin more than just your day. Again – cheap insurance that every bike should have.
Fender Eliminator Kit
A fender eliminator kit replaces the ugly stock fender, and really cleans up the rear of your bike.
This is probably the most common mod of brand new bikes, and with good reason – stock fenders are bulky, ugly, and really screw up the otherwise sleek look of your motorcycle.
Budget e-Bay models might just be a plate bracket without a license plate light or turn signals, but you lose a lot of function with them and they are probably illegal. Quality fender eliminators account for that, and either include or relocate all your stock lighting to keep you from ridin’ dirty and getting unwanted attention from the law.
(Do some research on your local laws before choosing a kit; placement varies between designs, and so does their legality.)
A simple battery tender comes in super handy, and its the easiest installation you can imagine.
Every year, we sell hundreds of batteries to riders who are replacing a battery that should’ve still had a lot of life in it. Don’t let this happen to you – invest in a battery tender to keep your battery topped off and in peak condition! Hey, I know its not one of the most exciting mods, but it will prevent that dreaded “click” when you’re geared up for a ride and your bike won’t start.
This is one of the simplest mods you can do too. Just unhook the battery cables, and slide the connectors to the tender plug onto the battery posts, then reconnect the battery cables like normal. Put the end of the tender plug somewhere its easy to access – under the passenger seat, for example – and voila! You’ve got an easy way to plug your tender in when you put your bike away after a ride.
A sweet club-style windshield from Memphis Shades; looks cool, and changes air flow.
A windshield is another one of those parts where OEMs will generally just slap one on there that will do the job of getting the bike out the dealership door. Unless you ride a naked bike, you probably have some sort of basic windshield on your motorcycle; from the tiny screens on sport bikes, to huge ones on big tourers.
But there are so many different styles that direct air flow in different ways, and depending on your height, the speeds you ride, and your personal taste, you’ll want to change the stock shield out for something more suited to you. Many riders opt for a smoked or tinted windshield for a more custom look as well.
If you bought a bike with a small windshield, or one that directs the air right into your face, you’ll love getting rid of all that turbulence and having a smoother, more comfortable ride.
Note: If you’re one who films your rides, you’ll find that a lot of aftermarket windshields, especially ones made of acrylic, have much more optical clarity than OEM ones do. This can help a lot if you mount your camera where it’s looking out through your windshield. You can generally count on any name brand aftermarket part to have more clarity than the stock piece.
This is what you do with stock tires. When you’re done, put some good ones on there!
We know what you’re thinking: “But my tires are brand new, why waste money on new ones?”
Here’s the thing – OEM’s put the majority of time, energy, and money into crafting frames, powertrains, suspensions…things at the core of the bike’s design. Knowing that tires are a wearable item, and that tires are a very personal choice based on terrain and riding style, manufacturers often just put a simple general purpose tire on it out of the factory. This is far from ideal for you and your new bike.
Tires are a huge part of your overall riding experience, and give the bike a lot of its handling characteristics and personality. With a little research, you can find a great tire that will totally transform the riding experience on your new bike. And hey, you can even sell the takeoffs to offset some of the cost!
BikeBandit is known for having the biggest selection, best prices, and the fastest shipping on motorcycle tires on the web. We make finding the right tires easy with our Tire Picker Tool – check it out here!
Flush/LED Turn Signals
Flush turn signals are brighter and look better…plus they help you go 0.0001% faster.
Just like with exhausts, OEMs put a ton of effort into designing sleek, beautiful bikes…then they’re forced to put on funny looking turn signals sticking several inches out the sides to comply with DOT regulations. But those ugly stock turn signals that come on most bikes are one of the first things many riders get rid of!
It’s not just all about looks either. If your bike does happen to take a spill, the turn signal stalks can punch a hole right through your fairings, making the damage a lot worse! In addition, most flush turn signals use bright, fast-illuminating LEDs that can actually enhance visibility, even though their profile is a lot smaller. Again, check your make sure they comply with local regulations.
More cheap insurance, and an easy way to lift your bike on a stand (Photo cred: R6-forum.com)
Similar to frame sliders, swingarm sliders put a piece of plastic willing to sacrifice itself for the sake of your swingarm between your bike and the ground. Like frame sliders, these are more cheap insurance, but they serve another purpose as well – their shape allows them to double as spools that you can use to lift the bike with a rear stand.
You don’t need these to lift your bike, as many stands come with pegs you can use to lift the bike from the swingarm itself; but believe me, using spools is a much safer and more secure option, and will never damage your swingarm.
Professional Suspension Setup
Not a “mod” per se, but definitely one of the most important – but most overlooked – ways to get any motorcycle dialed in to you.
Motorcycle suspensions are nothing like suspensions in cars. The ratio of your weight to the weight of the bike is much larger than it is in a car, so getting your settings correct for your weight is much more important. Doing this is crucial to handling, ride quality, and even safety…but so few people do it!
Invest a little bit of money into getting your suspension set up for your weight, and how you ride, by a pro shop. This usually just involves setting sag, compression and rebound settings so they match and are comfortable for you.
Bonus – Stands
This BikeMaster roll-on stand is a lifesaver, and perfect for any style of bike.
A motorcycle stand of some sort is one of those things you don’t realize the importance of…until you actually have one, and see how much easier it makes life.
If you have any smaller bike, like a sport bike or a standard, check out a rear stand. Popping one of these under your swingarm lifts the bike up, making it easy to do any chain maintenance like cleaning/lubing or adjusting chain slack. Getting your bike standing straight up makes it a lot easier to do any work on the bike too. Even washing and detailing is easier!
If you have a bigger cruiser or touring bike, you should check out a front wheel chock-style stand. One of these makes a great place to park your bike; you just roll right into it and it keeps your bike standing straight up, taking up less space and making it easier to work on and clean.
Whats the first mod you did, or would do, on a brand new bike? Tell us in the comments below!