Okay, let’s just say you’ve picked up your new adventure bike. It’s basically stock standard so you have to start thinking about what the accessories are that you need to improve it. Now “improve” can mean lots of things but what we’re talking about is what kind of additions/changes you could make to improve the bike’s performance as a true dual purpose machine: a fair bit of dirt road riding with some technical stuff thrown in at times, a fair bit of road touring, and even the basic commuting/errand kind of riding.
This list (in no specific order) is what WE found to be the most important changes that WE made, but your mileage may vary. Obviously for more hard-core adventure/enduro riding you’d need different things, or if you are heading off on an epic six month trip around the world then your list might differ even more, but if the kind of riding described above resembles your situation then the following would be well worth your consideration.
We should also add that we ride BMWs – a 1200GSA and an 800GSA – so the changes listed are somewhat specific to our bikes.
1. Foot Pegs
The foot pegs that come standard on most bikes tend to be quite narrow and for us a wide and solid platform to ride on is really important – especially when you are standing up. I really love PivotPegz but I know that the rotation they provide doesn’t suit everyone. Bottom line is to make sure you’ve got something comfortable to stand on.
2. Sidestand Foot
It took us a while to get sorted in this area, but what a great accessory. Instead of always worrying about where to stop – especially on soft ground when we are camping – the large sidestand foot makes everything super secure. I also like the way it adds a bit of height to the stand keeping the bike a little more upright on flat ground. We’ve gone with the SW-Motech version as it was well priced, but there are lots out there.
3. Crash Bars
Many of the bikes in the dual sport category come with some form of crash bar protection, but if yours is lacking, this is a great addition. On Andrea’s first bike – a BMW 650 Sertao – we added some Hepco & Becker crash bars that certainly proved their worth with a couple of low spend drops.
4. Headlight Cover
Andrea got sorted on this front first as she’s generally riding behind me and we wanted to make sure the rocks and stuff I kicked up wouldn’t crack her headlight – a pretty expensive fix if it does get broken. She has the Hepco&Becker “cage” style, and while I’m still to finally get myself sorted in this area, I’m leaning more towards the Perspex style cover. Seems there are people in both camps though.
5. Bar Risers
Both Andrea and I are pretty tall, so getting your bike to fit you right can be a challenge. Handlebar risers are one of the most effective ways to start the process of getting fit sorted out and we’ve both gone with Rox Risers. We really like the way you not only have vertical adjustment, but a bit of fore/aft range too. These are a great product.
This one really changed riding for me, and if you ride with a regular partner might be for you too. I know some really like the solitude of riding, but when Andrea got me a Sena SMH10 intercom kit it made riding so much better. The fact that we can ride along chatting with each other is fantastic – I love sharing what I’m seeing. For a while we’d get distraught when our intercoms ran out of power toward the end of a long day, but getting them connected to a power outlet on the bike was a simple solution.
Now this is an interesting one where we’ve bundled three different things in one area. “Connectivity” is about you knowing where you are, and also letting others know where you are if you need to. The first stage is simply getting a mount for your phone (we went with a RAM mount for an iPhone in a LifeProof case). Recently we have added a Garmin Montana 650T GPS in a powered mount that is much easier to read on the move. The final piece – which we don’t think we need just yet with the riding we do – is a Spot Tracker for riding in truly remote areas. Of course the other thing here is making sure you can keep these devices powered. Many bikes have a power outlet (I actually installed a powered socket up near the bars rather than the standard BMW one near the seat and got a dual USB Powerlet plug for it) but if you don’t look at getting one too!
Our bikes came with Metzeler Tourance tyres – a really nice multi purpose tyre but definitely more suited to the road. When we switched to Metzeler Karoo 3 tyres we felt much more confident in the dirt and don’t really notice the road hum too much from the knobbies. Again, there are heaps of options here and all tyres will have fans and detractors, but ask around and ensure you get some that gives you confidence.
9. Puppy Grips
A small but significant change. Puppy Grips are simple foam “tubes” you slide over your existing grips. We love them – a bit more comfortable to hold and they have eliminated hand cramps after long days in the saddle.
10. Rider Training
Okay, so not really an accessory, but probably the most important thing on this list. All the bells and whistles aren’t going to help you if your technique isn’t good. We did the BMW off-road training school not long after we got the bikes and it was a huge help. Not only did we gain confidence, it was the first step in meeting other like-minded riders, some of whom we remain in contact with today. We are keen to do the beginner course again simply to refresh our skills before we move on to more advanced training.
We’d love to hear things that have been essential additions and changes for you too!