When you think of a Harley-Davidson® motorcycle, what sort of image comes to mind? If you’re like a lot of people, there’s a good chance it includes at least a little chrome.
Chrome-plated accessories first started appearing in Harley-Davidson® catalogs as early as 1930. The first was a “speedometer lamp,” designed to make your (optional) speedometer “as effective at night as in the daytime.” More chrome accessories appeared in subsequent years, with 1934 seeing the debut of the first “Chromium Plated Combination” package.
“For an extra $13.50,” explains Harley-Davidson Museum Curator Jim Fricke, “you got ‘chrome-plated Handlebars, Generator end cover, Exhaust pipes, Saddle bar assembly, Muffler, Tail pipe, Oiler and timer cover, Intake pipe clamp nuts, Valve spring covers, and Front brake control clamp.’”
In other words, everything you would need to trick out your ride in brilliant style.
Though the trend in recent years has moved toward a darker overall look, chrome accessories remain a staple of customizers everywhere. There’s nothing like it, after all, to add just the right amount of contrast to those flat black parts you just installed.
So, we asked:
Chrome was once king when it came to accessorizing a Harley-Davidson® motorcycle. What’s your preference – and why? Does chrome still rule or is less really more?
“Chrome, baby, and lots of it! I want to be seen, not blend in with the highway!” –W.D.
“Black is for the tires. I’ve been riding since the ’70s, so I am generation chrome. Flashiest paint, long forks, rigid frames rule. How can you show off on flat black?” –WES D.
“Chrome is, has been, and always will be king! Chrome, chrome, chrome – beautiful chrome! I have a 2003 100th Anniversary model Fat Boy® that has so much chrome that the color indicated on the registration is “chrome” with a little black trim!” –GREG
“I have a 2015 Road Glide® CVO™ with lots of chrome, and I also have a 2015 Dyna® Wide Glide® with a lot of black that is slowly changing as I replace black with CHROME! Chrome sets things off. Just my opinion!” –RUSS L.
“Chrome to the bone, with two-tone paint and black leather bags. It’s a win-win!” –KARL H.
“Flat black draws a long glance, but chrome draws a glance, double-take, and a long look.” –GERRY B.
You may not realize, however, that chrome’s beauty is far more than skin deep. Yes, it adds cosmetic brilliance, but it’s also more durable and easier to take care of than polished aluminum
or painted surfaces. This means less maintenance and more time for riding. No wonder it remains the most popular surface finish for Harley® riders.
Chrome is short for chromium, a hard metallic element that resists tarnishing and corrosion. When highly polished, it shines like … well, chrome. It only takes a thin layer on a metal surface to accomplish that purpose, usually applied through a process called “electroplating.”
This process uses electricity to transfer metal ions from one metal surface (the anode, in electrical terms) – such as copper, nickel, or chromium bar – to the part to be plated (the cathode). Both the anode and cathode are suspended in a tank filled with a liquid solution called electrolyte.
Electroplating for Parts and Accessories is an extremely complex series of operations that includes dozens of critical steps. Achieving the desired results requires extensive metallurgical knowledge, years of experience, and complete control of all processes. For example:
Each process can be unique to a specific part. For instance, aluminum fork sliders and Tour-Pak® luggage racks are made of different metals, and therefore require entirely different plating specifications.
The premium surface quality of H-D® chrome accessories is the result of extraordinary attention to detail, computerized operations, and proprietary processes. Take a closer look at some of these processes, using H-D Chrome Fork Sliders as an example.
Every Harley-Davidson® part has to meet a detailed set of specifications regarding materials, dimensions, and tolerances that create a superior product. This ensures the consistent quality Harley owners expect.
To make sure chrome parts consistently meet the very high standards set for H-D® Genuine Motor Parts and Accessories (P&A), extensive testing is conducted for five different parameters:
What it all comes down to is that you can always rely on Harley-Davidson® chrome parts to fit right, function as expected, and always be a perfect color match to any other Harley-Davidson chrome part. That makes show-quality customization as easy as visualizing the dream, making a selection, and installing the accessory. It doesn’t get any better or any easier to create a brilliant custom motorcycle.
As Willie G. Davidson, Harley-Davidson Chief Styling Officer Emeritus, has long said, “Form follows function, but both report to emotion.”
Harley-Davidson chrome parts and accessories fit this model beautifully, combining a brilliant form and finish with unbeatable functionality – to give you an unshakable feeling of pride.
Chrome requires cleaning, polishing, and protection from the elements, especially if your motorcycle is operated near the ocean or on salt-treated roads. Use Genuine Harley-Davidson Surface Care Products, following label directions, to make it easy: