A (soon to be) new Harley Road Glide motorcycle owner asked what upgrades, alterations, or options he should prioritize on his new bike? He listed two categories: LOOKS and PERFORMANCE. Hmmm. In my experience, especially if you are riding any long multi-day trips, then add a third and fourth category: COMFORT & SAFETY. I know, I know, boring, right? Trust me when I say, long days in the saddle and lots of riding take a toll whether you’re twenty-something or age seventy. These considerations will help you rack up more miles with less fatigue while helping other drivers see and hear you on the road. Here’s my vote for the highest priority stuff to upgrade or add after you purchase your new motorcycle, what to upgrade first.

Motorcycle Upgrades and Products to Improve Your Safety

We have ridden a lot—26K+ yr for the past few years. Gear and accessories that help cagers (a.k.a. automobile drivers) feel and see me on the road, like exhaust, horn, and lighting, are a high priority for me. Anything that helps distracted drivers know you’re on the road with them. The number one cause of car/motorcycle collisions is that the car driver didn’t see the bike. Being seen, heard, or even felt by motorists makes all the difference in safely riding a motorcycle.

Foul Weather Equipment For Motorcycle Riders

GoreTex Rain Gear, Gauntlet Gloves, and good PIN-LOCK equipped Full Face Helmet for Rainy Days are a significant investment. But the first time you’re caught far from home and must ride in the rain, you’ll be so glad you have fantastic rain gear, hat, gloves, and boots. I like GoreTex stuff, and I also like the FXRG products from H-D. They come with a hefty price tag, but the quality is proven beyond doubt. CARDO COMMs are simply the best at interfacing with your bike, your phone, and other riders too. I cannot recommend it enough.

You Can Never Have Too Much Lighting On Your Motorcycle!

Load up on every Custom Dynamics LED Light kit available and be seen. They are lifetime warranty, and they draw less current than the H-D stuff. Lenses come in both smoke and red too. I have two sets of fog lights, upper and lower, to help expose roadside critters after dark when caught on twisty’s later than planned.

You can never have too much lighting on a motorcycle in my opinion.
Let there be light! Two pairs of Custom Dynamics Fog Lights adorn my 2020 RGL. One pair are custom mounted on the fairing sharing a mounting bracket with the ProBeam LED signal lights. The lower pair of foglights are mounted low on the crash bars. They are independently switched from the console using H-D switch packs to wire them independently into the bike. Safe and Clean installation was worth all the considerable effort to put them in.

Horn and Muffler Motorcycle Upgrades Help Cagers Feel Your Presence

Distracted drivers need to feel and hear you sometimes. When you press the button, the MotoHorn train horn cannot be ignored by anybody! Besides adding some exhaust decibels, the horn tops off the” be heard” element under safety. There’s no need to go crazy on the exhaust loudness. Obnoxious does announce your presence rightly enough, but there’s no need to wake the dead.

An upgrade to aftermarket exhaust can help add performance and looks to your bike, but a little more volume also helps drivers hear you nearby too.
Adding aftermarket mufflers can enhance the sound of your bike, making it more likely that you get the attention of a distracted or unaware driver. The mufflers can also add a custom look to your bike too. Here are my Magnaflow Hitman Mufflers. They sound great and look very nice though they can be a pain to keep clean.

BONUS: I like TPMS too so I know my tire pressure is always optimal. Plus it’ll add lots of miles to your tire life.

Kenny Manchester

Motorcycle Upgrade and Options For Comfort

Let’s turn our attention to motorcycle upgrades and products that improve my physical and mental enjoyment and comfort on the long rides.

The Motorcycle Saddle Or Seat For Long Hours Of Riding Comfort

COMFORT Means more miles with less fatigue. Number one on the list is the SEAT! (I love the Road Zeppelin air-adjustable)

Wind Shield (I like custom Freedom WS) Bars at the right height to keep blood flowing and back/shoulder fatigue lower. Suspension is HUGE! Later model H-D Touring models have improved significantly, but still no match for some upgraded suspension. I like Progressive, but there are other great products out there too. Keep in mind that I’m 6-6″ and 325lbs riding two-up, so my shock needs are a-typical for sure!

A quality windshield adds tremendous improvements to rider comfort and can also make your bike look better too.
Here the Freedom Windshield offers a smoke look while moving the air over and around me, minimizing wind buffeting. The good shields do not create visual distortion when you look through them either. It’s important to size the windshield to you and your head height. So be sure to settle on a saddle before you measure up for a windscreen.

After Safety And Comfort Upgrades, Performance & Looks Come Next

That’s my list. My priorities. Performance comes next, followed by Aesthetics. After safety and comfort upgrades, I turn my focus on Performance. One reason is that a bike that goes better and stops better is also a safer, more enjoyable ride. Passing slow vehicles is that much easier when the bike is willing to scoot more eagerly.

On late model H-D M8 powered bikes, you must be careful messing with CAM/Exhaust unless you are willing to implement an aftermarket tuner. Mark my words; you will lose torque otherwise. The H-D EPA restricted tuner won’t get that torque back for you either. Trust me on this. It’s a fact.

An aftermarket tuner like DynoJet’s PowerVision is up to the task of solving that problem. I like the PowerVision after cam/full exhaust/intake and air filter Change out. Passing at 75 or 80 no longer requires a downshift. I have various tunes for the time of year temp/humidity, and for long trips, I’ll opt for better fuel mileage to improve my range between tankfuls. It’s the ultimate in flexibility to flash your ECM on the road, anytime you please or feel the need. Plus, it gives you tremendous insight into your bike and helps to troubleshoot if anything goes wrong. I cannot recommend PowerVision highly enough.


Be warned that installing an aftermarket tuner to your late model Harley-Davidson motorcycle will likely void your warranty if a problem arises with your engine. It won’t matter if unrelated either once the bike is flagged by the MoCo. The same goes for exhaust head pipes. With all that said, you won’t believe the difference it makes once you shed the highly restrictive limits of H-D tuners.

Looks Do Matter and Unique Looks Are Even Nicer

I think my bike is beautiful. I 30K miles later, I still turn to look at it regularly when I park it at a venue. I love my ROOBIE DOOBIE. It’s a 2020 H-D RGL. I keep it clean-ish, but nothing more than a stock paint scheme. I have changed out a lot of lighting for safety and, during the process, opted for more attractive (to me) smoke lenses rather than the stock red ones. I’ve dressed her up uniquely by adding a smoke windshield and some additional chrome, and I’m thrilled with the way the Stiletto Red looks with the chrome.

My 2020 Harley Davidson Road Glide Limited after a nice wash.
My 2020 Harley Davidson Road Glide Limited after 27500 miles

That’s my list and why. Hopefully, it makes sense.



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