How to customise bikes12 May 2023
Ever taken a long hard look at your bike and wished you had the know-how to give it the personal touch? If you want to make your bike your own so you can look and feel your best in the saddle, there are plenty of ways you can do it - and some don’t even require technical expertise.
How to customise your bike
The first thing to think about when it comes to personalising a bike is what your aims are. Do you want a bike that’s more aesthetically pleasing? Are you looking to upgrade your bike for better performance? Does your set-up need tweaking to suit you better? Any of these options are possible, but it’s good to do some research first.
Before you get started, it’s important to understand the potential impacts of customising your bike. If you’re not confident in installing a component or you’re considering repainting your frame, it might be a better idea to get an experienced professional to do it for you. This will probably be more expensive, but it saves you the cost of repairs in the event of something going wrong. It’s also a good idea to check your bike’s warranty. Some mods, such as stripping and repainting a frame, may invalidate your warranty - just don’t wait until you’re halfway through the job to make sure.
Below, we’ve detailed four ways you can customise your bike.
Switch up your components
If you want to upgrade your bike’s performance without forking out for a whole new ride, one thing you can try is switching out your current components for newer or improved versions. For example, switching from an alloy seatpost to a carbon one will shave some weight from your bike and can make some difference to ride comfort and efficiency. All of this adds up to better overall performance.
You can change or upgrade pretty much any components on your bike once you’ve done some research and checked compatibility. You should also consider those upgrades which are specific to bike type. For example, upgrading the suspension on your mountain bike can make a huge difference.
Plus, there’s no need to limit yourself to just the essential components of your bike. You can also add accessories such as luggage racks, water bottle cages, mudguards and more to make your set-up work for you.
Upgrades don’t have to be solely about function or efficiency. Anyone can make a bike their own by changing components for aesthetic value. If you’re looking to add a splash of colour to your set-up, what better way to do it than by swapping out straightforward components like bars and seat posts with different coloured versions? In many cases, all you need to do is to replace the old component with the new. This can be an easy job you can learn to do yourself, or you can enlist the help of a skilled bike mechanic.
Adjust your set-up
Setting up your bike is a must-do task before you take your first ride on a new bike, but that doesn’t mean you should do it once and then forget about it until you get your next bike. If your performance in the saddle is feeling flat and you want to do something about it, now could be a good time to check your set-up to make sure it still works for you.
If it’s been a while since your first ride, it may well be that your riding style and preferences have changed along the way. While your saddle height will probably be roughly the same as it was before, it’s still worth checking that nothing has changed. If you’ve been using the bike for a while, you might find that your leg extension has improved, meaning the saddle needs to be raised a little to get maximum efficiency. You might also feel that tiling the saddle back or forward makes a difference to your comfort and efficiency. It’s also worth considering bar and lever positions to ensure they suit your preferences. If you find you’re riding with pain, it’s always worthwhile to seek advice from a bike fitting professional who can help you to make sure you’re making the right alterations.
Personalise your frame
The frame of your bike is one of the most noticeable parts from an aesthetics perspective, so if you’re looking to add a splash of colour to your set-up, the frame is a great place to start. If you want to stick to something light and reversible, consider vinyl stickers and decals. They’re easy to apply, can be removed at a later date if need be, and you can get them in a huge range of colours, patterns, and designs. Plus, if you can’t find one that’s just right for you, you could always use a company that turns custom designs into vinyls instead.
If you want to go bigger than simply adding stickers and decals, another option to consider is a paint job for your frame. This takes longer and is both trickier and more complicated to do - which is why it’s usually best to get a trained professional to carry out the job for you. It’s also worth bearing in mind that altering your bike’s paint job is likely to invalidate a warranty, so you might prefer to only try this on bikes that are already outside of their warranty period.
Add grips or bar tape
Finally, one last small change you can make to your bike to add the final touches involves the handlebars. Most cyclists use either grips or bar tape to cushion their hands against the vibrations coming up through the head tube and into the bars - and you can choose different colours and patterns to suit your style.