Whether it’s a Sportster, V-Rod, or a Road King, your Harley-Davidson is an undeniable representation of your style. Customizing that bike and making it uniquely your own is a big part of the Harley-Davidson life. No two bikes are alike, because no two riders are.
It isn’t about making your bike look good to your buddies or the folks on the group rides–it’s about putting your own imprint on your machine, about tweaking things so 100 miles in the saddle feels like just a few. Maybe for you it’s even about releasing a bit of extra horsepower from the constraints of stock parts.
The possibilities of personal customization are virtually endless, but here are our top five Harley-Davidson accessories. Add any or all these to your ride to dial it in to your style and make your ride a little bit better.
For such a small, inexpensive accessory, a pair of aftermarket grips can make a big impact. Changing out grips is the very first thing many of us do to our new bike, and it’s a really easy way to freshen up a used or older bike–a new look and spongy comfort can be yours for anywhere from about $30 to $100. Finding the right grips can really improve your comfort on long rides and polish off the look of your bike, so it’s an accessory upgrade well worth the minimal time and money you’ll be investing.
Your Harley-Davidson will have either a cable throttle or a fly-by-wire throttle. Which kind your bike uses will determine what kind of grips you need to buy.
Smaller Harleys including Sportsters and Softails use a cable throttle assembly, often called a “push-pull” throttle, identified by the two cables that run out from the back of your right-side controls. This style requires simple and inexpensive rubber grips. Rubber grips are really easy to install, and because a set of new grips will only run you about $20, it’s pretty painless to change them out whenever you want to try a new feel or give your bike a new look.
Grips for Harley’s that use fly-by-wire, or electronic, throttle control are a bit more expensive to buy and bit more of a hassle to replace, but still make for an easy change that can make a big difference. Fly-by-wire grips are hard tubes that often come with billet or chrome aluminum trim and rubber or foam grips. They come in a huge variety of styles, finishes, and grip designs, so you’ll have no trouble finding a pair you love the look of and give you a great feel when you’re riding the bike.
Adding some leather or canvas soft luggage to your Harley can give it a personalized look and some much needed storage space. There are so many options out there to choose from–different sizes, details, and features–that the easiest way to decide is to ride down to Road Rider and check some out in person.
Tank bags, sissy bar bags, and backpacks are great options for short-term storage on the go, but the following are some luggage styles that you can leave on your bike. With these, you’ll always have some space to stash your sweatshirt, rain jacket, tools, and other essentials.
A tool bag, also called a fork bag, is the perfect size for a tool roll, a wallet and phone, or a rain jacket. Tool bags usually come with two Velcro or leather loops on the back for attaching to your front forks.
A swingarm bag, sometimes called a solo saddlebag, is an awesome option for riders who want a little more storage capacity than a tool bag alone provides. Most tool bags and swingarm bags are made out of leather, but you can find some less expensive ones made out of nylon-type materials.
A set of saddlebags will give you plenty of storage space for two-up riding and for overnighters. We have a variety of saddlebags in stock made by Tour Master, River Road, Saddlemen and more. What’s the best way to shop for luggage? Head to Road Rider, where you can try out any piece of luggage on your bike for fit before you buy it.
Note: Keep in mind that in most cases, even with “throw-over” saddlebags, you’ll still need to have some kind of support bracket or rack to prevent the bags from making contact with the tire and other parts.
If you can’t quite find what you’re looking for on the shelf, talk to a Road Rider parts specialist about ordering a set of custom-made bags. The Leatherworks is a Bay Area company that is also one of the nation’s most renowned motorcycle leather shops. Crafters at the Leatherworks can hand-make bags (along with chaps, vests, and other leather gear) with your choice of studs, straps, color, pockets, braiding, carving, and other details.
3. Foot Pegs and Floorboards
Foot pegs and floorboards are easy to replace and can help you get a little more comfortable in the saddle so you can use your Harley for what it was intended–racking up miles–in comfort. An added bonus of this investment is that there are tons and tons of options to choose from, so you can pick a foot peg or floorboard that goes with the other accessories you’ve got going on to give your bike a distinctive look. In most cases foot pegs and floorboards are universal fit, but check with a parts specialist at Road Rider to make sure the ones you want will work for your model.
Can’t decide between the uber-lux comfort of floorboards or the low-profile simplicity of foot pegs? Check out mini floorboards like these Kuryakyn Premium Mini Floorboards for the best of both worlds:
Not a fan of those stock mirrors? Not a problem. Switching to some aftermarket mirrors is a chance to give your bike a pop of chrome or personal flavor, and there are a ton of options to choose from. Choosing lower profile or aerodynamic mirrors can even improve comfort by reducing handlebar vibration.
Consider these mirror options from Kuryakyn, Burly, BikeMaster, and Arlen Ness:
Do I even need mirrors? Yes, you do, but only one mirror is required by California DMV Vehicle Code Section 26709.
How creative can I get with my aftermarket mirror and still be legal? Pretty creative, but Section 26709 also says that your mirror needs to be big enough and positioned appropriately so you can see at least 200 feet behind you.
5. Air Cleaner
Aftermarket air cleaners are one of the most popular bolt-on accessories for Harley-Davidson owners looking for a unique aesthetic and a performance boost. Engines love oxygen, and with the right aftermarket air cleaner, your engine will suck in way more of the good stuff than with that constricting stock one. Air cleaners come in many, many cool finishes, shapes, and designs, making them an absolute customization essential. But an air cleaner also counts as a performance accessory, providing a modest power boost in many cases (more so when paired with other fuel and air system modifications).
Most riders concerned with squeezing out some extra horsepower will opt to replace the full air cleaner assembly. Air cleaner assemblies include the air cleaner housing box you see from the outside, and an aftermarket air filter inside. If you like the look of your stock air cleaner, you can just replace the air cleaner element inside the housing with something like a K&N filter. This will still help your bike breath a bit better but the size of the stock air box will limit just how much performance you can gain. An air cleaner assembly like the Arlen Ness Big Sucker comes in a variety of different designs and finishes so you can find one that compliments your bike’s look, but it could also give your bike a pretty decent horsepower injection.
Options: There are dozens of air cleaner assemblies to choose from for current H-D models and options for older models, too. Some are focused more on performance, some more on aesthetics, but most will make you look a bit cooler and have the potential to make you go a little bit faster. Talk to our Harley-Davidson specialists about options available for your bike. They’ll help you identify some options that 1) give you the performance boost you’re looking for; 2) match or enhance the look of your bike; and 3) (don’t overlook this one) take into account leg position and space considerations of your ride.
Please take some time to make yourself aware of CARB regulations before altering any emissions-related part on your motorcycle. Click here for some introductory information about CARB emissions regulations for motorcycles and motorcycle aftermarket parts.