News from Oakland Harley-Davidson

Beginner's Guide to Customizing a Harley-Davidson Motorcycle

Posted by Oakland H-D Contributor on May 31, 2020 9:00:00 AM

While every rider has an idea of what a Harley-Davidson motorcycle typically looks like in their head, no two look exactly alike. With tens of thousands of factory customizations, hundreds of thousands of aftermarket customizations there is no end to the creative opportunities available to you when customizing your new Harley-Davidson motorcycle.

Think about the style, performance and function of a motorcycle when you are getting started. And then leverage the team at Oakland Harley-Davidson to turn it into a reality.

Customizing for Function

Every customization you make to your bike really needs to fit your body and your riding style. Form does follow function after all. Your body comes into contact with your motorcycle at your hands, your feet and your seat. The three together are commonly referred to as "the rider triangle". The angles of this triangle determine how comfortable you are. And each is different based on the person and the type of riding they are doing. When riding across the country you'll lose feeling in your hands if your handlebars are too high. You're legs will start to cramp up if your foot position isn't right. And the comfort level of the seat matters on any trip. You'll notice these pain points the more you ride your motorcycle. Just know that a slight alteration to the handlebar height or a different seat can make those pain points go away. Don't think just because you bought this motorcycle like this, that is how it has to stay. 

Beyond the rider triangle, there are a million other ways you can improve the function of your motorcycle. Think about what types of roads you are looking to go on. What are you going to be bringing with you? Have you felt your head wobble around on the highway from the wind hitting it? Do you want to listen to music while you ride? Will you need GPS navigation? Are you going to be riding at night? What if you get caught in the rain? How long will you be riding in a day? Will you have a passenger? The answers to these questions will help you understand what accessories will improve your ride. 



Customizing for Style

Start with Decorative Collections. They are cost-effective and easy to install. Pick up one piece or invest in the whole collection - it's your choice how deep you go. There are collections for both the chrome and blacked out look - and a few that are a combination of finishes. Or go bold with bronze. 

Next think about paint. Harley-Davidson offers limited edition factory paint options but we have great relationships with local painters. If you want to completely change the look of your bike, tell us your vision and we can find a painter.

A different seat can completely change the look of a motorcycle. Materials, design, and shape can set your look apart. Changing a seat also changes the way your bike feels when you ride it. 

More often than not though one of the first things our customers change on their new "stock" motorcycles is handlebars. While some do this for comfort, many do this for style. In addition to the Harley-Davidson handlebar options that are available we frequently install aftermarket handlebars. One of the most popular is the Factory 47 handlebars for 2014 and later touring motorcycles.



Customizing for Performance

Performance is really about two things. Horsepower and Torque. Harley-Davidson's official performance line is called "Screamin' Eagle". While designing the latest motors, Harley-Davidson engineers designed this performance line to easily upgrade the horsepower and torque of the motorcycles in different stages. So you could add a little performance now and then add some more later. Each stage builds on the one before. Read about each of these stages in detail before deciding which stage is right for you.

Oakland Harley Parts Counter

Let us help.

Our Parts and Service teams are experts in customization. And they are here to help you. So which one do you need? We often see confused customers walk in the front door and look from the Parts counter down the hallway to Service wondering "Where do I go?".  While anyone, including Steve the maintenance guy, can help point you in the right direction... typically if you are looking to get something installed you want to talk to one of the Service Advisors at the Service counter. If you are looking to install something yourself talk to a Parts Associate at the Parts counter. 

It might also help to page through the Parts & Accessories catalog. Download it online or pick up a copy at the shop. The catalog is broken up by type of accessory and also family of motorcycle. Search the index in the back for a type of accessories (like seats or handlebars) that fit your model family of motorcycle (like Sportster, Softail or Touring). In order to determine if a part will fit on your motorcycle make sure that you know your model code. This will look like alphabet soup to some people. Look at your bill of sale or owner's manual if you aren't sure. For example, Sportsters will start with an "XL". Dynas, Softails and Touring models will start with either an "FX" or "FL". When you read the fitment information in the catalog it will tell you the years and models that it will fit. But that being said, if you find a look you like but it doesn't fit let us know! Chances are we can find something similar to fit your bike!

Want to start with what other new riders start with? Check out the Top 10 Motorcycle Accessories for the New Rider. 


2020 Harley-Davidson Parts & Accessories Catalog



Complete Guide to Getting Into Motorcycling

Topics: Parts & Accessories, Service, Current Rider

News from Oakland H-D

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Our team of experts at Oakland Harley-Davidson strives to keep you up-to-date on:

  • New motorcycles, parts and gear
  • Customization ideas and trends
  • What is going on locally in the industry
  • Event information
  • Ideas on where to go riding
We understand that the modern motorcyclist is doing the majority of their shopping and research online and we will strive to be your go-to place for information. 

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