Can you ever have too much motorcycle gear and equipment? Shh, that’s a rhetorical question. The problem with a lot of motorcycle parts, gear, and accessories list, is they’re written by internet marketers who have never actually ridden motorcycles before and include basics like helmets, jackets, gloves, and rain gear.
This list is going beyond the basics, into serious motorcyclist territory. Here are 10 real motorcycle gear and equipment must-haves, written by an actual motorcyclist, with 13+ years of experience.
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1) Motorcycle boots you can actually wear off of your motorcycle
When I first got into motorcycle riding, motorcycle boots only came in two types. The first type made you look like you were about to get on stage for a metal band in your Doc Martins, and the second type made you look like a wannabe power ranger. That’s it. We had nothing good.
Now you can get a variety of casual boots like the Alpinestars Jam Air and even business casual workplace appropriate motorcycle boots, like the women’s Alpinestars Kerry that both look good, and are waterproof. If you want to be really fancy, these boots by Stylmartin are the way to go.
2) Hearing protection that doesn’t suck
It’s not that veteran motorcycle riders don’t listen to our partners, it’s just that we can’t hear nil. That’s because most motorcyclists are at risk of Noise Induced Hearing Loss (NIHL), which you can get any time you’re spending more than fifteen minutes exposed to long or repeating sounds over 85 decibels.
The problem with common, hardware store type of hearing protection is that it’s annoying to fit in, you’re putting the bacteria from your fingers into your ear, and it gets uncomfortable after an hour. First, I upgraded to these Alpine MotoSafe hearing protection ear plugs, but then I stepped up to custom-fitted motorcycle hearing protection and I love them so much I even use them in the house if the neighbors are being noisy.
3) A phone mount that can charge your phone while you ride
Phone mounts on motorcycles are becoming the norm, especially for those of us taking longer rides, who rely on GPS directions (or just want to know where police have been reported). Having a phone mount makes a lot of sense.
The problem is that most GPS maps eat up a lot of battery power. This is even more the case on motorcycles which are getting direct sunlight, requiring our phones to be cranked up to maximum brightness. The solution is to spend about $10 more and get a motorcycle phone mount that you can wire up to your battery, to charge your motorcycle while you ride, like this one with wireless charging.
4) The phone number of a good motorcycle towing company
Let’s say you’re in trouble, luckily your phone is fully charged, but it’s only as helpful as what you can do with it. That’s why it pays off to take some time to research a quality, fair, reliable motorcycle towing company.
If you don’t know who to call, and you’re in a tough situation, you might just hire whatever stranger, for whatever price, as your bargaining position isn’t very strong when you’re stranded on the side of the road. By making sure you find a trustworthy and fair motorcycle towing provider before you need them, you’re setting yourself up for success.
5) A warm neck makes motorcycle riding infinitely more pleasant
I live in Canada, where most people park their motorcycles for six months out of the year to collect dust. But not me. I ride year round, because I know one little truth that makes the world of a difference when you’re riding in cool weather: a warm neck is key.
Not only is your neck one of the parts of your body that can lose the most body heat, thus making you feel really cold even if it’s not that cold out, a cold neck can also cause your whole spine to be stiffer making your reaction time slower and your reactions more jerky. A warm neck protected by a motorcycle face mask that runs down below your collar is key. Look for fleece lining or moisture wicking and anti-bacterial materials depending on your needs.
6) An action camera
There are two reasons I strongly consider riders get an action camera like a GoPro that they can either mount onto the motorcycles or helmets: firstly, you can become a YouTube motovlog superstar, and secondly, in the event of an accident, you can show the footage to police and your insurance company.
Between the money you can make on YouTube if your motovlog channel takes off, and the money you’ll save on insurance if the video proves you weren’t guilty, an action camera can pay for itself in no time. These days you can get a GoPro Hero 7 Black, which is better than the 6 Black I use, for $230! You might find cheaper deals on second-hand units locally too.
7) and 8) A motorcycle-specific tank bag or backpack
If your motorcycle doesn’t currently have saddlebags, you should consider equipping it with some means of transporting cargo. Once you remove the limitation of being able to travel with stuff, your motorcycle transforms from a pleasure-only vehicle to a daily-driven commuter.
Two easy ways of adding cargo carrying capacity to your motorcycle are tank bags and motorcycle-specific knapsacks. Many motorcycle tank bags are magnetic, so they stick on to your steel gas tank all by themselves. You can also look at backpacks with helmet straps, or no-drag motorcycle backpacks meant for highway speeds.
Look for quality brands like Givi and Ogio. GIVI is the name in motorcycle cargo capacity, but Ogio bags come with a lifetime warranty.
9) Change of eyewear, or a spare visor
When you’re enjoying a beautiful day out riding, you want to be able to continue enjoying it, without having to worry about getting home before dark. You also don’t want to worry about having to ride in really dark, because all you have for eye protection is your dark tinted visor or sun glasses.
My advice is simple, get a spare visor or some spare lenses, that you bring with you in your backpack or motor tank bag. You can ride out as late as you want to with that pretty girl on the back seat, and if you want to spend the night you can leave before the sun goes up or stay in bed until noon and still be able to ride home comfortably.
10) Be ready for anything, with airbags
Air bag systems are starting to become more and more common, not just for motorcyclists, but even for equestrian and other outdoor sporting activities. High tech air bags come built into modern motorcycle jackets, or if you love your jacket and don’t want to replace it, you can get a system that you wear over your gear.
Motorcycle air bag systems deploy within a fraction of a second in order to keep your spine and ribs locked in a protective shell. This not only helps to avoid broken bones, but serious internal injuries as well. Some motorcycle airbag systems work by being triggered when a cable gets disconnected (meaning the rider has fallen off of the motorcycle), while others are triggered by the initial impact but inflate so quickly that serious trauma is avoided. It’s all really cool tech that will be a huge advancement in saving the lives of motorcyclists, hopefully.
Alpinestars did a crash test to show off their jacket, with a dummy. Unfortunately, while the dummy’s internal organs were saved, his head smacked down hard on the car roof, likely breaking his neck. Alpinestars no longer shares this video. I guess they didn’t want people to see that while airbags are great, they can only do so much to protect you.
There is a ton of really cool gear and accessories for motorcyclists today, that we didn’t have back in 2007 when I started riding. Why not take advantage and treat yourself to one or two things from this list, or send it to a friend or lover as a subtle hint before the holidays? You might just get what you really want this Christmas.