Can’t live without? That seems a bit over-the-top, but “would rather have than not have” just doesn’t have that sort of ring to it. Idiomatic trivialities aside, these are things that I find absolutely indispensable, and certainly wouldn’t give up without a fight. So here we are, the ten motorcycle accessories I can’t live without.
I never thought I would dig having a Bluetooth comm as much as I do. Initially, when I didn’t have one, I even kind of looked down on the idea.
Music? Whatever, I have the sound of my engine and the wind. Besides, I had tried both wired and Bluetooth earbuds under my helmet, and the experience always kind of sucked, so how could this be any better?
Talking to other riders? Pffft. I’m a hand signal expert. I’ve written entire articles about hand signals.
Then I got a Sena 20S EVO in a giveaway, and decided to give it a shot rather than selling it on eBay.
And that’s when I learned how wrong I was. It was a monumental game changer.
Turns out that an audio device designed and tuned for being used in a motorcycle helmet while riding provides a significantly better listening experience than just stuffing some earbuds in your ears under your helmet.
When my wife got a motorcycle in January of 2020. I immediately set her up with a Bluetooth comm, so we could communicate clearly and directly during practice and training sessions while she was learning to ride. Hand signals are fine, and we’ve all gotten by fine for decades with them, but they certainly have a few drawbacks:
- Riders need to know and remember them in the first place.
- Someone needs line of sight to the rider making the signals, which can be a particular challenge if the one signaling is in the back or is otherwise out of sight.
- It’s challenging and potentially unsafe to use them in emergency situations where you should probably be paying attention to operating the bike’s controls.
A Bluetooth comm makes all of this better. There’s nothing to know or have to remember (just use your words). Thanks to the magic of technology, line of sight becomes irrelevant. You also don’t have to remove your hands from the controls in an emergency situation. It’s better, more effective, and safer.
If you’re on the fence, go grab one at Revzilla. You won’t regret it.
RSD Jagger Jacket
Hands down my favorite motorcycle jacket ever made. It’s very close to being the perfect year-round jacket. It’s so good, that when I had to size down my gear after losing some weight, it was the only thing I re-purchased. Read the full review.
With the zippered vents and moisture-wicking/thermoregulating CoolCore liner, it works great in all but the hottest summer days here in Texas. Even then, it still works pretty well, as long as you’re willing to sweat a bit (which you’ll do even in a mesh jacket, so whatever, right?).
Then there’s the seam-sealed waterproof hoodie base-layer that’s included. It blocks wind and rain just as well as any dedicated rain gear I’ve ever had. It keeps me warm and dry in all but the absolute coldest, wettest days.
It’s also a very safe jacket. The thick buffalo leather is durable and will absolutely save your skin in a slide, and top-notch Knox Mircolock elbow and shoulder armor is included. The back protector doesn’t cost much, and is easy to add.
If you were to splurge a bit and only buy a single premium motorcycle jacket, make it the Jagger.
Rear Stand (and Spools)
A couple of my previous bikes (my CX500 and FZ1) had factory center stands, which made rear wheel service nice and easy. I think more bikes should have factory center stands, but that’s another rant for another post.
A good rear stand with interchangeable arms that can be used with either spools or paddles (for bikes not equipped with spools), is a valuable piece of equipment for any DIY’er to have in their arsenal. It makes chain and wheel maintenance a breeze, and is also great for holding the bike upright and stable for cleaning, to check fluid levels and much more. Unlike a center stand bolted to the bike itself, it can be used with more than one bike, which is great if you have multiple motorcycles, get a new bike, or to work on a friend’s bike.
My favorite way to carry my stuff, whether I’m going across town or across the country. Kriega’s products are well-made, durable, and highly functional. They don’t come cheap, but they basically never wear out or break, and are backed with an insane warranty in the event that something does fail.
I’ve been using (and abusing) my Kriega Urban WP Messenger bag for years now, even going so far as crashing with it on, and it’s still somehow in great shape. Though the thought of getting a larger Kriega backpack has crossed my mind for when I need more carrying capacity, I’ve never considered outright replacing the tried-and-true Messenger.
I also have a pair of US-20 dry bags for use on the bike(s). Technically, one is for my bike, and one for my wife’s, but with Kriega’s modular system and abundant external straps and loops, I can quickly strap them together and stack them or use them like saddlebags on one bike.
Their mounting system is secure, easy to use, and works with virtually any bike.
I am a huge fan of Kriega luggage because it is versatile and simple. There’s cheaper luggage out there, as well as more expensive options, like hard bags with more complexity and features. I’ve spent a ton on other luggage over the years, and keep coming back to Kriega. I prefer the straightforward nature of their bags. They just get the job done.
The unsung hero of a motorcyclist’s gear ensemble.
They make sense and see a lot of use in the colder months. The benefits in the cold are obvious; better insulation and wind-blocking. Makes sense.
I’m surprised by the number of riders I see who haven’t caught on to wearing a neck gaiter, tube, or balaclava in all weather, though. Personally, I’ve been wearing one at all times for years now.
Once you get a cooling gaiter for the warmer months, you’ll never go back. Keeping hot air and sun off your neck and wicking away sweat for better moisture and temperature control makes a huge difference in your comfort level.
Even better, you can soak and/or chill the gaiter before a ride and have extra cooling comfort for hours. This will help prevent you from sweating in the first place, so you’ll stay hydrated longer.
No. More. Fogging.
Anti-fog coatings are junk. Products and cleaners that promise to prevent fog, or hacks like putting shaving cream on your face shield only work for awhile before having to be reapplied. Cracking your shield open to defog it on a cold or rainy day just sucks.
Every helmet should come with a Pinlock shield standard. It’s absurd that this is an add-on for most helmets, or not even available for many. Bell gets it with the double-paned ProVision shield on the Eliminator. The Eliminator is far from perfect, but it actually has the best face shield out there.
Sort yourself out helmet companies.
K&N Oil Filters
They provide great filtration and the “wrench off” design makes your life easier. I can do a complete oil change on my motorcycles with nothing more than a single 17mm wrench.
They’re also more durably constructed than other brands, meaning they’re less likely to puncture and suffer a failure if struck by road debris.
Their gasket design also seals better than the competitors. You don’t really have to screw them on any more than hand tight, which prevents stripped threads and makes removal for oil changes a bit easier.
I’ve literally never used a motorcycle oil filter that wasn’t from K&N, they’re just that good.
I won’t pick just one thing from Motul, so it’s really their entire catalog of products that you’ll have to pry from my cold lifeless hands.
Motul makes the best oils and chemicals in the industry. From engine oil to superb cleaning and lubrication products, they cover everything you could need to care for your motorcycle and keep it immaculate, inside and out.
Wind and road noise causes a surprisingly large amount of both mental and physical fatigue for riders. Loop earplugs wage war agains that noise, and take no prisoners.
Loop earplugs made a huge impact on reducing fatigue for me, and have made riding much more comfortable. I can’t believe I’ve gone this long without good hearing protection.
They’re designed to let voice and music through, and I found that audio from my Cardo headset sounded better with them than it did without.
They’re not custom earplugs that are custom molded to perfectly fit your ear canal, but with their flush-fitting design and multiple ear tips included, in both silicone and foam materials, it’s pretty easy to get them dialed in and comfortable.
Now it seems weird to ride without them. Even if you already ride with hearing protection, unless you’re rocking custom-molded earplugs, give Loop earplugs a look.
What? You don’t practice? You probably should. On a pretty regular basis, too.
Find some exercises and drills, like those taught by the MSF, Total Control, MotoJitsu or other training programs. Then get some training cones you can use to set up a course, and get out there and practice. The Lee Parks ones are the best, but I’ve found that simple low-profile soccer agility training cones work great as well, and are much more affordable.
A few hours here and there can dramatically improve your skills. Better skills quickly translates to more enjoyment during the ride. I’ve come to love practicing, as well as teaching. Sometimes it’s actually more fun to set up a course and do drills all day than it is to rip through some twisty backroads.
Bonus: Draplin Design Hell Yeah Keychain
Don’t leave home without it. Aaron Draplin is a paragon in the design world, and never ceases to inspire and inform. This keychain he designed is the coolest ever.
I almost lost it once, and was more concerned about recovering the keychain than the motorcycle key attached to it.
Mooneyes Rat Fink keychain sold by Lowbrow Customs is pretty rad, too. I wouldn’t be doing what I do if it weren’t for Ed Roth.
So there you have it. 10 motorcycle accessories I can’t live without.