Harley-Davidson Motorcycles

9 Ways to Customize Your Motorcycle

You’re standing at the dealership. You’ve just signed the papers on your shiny new, straight-from-the-factory motorcycle. You grab the handlebars, try out the seat, and know there’s only one thing to do next…start changing things. There’s nothing wrong with a stock bike, but with so many ways to make your motorcycle uniquely yours, most bikers don’t wait long before making a few (or a ton of) modifications.

 

1. Chrome

This is the most common aftermarket accessory added to motorcycles, and with the obvious bling it adds, it’s literally not hard to see why. Almost any part of the bike can be chromed from front wheel spokes to tail lights.

2. Exhaust

The most popular custom feature after chrome is the exhaust pipes. Nothing beats the sound of your own custom pipes as you ride through town. Harley-Davidson offers several custom exhaust systems, and when used in combination with intake, it can add torque and horsepower as well as great sound. Although you might not be on the best of terms with your neighbors if you ride your motorcycle to work at 5 a.m. Other popular name brands include Vance & Hines®, Rinehart, BUB, Thunderheader, Patriot, Kuryakyn®, Bassani®, Python, Road Burner, Samson®, Klock Werks,Santee, SuperTrap, Cycle Shack, Battistinis, Joker, Cobra®, Paughco, Dyno Power®, Krome Werks and Rush.

3. Seats

Green Harley with custom snakeskin seat 

Knucklehead, Flathead, Shovelhead, Evolution and More: Harley-Davidson Engines since 1909

If you ride a Harley or would like to someday, knowing a thing or two about the evolution of the company’s iconic V-twin engines is pretty important. You’ll need that knowledge to help you maintain your street cred, or at least keep you from needing to lip-sync the song Tequila in a biker bar. (If you don’t get it, don’t ask.) Want to learn the actual differences between a Knucklehead, Panhead, or Twin Cam 96 and why you should care? Read on.

The Harley-Davidson V-twin engine is nearly as storied as the company that created it. The angled engine cylinders set at 45 degrees first appeared commercially on Harleys in 1909, but the design was a flop at first. Only a few dozen were ever built. The automatic intake valves were designed for single-cylinder engines and caused problems with the flow characteristics. It took some tweaking, the addition of mechanical intake valves, and a new frame before the V-twin found success in 1911.

A Brief History of Engine Names

Through the years Harley motors have increased in displacement and sophistication, but the Big Twins have always kept some things in common. All Big Twin Harleys have been longitudinally-mounted, air-cooled, 45-degree V-twins with large displacements. Not all Harley models have been Big Twins, but most of the longest running and most memorable are. Several Big-Twin engines earned nicknames based on their appearance while others go by their official factory names.

F-Head (1911 to 1929)

These were some of the first V-twins, and they get their name from the shape of the intake tract determined by the location of the valves.

Flathead (1929 to 1939)

Harley-Davidson Flathead Engine

 

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