Few brands have a larger aftermarket than Harley-Davidson, and few models have been customized more than the Sportster—an enduringly popular and relatively affordable member of their lineup. While we’ve seen the Sportster evolve over the years from a classic cruiser to something distinctly more modern in the current era, one fact remains the same: people seem to love modding their Sportys almost as much as they like riding them.
That’s why we put together this list of the best visual mods for Harley-Davidson Sportster motorcycles. Below, you’ll find our top recommendations for making your Sporty into a unique expression of your free-riding spirit.
Note: This is a list of the best visual (i.e. cosmetic) mods for Sportsters, but you’ll find that more than a few of these upgrades have other benefits as well. We’ve pointed this out as we go—now let’s get started!
Premium Seat Covers
One of the first areas riders tend to upgrade on pretty much any generation of Sportster is the seat—a simple, no-frills, leather-upholstered saddle. It gets the job done, but it’s certainly nothing special to look at. Some riders also complain about the level of comfort it provides over long distances.
There’s no need to buy a brand new seat for your Sporty, though. There are lots of more cost-effective ways to make a motorcycle seat more comfortable—and when it comes to making your seat look better, all you need is a high-quality seat cover.
Our Sportster seat covers use marine-grade vinyl finished with premium Japanese synthetic suede to provide superior weather protection while giving your bike an unmistakable visual upgrade. They also cost significantly less than what you’ll pay for a new seat, since they’re designed to work with your OEM foam. Seat covers are available for the following models:
Take it one step further by customizing your motorcycle seat cover with special stitching, embroidery, or materials. This is one of the best bang-for-buck modifications you can make to turn your Sportster into a machine that turns heads.
Spend long enough around Harley riders and you’ll see plenty of bikes with these high-profile handlebars. There’s a practical purpose for putting them on a bike: they change your riding position to give you a more upright posture, which can be significantly more comfortable over long distances.
Of course, the real reason people ride cruisers with apes is because it looks awesome. Don’t let the haters convince you otherwise—it’s downright majestic to cruise down the highway with your arms stretched out so you can feel the wind. Try it if you don’t believe us.
Finding the right handlebars comes down to your size and comfort preferences, so we won’t recommend a specific product here. But if you’re looking for advice, check out this guide on how to choose ape hangers from Barcraft Handlebars.
Via S&S Cycle
Sportsters have perfectly respectable stock pipes. That’s why you bought a Harley, right? So you could look and sound respectable. Nah, you’ll probably want to swap the standard cannons on your Sporty for something a little more aggressive—at least, that’s what most riders do. This won’t just improve the look of your Sportster; it’ll give it a much throatier roar as well. Just make sure you don’t live in an area with too many noise bylaws.
You’ve got plenty of options for aftermarket Sportster exhaust systems, but here are a few popular picks:
- Grand National Slip-on Mufflers for 2022 Iron 883 by S&S
- Bassani Road Rage 2-into-1 System with B1 Muffler for XR1200
- Vance & Hines Shortshots Staggered for Harley Sportsters (1999-2022)
Via Viking Bags
Who says you can’t tour on a Sportster? Yes, you’ll need to stop for gas more often than if you ride an Electra Glide—but it’s easy enough to turn your Sporty into a “Bagger Lite” by adding a few saddlebags for your long-distance necessities.
You’ve got a few options when it comes to what kind of bags you want to add. Here’s a quick breakdown:
- Throw-over saddlebags: As the name suggests, these are designed so that you can simply throw them across your bike’s rear fender and hold them in place with an adjustable band. Some throw-over bags are made to go underneath the saddle of your motorcycle so that it can hold them in place more securely. Throw-over bags tend to be the most cost-effective saddlebags, but they may also be easier to steal and some riders report that they can scratch your paint if the bags bob around too much while you’re riding. Throw-over Sportster saddlebags by Viking are popular due to their value for money.
- Bolt-on saddlebags: These bags are intended to be permanently fastened to your bike via the bolts on the rear fender. This prevents the bags from moving around as you ride, which makes them less likely to scratch your motorcycle’s finish—and much more difficult for would-be thieves to steal. Installation typically takes longer, though, and it’s much more difficult to get them off if you change your mind about wanting them after the fact. Some bolt-on bags also involve an extra clamp for additional security. Hepco & Becker’s Rugged C-Bow system looks great on most Sportsters.
- Hard saddlebags: These are usually made from fiberglass, hard plastic, or aluminum—usually painted to match your motorcycle’s colour scheme and permanently bolted to the rear fender. Hard saddlebags provide the best protection for your cargo, but they’re the most expensive type of saddlebag by far and also add weight to your bike. Corbin makes excellent hard saddlebags for Sportsters if you have the budget for them.
Sportsters don’t come with windshields—which is great if you’re bent over the tank on drag bars but less great if you opted to put apes on your ride (see above). Adding an aftermarket windshield helps prevent you from turning into a sail and reduces the arm fatigue you’ll experience at highway speeds, while giving your whole bike a more noticeable profile.
There are lots of options for aftermarket windscreens as well, and you’ll probably want to look around a little to see what looks best with the other mods you’ve made. But here are some great places to start:
Make Your Sportster Stand Out
Sportsters are some of the most popular Harleys around, so it’s worth a little extra investment to make sure yours stands out. Use the list above to start turning your Sporty into a work of art—and be sure to contact our team if you have questions about how to purchase or install any of our premium aftermarket seat covers. We love motorcycling, and we can’t wait to help you elevate your riding experience.
Get Your Luimoto Seat Cover Today!
Frequently Asked Questions about Luimoto Seat Covers
Do Seat Covers Make My Bike More Comfortable?
Our premium seat covers can extend the life of your seat foam by protecting it against the elements, and provide more grip as well—both of which will result in better rider comfort.
To make your seat feel more comfortable immediately and enjoy better support, consider our premium Gold Gel seat inserts, which are designed to integrate with your seat foam in just a few easy steps.
Will Your Seat Covers Improve My Bike’s Performance?
The primary purpose of our seat covers is to protect your seat foam while improving the look and feel of your ride. They’ll give you more traction in the saddle, but the best way to improve this aspect of your rides is with our custom tank grips, which are easy to apply and help your knees maintain more contact with the fuel tank for efficiency in tighter maneuvers.
Is a Seat Cover the Same As a New Seat?
No—our covers are meant to work with your bike’s current motorcycle seat foam.
Do You Sell Universal Seat Covers or Are They Model-Specific?
Motorcycle seats come in a wide range of different shapes and sizes, so our seat covers are made for specific models. We also carry a few covers that fit multiple bike models with similar OEM seats.
How Do I Customize My Motorcycle Seat Cover?
Yes! We offer custom stitching, embroidery, special materials, and more for our seat covers. The price varies depending on your request and the amount of work required to fulfill it. Order a custom motorcycle seat cover here.