People put a lot of time and effort not only into making their motorcycles look great but they also spend a lot of money on upgrading them to perform better, whether on the road or on the track. It doesn't seem to matter how fast and powerful a bike is when it comes from the factory, even the fastest and most impressive looking beasts seem to have room for improvement.
Pretty much every stock motorcycle comes prepared to handle the open road with ease. But those who think that in the case of street riding, adding upgrades and modifying a bike would be more about boosting the aesthetics rather than performance, they'd be wrong. Today, in a world filled with faster and more powerful bikes than we've ever seen before, we seem to want motorcycle performance enhancements more than ever - No one has ever heard of a motorcycle enthusiast who asks to go slower.
While the parts that make a bike go faster (and louder) will sometimes land the rider in trouble with the law, it seems like it's more down to the fact that the rider has actually been speeding and riding recklessly that caused it, rather than the modification themselves.
Aesthetic modifications are different. They actually won't make the bike go faster at all, but they do seem to land bikers in just as much trouble. Perhaps because the uniqueness makes them stand out more? Let's just get straight to the point and see which 15 motorcycle modifications people get away with, and 10 that the cops always catch.
25 Get Away With: Decals
Everyone knows that motorcycles with decals are faster than those without. Riders who really want to show how fast they are will have racing numbers as well. Those with a little racing knowledge often use 46 - because their riding style is very similar to Valentino Rossi's.
Of course, the bike should also have lots of stickers from various brands to make it look like the rider is sponsored - energy drink companies are the most popular options. While the police won't care about a bike covered in stickers, there is a chance the insurance company will - so talk to them before turning your bike into a race replica.
24 Get Away With: Suspension
The suspension is almost always the best place to start when modifying a bike. All the power in the world won’t help you go faster if you’re not confident in how your bike handles as speeds increase. Upgrading a bike’s suspension improves feel, which lends itself to increased confidence, i.e. going faster.
Adjust the suspension to dial in the correct amount of sag, compression and rebound so they match and are comfortable for you. Get new springs if your weight is outside of the adjustable range for your stock suspension. Not only will you get away with doing this, it is pretty much obligatory.
23 Get Away With: Ergonomics
It’s extremely important to be able to easily and quickly move around on your bike while maintaining proper body position. In addition, modifying the bike so it actually fits your body and suits your riding style will help prevent fatigue and pain.
There are several parts that can be swapped out and adjusted to make it fit you better. Handlebars can be raised or lowered, the lever's position can be altered, changing the position of the foot pegs - such as forward controls on a cruiser or rear-sets on a sportbike. These things actually make riding safer, so we doubt the cops will have any issues with mods like these.
22 Get Away With: Tires
With the exception of some very high-end machines that come stock with premium rubber, factory tires on most bikes are less than ideal for spirited riding. Since tires are such a huge part of your overall riding experience and give the bike a lot of its handling characteristics and personality, it only makes sense to get some stickier rubber on there.
While an officer might ask you where you ride in order to get rid of the chicken strips and why there's melted rubber on the tire, having super-sticky tires is not a crime - But the speed you carry through the corners after fitting them might be illegal.
21 Get Away With: Legal Performance Exhaust
A proper exhaust system isn't particularly cheap, but it's definitely one of the best mods ever. Everyone says they buy an aftermarket exhaust for the performance, but let's be honest, while it will save you a few pounds compared to the big, ugly standard exhaust, and it can unlock some power, the most important part is that it unleashes the loud roar that gives your bike its personality.
With an exhaust that's approved for street use, it won't be so obnoxiously loud that the neighbors will call the cops on you every time you start the bike. And even if they did, you'll have the paperwork to show that it's legal.
20 Get Away With: Air Filter & Remap
Those who've gone for an aftermarket full-exhaust should definitely change the air filter and get the ECU flashed or remapped as well. After all, your exhaust will never give you the extra power you want if you’re not getting extra air and fuel into your engine to create it.
The chances of the police calling you out on this are slim to none if you act responsibly. Riding like a complete lunatic and actually getting the cops angry will probably result in them going over everything on the bike to make your life miserable.
19 Get Away With: Brakes
Improving the brakes on your bike is not only a mod you'll get away with, but it's also highly recommended to do so. Do you really think the police will tell you that your bike is too good at stopping? Nah! Knowing the bike will be able to slow down in case something unforeseen happens really boosts confidence levels as well.
The easiest way to improve braking is to swap out your pads. Next up are new discs, and while you're at it, why not get some steel braided brake lines as well?! A good set of adjustable levers might fall under the ergonomics category, but they'll also help improve the feel of your brakes and clutch.
18 Get Away With: Crash Protectors/Sliders
Frame sliders help keep your frame away from the ground in the event of a crash or tip-over. They’re sturdy and solid, and some models stick out just far enough to protect your fairings from touching the ground too. OEM bike parts are a lot more expensive than plastic frame slider replacement pucks, so consider these some seriously cheap insurance!
Engine guards serve a similar purpose for cruisers, putting a protective bar of steel in between your bike's engine and the ground if it should go down - scratches on your engine case or tank would ruin more than just your day. Again, cheap insurance that every bike should have.
17 Get Away With: Windshield
Unless you ride a naked bike, you probably have some sort of basic windshield on your motorcycle; from the tiny screens on sportbikes to the massive ones on big tourers.
Different styles direct airflow in different ways and depending on your height, the speeds you ride, and your personal taste, you’ll want to change the stock windshield for something more suited to you.
The right windshield will help get rid of turbulence and provides you with a smoother and more comfortable ride, which actually makes you safer in the long run.
16 Get Away With: Fender Eliminator
Stock fenders are bulky, ugly, and really mess up the otherwise sleek look of a motorcycle. Budget fender eliminators from eBay are often just a plate bracket without a license plate light or turn signals, and they are probably illegal. Quality fender eliminators account for that, and either include or relocate all your stock lighting to keep you from getting unwanted attention from the law.
As long as all the legally required parts are still on the bike, the police really won't care about this mod. Those who do get in trouble are the ones who've fitted cheap kits or some homemade solution.
15 Get Away With: Small Turn Signals
Most bike owners will agree that the stock turn signals are too big and ugly. They just seem to be an afterthought, rather than something the manufacturer has spent a lot of time to incorporate into the bike's design.
There are turn signals out there that are small and compact, look good, and they're just as bright, or even brighter than the original ones. And the best part is that some of them are approved for road use. As long as they're legal and visible on the bike there shouldn't be any issues.
14 Get Away With: A Lighter Bike
A lighter bike will be a faster bike, not only will it be faster in terms of outright speed, but also how it responds when cornering or braking. As an added bonus, fuel consumption will be lower as well. Removing anything that's not needed to keep the bike road-legal will make it faster - and there's nothing anyone can say or do about it.
There are quite a few things that can be done to save weight. The rims can be swapped for some lighter ones. The battery can be replaced with a lighter unit. Race fairings are much lighter than the standard plastic ones... Get rid of anything unnecessary!
13 Get Away With: Change Gearing
By changing the sprockets, you can create a more efficient ride as well as manipulate the top speed and acceleration of the bike. Gearing is the ratio between the teeth on the front and rear sprockets. If you want to improve acceleration, gearing down or shortening your bike’s gears is the best method, and conversely, gearing up the system with smaller rear sprockets allows for more top speed.
Is it legal? That would depend on where you live. But unless we're talking about those dinner plate-sized rear sprockets used by stunters, the risk of being caught messing around with the gearing is pretty much non-existent.
12 Get Away With: Louder Horn
You don't want to go all-out and get an air pressure horn, that's a bit overkill... and illegal. But we totally agree that motorcycle horns sometimes aren't loud enough, and there are road-legal aftermarket horns available.
This is another mod that is intended to keep you safer while riding. We all know that there are drivers out there who don't look before maneuvering, and then there are the zombie pedestrians who are more focused on their phones than on what's going on around them. Most police officers would understand why you got this mod.
11 Get Away With: Bar End Mirrors
Bar end mirrors can, in some cases, be better than the standard ones that came on the bike. There's usually fewer vibrations compared to the standard mirrors, which helps you actually see what's going on behind you, rather than everything being a blur.
Even when stock mirrors aren't vibrating, they usually just reflect the rider's shoulders or upper body. Bar end mirrors, as the name implies, are fitted at the end of the bars - so there won't be anybody parts blocking your rear view.
10 Police Always Catch: Mirror Removal
Some states require motorcycles to have two mirrors, other states only require motorcycles to have one mirror - fitted to the left-hand side. And then there are a few states you may lawfully operate a motorcycle without any mirrors at all. Of course, the fact that you can do so legally doesn’t mean that it’s a good idea.
Those who live in a place where mirrors are required should leave them on if they don't want to get a ticket. If the OEM mirrors are absolutely hopeless, consider replacing them with some aftermarket ones instead of just ripping them off and leaving them in a ditch.
9 Police Always Catch: Obscured License Plate
This one really is a no-brainer. The license plate is there for a reason, and it shouldn't come as a big surprise that the cops will pull you over and give you a hard time if they can't see your plate.
This modification is pretty much a dead giveaway that someone has plans of riding recklessly like a complete moron. There really aren't any other reasons for hiding the plate, we know that, and the police knows it as well. Have fun while you can, but we won't feel sorry for you when you get caught.
8 Police Always Catch: Obnoxiously Loud Exhaust
Blaring down a residential street in the middle of the night? Blasting between lanes? Revving excessively at traffic lights? Guess what, obnoxiously loud pipes do not save lives. They do annoy people though, and at some point, someone will call the cops.
We know that the sound of the bike is a big part of the experience, but believe it or not, there are people out there who aren't interested in hearing a throaty V-twin or roaring inline-four. Install a road legal system, that way you won't have to be the source of negativity in your neighborhood.
7 Police Always Catch: Extended Swingarm
Extended, or stretched, swingarms are sort of like choppers in reverse - all the 'longness' is on the rear instead of the front... and it really doesn't do the bike any favors.
While extended swingarms technically might not be illegal, there is a pretty good reason for the police to take a closer look at your bike if you have fitted one of these things.
Extended swingarms are popular with drag racers, as they're supposed to help keep the front down when accelerating hard. We all know the police aren't big fans of people drag racing on the streets, so the chances of being pulled over will definitely increase.
6 Police Always Catch: Fat Rear Tire
Wider tires, especially really wide setups like you might see on a custom cruiser or a fat-tire Suzuki Hayabusa, ruin the bike's handling abilities. For starters, the bike won’t tip into corners as easily and it will require more bar input to stay in line. Wider tires and rims are also heavier so acceleration and braking performance suffer, and that extra mass makes your suspension’s job harder since there’s more unsprung weight to control.
This is one of those mods that may or may not be legal. But since it's not exactly low key, the police will want to take a closer look at your bike... which will lead to them discovering any other illegal mods.
5 Police Always Catch: Aftermarket Headlights
All vehicles across the world have the same standard light for certain purposes, like red taillights and brake lights, amber turn signals, and so on. This means any headlights that use non-standard colors are illegal, and since it has a major impact on safety, the law will not take kindly to this type of modification.
Even headlights that use the correct color can be illegal. HID kits are very powerful, and these lamps are capable of temporarily blinding oncoming traffic. It’s mandatory to install a projector lens alongside the HID. In other words, if you don’t want your motorcycle to be seized by the cops, make sure your lights are legal.
4 Police Always Catch: Neon Lights
Body glow, LEDs, neon lights, whatever they may be called we're not big fans - and luckily for us, neither are the cops. Whilst the law enforcement officers are more interested in the fact that these lights are distracting to other road users, we just find them ugly, unnecessary and tasteless.
This modification really is like tuner street-glow, just a lot worse. It screams that the owner of the bike is desperate for attention, which he or she will get plenty of once the cops show up.
3 Police Always Catch: Get Back Whips
Some claim the idea behind Get Back Whips is to ensure that other motorists notice the biker and is aware of the bike's existence on the road, hence, they’ll be safe. Others say they're a useful tool to show a club’s colors.
Whatever the reason may be to attach a whip to the bike's handlebars, it does pose a risk of getting in trouble with the law. Many law enforcement agencies around the United States commonly look at Get Back Whips as an actual weapon and may take legal action against those riding with these accessories.
2 Police Always Catch: Flush Mount Turn Signals
Flush mount turn signals are meant to be better looking than the ones that come standard on most bikes. This isn't necessarily a bad modification, seeing as many of the flush mount ones are actually brighter than the OEM turn signals.
However, the stock turn signals stick out the way they do in order for other motorists to actually be able to see them and having flush mounted ones will in some cases mean they're hidden at certain angles. When riding a bike, it's a well-known fact that other motorists have trouble spotting you and predicting your moves already. We have no problems understanding why the police will pull someone over for this modification.
1 Police Always Catch: Front Brake Removal
This mod was popular way back in the days prior to the invention of disc brakes, and today it's done mostly by those who want to build "period correct" choppers and bobbers. What's the point of doing it? The reason is exactly the same today as it was back in the 60s - purely for aesthetics.
For any sort of public-road driving, this is surely one of the most dangerous mods you can make to a motorcycle, and to be honest we're actually more than happy with the police having a roadside chat with those who think it's a good idea.
Sources: Revzilla, Motorcycle, Rideapart