A few weeks ago, I was having a discussion with a couple of mates, and it was a discussion that almost turned into an argument. The subject of our conversation was whether or not factory fitted ‘optional extras’ are worth the extra money, compared to aftermarket parts. It’s always been my view that factory fitted stuff is a massive rip off. I’ve never been able to see myself going down that route. But I found myself outnumbered. And thanks to some interesting and well-reasoned arguments from my drinking companions, I almost started to change my mind. Don’t worry, I’ll spare you the ramblings of three half pissed idiots. But I thought it would be only right to share with you our findings. So here’s what we learnt…
Let me start by laying my original argument out. First of all, almost anything that you could possibly find in a manufacturers ‘genuine parts’ catalogue will have an aftermarket alternative. In fact it’ll usually have a selection of aftermarket alternatives to choose from. Whether you’re trying to improve the bikes performance, comfort or styling. Or even just looking for something to replace a broken part. And because there are loads to choose from, you’ll almost certainly be able to find one that’s quite cheap. Well cheaper than the one with the factory’s logo on it, anyway.
And that was about it. That was, in essence, my entire argument.
Of course it didn’t take long for them to form a rebuttal. As they explained, there are a bunch of reasons to buy genuine stuff over aftermarket parts. They were quick to point out the fact that anything the factory fits gets full warranty cover; which is more than you can say for anything bolted to your bike at home in your shed. I know most things will come with some sort of guarantee, and that’s all good and well. But it’s unlikely that the guarantee will cover your ham-fisted attempts at fitting it.
And then of course there is the fit, itself. Factory stuff is going to fit, and fit properly, whatever it is. You might not be so lucky with certain aftermarket gear. Bodywork and aftermarket fairings are notorious for being twats to fit and quite often need adjusting with files and a Dremel before you can get anywhere near.
Colour can be a bitch, too. If you buy anything that’s a ‘colour match’ from anywhere but the factory, you might live to regret it. They might get it bob-on, but if they don’t, you won’t be able to stop looking at it. And it’ll properly piss you off every time someone else notices it.
A lot of us care about how or bikes look. And with an almost endless list of aftermarket suppliers, it’s certainly easier to make a bike your own by picking and choosing individual parts from a smorgasbord of different companies.
They were quick to point out though, that ‘making your bike your own’ was a great way to devalue it. You might be really into furry seats and handlebar tassels. But you can bet your bottom dollar that when you come to sell it, the bloke buying it won’t be.
On the contrary, a smart looking, colour-matched, factory fitted pillion seat cover, or integrated heated grips are sure to make your bike that bit more sellable; even if they don’t necessarily drive the price up a whole load. Of course, you can always retrofit a set of cheaper heated grips to your bike, but they never look right. And who wants a big ugly control panel stuck to their handlebars. Especially when the stock switches have a built in heated grips button (sometimes, if you go for the genuine articles).
So after a lengthy discussion and a lot of swearing at each other, our conclusion was that actually both the genuine parts and aftermarket catalogues deserve a place on our coffee tables. Occasionally, it makes perfect sense to pay that bit extra to fit genuine, or at least factory approved, parts. Sometimes though, you’ll be able to find a cheaper alternative that’s just as effective, or perhaps even more effective. And in a lot of cases, if you want the best of the best in terms of performance, you’ve got to go down the aftermarket route anyway.