Used Bike Special: 5 modifications that add value and 5 that don't

Scott Redmond
By Scott Redmond
ScottRedmond4 Used bike expert, bike anorak, lifetime wheeler dealer and sometime bike breaker. Regularly rides off for a 'mooch'.
Modifications that are hot or not when it comes to buying or selling

In this, the first in our series of used bike buying and selling articles, we have taken a look at what changes are hot and what’s not in 2017, but more importantly we want to look at what adds value to your bike, and what detracts from it’s worth.

The first thing we do when we buy a motorcycle is to start changing it. This is nothing new, motorcyclists have been tinkering with their bikes for generations. Not every change is a good one yet there are plenty of modifications that allow you to enjoy your bike that little bit more. 

HOT

Termignoni exhausts will add value to your used bike

Exhaust

It’s probably the number one item that we change. From cruisers, customs and sports bikes right down to MSX125s and mopeds, the exhaust is the first part we want to upgrade. This is even more relevant in these days of tighter emissions and ever larger silencers. Get it right and you’ll not only add value to your bike but you’ll also add street cred. Get it wrong and you’ll wish you hadn’t bothered. Full systems are an expensive change, so for many purchasing an end can is the cheapest option. There’s no shortage of styles, from stumpy cans to WSB replica items, it’s all down to personal choice at the end of the day. Carbon fibre silencers do look cool but over time they can age badly, and in the event of your bike falling over or worse; they’re not so good at taking an impact when compared to alloy, titanium or stainless silencers.

Power Commanders/Remapping

To get the best from your bike a Power Commander or a Remap can really help to bring your bike alive. This goes hand in hand with aftermarket exhaust and silencer upgrades, but can also work remarkably well on a stock machine. Again, it’s our friends at the emission police who factor in hurdles for manufacturers to jump when they’re building a new machine. This year’s Euro 4 is just a taster of what’s to come, with Euro 5 already taking shape. Unlike a posh pipe there’s no added kerb appeal to your bikes appearance, but that doesn’t matter when you’re flicking through the gears on your favourite stretch of road.

Trick rear monoshock will add value to your used bike

Suspension

Over the last decade the manufacturers have really stepped up their game where suspension is concerned. Back in the 90s owners were presented with adjustable forks and shocks and if we’re being honest, none of us had a clue on how to set them up. Since then forks have got fatter and shocks have got sexier but do any of us really understand the black art of preload, rebound and other suspension related jargon? Getting your bike’s suspension set up to suit you is like wearing a suit from Tesco’s and then popping down to Savile Row and getting a bespoke one knocked up. You will reap the rewards during your ownership.

Brakes

Like the suspension on modern bikes, the brakes have continued to progress. Adding gadgets like ABS also adds safety and enjoyment to your riding experiences. Anything that aids better braking is money well spent. There are various places you can invest your dollar. These range from fancy master cylinders and racy callipers to more humble parts of the braking process like the pads and brake lines. Most riders will appreciate any braking upgrades, so they’re a sound investment. 

Top box on an Africa Twin is more than just practical

Luggage

So far I’ve been leaning towards the sports bike owner, but one of the things I really appreciate is a decent luggage system. Unlike advances in technological gadgets, the top box and pannier world is still pretty much unchanged. Sure the boxes are bigger these days and have more aesthetically pleasing lines but at the end of the day, they’re pretty much the same kit. Prices for touring kit, racks, panniers and luggage systems have never been cheap. With the swing towards Adventure bikes still carrying traction, it’s never been cooler to have a top box. They might cost a lump to buy but they really do add more than just convenience to your machine.

NOT

Custom paint jobs

Respraying a motorcycle is without doubt the biggest change that you can make to your bike. Why do it? Most models come in a variety of colour schemes to suit most tastes, so why do machines end up under the spray gun? There are several reasons and most of them aren’t good. The most likely reason will be because it’s been in an accident. Even bikes repaired to original colours never look 100%, and when you remove the panels and see etched instructions inside the panel, you know it’s been repainted. They don’t do that back at the factory; this is the language of the paint shop.

Race replica paint jobs are almost acceptable but come the following year when the sponsors and team part company, your bike instantly looks so last year. One off custom jobs are the worst offender at knocking pounds from your bike. Keep it standard if you want to reach a wider audience. 

Polished parts

Polished alloy looks lovely. It’s one of those things that can really make your bike stand out. It’s a popular addition to bikes right across the spectrum from race reps to customs. Unpolished and weathered alloy looks pants. Keeping those polished alloy components is a real labour of love and not cheap. You’re going to need some pretty professional kit to keep the bling shining. Polished frames usually result from accident damage, so that’s another alarm bell your bike will set off in any potential buyers head.

Anodised fasteners

We’ve all got that one mate that’s addicted to anodised bolts. Like a rash the coloured alloy fasteners can quickly riddle a machine. It usually starts with a few bolts, maybe to hold the screen on, the number plate or pretty colour banjo bolts for the brake lines. The curse afflicts certain models more than most. 

Mini indicators, a mad craze

Mini Indicators

This is one craze that refuses to go away. They can not just detract money from the value of your bike, but actually stop people wanting to view it in the first place, after all what’s so bad about a standard indicator? There’s a mini indicator for all pockets ranging from a set of four for a tenner, right up to proper custom ones that cost the wrong side of a hundred quid.

Alarms

Alarms are one of those dull items you purchase. They’re mostly bought at point of sale when sat in the swanky dealers showroom. They’re an add on like getting sold a warranty on a new fridge or some Scotch Guard on that new sofa, you never see that money again. Alarms have improved over the years, and of course they are one way to stop someone else pinching your bike.

Nothing ever lasts forever and alarms often prove this. When they play up it’s a job for a skilled technician to untangle the wires from the loom of the bike. Certain manufacturers alarms are like ticking time bombs, it’s not if they’ll pack up, but when.
Latest News from BikeSocial

Latest Advice

  • Workshop advice: How to fit a shock, change bearings and start a custom motorcycle build
    Workshop advice: How to fit a shock, change bearings and start a custom motorcycle build
  • Rider Skills: Riding at Night
    Rider Skills: Riding at Night
  • Riding Skills: Maintenance
    Riding Skills: Everyday Maintenance
  • How do you keep a motorcycle safe? Best bike security
    How do you keep a motorcycle safe? Best bike security