Episode 55 – Factory Performance Customs and Inverted Forks, Are They Worth It?

Today we are discussing Factory Performance bikes and Inverted Forks

Why a Factory Custom/Performance Motorcycle is Terrible

Upgrades: For Harley CVOs, built into the $40k price tag is all the upgrades they put on the bike. There is literally nothing outside of handlebars that you would need to add to the bike, and you are paying for parts/accessories that you may not even want!

You may be thinking, I just spent $40,000 on a new motorcycle, so what is another $4k for upgrades? If you are that person, please donate to Project Clean Slate where we are raising money to help a veteran transition from active duty back to civilian life by giving him/her a motorcycle!

Price list to make your Standard as close to a CVO in the looks department:
Inner Fairing: $675
Boom! Box GTS Radio: $1,900
Boom! Stage 2 Saddlebag install kit (no speakers): $300
Boom! Stage 2 Fairing upgrade kit (Amp, Speakers, install kit): $800
Boom! Stage 2 Saddlebag Speakers: $500
Wireless Headset Interface Module (WHIM): $300
Sena Boom! 30k headset: $330

Audio Cost: $4,130

Fugitive Wheels: Nope!!! CVO only, can’t buy them direct from Harley
Paint: Nope, you will have to find a paint shop to match it… EST. $5,000
Gas Tank: Not from HD!
Adaptive LED Headlight: $850
Kahuna Floorboards: $350
Kahuna footpegs (passenger): $140
Kahuna Brake Pedal: $69
Kahuna Shifter Peg: $80 ($40x2)
Black forks (upper and lower): $560
TPM System: $200
Wind Splitter Windshield: $170
Chopped engine guard: $290
I quit, too much other shit to add, so the looks cost (no paint)

Looks: $2,709

Combine audio and looks: $6,839

How much of a performance boost are you actually getting from a factory custom over a standard bike, what, about 10-20% power gain? Is that worth an additional 30% to 45%?
How much would it cost to increase a base model to have the same performance capabilities as a CVO?

 Street GlideStreet Glide SpecialCVO Street Glide
Starting Price$22,000$27,699$40,539
Big Bore Kit - 124” S&S$1,099$990 
Intake - HD Ventilator$300$300 
Exhaust - D&D Billet Cat 2-1$1,249$1,249 
Cam - Red Shift 468$629$629 
Fuel System - Harley$650$650 
Tuner - Thunder Max$990$990 
Total Cost of Parts$4,917$3,917 
Estimated Labor
(19 Hours @ $150/hour)
Total Upgrade Cost$7,767$7,667 
Cost difference to CVO$18,539 (46%)$12,840 (32%) 

Performance, Looks, and Audio = $14,606 for the Street Glide (special will be quite a bit less due to the upgraded audio already in place, plus the blacked out parts… And there is no labor on the audio and looks, imagine that would be 10 hours, so an additional $1,500


Inverted Forks, What’s The Big Deal

Why are they better?

Part 1 Weight
This has been highly debated as the difference in weight is miniscule, which means it’s performance enhancements, will be even more miniscule, especially to the average rider. Essentially, you are reducing the amount of hard metals (the suspension tubes themselves) and replacing it with lighter components such as fork oil and springs (more on that later).

Part 2 Stiffness
Stiffness is the resistance to deflection (bending) —
From an engineering perspective, the stiffness of a tube (in this case, the outer telescoping section of the fork) increases greatly with respect to its diameter. Because the outer tube is, by definition, larger than the inner telescoping section, it should be stronger and stiffer.
The stiffness leads to better feedback and feel, and greater responsiveness, due to the reduced stiction between the upper and lower sections of fork.

Do you need it?
When looking at them on paper, inverted forks are better. The problem is, MOST people either can’t or won't ride to the levels necessary for the benefits to be noticed. Fun fact, the main reason why inverted forks have become so popular on street bikes, is because race teams can only deviate so much from their production bikes, hence why you see race specific technology trickling down into the consumer market.

On the offroad side of things, inverted forks are a bit more practical, purely based on the fact that the upper ends of the forks take much more abuse in off road scenarios, so any added durability in that particular section is a benefit.

The Downside
Outside of paying for technology that you’ll likely never get the full use out of, there are two main downsides to inverted forks. Maintenance and safety.

In right side up scenarios, servicing your forks (seals, oil, etc) is a fairly easy task. Especially if your model is equipped with a drain plug. With inverted forks, you’re forced to either remove the forks entirely, or just make a big mess. Your call.

Speaking of oil and seals…. If a seal goes bad, gravity takes over (as it always does here on planet earth) oil will start leaking down… right to near where your front brake disc as well as your front tire. In case you aren’t familiar with how brakes or tires work… they require friction. Oils sole purpose is to reduce friction. So oil + brakes/tires equals brown underwear, or even injury or death. BUT, any good rider knows the importance of maintenance, and this occurrence should never happen on a properly maintained bike.