by Kristin Leary
Throughout my life, I’ve always maintained the attitude that simple is better. This applies to motorcycles as well. I’ve always preferred clean lines and designs, even on bikes that have been customized. However, like everything in life, this viewpoint is not shared by all motorcyclists.
“Simple” does not equate to “Better” when you’re an over-accessorizor. What constitutes as an over-accessorizor? To me, it boils down to a motorcyclist who goes to extremes in any one of three categories: murals, chrome or lights.
What do over-accessorizors see when they purchase a beautifully clean bike with a large tank and fenders or hard saddle bags? They see a canvas…a moving mural on wheels. Once clean bikes present over-accessorizors with opportunities to express themselves in pictures and words.
The murals I’ve seen cover the spectrum from mountain ranges to sunsets, teddy bears to flowers, self portraits to naked women painted in explicit detail. And then there are the names: Doc-n-Dolly, Big Bear, Kitty Kat (gotta love those Ks) and Road Warrior.
Whenever I see a mural or names painted on a bike, my only thought is “depreciation.”
When done right, chrome can enhance the look of a relatively basic bike. The key to that line is “When done right.” When done poorly, the bike looks like those dime store toys with their “Made in Taiwan” stickers peeling off.
I get a charge out of the heavyweight cruiser chromers whose bikes look like they have been dipped in chrome. Even more hilarious (or should I say hideous) are the luxury touring chromers who glue or two-face tape (!) pieces of plastic “chrome” onto flat, open areas of their fairings, saddle bags and trunks. What chromers don’t realize is that rather than making their bikes more distinctive they’re actually making their bikes look like all the other chromers’ bikes out there. Chrome is chrome. There aren’t too many different ways to make chrome look “original.”
At what point is enough, ENOUGH when adding chrome to a bike? The best indication is when you can’t see the paint anymore. The best chromed bikes strike a balance between paint and chrome; they enhance some overlooked part or parts of the engine or bike without washing out the bike’s interesting contours with gleam.
Just two words are needed to describe this category: circus wagon. After a certain number of lights, I don’t buy the “safety” argument anymore. These cyclists have crossed the line into Clowndom. They may as well complete the bike’s look by warping the axles with different length spokes and adding pinwheels and a huge, rubber-bulb horn.
Murals, chrome, and lights do serve a variety of purposes. Murals still belong in elementary school pageants, and chrome will always look classic on kitchen appliances. Decorative lights look best during holidays or on patios. When over used on motorcycles, however, any of these three can quickly turn from Jekyll to Hyde. Extravagant murals will inspire thoughts of depreciation. Excessive chrome can turn a riding day into a polishing day. And when others see all of those decorative lights, they might begin wondering about your gene pool.
So the next time you see people checking out your bike, the smiles on their faces might not mean, “Wow, I sure wish my bike looked like that.”