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Do you have the 'dreaded' motorcycle chrome disease?

The more Motorcycle Chrome the better?

Learn about the process and get advice on installing bolt on chrome accessories.

There's no doubt about it, everybody loves chrome.

Americans have been fascinated with glittering, gleaming objects on their cars and motorcycles ever since there have been cars and motorcycles. You just can't help but turn your head when a gorgeous bike rolls by that has well chosen, brilliant chrome rims and parts all polished to perfection.

Chrome is gorgeous on a bright, sunny day; especially riding along on oceanside boulevard with a nice breeze blowing in off the water and not a care in the world except what's around the next curve. . .

. . .wait a minute, where was I? Oh yeah, chrome is brilliant and gleaming in the sun and throws back the colors from all those neon lights on the boulevard at night.

But which motorcycle chrome parts do you start with? Do you just buy a few at a time? Do you install the parts yourself? Do you go with aftermarket parts, or stick with your manufacturer's brand of chrome accessories? Do you go whole hawg and have a customizing shop take care of the whole thing?

Your pocket book will answer some of these questions. If you're looking to have your existing parts plated, you need to learn more about how to choose a chrome plater to take care of your parts.

I have heard of credit cards "blueing" like exhaust pipes when the chrome disease takes hold ;) After you have read the WiseGuy's motorcycle chrome guide, you'll be well armed with information to help you get the most from your online (and offline) shopping dollar. Let's start with a quick look at the chrome plating process . . .


The Process

Harley Chrome

Chromium plating is a process of coating metal using an electrical current. It was introduced in the 1920's and has had enduring unquestionable popularity with motorcyclists ever since. The chemical process of chrome plating is a complex scientific process, and I won't attempt to give a detailed explanation here. After all, we just want our bikes to look good, right? It doesn't really matter how it got there, but an understanding of chrome and the chroming process can help us care for our chrome and keep it looking bright for years.

It's basically a two part process beginning with the preparation of the metal to be plated and then the actual application of the chrome to the metal. The application half of the process actually consists of three major steps.

First is a soak in a copper bath to fill any imperfections that got left behind by the surface prep, then a re-polish to maintain a smooth surface. Second is a dip in a nickel bath which provides the shine. The third and final step puts a film of chromium on the part which protects the nickel from oxidizing, and lets you see the now gleaming nickel coat underneath.

A final hand polishing makes sunglasses a requirement for anyone in the same vicinity :) It's important to care for this chromium film to prevent pitting down the road.

To find out more information about what happens to your motorcycle chrome parts when you send them to the platers, read my article about the chrome plating process.


Caring for your Chrome

Chrome Motorcycle Rim

The care you give your chrome is a big factor in how it looks and how long it lasts. If you're installing new chrome motorcycle parts or re-installing parts that have been recently plated, be careful not to scratch them. Some parts, especially those that get hot like exhaust pipes may need extra preparation. You should let new pipes heat and cool for a few cycles before running them for an extended peroid. This helps prevent blueing. The main thing for long life of motorcycle chrome is regular cleaning and polishing. Polish your chrome any time you clean and wax your motorcycle or at least every couple of months.

 

There are several different kinds of chrome polish available. To make the polish effective, manufacturers include some sort of abrasive in the mix. If you use a polish with too coarse a grit, or get too aggressive with your polishing, you could remove the thin film of chrome on your parts. For your new chrome you can just use a glass cleaner and wax, but if your chrome has been neglected for any length of time, or needs serious cleaning, you probably need a polish. I've had excellent results with German made Simichrome over the years. It is a very soft mix of jeweler's rouge and does a great job.

If you stay with a high quality polish from a reputable manufacturer you should be fine, even though it may cost you a bit more.


Satisfy your Chrome Craving!

Chrome Harley Exhaust

The easiest way to decide what motorcycle chrome parts to get is to just thumb through a catalog with a good selection of chrome accessories , and see what catches your eye. This would be a good method, especially if you just want to bolt on and ride with the least hassle. Most motorcycle manufacturers have a whole line of chrome goodies waiting when a model is released, but expect to pay more. If you have plenty of time, you might even try eBay . Here are a few project suggestions for adding a big chrome impact to your bike:

  • Backrest with chrome side plates (lots of surface area :)
  • Billet chrome license plate frame.
  • Chrome driving light bar (especially if your bike has the FAT look).
  • Chrome luggage rack.
  • New chrome exhaust pipes (chrome is just one of the benefits!).
  • New saddle with chrome studs.
  • Saddlebags with chrome studs.
  • Chrome Fender bumpers.
  • Chrome Motorcycle Wheels . . . the ultimate?
  • Chrome triple clamp cover.
  • Passenger floorboards (lots of surface area when flipped up).
  • Chrome headlamp and signal visors.
Vance & Hines Cruzer Exhaust

The list goes on, but all these are really easy bolt on projects that add a bunch of motorcycle chrome. The only thing I ever had trouble with was my Vance & Hines Cruzer Exhaust System that had a small leak at the gasket. (That problem was only because I didn't use new exhaust gaskets. You can read more about the basics of replacing your exhaust here).

In that case, you might have to find a chrome plating shop and send your parts off to be chromed. It's best wait until the winter off season to do this, since you don't want to lose precious riding time.


Tips for installing motorcycle chrome accessories.

  • For bolt on accessories, read the instruction that come with the part(s). Make sure you know exactly what's involved before you reach for the wrenches.
  • Use the correct tools. That means use the correct sizes of wrenches, sockets, and even screwdrivers. Pliers are not a good substitue for the correct wrench. Besides busting your knuckles, you could slip and ding that new motorcycle chrome :(
  • Go finger tight on the fasteners first before snugging down the first one. Review your installation process and instructions one last time at this point.
  • Don't over tighten the fasteners. A replacement for a stripped bolt could be hard to find, especially when your anxious to get on the road with your new parts installed.
  • It's a good idea to go back and re-check and re-torque the fasteners after a few hundred miles.
  • If possible, stick with one manufacturer's line of motorcycle chrome parts. It's more pleasing to the eye if everything matches.
  • If your new chrome addition doesn't add enjoyment to your ride for some reason, be a man and take it off, especially if your bike's handling is affected. (eBay to the rescue again).

Reflections on adding chrome to your bike.

Keep your Motorcycle Chrome Clean!
The best justification for Chrome?

If you're shopping online for Motorcycle Chrome try this store first. It is a great place to get chrome motorcycle accessories online, but not the only one of course. Check out this store too . Find the specific chrome accessories for your make and model at this store.

You may be perfectly happy with the parts you have. Having your existing parts chromed may be the best idea for you. If you have had parts chromed before, how did they turn out? Review your favorite chrome plating shop here.

Looking for Cobra motorcycle accessories? Visit my page which has plenty of sources for Cobra motorcycle accessories at your fingertips!

Shopping for chrome motorcycle wheels? Then don't miss my chrome wheel buying guide.

If you have ideas for customizing projects or buying motorcycle chrome, I'd love to hear from you!


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