Like Willie G. says, a motorcycle is not for everybody. It’s dramatic, a means of self-expression like no other. And motorcycle customisation is the ultimate way to make a statement.

In a world of cookie-cutter rides, a custom bike roars individuality. It embraces unlikely geometry and clothes it in lashings of chrome. A custom motorcycle can be radical, provocative, even artistic. Done badly, it’s just a hot mess. But it’s your hot mess.

Turning a production line bike into a two-wheeled icon takes skill. And the balls to break stuff and put it back together better. If you’re itching to create your cafe racer, bobber, chopper or cut down, then here’s what you need to know.

And remember, one is custom. Two is just another motorbike.

How it started

It all begins with a Harley. Back in WWII, the company customised several bikes for the US armed forces. Designed for performance and function, those early custom Harleys quickly drew admiring glances.

Then once the economy picked up, riders began customising for style. Is there a better way to put your personality out there than through metal, torque and power?

How it’s going

Smashing sh*t up and customising the hell out of it? It’s primal and visceral. And it’s intensely personal.

Want a bike that’s stripped back to the bare bones and built for speed? Bobbers are the pure essence of a custom bike – think raked forks, custom paint jobs and smaller fuel tanks.

That hipster motorcycle you crave? It’s a cafe racer for the 21st century with its minimalist lines and pipe wrapped exhausts.

Want your feet forward and your fists in the breeze with that balls-out chopper profile? You’re looking at a Softail custom, a classic straight out of the FX custom era.

Modern custom bikes are all about personalisation and bespoke craftsmanship. You can learn the skills you need on YouTube, or you can trust your local artisan. The only rule? There are no rules.

The visionary is the only realist

Customisation is your vision made real. And it starts from the ground up.

Wheels are the common denominator that bobbers, cruisers and cafe racers all share. Customising wheels and tyres will impact both performance and aesthetics. It lets you achieve the balance and proportions you crave – from a lighter skeletal appearance to something intense and aggressive that owns the road.

When it comes to frame geometry, what works for your personalisation is all about negative space. Whether you prefer the stripped-down lines of a cafe racer or the pumped-up heft of a Harley chopper, getting the balance right creates the geometry that chimes with your aesthetics.

We need to talk about bodywork. Do you want to peel it back and let the power unspool? Or keep it buttoned uptight and sleek. Again, it’s a marmite decision that’s down to your personal preferences.

Form and function

Every customisation you make needs to be driven by your body type and the way you ride. Because yup, form does follow function.

The laws of physics and ergonomics mean that no Harley is ever too big or heavy for your style, whether you’re a laidback tourer or prefer an aggressive sport profile. Pay attention to the golden rider triangle – feet, seat and hands – and your bike will fit you like your Indie Ridge gloves.

Next up, you’re ready for a stage one upgrade. A performance boost that adds that throaty Harley rumble that connects directly to your guts.

Improving the oil and airflow, adding a new exhaust system and tuning the fuelling is hands down the easiest way to generate more torque and horsepower. And did we mention that iconic Harley sound?

Your Harley is more than just a hunk of metal. It’s a reflection of your personality and style. Don’t have the time, budget or patience for a major customisation job? Accessorise with a new seat or handlebars to a full-blown paint job and minimise your time off the road. But beware, accessories are often the gateway drug to a life devoted to custom motorcycles.

Your obsession is our customisation

Life is nothing if you’re not obsessed. And at Dirty Unicorn, we’re obsessed with delivering the custom Harley Davidson of your wildest imaginings. We know that Harley Davidson owners don’t follow the herd. You want to unleash your creativity on a bike that doesn’t look, sound, or perform like anything else on the road.

From custom painted bikes to kick ass trucks, we’ll help you keep it dirty and achieve your customisation goals. We can help you mark yourself out as a serious custom lover with a one-of-a-kind motorcycle that puts it all out there on the road. Want to make it happen? Get in touch today and let #TeamDU loose on your next project.