Thursday, April 2, 2009

On customizing 'Baby'...

Since I first signed the papers for Baby, back in July of 2005, I have spent a few dollars in 'extras' on her. These were mainly for 'big ticket' items such as a new set of Vance & Hines pipes (for the engine to breathe out better), a new studded 2-up Mustang saddle (to take care of my back), K-Drive saddlebags (for travelling), a matching studded backrest (for my passenger's safety and comfort), a Scorpio alarm system (for security and lower insurance premiums), a KuryAkyn Hypercharger air system (for the engine to breathe in better), Aeromach 2-inch custom risers (for less stress on my back from reaching for the bars), KuryAkyn grips, pegs and passenger floorboards (again, comfort and security).

The Memphis Shades windshield came a little later on but was also a considerable expense, as I used a smaller one first, only to find it ineffective when riding 2-up. So I had to move up to a bigger (and more expensive...) Memphis Fats model. These greatly reduce wind-induced fatigue, road noise and buffeting, to say nothing of deflecting rocks, road dirt, insects and whatever else is airborne at the moment.

The Big Bike Parts radiator cover? That's simply insurance against damage from road shrapnel. I have yet to manufacture and install a metal guard plate for the plastic radiator coolant reservoir, located underneath the bike. One hole in this and you're pretty much screwed on the open road... The Progressive Suspension 412 shocks replaced the thoroughly unsatisfactory stock rear shocks and smoothed out the ride for both of us. Finally, the Big Bike Parts passing lamps are there for safety considerations (being seen and being able to see).

Recently, other than the new set of Avon Cobra tires I have ordered for my ride, it has truly been some time since I have spent any money on her. Other than gas, oil, filters and maintenance, of course. I believe the last item I graced her with, was that Mustang studded leather tank bra. Very chic... That was purchased over a year ago. I will deliberately not count the expense for bringing her back to rights after our little misadventure last July. Even the KuryAkyn forward control extensions, were simply a minor reward for having survived the fray. Those were necessities, not niceties. There are a myriad of items out there, both from the manufacturer and the aftermarket industry, which have been specifically crafted (or slapped together, in some instances...) for my make and model of bike.

Now "just because they make it", may be a reason for some folks to hurry out and buy items for their ride. That's okay, too. More power to them. Eventually you're gonna run outta room for 'stuff' and your pride and joy just might begin to look more like a rolling rummage sale. Still, there are folks who actually enjoy doing this and they can actually carry it off. It's a well-known factoid that many riders are not your average run-of-the-mill Joes. They set their own pace, chart their own course and march to the beat of their own drum, whether you can hear it or not. It's one of our more endearing traits...

But I do tend to be a little finicky when it comes to that. There are areas of my ride which have remained suspiciously devoid of 'bling', to coin a strictly ebonic term. But that's only because I look at Baby as a canvass. A large, hulking, beautiful, powerful, moving canvass. I don't know that there's a specific 'look' that I'm aiming for, but I take my time in locating and selecting items which please me. Which I find will look good on her. They virtually have to leap off the page or screen, if they are to get my attention. I do not purchase items based on say-so, or because someone else thinks they would 'look good'. I certainly don't buy anything because 'someone else has it'. That's also probably one of the very good reasons as to why I don't ride a Harley.

This week has seen a minor flurry of buying on my part. All small items. Themselves perhaps not outrageously striking, but taken together... a step closer to providing the finishing touches for my canvass on wheels. For giving her that finished, seamless appearance. The items I have ordered to date this week are as follows:

A chrome driveshaft cover as well as a chrome cover for the driveshaft nuts.

Chrome covers for the real axle nuts, inspection cover and differential drain bolt.

I also purchased a very nice domed, chrome cover for the steering stem nut.

The rear shock mount bolts will also receive a nice set of chrome covers.

Small touches... innocuous, really... yet the overall impression will be striking. Eventually I will finish her off with a set of chrome frame covers and a chrome cover for the right-hand side swingarm.

Is there anything else...? Well, possibly the addition of a small stainless cover to hide the brake line manifold under the bottom triple tree.

And of course a set of chrome fork caps.

But seriously, that's about it. I don't need any trick mirrors that I can't really see anything out of, or that are the size of a dentists's inspection mirror. I'm not big on having lights illuminating my engine parts or the underside of my bike. My bike is for my enjoyment, not the entertainment of other people. I don't need minuscule turn signals that cars behind or in front of me can't see. I don't need a gimbal-mounted cup holder or even a gps system, although for super long trips, that really wouldn't be a bad addition.

The fine folks at KuryAkyn make a wonderful set of chrome control covers for the handlebar switches, which I may further investigate at some point.

However with that said, the folks at Show Chrome make a real, honest-to-God set, which you install the switches and wiring into. No mere covers here, but the real deal...

They also make a beautiful replacement rear lights/license plate bracket, of which I am quite fond as well.
All in all, it's about the aesthetics. The form, as well as the function. Does it serve a purpose? Does it work well? Is it well made? Does it look good? Would it 'go'...? These are the questions which run through my mind whenever something does catch my eye.

As the well-worn saying goes: "I may not know art... but I know what I like!"

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