Bike accessories and add-ons can be a real plus when you are on a motorcycle tour. They can add comfort, protection, carrying capability or equip you with the latest in navigation and communication. But, they can also weigh you down – literally, financially and mentally – and can end up causing more problems than they solve. So how do you decide what it appropriate for your trip?
Look at the motorcycle adventure(s) you are about to undertake and you’ll get a much clearer picture of what you’ll need: Are you taking a passenger? Are you going to be riding on dirt roads? How long you are going for? What mileage do you want to cover each day? You may be able to put up with a hard seat for a week, but not much longer. Comfort is a major factor, so seats, hand guards, high screens and heated grips should all be on your list etc. The key principles to keep in mind is that mods should provide you with a more comfortable ride and protect the bike against damage if it’s dropped, crashed or from anything you may encounter on the road – potholes, rocks and even animals. Remember though, when you’ve finished modifying, it still needs to handle, perform and stop like a motorbike!
Here’s our recommendations:
- Aluminium panniers – strong, secure and watertight, they act as another layer of crash protection and double as a chair and table if you’re camping.
- Engine bars / sump guard – it’s likely you’re going to go down – even if it’s just a simple drop in a car park or a fuel station. Protection is paramount.
- Hand guards – protect your hands in a crash, from flying debris and from the weather. Add heated grips, and you can ride in lightweight gloves for much longer periods.
- Radiator protector – get a hole in your radiator and you’re in trouble, especially if you’re somewhere remote. The same rule applies to oil coolers.
- Additional lights and protectors – lights are about being seen as much as lighting the way, especially in developing countries. Make sure they’re bright and protected.
- Upgraded battery – even if you are not a gadget king, you are likely to add some kit. Heated grips? GPS? Auxiliary socket? All these will add electrical load.
- Louder horn – a must for congested cities and under-developed countries. Buy loud and don’t be afraid to use it.
- Chain oiler – one less thing to worry about doing while you’re out on the ride and one less thing to put in your panniers.
- Aftermarket seat or a gel/air seat cover – sometimes it’s just a case of getting used to your standard seat. If it doesn’t suit you, there are options.
- Taller screen – experiment until you get no helmet buffeting and a quieter ride. The impact on your comfort and your ability to stay focused is massive.
- Handlebar risers – start by adjusting the standard bars and levers to find the best position. If you’re still stretching for them, or your wrists are aching, get some risers.
- Thicker inner tubes – if your bikes runs tubes, a heavier grade goes a long way to reducing the risk of punctures. Not guaranteed, but it helps.
- Larger footpegs – if you’re venturing off-road, larger, grippier foot pegs spread your weight, for greater comfort and confidence.
- Side stand big foot – a little thing, but sooner or later you will stop on some soft ground (think campsites).