What is a custom motorcycle? Basically, customs are motorcycles well known for being unique and quite different than those that are or were built by mass-produced means on an assembly line. Custom motorcycles have been modified in such a way as to add personality and style to an otherwise ordinary bike. Either that, or they are motorcycles that simply aren't produced by one of the big manufacterers. They're built on a small-scale one by one basis that are to the specs agreed upon by the purchaser.
Some bike maker names have become synonymous with custom motorcycles, such as Arlen Ness and Ben Hardy. Others, such as Orange County Choppers, Jesse James's West Coast Choppers, American IronHorse, Bourget, Big Dog and BMC have become very popular in recent years and a few of these makers have even had television shows about them. Even Harley Davidson and Honda are getting in on the custom craze by offering a "factory custom" motorcycle.
Owning or making your own custom motorcycle isn't as difficult as you might think. Sometimes it's as simple as taking a mass-produced bike and modifying it to your liking. Oftentimes, riders take their Harley Davidson, Honda, Yamaha, Kawasaki or Suzuki and add a stretched out frame or swing arm to it to give it that unique feel. Or, they chop the fenders, shorten the frame and add some funky handlebars to make it theirs.
So, what makes a custom motorcycle? Well, there are a few tell-tale signs. First is the engine. Folks usually like to increase the size and power of their original engine by swapping that out for a big V-twin. That's pretty common. Next comes the handlebars. Custom riders love to change out their handlebars to either something longer, shorter, higher or lower to give them the feel they're after. Sometimes, bike owners swap out their newer parts for old and worn out looking parts and call their bike a "rat bike." If you can think it, someone probably has done it. Overall, it's all about changing up the looks via a new paint job or pin striping and making the engine put out more power to create a pleasing and enjoyable custom motorcycle.