A Guide to Making Safe Modifications

At some point, in every motorcycle’s life, a rider will want to make modifications to the bike. Even when you buy a brand new motorcycle, the chances of it ticking every single one of your requirements is slim to none. Often the reason to make changes is purely to improve the bike’s performance, but sometimes changes are purely for aesthetic reasons.
There are many types of modifications that can be made to a motorcycle, but the important thing to remember is that if you make any changes you must ensure you do these in a safe manner.

There are hundreds of modifications you can make to a motorcycle; some of which are practical and some not so practical. For example, there is nothing practical about putting a louder pipe on your bike, adding a hot cam kit, dolling it up with chrome and leather or installing a turbo kit. All these things may make your bike prettier, louder or add horsepower, but if you like to ride the bike for a few hundred miles each time you go out, there’s a lot better way to spend your money on upgrades so you can enjoy the ride for more hours and miles each time you ride.

The seat: One of the main modifications that can be made to a motorcycle is with the actual seat. Most motorcycles come fitted with a stock seat. These are designed for an average type rider of the bike. However, once you have been riding for a while, your body will come to prefer certain positions over others, when sitting for a long period of time. If you aren’t in the correct position, eventually you will start to suffer from aches and pains in your knees and back. Fitting a seat that accommodates your size and shape will ensure you have a much more pleasant experience, particularly with long journeys.

If you have concerns about replacing your original motorcycle seat, rest easy. It’s a relatively simple process and you don’t have to be a trained mechanic to perform the switch-out. In most cases, it’s a simple matter of unscrewing a rear mounting bolt and disconnecting the front of the seat that nestles up to the gas tank. As you lift up slightly on the back of the seat, pulling the seat toward the back, it comes off. If you opt for a replacement seat that matches the mounting points on your bike, then the job is pretty easy. Just ensure you securely attach the seat once you replace it, to avoid any accidents.

Upgrade your exhaust: There are many reasons why someone would want to change the perfectly good stock exhaust system on their bike, including: wanting to go faster; to save money; or to make it louder! Insurers have reported that exhausts are the most common modifications made to bikes, and if they’re seen as performance enhancing, they could affect an insurance premium.

Add some new wheels: The wheels of your bike are its connection to the road. Wheels not only play a crucial role in the smoothness and safety of a ride; they can also be a major factor in determining the look of your motorcycle. Whether opting for a set of classic, bicycle-style spoke wheels, or an aggressive pair of custom cast wheels, the choice lends a certain character to the bike. If you decide to replace your wheels it’s important to choose the right size and fit for your bike, to ensure safety when on the road.

Upgrade your suspension: Suspension doesn’t just kick in when you hit a bump. It occurs when you enter a corner, when you exit, when you give the bike throttle, when you decelerate and when you brake. Being able to adjust preload, sag, dampening and other aspects of both your front and rear suspension is going to result in a much smoother ride and more cornering control. Changing your suspension system is not a cheap modification, but if you really want to notch your bike up, it’s one worth doing. In general, most riders will find the factory settings to be best. However, riders looking to optimise the settings, or looking to correct a handling problem (having ensured there is nothing badly worn or broken), can make some changes to the bike’s handling based on a known issue.
The process of installing a new suspension is not hard; you just need the service manual and a good torque wrench so you torque the bolts on the new suspension properly.
One thing to consider however is once a motorbike has left the manufacturer; any changes to it are classed as modifications. These can range from upgrading your exhaust, to a change in colour, to uprated suspension. What a lot of people forget though is that making any modification could have legal ramifications and could also affect your insurance premiums, so it’s important to check all the facts before you vamp up your bike.

  • The Lawyer UK 200
  • Ranked in Chambers UK
  • Personal Injury
  • Access to Justice
  • Lexcel