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Kickstands Up!

Go Ahead, Take my Money: My Favourite Motorcycle Accessories for Safety and Comfort

Updated: Jun 30, 2023

hand holding $20 dollar bills

I think most motorcyclists like to consider themselves rugged individuals; someone who partakes in an admittedly dangerous pastime for the sheer enjoyment of it. You don't conform to the cookie-cutter mould of the greater society, so you don't want your bike to be cookie-cutter standard either. You want yours to stand out from the rest of the GS/CRF/V-Strom/RC pack. So how do you do that? Accessorize.

Now accessories can be divided into two groups: form and function. Some people want to stand out from the crowd with leather handlebar tassels, spokey dokeys or an airbrushed gas tank of flaming skulls. There's absolutely nothing wrong with that if it makes you happy.

I tend to go the other way; I don't care what something looks like if it enhances my motorcycling experience by making it safer or more comfortable. So, what follows is a list of my favourite motorcycle accessories that I've added to my motorcycles over the years that I would wholeheartedly recommend you consider if you think it might help your safety/comfort scale.

One of the things not on my list is a GPS. Just get one. You can substitute cell phones, sure, but unless you do all of your riding in southern Ontario where service is ubiquitous, you're going to need one. Don't abdicate the route planning exercise to Google or Waze; do it yourself to find that hidden squiggly line road that Artificial Intelligence ignores. The bonus is that sitting in front of Basecamp during the non-riding months with a glass of scotch or wine planning routes for next year is one way to keep sane while there's snow on the ground. Just get one.

Beaded Seat Covers paired with Riding Shorts and Gold Bond

Anyone riding multi-day long-distance tours can attest that the weakest link is your backside. If you can't sit comfortably for 500-1,000 km/day, then your enjoyment of the trip suffers significantly. There are many schools of thought on how to cope with this, but the combination I found to work the best is Riding Shorts with a Chamois (think bicycle shorts, with massively expanded padding) paired with a beaded seat cover: I've been using Bead Rider for my last three bikes. Unlike sheepskin seat covers or custom comfort seats, these lift you off the seat itself, allowing cooling airflow, and also keep you from sitting in a puddle of water when it rains (goodbye swamp-ass). As I always say to people: “A million taxi drivers can't be wrong.” When putting on the shorts, a liberal sprinkling of Gold Bond Powder combined with the chamois should keep you dry and comfortable all day. Use the regular yellow bottle, not the extra strength green, unless you have some serious issues “down there”; it stings too much in my experience, but maybe I'm just delicate.

beaded seat for comfort

Fairing Extender

I have an oddly proportioned body: I'm 6'2”, but only have a 31” inseam. All of my height is in my torso, so on every bike I've had with a fairing my head was still subject to the full-frontal airflow. That gets tiring on a highway run. Depending upon your fairing and its adjustability, a fairing extender can get rid of the helmet buffeting on high-speed trips and can cocoon your head in a pocket of still air with very little sacrifice of forward vision. Some are even adjustable so you can fold them out of the way when you don't need the coverage.

extendable windscreen

Dry Bag

When your trip is for two/three weeks or longer, and especially if you're riding two up, luggage space can become a conundrum. A dry bag can solve your issue with extra storage space, but remember to use it correctly. If you're riding solo, and plan on strapping it onto the pillion seat, then it can be packed with whatever you like; the weight replaces a passenger, so your balance shouldn't be thrown off. There are two ways of getting off your bike with this set-up: you can stand on the low side peg with the bike on the side stand and get off it like dismounting a horse, or you can stand on your left leg and hop backwards away from your bike until your right heel clears the seat. One looks cool, the other dorky; take your pick. If you're riding 2 up, you'll probably be strapping it high behind your pillion. If that's the case, make sure you pack only the lightest items in the dry bag, with all of your heavy items in your saddlebags.

SPOT or Garmin Inreach

This one is just common sense, especially if you're travelling alone. Both connect you to the telephone system via satellite and give you the ability to send either pre-defined or custom text messages to a list of contacts, letting you summon mechanical help, or emergency medical help all with the push of a button. Some have keyboards so you can send and receive texts just like a cell phone, but they work anywhere and are not restricted to areas with cell phone coverage. The plan prices have come down enormously in recent years as competition builds. While you use to have to purchase a full-year plan, you can now subscribe by the month. As well, your friends and family can trace your progress on an app that shows your GPS pings to give them peace of mind that nothing is amiss.

Dialed-in Riding Position

A correctly set-up cockpit can make all the difference for your comfort. There are handlebar risers and offsets to make the bar higher or bring it closer to you if it makes your riding position more neutral. These are worthwhile investments. I went for adjustable footpegs to give me the option of dropping my peg position down by nearly an inch so that my knees weren't as bent, making for a more comfortable ride. An inch may not sound like a lot, but it can make a noticeable difference; ask anyone.


Not OEM? Aftermarket Baby

There are a few items that now come standard on my bike of choice, though they didn't always. After getting used to them, I know that I would be unhappy if they were taken away. If your bike doesn't come with these features, consider adding them as an aftermarket accessory; you'll be glad you did.

Cruise Control or Throttle lock: Bar none, the most useful add-on you can purchase. Set it and shake out that hand on the straightaway between the curvy bits. Before this was OEM for me, I had a simple cruise assist that you rested the heel of your palm on so you could flex your hand back to life. Rudimentary, but it worked wonders. For under $20, you can't go wrong.

Handgrip Heaters: Indispensable if you want to extend your riding season. They normally come with two heat settings: kinda warm and melt titanium. One is to take the chill off when you have summer gloves on, the other is for late fall rides when you're wearing your snowmobile gloves. You'll figure it out quickly.

Handgrip Guards: Not just useful for ADV riders to protect their hands from wayward branches, these accessories help enormously in the cooler weather by shielding your hands from the airflow. Coupled with the grip heaters, these can turn what could be an unpleasant fall ride into rest stops where you don't spend the first 5 minutes trying to defrost your fingers.

That covers most of my purchases over the years, though I'm sure there are many more useful accessories. Got a favourite accessory we didn’t cover? Tell us what you would consider a worthwhile investment for your motorcycle. Let us know in the comments.



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