How to Customize a Bike

Three Methods:Changing the LookBuilding a Road BikeRiding off the Road

Riding a bike can be great exercise and fun activity to do with friends and family. Customizing your old bike's look and performance can be a fun and cost effective way to spice up your ride. Whether you're looking to conquer a new terrain, take up a new exercise, or just add a little color to your life, there are lots of great ways to alter your bike.

Method 1
Changing the Look

  1. Image titled Customize a Bike Step 1
    Apply colored handlebar tape. Tape is a great way to accent your handlebars and provide a better grip at the same time.
    • Simply buy a colored tape from any store that sells bike accessories and wrap it flush against the handlebar until the entire surface area is covered. One layer of type will suffice.
  2. Image titled Customize a Bike Step 2
    Swap out your headset cap. Every bike has a cap that sits atop the headset where the steering portion is bolted together. The headset cap simply covers the bolt and is usually a bland color. You can swap out your current cap for a custom color or design and add flare to an otherwise ordinary bike part. [1]
    • The headset cap comes in different sizes. The surest way to figure out what cap size you have is to consult the manual that came with your bike or consult an employee at a local shop. The installation is simple and the cap should simply screw off and back on.
  3. Image titled Customize a Bike Step 3
    Add a unique saddlebag. Bags are a great way to attach extra space to your bike that stores objects like your phone, a water bottle, or anything else you might need. Rather than getting a run of the mill bag, you can get a great design or color to personalize your bike.
    • You can get a number of different bags depending on your preference. There are trunk bags that sit behind the seat, a handlebar bag that sits up front or some that nestle below the bike frame out of sight. [2]
  4. Image titled Customize a Bike Step 4
    Buy a decal. Decals are a great and simple way to spruce up your bike frame without investing the time or money to paint it. You can get your name, a favorite brand or even more fun ones that represent your interests and hobbies, like your favorite breed of dog!
  5. Image titled Customize a Bike Step 5
    Change how you sit. There are a lot of different types of bike seats that improve comfort and look great. Changing the material and cushioning of your seat is an easy customization. [3]
    • Gel cushioning. These mold to your body and provide great comfort for a casual rider.
    • Foam cushioning. This is great for long rides and those who weigh over 200 lbs. It’s great for long rides because it provides more support for your lower back but still enough give for comfort.
    • Leather saddles. These are becoming more popular. Although they take some time to break in, it will help keep you cool on long roads and is second to none in terms of durability. This is a great choice for someone who rides a lot.
  6. Image titled Customize a Bike Step 6
    Apply a fresh coat of paint. This can be time consuming and requires a little more work, but a new paint job can make your bike look new.
    • Make sure to clean your bike well getting off the rust and imperfections from wear and tear. Following this you can buy special primer and paints designed for bikes that turn your old dingy frame into a bright masterpiece.
  7. Image titled Customize a Bike Step 7
    Add accessories. Maybe you want to change how your bike looks without changing the frame or bike itself. You can buy a lot of neat accessories and apply them to your bike and simply take them off when you tire of them.
    • Bells and horns. These can be great from a safety standpoint to alert people you’re riding near them, but can also add a unique spin to the front of your bike.
    • Water bottles and cages. Biking is hard and it’s important to stay hydrated. You can add water bottles and holders (cages) to your bike that look great while making sure you stay healthy.
    • Lights. If you like to ride later in the day, it’s important to stay visible. You can get lights that are solar or battery operated that come in different colors and make sure you stand out not only in the dark but also to your friends.
  8. Image titled Customize a Bike Step 8
    Change your handlebars. You’ll want to make sure it doesn’t change the performance of the bike too much, but new handlebars can look great. [4]
    • Flat handlebars. These are the most common type of handlebar. They’re simple and light with great control but are not great for those who like to do tricks or high speeds.
    • Riser bars. These are basically flat handlebars that rise from the center clap area and are typically wider than flat bars. They give you great control, are good for your wrists, but can also make your bike less aerodynamic and thus slow it down.
    • Bullhorns. These aren’t great for turning but are otherwise great for high speeds and climbing. They curve up and forward from the center.
    • Drop bars. These have a straight middle section with each end curving downwards and towards the rider. These are a great general handlebar but are not recommended for frequent tight turns.

Method 2
Building a Road Bike

  1. Image titled Customize a Bike Step 9
    Pick the frame. Whether it's a used one online or a new frame from a bike shop you can swap out your frame for something a little more conducive to the speeds of the road like a carbon or aluminum frame that brings durability and lightweight.
    • You’ll want something light but the size of the frame is most often based on your height and weight.
    • The weight to shoot for the entire bike itself is under 20 lbs and the frames can help make up a lot of weight. You’ll want to consult someone from your local bike shop if you have any concern about your weight and the durability of a frame.
  2. Image titled Customize a Bike Step 10
    Buy a lightweight fork. Your bikes tires and frame are connected using a fork. Buy one made of carbon to give you that lightweight a road bike needs.
  3. Image titled Customize a Bike Step 11
    Pick road bike tires. Road tires are pretty narrow and are not built to withstand the bumps and rough terrain of mountain bikes. You’ll want a road touring or racing tire. [5]
    • There should be a number on the tires to indicate the size. You’ll want something that is a 700 width and should read something like 700x23. The first number is outer diameter of the tire in millimeters and the second number is the actual width of tire itself in millimeters.
    • Most road bikes use inflatable tubes and the tube can be replaced if your bike requires it in the future.

Method 3
Riding off the Road

  1. Image titled Customize a Bike Step 12
    Find a sturdy frame. You’ll want to get a light frame but and great suspension that can help absorb the shocks of bumps and rocks. You’ll want the frame to be in the 18’’ to 19’’ range and a frame that weighs around 7 lbs. The shock absorbers can be complicated. There are different strengths designed for different pressures and can be either air or spring based.
  2. Image titled Customize a Bike Step 13
    Get a comfortable seat. If you plan on a lot of bumps, you’ll want to make sure that your seat has adequate padding and support. Carbon fiber is a popular material and does not have the same rigidity of a plastic shell. [6]
    • A broad, chair shaped seat is great for mountain bikes because they provide a good base.
  3. Image titled Customize a Bike Step 14
    Make sure your tires are strong. If you are thinking about taking your bike on rough terrain, you’ll want to make sure your tires are wide and have enough tread to not slip. They will also need to be thicker than a road tire so that you don't get a flat. [7]
    • You can readily find reinforced tires that have extra support for off roading. You’ll want a tire that is 29, 27.5 or 26 inches. The tire itself should spell out which size it is. The widths for a mountain bike ranges from 1.8-2.2 inches.


  • A good place to get old bikes are transfer stations and junkyards.
  • Make sure to keep all the small parts in one place.
  • An oxyfuel cutting torch can be used to cut parts of the bike.
  • Make sure that the parts fit together. It is no use if they are all different fixings.
  • You can also use the left over part to make other bikes.
  • Safety first. It's great to want a nice looking bike, but always make sure it's safe and secure before you hop on.
  • Go "old school" and put tennis balls between the wheel spokes, that's what all the cool kids did back in the day. It may damage your wheels though.


  • Be careful not to breathe in the spray paint while painting it.
  • If you'll ride at night, have reflectors and lights.
  • Doing this will void all warranties and guarantees in place on the bikes.
  • Beware of the bikes falling apart, which may result in injury.

Article Info

Categories: Bicycles