Accessories really do make the outfit, and depending on what the outfit is, this is a hugely broad category. The things you need for touring on pavement are quite a bit different than what you’ll need on an off-road adventure, but there’s still plenty of crossover. Blah blah…
You know all that. So this list of accessories can’t possibly cover all the farkles you should have, but it is a pretty good start on the pile of things you can use, wear, and/or show-off on your motorcycle. Heck, we use a lot of them. You should too.
Heated grips jump to the top of many people’s list. Unless you live in the tropics, almost everybody who rides wishes for a little warmth to their cold fingers at one time or another. And we’ve even argued they should be mandatory equipment on motorcycles just like turn signals and horns. More than horns. Because cold fingers can become a safety issue: Controlling your motorcycle is all about being able to make fine control inputs with your hands, and when they’re frozen stiff, you really can’t. If your bike didn’t come with heated grips, there are plenty of great aftermarket options, including the $55 BikeMaster units, with LCD controller, pictured. (Once you go down this rabbit hole, you’ll discover a whole universe of heated clothing and seats.)
In the old days when nearly all gas tanks were steel, we were inseparable from our magnetic tank bag, which was big enough to carry the stuff we needed, instantly mountable/dismountable, and therefore easily swapped from motorcycle to motorcycle. Now that many bikes have plastic or aluminum or plastic-covered tanks, it’s not so easy, but there are even more specialized options now, including the SW Motech EVO Daypack Quick-Lock Tank Bag bag pictured, which has a specific mount to latch onto the gas cap surround of many bikes. (We rounded up a bunch of great tank bags last September.)
The cell phone is now ubiquitous and here to stay, so you may as well take advantage of its navigational and communicational abilities by putting it somewhere visible and useful, like clamped to your handlebar or something. The Ram mount may have come first, but there are now a bunch of other contenders in the marketplace, which we rounded up here last July. Oh, and that brings up, if you’re bike doesn’t have a power outlet to charge your phone, get one!
You don’t need to have the need to babble incessantly to other people to appreciate a good helmet communicator. In fact, the Cardo Freecom 2 unit pictured is more for solo riders who just want to benefit from navigation instructions from their phone, listen to music and podcasts, or communicate with a passenger. For those who do love to babble when they ride in groups, of course there are many communicator options, most of which we covered here last January.
If your bike doesn’t have electronic cruise control, there’s no need to panic. There are plenty of mechanical throttle locks that are less sophisticated but can still give your right wrist a breather on long rides. The best of these was the Throttlemeister, whose manufacturer seems to be defunct – but the Kuryakyn Mechanical Throttle Bar End Cruise Assist, pictured, appears to have taken over exactly where Throttlemeister left off. It simply replaces your bike’s bar-end weights (a matching one for the left grip is available), and uses a clever ramp/ball bearing system to apply just enough stiction to hold your throttle open where you want it, not so much you can’t easily shut it.
Service Stands, Front And Rear
All motorcycles once upon a time came with centerstands, and sat upon the best of them, your bike would rest on its back tire when you removed the front wheel, and vice versa. That doesn’t happen much anymore except with select BMW Boxers. Now, you pretty much need a rear stand to remove your back wheel or just to make lubing/adjusting the chain easier. And unless you’ve got a nice system of ropes and pulleys arranged in the garage rafters, you’ll be needing a front stand to get the front wheel off also. The Pit Posse Universal Rear Stand pictured is a good example of the breed, but there are many other options.
They don’t have to be ROK Straps, but you never know when you’ll come across an elfin chest of gold doubloons or something, and need a way to secure it before you wake up. That or a bag of groceries, whatever. Designed for motorcycle use, these two-piece deals combine a nylon web strap with loop attachments, and an elastic section, joined by quick-release buckles which adjust perfectly to snugly secure whatever you need to carry. Be prepared.
Cool, Clear Water
Whoever the cat was that invented the Camelbak, we owe him a huge debt of gratitude. The original is still out there, but now there are tons of drink bladder options, stashable in a backpack, tank bag, the hump of your racing leathers, etc. Whether you believe in global warming or not, there’s no argument things haven’t been getting any cooler lately, and staying hydrated is key to a happy ride, maybe even survival. The Kriega Hydro 2 Hydration Backpack HYRUC2-B is one of many rugged options.
I don’t care who you are, or how hearty you think your backside is, if you’re still using your stock seat your butt is going to be sore sooner rather than later. Treat yourself and put one of these cushions under your butt. Airhawk is so sure of its product they’re offering a double-your-sit-time guarantee.
It’s basically a very trick whoopee cushion that’s waterproof and made in the USA. Blow into it to inflate it, then strap it to your seat and ride in bliss until your bladder, your thirst, or your gas tank get the better of you.
Tire Repair Kit
I don’t need to tell you how crummy it is to get a flat tire on a ride. What’s almost worse is having to completely unpack your bike because your plug kit is at the very bottom of your saddlebag. You did bring a tire repair kit, right?
You didn’t? Shame on you, first of all. Second of all, now is the time to get one. There are all kinds of kits out there and they basically all work the same. Kits like these have the plugs, your various T-handles to clear the area and wedge the plug, and a few CO2 cartridges to get some air back in the tire so you can limp back to civilization and fill up completely (if you even need to). We’ve left plugs in tires for thousands of miles without any issues, but you do whatever you’re comfortable with.
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