Ellaspede's Favourite Holiday Custom Jobs
Author: Ellaspede Date Posted:10 December 2018
Whether it’s escaping the in-laws or filling the spare time on your forced annual leave, we’ve listed out a few of our favourite custom jobs to keep your bike looking and riding it’s best this festive season.
The big-old-bolt check
This is something you should do at least once a year and what better time than the Xmas holidays to make it an annual event. With most custom bikes there will be new bolts, brackets and clamps that will want to come loose, or will put different stresses or vibrations onto factory fixings causing them to come loose too.
Allow yourself some extra time to do this and make the effort to get a spanner on all those hard to reach nuts and bolts (especially the ones you have to take something else off to get to), because they’re usually the ones that get bypassed and will be at a greater chance of coming off.
If you can it’s worth using a torque wrench to reset all of the factory bolts. If you don't have one or cant hire one then just going over the bike and making sure everything is tight or firm will be better than nothing. Just don’t go ‘the Hulk’ and over tighten everything as that can lead to other issues including the annoying stripped nuts/bolts.
Pro tip: Buy some anti-seize and loctite! Both of these products will ensure everything you do now won’t be for nothing in the future. A good rule of thumb is use anti-seize on the thread of any nut/bolt you might need to remove at some point in the future (for servicing or checking a battery etc) and use loctite on the thread of any nut/bolt you don’t want to take off anytime soon. We usually find only a small squeeze/drop of each is sufficient and a medium strength loctite (thread locker) will be sufficient for general applications.
Bad brackets be gone
We see a number of bikes roll in with brackets that aren't as good as they could be, and it can really let down the look of a custom bike. We’ve done it before in the build process, sometimes you’ll make a bracket and once you’ve had a little extra time to think about it you realise it could have been done a little neater or mounted in a better spot, so we go back and do it again.
Occasionally the brackets are just too big for the required purpose, or so small that they’re about to crack from vibration. Rough unfinished edges, bends that aren't square and bad paint/powder coat are also common issues.
Take a look over the bike and pay special attention to the brackets holding things on. Are there any that could just use a fresh lick of paint? Or could you spend a little time to make something neater/nicer? It’s also worth looking at the paint or powder coat finish on the brackets, as sometimes just removing them all and painting them in the SAME satin black (or your colour choice here) can make a big difference to the overall uniformity of the bike.
Blatant self promotion: We sell a range of ready made, laser cut brackets to suit a variety of mounting options. Check them out, sometimes a neat bracket can take hours to make so these might save you a little time as well as effort.
New grips are like new underwear
Grips are often those items that are worn to death before they get replaced, or go hard from years of riding but never get changed. Given how easy they are to swap and how affordable they are we recommend grabbing a new pair to treat the hands to some improved comfort for the new year.
Changing the colour or style of the grips can also make a big change to the look of the bike, matching grip colour to paint or upholstery can be a really nice touch too. Good quality grips aren't that expensive either, so its’ worth spending a little more for something you’ll probably spend hundreds of hours hanging onto for the next year.
Pro tip: Use mentholated spirits (or another alcohol based item) to lightly wet the bar and throttle tube before you slide the new grips on. It will help them slide on easy and then being alcohol based will evaporate leaving a dry contact patch between the grip and bar.
Gettin’ creative to keep it legal
As much as we like to customise and change things on our bikes, we also like to try and keep them legal to avoid any unwanted attention when we’re out enjoying them. With the laws around lights, indicators, mirrors, guards, number plate mounting and everything else there is always a few things you can do to make your custom meet the road going requirements.
This is one of those jobs that sometimes involves just sitting and staring at the bike before taking action. It can also involve some research and reading into the current ADR’s (or your local vehicle rules) to find out exactly what the requirements are before taking action to make changes.
One of the most common issues we see on bikes in Australia is the position and orientation of the number plate and the presence (or lack thereof) a number plate light and rear reflector. If you’ve got a short rear guard or no rear guard it can be tricky to get the plate into a legal position, but it’s worth spending some time on it for legal and safety reasons.
Indicators is also a big one that can cause you major safety issues. Making sure they're visible (including from the opposite side of the bike) is a good way to get yourself noticed in a good way. Simply remounting your current indicators a few centimetres further in the appropriate direction can mean the difference between being sent on your way or copping a fine too.
Blatant self promotion: Check out our shop page, we’ve got a few options for universal number plate mounts, plate lights, indicator mounts and rear reflectors with or without mounts to get you sorted!
The hidden horn
A necessary item for all bikes, but not usually a visually attractive one. We often see horns bolted on to ugly brackets as an afterthought on many custom bikes (usually right before they’re going to get a RWC, but then they never get changed after!).
You still want the horn to be effective, so we’re not going to hide it in a sealed airbox under the seat, but at the same time there are a few options for putting them behind headlights or tucked up under tanks that can provide ample noise whilst hiding them from sight.
Pro tip: Unbolt your stock horn and move it around to see where else it actually fits on the bike, how hard would it be to extend the wiring to that point, and how hard would it be to make a new bracket for that position and bolt it in. Horns are pretty cheap too, so if you’ve got a silver or chrome one just changing it over to a generic black item can make a big visual difference.
Birds nest be gone
Wiring is not everyones strong point and we’re not suggesting you need to rewire the whole bike over the Xmas holidays, but spending a bit of time to tidy up the wiring can make a big difference down the track.
Removing the seat, tank and opening up the headlight will usually reveal the majority of the wiring on your bike, plus it will allow you to tighten some other hard to get to bolts as part of your bolt check from step 1!
With the wiring exposed, a few small zip ties or heat wrap tape can neaten up any wiring that’s fallen down, come loose or just generally a mess. It’s a good little safety measure because sometimes it only takes 1 wire to fall down onto something hot and the whole show can come to a stop.
If you’re handy with wiring, once you’re custom bike is finished it can also be a good time to shorten any unnecessary wiring length, properly terminate unused connections or replace old/brittle/corroded plugs.
Book in for a January service
Once you’ve given your own bike a good once over it’s worth getting a second set of eyes on it before another year of riding. January usually isn't an ideal time after the budget got hammered in December, but if it allows we recommend a January service and then you’re set for the new year.
Most mechanical shops will be open again in the first week of January, with most parts suppliers doing the same (week two at the latest) and because this is generally a ‘quiet’ time you can almost be guaranteed they’ll spend a little more time on your bike then when they have a line of bikes out the door.
Plus, you’ve personally just given your bike a thorough going over, so you’ll have a good (and current) indication of anything specific on your bike that might need attention, so you can let your mechanic know. We’ve got no doubt your local mechanic will appreciate the work to kick off the year too.
Got anything else custom you like to get done during the festive season? Let us know in the comments below as it will probably help out some of our readers too!
Cheers gang and have a ripper ride this festive season.
Reflect or not to reflect.By: Noel on 21 January 2019Just a dumb question really. Is it necessary/ legal ro have a rear reflector as well as tail light, number plate lght, blinkers etc?
All good, timely stuff.By: Noel Foley on 18 December 2018Partway through three separate custom bikes and all of your home ts are spot on. See you guys soon for more bits.