IMPROVING Special Feature

Posted On 03 May 2024
Comment: Off
This entry is part 3 of 30 in the series AusMotorcyclist Issue#29


Last month we gave you an easy way to maintain your bike. I hope you’re doing the things I recommended,because we don’t want to lose you – and you don’t want to ruin your bike! But keeping it going at optimum is one thing.

What about making it better? This month we’re looking at easy and accessible ways to improve your bike, and make it your own. We all love to do that, but sometimes it can be hard to know how to go about it. Well, whether it’s adding some bling, bringing the suspension up to scratch or fitting it out to make touring more enjoyable, there are many ways to improve your bike.

Just take a look below!


This is an area that is often passed over because it seems too hard or too expensive, but you’d be surprised how many ways there are to improve the suspension without spending bulk cash.

Of course you can spend a lot of money here; you’ll be pleased to know that it’s worth it if you want your bike to work really well.

Practically no bike on the market will have suspension that’s totally suited to your weight or style of riding. The simplest (and of course cheapest) way to get better suspension performance is to play with the standard preload settings. That can improve your bike quite a bit, and you can go on from there, depending on the type of adjustments your bike comes with, to setting up rebound and/or compression adjustments.

The next level is to replace front and rear springs and the front fork oil. Next after that is to replace the rear shock/s, or get it or them rebuilt. On the front you can add some gold valves, and then the final step is to entirely replace the front fork internals with higher quality components. Unless you decide to replace rear shocks with something like TTX Ohlins units, this is also pretty much the top level for the rear.

There are a number of top quality brands to consider when deciding on suspension components. We have used Hyperpro rear shock and fork units, Ikon rear shocks, Ohlins shocks and springs, a Hagon rear shock and Racetech springs front and rear.

They offer differing levels of quality and performance, as well as price (important at the end of the day!).The main thing that will do more good than anything else is a knowledgeable suspension expert. I have always found Walter Preisig at YSS (Your Suspension Shop) very helpful.

The BMW K 1600 GTL Exclusive has about the biggest luggage capacity you’ll find anywhere


Luggage is a very personal thing. When it comes to choosing what type, size and the amount you want to fit to the bike, and how permanently mounted you want it to be. I personally like hard panniers and a top box for road touring, but a soft seatbag and tank bag for off-road duties. Our good mate, Andy from Andy Strapz offers lots of variables to choose from and so do the excellent folk at Touratech. We have used products from both, as well as from the outstandingly popular range of Ventura luggage systems. We’ve been using this gear in all sorts of conditions and have done so for as many years as we can remember.

The trick with luggage is to work out what sort of space, durability, appearance and so on you’re going to want before settling on any particular brand or type. That way you’ll leave yourself free to choose the best you can afford.


Italian company Rizoma is among the kings of bling. They have exquisite accessories to fit and upgrade a large range of motorcycles. We have just received a selection of some of their best products to fit to our long term Yamaha MT-07, and they will really make the MT stand out from the crowd! Look for the proof in upcoming issues.

There are of course many other places to get bling for your machine – most likely from the manufacturers themselves! But depending on what it is you want to bling up or improve, you could look at Pazzo levers or carbon fibre from a number of suppliers. But for me, it always comes back to Rizoma. Their products offer truly standout quality.

Yes, they come at a price, but don’t kid yourself that you can buy quality paying for it accordingly. You can scour ebay for stuff made in China, and some of it is even okay; but I bought a pair of levers for a previous long term bike and they were terrible. They actually affected the braking performance of the bike,and not in a good way – and yet look quite cool. So looks aren’t everything!


Tyres are those round and black things that help keep your rims from being dented. But believe it or not they do more; fitting the tyres best suited to the kind of riding you’re doing is a great step towards improving your bike. We have used most brands out there, but still keep coming back to Pirelli for their consistent feel and consistent wear.

As an example, we recently fitted Scorpions to our long-term V-Strom and The Bear can’t stop grinning.


Notice how nicely your bike rides when you spray some chain lube on the chain? Yes, even The Bear is starting to understand, after all these years! Unless he’s doing it to keep me from nagging him about it all the time! Replacing your chain and sprockets if they are not in tip top condition is another way of improving your bike. Gear changes will be better, your bike will operate more smoothly and you’ll be more relaxed when riding the bike, too.


Have you fitted a DNA or K&N air filter to your bike? This is a simple and relatively low cost way to improve the performance of your bike. We have used both of these brands and always found an improvement, and because DNA or K&N air filters are re-useable after cleaning, this is a long term option that works out to be very cost effective.


Most standard exhausts are heavily restricted to comply with emissions laws. Simply putting an aftermarket slip-on or a full exhaust system onto your bike can improve performance, but also the “connection” you feel with it. We have used a number of brands over the years,Staintune, Arrow, Akrapovic, Vance & Hines, Racefit, M4 and Scorpion among them, all with good results at varying levels. Here’s a hint: a lot of overly noisy exhausts actually waste energy instead of adding it.


Protecting the paint work on your machine not only helps keep it looking smart, but will help bring a better resale value down the track. A number of manufacturers offer paint protection kits as accessories, or you can look around for people like OziCozi who do an amazing job with film coatings. You also have people like Ventura and AMHP who have covers to protect the headlights. That’s not paint, but it can be expensive if you don’t think ahead!


Heated grips are a wonderful way to improve your bike. Shivering in the cold and struggling to control the motorcycle are not good. So look for a pair of heated grips from either your manufacturer or an aftermarket supplier. We have used several OEM and Oxford heated grips.


Have you thought about replacing the footpegs on your bike? No? Well, you can get all sorts of variations to help you set up the bike just the way that suits you, helping with comfort and feel on the bike.


This is a fine way to improve your bike.

A more comfy, or different styled seat will not only make you feel better but will have everyone talking, whenever you stop. We are currently using Mustang seats on various bikes and are very happy with them.

Manufacturers of accessory seats and custom made seats can be found on the web, too, and will make seats to your specification.


Barkbusters are the well-deserved leader in hand guard design and have been for many, many years. We have used Barkbusters on all sorts of bikes and you’ll see that they even make hand guards for a number of manufacturers.


Braking is obviously an important factor of any motorcycle that needs to be at the top of its game. Fitting top class brakes pads, top quality brake discs and of course braided brake lines are all essential for any motorcycle that’s required to work hard, I reckon – and isn’t that all of them at one stage or another?. We have used brake pads from EBC and SBS; brake discs from EBC and NG and braided brake lines from Venhill and Hel.


Fitting a pair of lights, or improving your current headlight globe with one of the many the options available is a great investment for your bike. Most recently we have used several products from XenonOZ with great success.


If you fit a screen – and you’ll be amazed how much difference one can make – you will want one that’s just right for your height or preferences.

Manufacturers often have a touring or high screen option for their bikes, but there are also a number of aftermarket screen makers who probably make just the screen that you want. Check out Eagle Screens, whom we have used for many years for a number of different bikes.


This is more of a personal thing to improve your bike while touring; a GPS can make your travels more enjoyable and even increase the resale value of your bike down the track. Garmin, Tom Tom and manufacturer-supplied units have mostly worked very well for us.


If you’ve improved your bike with one or more of the items listed here,you can be sure that you have a motorcycle that’s not only better but also personalised to your liking. You may not see another like it on the road – what a wonderful feeling. Feel free to drop us some pictures of improved bikes; we’ll see about publishing them if we get enough.

Series Navigation<< BIKE LAUNCHLAUNCH >>
About the Author
Australian Motorcyclist Magazine is Australia's leading motorcycle travel magazine.
Page Scroller Supported By Bottom to Top