motorcycle upgrades

A Need for Speed: 7 Motorcycle Upgrades to Improve Performance

There’s no experience quite like riding a motorcycle. In the seat of a bike, you develop an intimate relationship with the road, your bike, and your mortality. Your average motorcycle should give you plenty of thrills but if you’ve got an unquenchable need for speed, we’re going to tell you about 7 easy motorcycle upgrades you should consider doing to your bike.


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These upgrades won’t make your bike the fastest ever, but they’ll make your ride more comfortable and a little zippier.

1. Swap Out Your Exhaust

If you’re looking to improve the performance of your bike, swapping your stock exhaust out with an aftermarket model is the first thing you should do. To really get the most out of this upgrade you should really consider upgrading the entire exhaust system, not just the muffler.

An aftermarket exhaust helps your bike’s performance because they’re typically much lighter and are much better are expelling exhaust from your engine quickly. This means that your bike will go faster because of the reduced weight and your engine will breath better on the intake and exhaust strokes.

2. Get Adjustable Suspension

Many high-quality modern bikes already have adjustable suspension, but if yours doesn’t you should get it immediately. And if you already have an adjustable suspension you should take advantage of it.

With an adjustable suspension, you can tailor your bikes responsiveness to your specific weight and the resulting ride will be much smoother and feel more intuitive. You and the bike will become one.

If you really want to get the most of your suspension, you should take it into a professional so that they can adjust it without any doubt if they’ve done it incorrectly.

3. Cut Weight By Getting Lighter Wheels

When it comes to making your bike faster, unsprung weight is your biggest enemy. If you don’t know what “unsprung” weight is, it’s all the components of your bike that sit beneath your suspension’s springs. Your brake system, tires, rims, and forks are all examples of unsprung weight.

So to make your bike faster, you should swap out as much of this as possible for lighter alternatives. Your rims and your tires are the easiest and cheapest to swap out of the bunch.

If your wallet can stand it, swapping at your rims for carbon fiber alternatives and getting lighter, thinner tires and wheels are the key to shedding unsprung weight. There is a lot of debate about which tires are the best for speed but more than anything, new tires of any kind are going to help you go faster.

4. Adjust the Gearing

Every bike has two sprockets that the chain of their bike attaches to. There’s one sprocket attached to the transmission of your bike and one attached to your rear wheel. By adding or subtracting to the teeth on these sprockets, you can either increase the top speed of your bike or increase or decrease the power, or acceleration of the bike.

There are videos that will walk you through the differences in performance that come with adding or subtracting teeth to either sprocket. But the general rule of thumb seems to be that if you add teeth to the rear-wheel sprocket, you’ll get more power, but decrease top speed and if you add teeth to the front sprocket, you’ll get a higher top speed but decreased power.

How you want to play with the teeth on your gearing is ultimately up to you. Just make sure you know what you’re doing before you make some irreparable change. And keep in mind that if you add more than 3 teeth to your rear sprocket, you’ll need a new chain with more links.

5. Replace Your Air Filter

This is perhaps the easiest of the motorcycle upgrades on this list. As with the other stock components we mentioned, the air filter manufacturers include with their bikes aren’t always the best.

Swapping out your air filter with an aftermarket model is super cheap and easy compared to the other items on this list. This upgrade will boost your engine’s performance by improving its airflow and enhancing its filtration. There’s absolutely no reason not to do this. It’ll make your exhaust cleaner and your cylinders less gunky, too.

6. Better Braking

As we’ve mentioned earlier, installing an aftermarket braking system will decrease the amount of unsprung weight attached to your bike.

But more than that, if you’re going to upgrading your bike to go faster, you’re going to need new brakes that can safely stop your bike at its new top speed. The manufacturer’s brakes are designed to stop the bike at the top speed they designed the bike to reach. They may not be able to contend with the speeds of your new performance-boosted monster.

Doing this will ensure your safety and give you some peace of mind, allowing you to ride less scared.

7. Upgrade the Driver

Okay, we’re being a bit tongue in cheek here, but a bike is only as good as the person controlling it. And if your technique is wack, you’re not going to be able to realize the bike’s full potential.

So we recommended that you throw your bike up on a trailer (this company has some good options) and tow that bad boy to your nearest race track. Here, you can take a class that’ll help you work on your cornering and other technical abilities. Or you can just practice by yourself to your heart (or wallet’s) content.

You could have the fastest bike in the world, but if you don’t know how to control, none of its specs can help you.

Want More Motorcycle Upgrades?

If you apply all, or even just one, of these motorcycle upgrades to your bike, you’ll observe a noticeable difference in your bike’s performance. These upgrades will turn even a boring old Ninja 250 into a force to be reckoned with on the road.

If you need anymore DIY motorcycle tips, tricks, or advice, be sure to check out the rest of our blog.