For most of us, once we bring a new bike home the first thing we start planning are upgrades. Swapping stock parts or just bolting new ones on, it’s time to start customizing your bike to make it your own.
In the ADV world, some bikes end up like those immaculate Jeeps you see rolling around the city with fresh 35-inch tires, lift kits, and rock crawler bumpers that have never been outside of Orange County. Farkled to the max, yet never being used to their full potential. Though that’s not always the case, it seems the prettier the anodized parts, the less likely they’ll get used. Here are our Top 10 adventure motorcycle farkles whether you’re going to Starbucks or Dakar.
As mentioned in our EZ ADV Upgrades article, tires will make the most drastic change in how your adventure bike handles. If you’re looking to ride your big ol’ adventure ride off-road, knobbier tires are essential to try and maintain traction with all of that weight and horsepower. The market for ADV tires is saturated with offerings running the gamut from 10% off-road/90% on-road and vice versa. Take a look at our Adventure Tire Buyer’s Guide for a few examples from eight great brands.
2. Skid plate
Should you protect the engine of the 550-plus pound motorcycle you intend to take off-road? Hmm. I dunno. It’s true, if you don’t intend to take your bike down much more than a gravel road, you won’t need a skid plate. If you do plan to chase the horizon through whatever the trail throws at you, protecting the underside of your heavy bike is a must. Nothing brings the fun to a halt quicker than a busted engine puking oil all over the trail. Ask me how I know.
Companies like Touratech, Altrider, and Black Dog Cycle Works provide stout offerings for a number of adventure bikes from midsize to full-blown 642-pound BMW R1200GS Adventures. Our recent review of Black Dog Cycle Work’s Ultimate Skid Plate highlights the company’s flagship product.
While OEM headlights have grown increasingly brighter and more useful, in part due to the introduction of LEDs, many still lack the illumination we would prefer. Combining less than stellar lighting and off-road riding is a recipe for disaster. The ever changing terrain on a trail or fire road can require split-second decisions to be made, and when traction is limited, it’s best to be able to see obstacles as far in advance as possible. Baja Designs is one of the premier lighting specialists in off-road racing for both two wheels and four. They make great well-thought-out products that have been tested through the most rigorous racing conditions. Even if you’re not racing or even riding off-road, having better lighting is a welcome comfort when riding through the night.
In our Motorcycle Saddlebag Buyer’s Guide, we listed 10 great options for motorcycle luggage, which includes five soft options and five hard options for luggage as well as the pros and cons of each. Adding luggage to your motorcycle will change the way you tour, commute, and grocery run. The convenience can’t be overstated. A top case was the first item I purchased after buying my 1190.
5. Crash bars
What is that? You say your inseam isn’t 35 inches? Well, if that’s the case there’s a good chance that adventure bike of yours might end up on its side at some point, whether you ride off-road or not. While some bikes come equipped from the factory with crash protection, it doesn’t always protect all of the expensive plastic parts or engine casings as well as additional protection from the aftermarket might.
6. Engine case protectors
Yet another vital piece of protection. I had to learn the hard way so you all don’t have to. After putting a hole in my own clutch cover and more recently, the Africa Twin Adventure Sports’ stator cover and looking at the thickness – or lack thereof – it’s clear some extra protection is needed. Save yourself the headache of getting stuck trailside and having to get towed back to camp by investing in some extra protection for those engine cases.
7. Ram mount
A convenient quick bolt-on accessory that will have you wondering why you hadn’t slapped one on before. Great for using your smartphone for navigation through uncharted territory.
8. Headlight guard
If you do find yourself riding your adventure bike off-road often with your friends, a headlight guard can come in handy. It’s not always just dust getting kicked up by the rider leading you. One well-placed rock could shatter your headlight when fired out from under the rear tire of a 120-horsepower off-road bike. Headlight guards come in steel and polycarbonate variants. Think of them as safety glasses for your bike. You wouldn’t ride without eye protection, why should your bike?
9. Performance upgrades
For many people, an exhaust is the first thing they swap onto their motorcycles. Typically, folks opt for slip-ons because they’re easier to install and cheaper, but why stop there? As featured in our recent EZ ADV Upgrades series, helping your bike breathe better starts at the intake and Rottweiler Performance makes swapping in a freer flowing system a cinch. Combine that with an exhaust and you can tune a relatively decent amount of power into your bike while smoothing out throttle response. Another performance upgrade often seen in adventure bikes is suspension. Suspension shops can get your setup dialed in for your riding style and size in a way that can transform the handling of your machine.
10. Foot pegs
Traction for you can be just as important as traction for the bike. A set of wide rally-style foot pegs will work wonders on staying in contact with the foot pegs, allowing you to move around and weight them accordingly. They will also help with fatigue if you find yourself standing for extended periods of time. Take a look at our review of the Fastway foot pegs shown above.
These must-have items are a great place to start. Let me know what I’m leaving out in the Comments below!
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