Most motorcycles are great to ride right out of the box, but you can make them even better. By adding motorcycle accessories you can personalize your bike to make it better fit your riding needs. Many riders look to performance upgrades for making their bike better, but a strong argument can be made that the right accessories can actually make the biggest impact to your ride to make it even more enjoyable to ride.
So what exactly is out there for motorcycle accessories? A LOT. Over the past decade, the amount of electronic motorcycle accessories available has exploded with gadgets like stereos, GPS's, communicators and even smart phones. Then there are the accessories that don't necessarily rely on the latest in the digital age, but they can still improve your riding experience. These accessories range from being as simple as cup holders to the more advanced accessories like gauges that will show you just how your motorcycle is performing.
Listed below are some of the more popular options for motorcycle accessories, all of which can make your time on the bike more enjoyable and productive.
There are many riders that will argue that all they want to hear while riding is the sound of their exhaust and the wind whistling by. For the rest, nothing beats a high quality motorcycle stereo and speakers. Motorcycle audio systems allow you to take your favorite music with you on your bike. Riders can choose to play their audio from multiple formats including XM/FM radio, satellite radio, CD, MP3, and even by connecting to another device via an auxiliary cable, USB or by Bluetooth.
Because the openness of being on a motorcycle, motorcycle speakers must be able to contend with wind and road noises. Motorcycle audio systems are designed to play audio at specific levels to cut through all of the other noises. Car or marine speakers are just not designed to be played in that environment.
One of the biggest concerns when choosing motorcycle audio is how you are going to mount it to your bike. Some systems will mount right into the motorcycle's fairing to replace an existing audio system. If your bike does not have a fairing, you will need to look into the handlebar mounted options. The new audio system will need to be connected to your bike's power supply in order to operate.
Getting lost on the back roads can be one of the best parts about a motorcycle trip, until you need to get back but don't know how. That's where a motorcycle GPS navigation system can save your trip. These systems are designed specifically for motorcycle riding to withstand the rugged nature that it can provide. A motorcycle GPS is one of those accessories that are better to have and not need than to need and not have.
GPS systems of the past may have been crude and difficult to use, but modern technology has made them more than just an alternative to a map. In addition to the turn-by-turn directions, many systems have additional capabilities like weather alerts, road condition alerts, and the ability to find restaurants, gas stations and more. Some more advanced systems can even be integrated with the bike itself to provide notifications for low tire pressure and gas and oil levels. Motorcycle GPS systems with Bluetooth can be operated via voice commands so you can keep your hands on the bars at all times. They can also be synched up with a music player to act as a stereo.
For many riders, sharing the ride with another person makes it a much more rich experience. Before communication systems came around, riders were relegated to yelling or using taps on the shoulder to try and get their point across. Motorcycle communicators allow riders and passengers to communicate clearly with one another so that there is no confusion. Many communicators can also be used for bike-to-bike communication as well. This eliminates the need to pull over to talk with your fellow riders which can save you time and confusion.
There are two main styles of communication systems for motorcycles. The first system is a complete unit that is mounted to the rider's helmet. The second system will only have the microphone mounted to the helmet, while the rest of the system is mounted to the bike, usually the handlebars. With both systems, there are speakers and a microphone that are mounted to the inside of the helmet. Most systems now use Bluetooth in order to connect with one another. This also allows the communicators to be synched with smart phones and audio devices.
Your bike is often a large investment for you and it is also a huge part of your lifestyle and identity. You can help protect your motorcycle and give yourself a little peace of mind by installing a security or alarm system. Thieves and vandals can often be deterred by the sounding of an alarm. If not, the alarm could at least alert you or someone else that something is going on.
There are different levels of sophistication for motorcycle security systems. At the basic level, there are motion detection alarms and ignition disablers. At the more advanced levels, security systems can have features such as RFID hands-free operation, auto activation, impact and inclination sensors, and battery back up in the event that the power source wires are cut. Some systems will even alert you that your motorcycle is being tampered with by sending a message to the fob.
Motorcycle accessory lighting can have practical applications or it can be purely cosmetic. Driving lights and light bars are often added to expand the light horizontally beyond the reach of the actual headlight. Driving lights are often attached with clamps to either the handlebars or to crash or highway bars. Light bars can be attached under the headlight with a pair of driving lights or spotlights attached on either side of the headlight.
Cosmetic accessory lighting can be added anywhere on the motorcycle. These lights are often used to accent certain areas of the bike like the engine, rims or any part that has been customized. These lights can be individual or in the form of LED light strips. Some of these lights are different colors and others still, have the ability to change colors, flash, blink and are operated with a remote. They are a great way to add a unique flair to your motorcycle.
The advancement in digital camera technology has made it possible for companies like GoPro to produce small action cameras that can capture cinema quality video. These cameras are perfect for riders who like to capture their rides. Plus, with all of the unique mounting options, the rider can put their own unique perspective on the video to tell a unique story. The cameras are very durable and can withstand just about all of the abuse a motorcycle ride can put on them.
Some riders use cameras that are connected to small digital screens as rearview cameras while riding. Using a camera allows the rider to strategically place it to capture the areas that mirrors cannot. These cameras can also double as action cameras to record the ride.
Motorcycle gauges are a great way to always know exactly how your bike is performing, especially when you have performance mods installed. Some high-end gauges may come with any or all of these sensors- speedometer, tachometer, gear indicator, oxygen sensor, temperature sensor, oil pressure sensor, air/fuel ratio sensor and boost sensor. All of these sensors can be found individually as well.
As possibly the most low-tech accessory on the list, the motorcycle cup holder has grown to be one of the most popular over the years. This simple addition to your motorcycle can come in handy for when you want to have quick access to your beverage. This will save you time at stops by removing the need for you to dig through your luggage to find your beverage. Motorcycle cup holders can be mounted to the dash, handlebars, mirrors and even on to passenger arm rests. Many holders come with an insulated stainless steel cup to keep hot liquids hot and cold liquids cold. This is really great for riders who would like a hot coffee along for their morning commute to work.
For all of your accessories to fit on your bike harmoniously, you will need to invest in some high quality mounts. Ram mounts will keep your accessories out of the way and will protect them from the vibrations of your motorcycle. There are also mounts for smart phones and tablets, which allows you to utilize all of the great motorcycle apps available for those devices. There are also waterproof cases for the mounts to keep your electronics safe.
A battery tender is a good idea for motorcycles anyways, but they are even more necessary when you have electrical components added on. Many electronic accessories that are tied into the bike's power, like a security system, will draw power all of the time. This can eventually wear down the battery if it is not kept fully charged.
If you plan on running multiple accessories at one time, you may need to invest in an alternator upgrade. Your stock alternator might not have the amount of output that is needed to properly keep all of the electrical components running at once.
When looking at motorcycle accessories, make sure that they will fit your specific bike. Pay attention to the clamp size if it is a handlebar mount. Speakers may need an existing hole in the fairing to be mounted. Many accessories are universal, but you should take the extra time to make sure that you are getting something that will work for your bike.