If you ask any avid biker just what makes motorcycles so sexy, they’ll give you a number of reasons. It’s the truest way to travel, with the open road and the wind in your face, the elegant engineering and rugged wear and tear, and the people and the culture which comes along for the ride. Without a doubt, bikes are a thing of beauty; even commuter bikes are pretty hot to look at these days.[i] It’s fairly common knowledge that the motorbike in and of itself has become a work of art, transcending its functional appearance to achieve a smooth aesthetic without forgoing practicality. It can be said that there is a kind of architecture which exists with bikes, just as there is an art to the motorcycle lifestyle. And for proud bike owners who are looking for an exciting project to get their hands on, there are a variety of ways to build that holy ark of fire, leather, and engine.
People say the brainstorming process is the first step in any project, but in reality, it’s the first and possibly the last because it is an ongoing venture, especially with so many options to choose from.[ii] Your initial ideas may change due to budget, time, or design constraints, so unless you are 100% set on your first vision, be prepared to keep an open mind and change things up now and then. Dreaming of the perfect bike isn’t a hard task in itself. We’re all hunkering after horsepower and optimal gears as well as savvy bike tech that keeps us up to date on the road, and the design of the bike itself is a whole other matter. So keep these factors in mind, in simultaneous order:
- Ability to create/budget/access to resources
Custom bikes are hardly a new invention, so a few searches on the net will easily fill your head with ideas. One of the most popular trends in bikes is the steampunk bike, themed around a genre in art, media, and literature which takes advanced tech but gives it a vintage finish (think of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen).[iii] Futuristic bikes also work well where themed models are concerned, or you can go for the traditional classic looks of revered models “ nothing beats a sweet chrome, leather and rubber concoction for a chopper, after all. Speaking of choppers, American Chopper’s Paul Jr. (now with his own show) is a great source for ideas.[iv] The boys in the shop sure know how to craft some amazing beasts that really fire up the imagination. Certainly, some of these models might be out of range for some modders, but it’s a great place to start to get an idea of what is possible.
From Inspiration to Fruition
Once the initial idea is down, it’s time to collaborate and grab some materials and put your idea on the map, starting with a template or blueprint.[v] This is easier said than done and especially if trying it out yourself, it will be subject to trial and error. A few things to take into consideration:
- Safety (wear your goggles and gloves, and make sure you respect the equipment)
- Facility (keep your work zone clean, organized, and ventilated)
- Schedule (even when you’re in the zone, take time to step away from the project and refresh yourself)
- Reality (know when to admit that you could use a hand or two “ nothing shameful in getting some help when it’s needed)
- Discipline (you might be dedicated, but even exciting projects wane when faced with difficulties. If you can help it, stick to the project and don’t let it become another unfinished task/bunch of clutter)
Once you push through with your project and all the creating, destroying, and recreating which is so often entailed in a fine work of art, the sense of satisfaction will be limitless.
Caring for Your Masterpiece
Of course, it doesn’t end there. From time to time you’ll be modifying your vehicle and changing things before you can truly call it a finished piece of art. But as all bikers know, maintenance is a big part of the deal, too. You’ll want to make sure that you adopt the right kind of program for your custom vehicle which will take care of each part and its respective concerns. This goes beyond keeping your tins polished and your seat a nice sheen, but making sure all the mechanisms are in full working order “ much of which you can do yourself.[vi] Additionally, your custom bike is going to be worth a lot “ at least on a personal level. It’s worthwhile making sure that you have the appropriate coverage just in case you need a few tweaks here and there from any incident.[vii] Just as importantly, make sure your new ride has a good home. If you can custom make or mod a bike, then you can make your own bike shed too “ and again, the options here are endless.
There isn’t anything which comes close to working on a project we love with our bare hands, and getting to reap the benefits of it every day we take it out for a spin. In fact, it’s one of the best ways to wait for winter to pass by before you can hit the road “ so why not do a bit of brainstorming and get the creative juices flowing?
This is a freelance article from Gemma Barson.
[i] Blog.Bikersden.com. Bajaj Platina “ A Well-suited Commuter Bike for the Every Day Journey. Accessed January 12, 2015.
[ii] Build-motorcycle.multitaskdesign.com. Build your bike. Accessed January 12, 2015.
[iii] 1800Recycling.com. Seven Incredible Steampunk Motorcycles. Accessed January 12, 2015.
[iv] PaulJRDesigns.com. Photos. Accessed January 12, 2015.
[v] Custom-choppers-guide.com. How to Build a Chopper! Accessed January 12, 2015.
[vi] VisorDown.com. 10 maintenance tasks to do yourself. Accessed January 12. 2015.
[vii] Quotezone.co.uk. Get cheap bike insurance quotes now. Accessed January 12, 2015.