by Ed Milich

“Custom”. The most abused word in the motorcyclist lexicon. My first bike was a Honda CB650 “Custom”. There was nothing custom about it, though, unless you consider its special “brown on brown” factory paint job and the tinfoil-thin mufflers that instantly rusted out if you breathed on them post-seafood dinner as attributes worthy of special note. What then possessed the loveable Hondroids who envisioned this machine to christen it with the singular suffix “custom”? It was probably the same epidemic that afflicts riders of everything from Harleys to Hayabusas. This Customoitis condition compels motorcycle mechanics of limited artistic potential to create machines using parts sourced from the dark, seedy pages at the back of motorcycle magazines, the county swap meet, or the local truck stop’s “Chrome Aisle” to equally distasteful ends. The current state of readily available aftermarket parts provides an environment of opportunity for unreasonable accessorizers. To combat this disturbing trend, the motorcycling community should act immediately to eliminate the scourge of aesthetically devoid motorcycle customization.

In today’s world, every dumbass in brown loafers with a late model cruiser, an accessory catalog and a credit card is a “customizer”. Why? Customizers are exalted in motorcycling society as part artist, part designer, part style arbiter. Every Joe Blow in dirty overalls with a greasy thumbprinted Custom Chrome catalog thinks himself the Frank Gehry of the 2-wheeled world. Even Cletus in his workspace behind the tow truck service is in the customization business: “Lookie here, Clem. Them chrome mudflap mamas whut I put on either side of Vern’s Windjammer really gives his Goldwing a sense of balance and implies a kinship with other giants of the highway, donthca think??“ Let me break it to you gently. You are not “Jesse James”. In fact, you’re not even “J. C. Whitney”.

Right-minded motorcyclists should not wait patiently for the customization trend to slowly whither, die, and fall out of sight like a dental floss-strangulated wart. Irreparable damage is already being done to our community. Average Joes who might otherwise be quietly stewing themselves on Miller Lite in dark corners of the local VFW Hall are getting sucked into dirty garages and basements and are racking up thousands of dollars in debt to manufacturers of air shifters, chrome wheelie bars and 12 volt under- fairing neon light systems. This unregulated customization epidemic, if left unchecked can lead to abominations of the 2-wheeled realm such as owner-financed “show bikes” and “concept machines” constructed not for riding, but for display. I humbly request immediate government action to aid such motorcycle fashion victims. Specifically, I call for the regulation of the use of the word “custom” by all private and commercial entities, manufacturers, aftermarket suppliers, and independent shops, much like the proper noun Champagne is regulated by National des Appellations d’Origine.

Further, code enforcement authorities should curtail unregulated customizing on the commercial level. An annual license application process should be administered and applicants should be screened for color blindness, chromium poisoning induced brain damage, and a proclivity to abuse complementary color combinations. “Customizer” licensing should require a basic understanding of art appreciation and design including a minimum of 50 hours of classroom work and a 6-month probationary period under a 3rd grade art teacher. Serial design offenders will be confined to deep blue rooms with bright yellow trim and forced to memorize and recite the names of every custom Harley published in a cruiser magazine in American for the last three years before they are released back into society.

Similarly, I call for the immediate creation of an executive authority to curtail the visual nuisance of individual customization such as “accenting” of spark plug wires, mud flaps, air vents or cupholders via chrome, neon, or other accoutrement. Local governments should immediately arm and deploy “Style Police” to cite and/or impound offending vehicles. The sooner these machines are off the road, the sooner decent motorcycling citizens can enjoy a cup of coffee at their local Starbucks without having to witness some buffoon roll up on a monkey green turbo powered Hayabusa with gold plated rims, air shifter, red velvet seat, and chrome wheelie bars.

I call for the following measures to be instituted immediately:

1. A blanket ban, subject to immediate seizure, on the following items:
-Gold plating on any hard parts
-Rear Wheels wider than 7” on any street motorcycle
-Use of dayglow or any paint colors deemed a radiation hazard by the IAEA
-Gas Tanks of less than 1 US gallon capacity
-Tiger print upholstery
-Any vinyl stickers referring to “bad ass toys”

2. Use of the following themed imagery on motorcycle gas tanks, side covers, et al. shall be outlawed:
-Broadsword wielding warriors
-Chain mail-bikini-clad nymphs
-Grim Reapers

3. Conditional use permits shall regulate any custom motorcycle design involving:
-Greater than 200 linear inches of leather fringe
-More than 25 lbs of raw chromium
-Use of greater than 15 gallon tanks or accessory fuel cells unless rider provides documented proof of impending adventure.
-The Color Pink
-Powder coated fasteners
-Greater than ten (10) linear feet of lighting strips
-More than three (3) of the following electronic accoutrements on the same vehicle, unless approved in advance by the FCC: GPS, CB radio, radar detector, weather radio, I-phone, satellite TV, climate control, IED jammer, garage door opener, night vision system.
-sportbike windscreen colors that do not appear otherwise in nature

4. In order to effect enforcement, screening for illegal customization shall be performed via:
-Periodic sweeps of major motorcycle magazine marketplace ads.
-Spot investigation triggered by excessive JC Whitney order size
-Monthly shakedowns of swap meets which host motorcycle aftermarket retailers
-Sting operations at local chrome plating shops

5. Fines: Manufacturers not in compliance shall be fined, and have their licenses revoked and their paint booths placed under government control and restricted to the dispensing of black paint only. Serial offenders shall be limited to contact with Honda CX500’s exclusively and/or be forced to wear chrome underwear.

In summary, it is the responsibility of fellow motorcycling citizens to affect positive change upon our design deficient peers. I urge the adoption of the aforementioned guidelines immediately. I urge every reader to encourage immediate action by writing to your congressman, the American Motorcycle Association, The Secretary of the Transportation, and those fashion victim homos on Queer Eye for the Straight Guy immediately. If these measures prove effective, similar legislation should then endeavor to address OEM design catastrophes further up the food chain and prevent production of the next Honda Rune and/or Victory Vision.