Wednesday, 5 May 2010

Personalizing my ride

Like most riders, Harley riders in particular, I spend more time and more money than I should customising my motorcycle. In fact I’m not so sure I don’t get as much satisfaction out of wrenching and adding the bling as I do out of riding sometimes.
I don’t really understand the motivation. If I really wanted a stand-out machine that would turn eyes I would go full custom, or at the very least a super trick paint job with high-end wheels, exhaust system, the works. But that’s pretty expensive, and besides, I think I’m more into making it mine than necessarily making it a one-of-a-kind unit. So while I know that anyone with a few extra $$$ in their jeans and a couple of accessory catalogues beside their La-Z-Boy recliner could come up with an identical looking machine, I don’t really care. Let’s face it, with the number of accessory parts out there the permutations and combinations are such that the chance of running into a mirror image machine are virtually nil, unless it remains stock, which NEVER happens.
But having said that, I have thought it would be nice to have something on the bike that was truly unique, that really makes it mine and no one else’s.
So I thought of derby covers.
There are lots of after-market derby covers that are emblazoned with “Live to Ride”, or advertise Jack Daniels No. 7, or your military affiliation, or … the sky seems to be the limit. But there are also companies that will custom fabricate a derby cover to your own design.  So rather than simply fly the flag, as many riders do, I’m thinking of having it engraved on my derby cover.
I think it could look kind of cool. And it would be unique.
Derby cover flag


  1. "In fact I’m not so sure I don’t get as much satisfaction out of wrenching and adding the bling as I do out of riding sometimes."

    Well good for you! Is it because you either have an engineering background or love being a handyman?

    I fall into both those categories but a riding partner of mine is a banker. He loves riding with a passion, likes bling but as far as wrenching goes, he'd sooner pay someone else. As well as background, maybe it's a part-generational thing too as he's a lot younger than me and has never had to "make do".

    Thought-provoking post!

  2. Geoff - I think it's the handyman in me. I get a lot of satisfaction of doing something with my hands and then being able to see the results.
    But, like you, I know folks who would pay a dealer to install a new seat on their H-D (one screw required). To each their own, I guess.

  3. Canajun:

    I am not a mechanic but I can do simple stuff, like installing my side case racks, or wiring up my GPS, putting in a 12v adapter plug, and perhaps do an oil change, or check my tire pressures.

    for repairs I take it to the dealer, esp since my bike is still under warranty. If I worked on it now and wrecked it, then I would not be covered.

    I find that if I give the dealer business, then I am more welcomed into the store as a "good" customer. I like to think that I am keeping them in business and I am sure they appreciate it

    as for farckles, I only install stuff that has a purpose, or a perceived purpose as with my new adjustable windshield bracket. Must haves for me are GPS, and mounts for my cameras.

    Wet Coast Scootin

  4. Cool idea. Eventually, you know you will have that one of a kind unduplicated custom, because it is impossible to stop customizing once you have started. mwuhahahaha!

  5. Bob - Warranty makes all the difference. I too took my bike to the dealer while the warranty was still active, but since then I can't see paying them $100 for an oil change. However I would still use them for really major repairs - especially those requiring special tools.

  6. Mr. M - I expect you're right. It's like trying to eat only one potato chip out of a bag - or drink one beer out of a 2-4. Can't be done.

  7. As a first-time Harley owner, I'm beginning to discover that customizing and wrenching on my bike is as much a part of the Harley experience as actually riding it ... 'twas not the case with my Yamaha.

  8. Dear Canajun:

    Please remember that I ride a BMW. What the hell is a derby cover? Are you refering to the bowl-sized air filter covers on most twins?

    I am slowly but surely converting my K75 into a "signature bike." Anything resembling chrome or shiny stuff has been removed. The machine is now red and black. The windshield and fairing are purely functional, and just the right height.

    The lighting is all black framed and black mounted, and a piercing 800 watts in the dark. The electrics are supported by a Centech fuse box, and monitored by a voltmeter. Anything that draws real current is backed by a separate relay.

    My next installation is a black "Back Off" LED license plate frame," and a Steble/Nautilus compact air horn. Then this puppy is done, until I decide to get the heated custom seat reconfigured.

    Pretty sick, huh?

    Fondest regards,
    Jack • reep • Toad
    Twisted Roads

    Fondest regards,
    Jack • reep • Toad
    Twisted Roads

  9. Ken - It's part of the mystique - and completely inexplicable.

    Jack - Sorry. For the uninitiated it's the clutch/primary chaincase cover on the left side. Customizations are a pretty personal thing. The anti-chrome crowd are as legit as the mega-chrome guys. Whatever makes you happy with your ride is good customization imo. Or as the French would say, "chacun à son goût"


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