We are the modsBike accessories and add-ons can be a real plus. They can add comfort, protection, carrying capability or equip you with the latest navigation and communication equipment, but they can also weigh you down – literally, financially and mentally – and can end up causing more problems than they solve. The trouble is that modifying your bike is addictive; the pursuit of practical perfection can be never-ending…
Before you pick up your favourite catalogue or head off to the showroom, look at the journey(s) you are about to undertake and what you’re likely to encounter during it/them and you’ll get a much clearer picture of what it is you need: Staying in the developed world or stretching your horizons? How easily you can get help and parts can influence any modifications you make. How long are you going for? You may be able to put up with a hard seat for a week but not much longer. What mileage do you want to cover each day? Comfort is going to be a major factor, so seats, hand-guards, high screens and heated grips should all be on your list.
What weather will you encounter? What types of roads do you plan to ride? How old and how many miles has your bike got? Are you planning on camping?
The key principles to keep in mind is that motorcycle modifications should provide you with a more comfortable ride and, vitally, protect the bike against damage if it is 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 are our adventure must-haves:
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.
Handguards – 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 raisers – start by adjusting the standard bars and levers to find the best position. If you’re still reaching for them or feeling pain in your wrists, get some risers.
Thicker inner tubes – running tubes? A heavier grade helps reduce the risk of punctures. Not guaranteed, but it helps.
Larger footpegs – if you’re venturing off-road, larger, grippier footpegs spread your weight, for greater comfort and confidence.
Side stand big foot – sooner or later you will stop on some softer ground (think campsites).
Kevin and Julia Sanders