Customising a bike
In my last post I ended on saying that I wanted to give my baby a bit of bling, because she deserved it. The Speed Triple is a good looking bike, it always has been, in all its incarnations, so making it look better is only a part of why I want to change things about a bit. The other reason is that I want to make it mine; I want it to be recognizable as my bike, to make it stand out from the crowd, to be a little different.
As bikers it is only natural to want this, because we have already chosen a way of life that sets us apart from the majority of the world’s population and within our society we tend to embrace and celebrate what is different rather than ridiculing it, it is something I find very healthy about our way of life. Customizing our bikes has always been a way for each of us to stand out a bit, and because even bikers love labeling things we have categorized customizing into broad styles that tend to reflect our differing personalities.
The custom scene must always have been there people modifying their bikes to correct a fault or just make it better for them personally. The first customizing style is thought to be the Bobber in the 1930’s. Like other styles it grew out of the race scene, riders wanted their bikes to be faster and better handling and so copied what was used on the track. It is a style that lends itself well to those who want to build their own bike because traditionally the frame and cycle parts were often left original. Most of the efforts went into making the engine more powerful and removing excess weight from the bike. Its popularity is at a high at the moment, understandably so, they look great.
Another race inspired customization is the Café Racer. It is a true British style from the era of the Rockers, racing between the cafes to get their kicks and trying for the magical “Ton”. Their bikes were all about speed and handling, and the most famous of these modifications was the Triton. Every rocker would love to have the power of a Triumph engine with the handling of the Norton frame, although if they were rich enough the Triumph Engine could be replaced by a Vincent one to create the mythical Norvin, the bike of a certain comic strip celebrity known as Ogri.
Are you man enough?
Choppers of course reached huge popularity with the film Easy Rider, but they had been around since the 60’s as well. They are a natural evolution of the Bobber, but a lot more extreme in style, many becoming more work of art than bikes. The great skill needed to “chop” a bike means that customization moved out of the sheds of riders and into specialized garages, creating a whole new industry and bikes, which before were only mad dreams, became a possibility.
Eds Bike best biker bar and camping in Luxembourg "The high-chapparal"
I suppose Rat bikes have been about since the first bike was crashed and patched up so it would work again. A true Rat is not built, it evolves, and its evolution depends very
much on the abilities of the owner and, or, their friends. They are almost organic, and that is not just from the mud collecting from neglect! Some of the very best mechanical modifications can be seen on Rats, they may not be pretty mods but they are often very clever ways of getting round a problem cheaply. Oh yeah, cheap, that is not often a word you here in association with customization, but in the world of Rat bikes, cheap is good….but free is better!
And then we come to the modern day, Street fighters, the bastard love child of café racers and Rat bikes, a custom bike for hooligans! This style was born the day someone crashed their race rep, junked the shattered fairing and worked out a way of putting some handlebars from an old motocross bike to replace the bent drops. As luck would have it they had created a bike that was not only very fast, it was also passably comfortable and arguably handled better in real life situations…the rest as they say is history.
Personally I prefer the street fighter style, I have a speed triple after all, but all have their good points and all should be celebrated, if only because they prove that some of us can think just that little bit differently and that after all part of what riding a bike it is all about…