Complete Motorcycle Kits – From Box to Blacktop

There are more than a few people who love motorcycles, and indeed, these people tend to form clubs, celebrating their admiration for the machines and love for the thrill of the ride. So why do they package these motorcycles into complete motorcycle kits like some geek or nerd’s toy? Well, you have to admit that there is a visceral appeal, a deep-down feeling of wanting to build something from the ground up. “From box to blacktop” probably makes more sense since it is a vehicle to be constructed. Of course, building from total scratch is not achievable for most of us, since motorcycles are precision products. Imagine having to melt metals, make casts, and build a motorcycle engine on your own. No, these kits take the hardest parts out of the deal, and leave you with something that is challenging but not too hard, but will still give you a sense of satisfaction when you finish. This may not appeal to everyone, but there are those that feel best using something they built with their own hands. Perhaps a little background on the whole thing would help to explain why packing the motorcycle in pieces makes a certain sense.

Complete Motorcycle Kits – Fade In

Complete motorcycle kits are a result of several technological advances and innovations, as well as a few historical milestones. The need for cheap, personal transportation led to the invention of the bicycle. It was quiet, required no power other than what the rider would provide, and cost far less than a car. They just did not go very fast, and people got weary of having to push their own pedals. Next, someone thought of attaching an engine to the drive train. Eventually, these motorized bicycles developed into motorcycles. At that point though, the vehicles were still constructed in factories and sold as-is. The great revolution of mass production led to the creation of parts on parallel lines. Soon, someone thought that transporting these parts in boxes with the right number of parts for whole vehicles made sense. Disassembled motorcycles packed into kits consumed less space than the whole vehicles, so that meant the companies could save on transport and storage. They then shipped the kits to dealers who would construct the vehicles on-site. The next step probably came when someone asked if they could buy a motorcycle, but build it on their own, in the spirit of do it yourself. It was bound to happen sooner or later, and so motorcycles in disassembled kit form became available. So now you know more or less what led up to these great rides in packages.

Complete Motorcycle Kits – Nuts and Bolts

Not everyone has the capacity to construct motorcycles on their own, so in addition to all the big and small pieces, manuals and instruction booklets come with these complete motorcycle kits. Even if you are the type who would rather not have to wade through a lengthy set of instructions, you must painstakingly follow these ones. These ensure you build your ride as the kit makers wanted it, so you will not miss any vital or even minor parts. Imagine missing a nut here or a bolt there, and you can then imagine the motorcycle falling apart like in one of those cartoons. Worse, imagine a breakdown at high speed. You could damage the parts of your vehicle, or yourself for that matter. The kits may be easier than building from zero, but they are still far from being easy. Of course, this challenge is what attracts people in the first place. There is just something about making something with your own hands, a feeling of being able to trust it more. There is also that feeling of being tired but happy upon completing your project, and making something that you love makes it even better. It will also feel more like a companion rather than a tool when you go on runs around town or even across the country on riding tours. The feel of the wind in your face and hair, and facial hair if you have it, will justify the time and energy you put into it. It will also justify any nerdy feelings that may have cropped up from building something from a kit.

Complete Motorcycle Kits – Choices and More

Complete motorcycle kits are rarely, if ever, offered by large manufacturing companies. These big timers are not as concerned with the talk on the street as small companies. The smaller companies on the other hand, have their ears on the ground, and know what people want. Thus, they are the ones who cater to the kit vehicle crowd. Another great thing about these is that they carry aesthetic details that reflect the wants of the community on the whole. Kit motorcycles may not go as fast as some mass-produced models, but they look cool in their measured pace. Plus, the lower speed gives people around more time to appreciate the beauty of these vehicles.

Speaking of beauty, there is no reason why cannot take the custom nature even further. The great thing about building a ride from the kit is that you will want to customize it, to give it that look that you feel is perfect. Maybe some spinners or a few decals, or maybe some performance upgrades with better brakes or electrical system for example. The do it yourself nature of these rides means you can choose parts to switch in and out.

The same companies that offer these boxed kits also offer separate parts for custom looks, and some may even offer fabrication services, for those unique pieces that you always dreamed of. These customization potential make the ride even more personal, and reflect your design sense. An interesting side effect to all this customization is that the owner becomes more inclined to take care of their vehicle rather than with a mass-produced model. It is probably because they do not want something they made with their own hands to break, as a matter of pride and passion. Remember, ride prudently and safely.

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Custom Motorcycle Parts, The China Threat

We all know that after quite a few years of exuberance, our V-Twin after-market industry has slowed down and that at the same time, coincidence or not, Asia produced motorcycle parts have invaded our showrooms and found their place on our American motorcycles. In reaction to this invasion, Team America is the theme of a collective ad campaign regrouping major American manufacturers and running now in motorcycle magazines. It aims at convincing bikers to only purchase American Made Products.

If I agree with any endeavor supporting the economy of my country, I think that this campaign doesn’t address clearly enough a couple of essential points. First, let me ask you. What are the 2 main reasons why, as a biker, you buy an American motorcycle part? Probably because it is of superior quality, of its beautiful design and because deep inside it makes you feel good to own the genuine part (by the same token rewarding financially the original inventor/designer/manufacturer). In the copy of the Team America ads I didn’t see anywhere any justification given to buy American. Why? This campaign is signed by a group of the best American companies of our industry. So, why don’t they promote their creativity, their engineering as the main justifications of buying their products?

Let me tell you right away: I am in favor of free trade. The relative costs, benefits of free trade are debated since centuries by governments and trade groups. Nearly all economists support the proposition that free trade is a net gain to both trading partners and that the gains from free trade outweigh the losses. Practically it means that if there is a superior genuine foreign product at a reasonable price, I don’t feel guilty to buy it. Nor you. And it can be whatever you buy: motorcycle part, TV, car, etc. So, can an American manufacturer convince you to blindly buy its products because they are made in America? I don’t think so. The real issue affecting negatively most of us in the industry is not free trade, the fair competition from foreign corporations trying to outsmart us. It is the unfair competition from low cost labor Asian countries whose business is to steal our designs & engineering, repackaging everything in knock-off products to be sold back to our clients in the US.

Our industry is made of small corporations and craftsmen producing parts in very small quantities. The cost of research & development being the same whatever the final number of parts produced, our custom parts are expensive and at the same time are always on the lower end of profitability. And I don’t think it will change soon. Almost none of us have the financial means and time to apply for a US patent, which anyway would not protect us from copies produced abroad. As a custom builder, I know (and I experienced) that it will take only 3 to 6 months for a foreign corporation to copy and market back here poor copies of my own parts at 25% of my manufacturing cost. Even more disappointing is the fact that a large number of foreign born knock-off parts are marketed through US catalogs belonging to US corporations.

As I stated before, I am against protectionism, tariff barriers and taxes. I favor competition in the frame of fair trade. I believe in the system of hard work & merit. Since there is no way that we can avoid cheap and poor manufactured copies of our parts, the only solution to help and protect our V-Twin industry is education, education, education of our clients. But it seems to me that the V-Twin industry acts more as a group than as a team. Everybody is whining but very few are acting. And a group in itself does not necessarily constitute a team linked in the same purpose. We must all act daily and individually with our clients to explain the reasons why to buy our genuine products.

It must not be so difficult to explain to bikers that motorcycles being dangerous by nature, it is never wise to equip them with unreliable mechanical components and with unfit and poorly designed accessories, which at the end of the day will cost much more than the original parts. All well known Custom Builders are having a large fans base. So it must not be too difficult when we meet our admirers to tell them that if they love so much our bikes they should reward the original designers by buying parts from them. Since we are never going to become the cheapest producer of motorcycle parts, at least we can demonstrate that we provide top design, engineering, and manufacturing skills for a very good value. In addition, we provide assistance for installation and services after sales. Nobody is going to support Team America only because it is called Team America. Bikers will support us only because we remind them and demonstrate that without us there is no more innovation, creativity and technological progress to benefit their bikes and their lifestyle. Maybe the next collective ad campaign should be on a more practical theme. For example: “Why And How To Support Your America Team”.

Motorcycle Myths Explained

There are so many myths circulating around about motorcycles and motorcycle riders. However, I want to address those that are specifically believed and followed by motorcycle riders. Like any other culture, we grow and find ourselves believing that some things are right just because those around us believe they are right too… no questions asked, no inquiries made. That is culture. Similarly, riders fall for myths same like everybody else. Let us look at some of them.

You are safe as long as you have a loud pipe

Well I have heard this before. Not once, not twice, but a thousand times from well experienced riders (if I may call them so). To some, it is a testimony. Let us look at it logically; so a driver in front of you wants to change lanes. You make as much noise as you can with your modified exhaust. Do you think the driver will take notice considering the noise is being blown backwards? That aside, what if the driver’s windows are rolled up? Not helping, right? That is correct. Use better techniques like wearing reflective jackets, bright-colored helmets and maybe invest on a loud horn rather than a loud pipe.

Helmets are a hindrance to hearing or seeing danger

Helmets actually block wind, meaning you can hear sounds clearly. They also aid your vision, thus you no longer strain to see or have that stingy effect on your eyes due to wind hitting you at a hundred mile per hour. We can, therefore, settle on helmets as life-savers as opposed to what many rides believe.

Helmets leave you brain dead in case of an accident

Really? I cannot even believe this. Helmets, good quality at that, are protective gears. Motorcycle road accident statistics show that riders with good quality helmets are less likely to have head injuries. I remember a case where a woman passenger died on the spot due to lack of a helmet, but the rider is still alive and well (not brain dead or anything) because he had a helmet on.

Helmets break necks

I get the logic, but scientific research shows otherwise. Riders without helmets are likely to break their necks during an accident compared to a rider wearing a helmet. Helmets absorb the pressure experienced during sudden breaking or on impact.

Other motorists do not care about riders

Well, nobody wants to hit anyone unless you are a reckless driver. However, because the amount of space you occupy as a rider is almost insignificant compared to cars, it may seem like other motorists have made it their business to hit riders without a care. To avoid this, try to be more visible to other motorists. Wear bright colored protective gear, reflective jackets, LED-lit helmets and so on. Besides, try not to drive too close behind motorists or near trucks.

Skilled riders can handle any situation on the road

Do not fool yourself. Even well experienced pilots do not have this kind of mentality. No matter how many years of riding you have or the mileage covered, you need to protect yourself all the time while riding which starts with having the right mindset. Wear your protective gear and announce yourself as much as you can on the road.

Some skilled riders also believe that they can stop faster on conventional brakes than on anti-lock brakes. Research shows that the difference is negligible, so stop deluding yourself. Anti-lock brakes do not lock themselves therefore in real sense they give you a better chance to successfully practice panic stops without crashing.

Just one beer… it will not hurt

How many times have I heard that? You need to be sober as long as you are on the road. You need that concentration in order to look out for any danger which can be averted. Moreover, a drunk driver is more likely to cause an accident. Save the beer for later.

If you are going to crash, lay it down

To be honest, this will increase your chances of crashing because your brakes will not be as effective as when you are riding upright.

Splitting lanes increases chances of being hit

Remember we talked about not staying too close to cars and trucks? How else would you do that without splitting lanes? Splitting lanes makes you more visible to the car in front of you especially on slow-moving traffic, and it increase your vision on what is happening on the road ahead of you.

Street lanes are safer compared to interstate highways

A road is a road, whether it is within your neighborhood or the Broadway. The bottom line is observing the speed limits set for the road on which you are riding, no compromise.

Riders should not endanger their lives and those of other road users by following meaningless myths which have no basis, nor have any statistical evidence. Let us all play safe and stay safe.