Extent of modifications

First step is determining what you’re capable of and how long you want to be wrenching before riding your custom bike. Based on your answers here, you can take one of two broad approaches: 

  • Make minor modifications to your project bike over time and keep it on the road the whole time.
  • Make significant modifications to your project bike in one go, meaning it will be off the road until you finish.  

The first option is the best course of action for your first build—even more so if it’s your daily rider. Project bikes often get pulled to pieces and left in boxes when the builder runs out of steam or skills. The tradeoff is that you get to keep riding for the most part, but progress may be slow and preclude extensive changes. Minor modifications might include swapping out the seat or fuel tank, installing bolt-on parts, or giving it a custom paint job. 

To do this, you’ll need to break down the work into small discrete steps that can be completed when you have the bike off the road. A downside to this approach is that progress will be slower if you can’t retire the motorcycle for extended periods of downtime.

If you want to take your bike off the road for a ground-up rebuild or jump straight into major changes on a new bike, it is certainly possible. If you love riding though, you better have another bike to ride during your project build to scratch that itch, as your bike could be off the road for a year or longer.

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