12 Best Harley Modifications and Upgrades [Video]

Based on our research, the 12 best modifications on Harley-Davidson motorcycles are as follows:

  1. Custom paint
  2. Fairings
  3. Windshield
  4. Custom seat
  5. Upgraded handlebars
  6. Engine guard
  7. Adjustable shocks
  8. New wheels and tires
  9. Trike kit
  10. Bags and boxes
  11. New exhaust system
  12. Performance mods (like Screamin Eagle kits)

If you want to find out more about these performance mods, you’ve come to the right place.

We at PowerSportsGuide have compiled all you need to know under one roof!

12 Best Harley Modifications and Upgrades

1. Custom Paint

One of the simplest ways to customize your Harley is to dress it with a custom paint job.

If you are seeking an easy solution, you should take a look at the official Harley accessory catalog, which offers factory custom paint schemes. These hand-made Harley paint jobs are available on limited edition models, which often means on only a few hundred bikes.

One of the biggest drawbacks of these dresses is their hefty price tags which vary between $1,700-$7,000.

What’s more, many riders claim that these limited-edition color schemes are light years away from a real custom paint job.

If you are seeking a truly unique look, you can get a real custom paint job from a local paint shop instead!

2. Fairings

Besides a unique paint job, another great way to customize a Harley is to equip it with some nice fairings.

You can choose from virtually countless OEM and aftermarket Harley fairing kits, which are available for most models.

For example, smaller head fairings fit perfectly on cruisers, and many of them come with a low-profile windshield as standard.

In contrast, large touring Harleys can be equipped with full fairing kits. Many riders customize their Harleys with a distinguished-looking shark nose or batwing fairings.

To make life easier, these bolt-on fairings come in kits with all the necessary mounting hardware like metal brackets and bolts.

Note that just like the fairings, these mounting kits are also often model-specific.

3. Windshields

Just like fairings, a windshield can also give your bike a customized look.

What’s more, a windshield offers great protection from the elements, bugs, and rocks. Ultimately, it ensures more comfortable rides and less fatigue.

Harley windshields come in many shapes and sizes, but they can be divided into two major groups.

Many of them are integrated into the top of the head fairing, while others arrive as a separate unit that has to be mounted on the front forks or the handlebars.

4. Seat

A custom seat can also separate your bike from the crowd. Harley seats are marketed in solo and two-up configurations and are available in many different finishes and colors.

It’s safe to say that some of the best OEM Harley seats can be found in the Sundowner and Hammock family, and the best aftermarket seats are made by:

  • Corbin
  • Mustang
  • Danny Gray
  • LePera
  • Saddlemen
  • V-Twin Manufacturing
  • CyclePedic
  • Ultimate
  • Sergeant

Besides these reputable manufacturers that market seats off-the-shelf, some other companies like Russell custom build seats from scratch.

Although custom-built Harley seats don’t come cheap, you can be sure that they will be tailored based on your needs and seating position.

5. Handlebars

Custom handlebars can not only give your Harley a custom look, but they can also change its riding characteristics. Certain models are tuned for comfort while others can make your bike much more sporty.

Note that the handlebars have to match the head fairing. For example, large batwing and shark nose fairings require special extended handlebars.

6. Engine Guard

As the name suggests, engine protectors are designed to protect the engine in an accident. In addition, they offer some protection for the fairing, tank, and your legs as well.

This results in higher safety and lower repair bills in case of a fall.

Due to their distinctive shape, engine protectors are often referred to as mustache bars, but they are also known as engine crash bars.

Some of them come with a pair of footrest pegs, which ensures a more relaxing, fatigue-free riding position.

If you are considering installing an engine guard on your bike, keep in mind that certain models reduce the maximum lean angle.

7. Adjustable Shocks

When it comes to customizing a Harley-Davidson, the shocks are often overlooked.

This is a big mistake since a high-quality adjustable suspension offers many advantages, like variable ride height and suspension stiffness.

The most advanced models can be adjusted without any tools, allowing you to change your suspension settings even in a parking lot.

If you are a small rider, you will also appreciate the minimized ride height of a low-profile rear suspension.

Just make sure to invest in a high-quality product, since the cheap ones are prone to leaking after a short period.

8. Wheels and Tires

You can also customize your bike with a pair of aftermarket rims and tires.

White wall tires give your Harley a unique, old-school appearance, but you can also find some unique models among black wall tires as well.

When it comes to rims, you can choose from a wide variety of mags, spokes, and valve caps based on your needs.

9. Trike Kits

Installing a trike kit can turn your Harley into a unique and convenient machine, offering extra storage capacity, more comfort, and higher safety.

From the traditional “wheels back” kits to the latest leaning reverse trike kits you can choose from a variety of products.

And contrary to popular belief, these kits are not just for senior riders!

10. Bags and Boxes

Adding side bags or boxes is also a common way to customize a Harley since these units come in many shapes and sizes.

Some of them are nestled in a metal frame while others are directly attached to the frame with mounting hardware.

These durable storage units provide optimum protection for your gear, which comes in handy on longer tours.

11. Exhaust Modifications

It wouldn’t be a complete list of Harley modifications without mentioning exhaust modifications.

Although street piping is very popular among Harley riders, keep in mind that this mod is not street legal in many states.

But even if it’s legal in your state, don’t forget that street piping can be harmful to your bike in many ways.

If you are looking for a safe and legal solution, you can find a lot of great aftermarket Harley exhaust systems in the marketplace.

Besides a deeper sound and the customized appearance, these systems can also slightly increase the flow, resulting in some extra HP.

12. Performance Mods

The owners of powersport vehicles like performance modifications, and Harley riders are no exception.

These mods are intended to increase engine power, which translates into a higher top speed and quicker acceleration.

Without this list being complete, some of the most popular Harley performance mods are as follows:

  • Free-flow air cleaner
  • Exhaust mods
  • Computer tune (ECM remapping) / rejetted carburetor
  • Performance cams and pushrods
  • Upgraded ignition (if required)
  • Big bore kits (larger cylinders and pistons)
  • Full engine upgrade kits (including heads and throttle bodies)

For your convenience, the manufacturer wraps some of the most popular OEM performance parts into four upgrade kits.

These kits are labeled the Screamin’ Eagle Upgrade kits, but they are often referred to as Harley stage kits as well.


If you want to customize your Harley, you have virtually countless options, but the most popular ones are as follows:

  1. Custom paint
  2. Fairings
  3. Windshield
  4. Custom seat
  5. Handlebars
  6. Engine guard
  7. Adjustable shocks
  8. Wheels and tires
  9. Trike kits
  10. Bags and boxes
  11. Exhaust system
  12. Performance mods

Besides OEM Harley parts and accessories, there are many great aftermarket products in the marketplace!




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