Harley Mods On My Wishlist

by derek on August 7, 2007 · 22 comments

For the most part, my 2002 Harley Softail is stock as I haven’t had the disposable income to sink into the variety of Harley Davidson parts that I would like to add to my bike.
Right now the only mods that I have made to the bike are Vance and Hines Longshots, Screamin’ Eagle air cleaner, Harley Davidson oil dipstick with temperature gauge, Harley Davidson saddlebags and Harley Davidson sissy bar.
The list of Harley accessories that I would like to buy is so long that one may think I would be better off simply buying a new bike. But unless I plan to cough up the money for a custom bike, I plan to just make a few mods here and there to make this bike a little more unique. The following mods are near the top of my list, in part because they are some of the more affordable things that I would like to change.

Harley Windshield

Detachable Windshield
My preference is really to ride without a windshield but on longer trips or the 65-mile commute to work, having a windshield would be a welcome convenience to keep the wind from pummeling my chest.
While I have talked to quite a few people that claim once you ride with the windshield you will not want to take it off, I want to go with the detachable windshield to keep my options open.
When I bought my saddlebags, I did not select detachable bags and there have been times where I regretted that decision. If I go with the detachable windshield and never remove it, I really haven’t lost anything (other than a few bucks difference in price) but if I don’t select the detachable windshield then I cannot easily remove it if I want to ride with the wind in my face and chest.
Solo Seat

Harley Solo Seat

While I have kept the stock seat and bought the sissy bar to make my wife more comfortable when she rides with me, she really doesn’t ride with me all that often. Since I ride solo most of the time, I would like to replace the stock seat with a nice solo seat.
I’ve always liked the look of a solo seat and for daily riding I think it would work well. I’m not sure how it would look with my saddlebags on the bike though, so I would have to experiment and maybe change the bags out if it didn’t look right.
One of the hard things with replacing the seat, at least in my opinion, is that you don’t really know how comfortable the seat is going to be on long rides. I’ve tried to use various motorcycle forums to get feedback on seats but it is really an individual thing as a seat that is comfortable to one person may feel like a rock to someone else. You can get custom seats made and that might be the best option, although that is certainly going to be more expensive.

Harley Low Profile Suspension

Low Rider
One of the first mods that people make to their car is to drop it with a new suspension and motorcycles are no exception.
I’d like to get the low-profile suspension, which can lower the seat height by about 3/4″ or thereabouts. While I’ve seen custom bikes with a hydraulic suspension, I know that is well out of my budget so I think this is a good compromise.
As the picture shows, I’d like to go with the black suspension as I would like to get as much black on my bike as possible. Many people prefer the shine of chrome but I tend to lean the opposite way in that regard and love the look of a sleek black bike.
Additional Mods
As anyone that has bought Harley parts is well aware, they are not cheap and can quickly add up when trying to customize your bike. Some of the other mods that I have on my list for consideration would be new hand and foot controls, new mirrors, new wheels with the wide tire kit and of course the big bore kit to crank out more power.
One of the things that is really cost prohibitive for me is the fact that I am not exactly mechanically gifted and would likely have to pay someone to install most of these parts. That makes even the more minor mods quite a bit more expensive as labor is not cheap.
For a short time I had an old 1982 Honda CM450E that I always planned to use as my experimental bike to learn how to wrench but it was taking up valuable space in my garage and I gave it away about 2 years ago. This is actually one of the reasons that I hope to attend the Chopper College boot camp to learn a few skills that may make mods to my own bike more affordable.
What mods would you make to your motorcycle if you were on a budget? How about if money were no issue?
Credits: Photos © 2001-2007 H-D. All rights reserved.

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{ 19 comments… read them below or add one }

Jack Morgan August 7, 2007 at 6:56 pm

I like your wishlist because it helps me keep my wishlist in mind. I have only one entry on it.
I have written a poem about Harleys kind of, that got published today.
Check it out.


derek August 7, 2007 at 10:31 pm

Thanks for the comment. Very nice getting your poem published at 3:AM – I also like the timestamp when you posted about that on your site, very fitting.


Dave August 8, 2007 at 9:00 am

I never understood how Harley guys ride with an open helmet or no windshield! I have a CBR600 sport bike, and I’ve gotten hit with so many bugs with a full helmet…I can’t imagine them pelting my face haha.
Either way, motorcycles, like cars, can become a money pit quickly when modifying. BUT, at least for me personally I enjoy doing it, and I enjoy the end result, so it’s worth it to me! I’m sure the used parts market is pretty good on Harley’s, have you considered that?


derek August 8, 2007 at 1:45 pm

Lol, june bugs hurt quite a bit. When I ride on the highway to work or on trips, I typically where my full helmet but otherwise typically where the skid lid.
I’ve looked a little bit at the used parts but not very closely. That’s a good idea. Only problem is that some shops won’t install parts that you don’t buy through them and as I mentioned, my wrenching skills are lacking.
Do you do your own work on your bikes? I’m guessing you do since I’ve seen how you tear cars apart! 🙂


Dave August 8, 2007 at 1:49 pm

I actually haven’t done any work to my bike before (came with an aftermarket exhaust)…But I think most of the stuff I can pretty much do…and if not, I luckily have friends that do know how 🙂 It’s all about who you know!


derek August 8, 2007 at 1:52 pm

You’re not kidding…unfortunately everyone I know is just as lost in the garage as I am. I need to meet some new people. 🙂
I’m sure that I would be able to do it but tearing into my bike with the uncertainty of being able to put it back together again usually makes me shy away from trying.


aaron August 14, 2007 at 11:26 pm

The screwy thing about customization lists is they never get shorter, regardless of how much you buy. I have a big pile of parts I’ve taken back off my bikes as proof. Selling them is the only thing that will make you stop.
Not that you need outside opinions, but I think a solo seat and dropped rear suspension make the biggest aesthetic improvement to a softail. I had an ’01 Standard that got every part I could find at the local HD shops bolted to it. I even spent money on new PM wheels. But I didn’t dig it until I changed the stance (it took handlebars and forward ctrls too to get it right for me.)
I like the HD (sport) detachable windshields – they’re extremely easy to pop on / off. The Corbin gel solo seats are cool too, by the way, and anything from Danny Gray is comfortable.
It’s not my Standard, but here are a few pics of my ’01 fatboy I just sold. I have a Roadglide now, but I’m looking for another softail as a project bike again – you’ve got my favorite harley.
For what it’s worth, I’ve never lost money on a bike I’ve sold, regardless of how much I’ve customized. I reference that fact relentlessly any time my wife complains.


derek August 14, 2007 at 11:48 pm

Aaron, you’ve just made me drool as that FatBoy looks outstanding. I love the black bars, among many other things that look great on that bike!
While I like the Roadglide and would probably like it even more on longer trips, its just not my style. Although I certainly wouldn’t be complaining if I had one in my garage. 🙂
Thanks for the feedback on the solo seat and dropped rear suspension, that just enforces my desire to do those mods first. I’d love to get some new bars as well and route everything inside but I know that is way beyond me right now.
You can use my Softail as your project bike, as long as I get to keep it when you are done! 😀


aaron August 15, 2007 at 12:00 am

It’s not my style either. I went on a tear and sold our primary bikes shortly after admitting that our new baby was making it tough to ride them. The roadglide was saved only because it was in the shop (for a year.) Good luck with your mods.


derek August 15, 2007 at 12:08 am

Lol, at least you were able to hang on to something. I’ll be sure to post on any progress on the mods, maybe I’ll try to tackle some as a winter project.


Liz (rippin-kitten) August 28, 2007 at 3:36 pm

I try NOT to have a wish list but inevitably I do! =]
I lowered my bike by 2.5″ this summer and I have to say it was WELL worth it!


derek August 28, 2007 at 3:49 pm

Nice! Did you go with the Harley products or did you go with something else?


Liz (rippin-kitten) August 28, 2007 at 4:00 pm

No, I ride a Suzuki and one of the wrenches on my bike board custom made the bones necessary to lower the bike. I have to day that I didn’t think it would make much of a difference, but my center of gravity is MUCH lower now and I have better control of the bike now.


derek August 28, 2007 at 4:31 pm

I don’t know why I thought you were riding a Harley. Hearing your feedback makes me want to get this done even more. 🙂


flash oyun March 13, 2008 at 3:42 pm

this black suspension very cool but i like chrome suspension my moto


Adrian July 4, 2008 at 5:45 pm

I would love to drop my bike a bit lower but having only got it recently I’m still paying it off. The only mod that I’ve done was replace my headlight bulb with a xenon bulb. The bike looks amazing and it was only around $10 with shipping. Here’s the place I got it at Harley Davidson Xenon Bulbs


John March 30, 2009 at 5:18 pm

Those are great mods! Last week I busted my tire on the road and I did not have alot of money for a new tire. I found a great video over at howcast.com on how to patch a bike tire. I found it very helpful and saved me a few much needed bucks!


Kitty September 9, 2010 at 8:00 pm

Ahh, very true about the windshield! At least that’s what hubby says. He rides without one, but we recently took a road trip and I *requested* that he put it back on for my sake. He did, but the way the wind hit him. his mustache was slappin’ him in the eyes!


Moto Backrests October 15, 2011 at 10:06 pm

You might want to check the store we’re building, we’re definetely going to offer a variety of backrests for your motorcycle


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