Friday Fives: 5 must-have biker accessories

by on April 24, 2009
in Friday Fives

In addition to setting up my bike with accessories that improve my riding experience, I also accessorize myself with some must-haves for the road. Today’s Friday Fives is all about the five personal accessories I can’t do without:

Leather jacket, chaps and lined gloves – By the time winter ends, I’m so ready to ride that I’ve been known to get the bike out if temperatures get to 45. (That feels SO warm when you’ve been in the months-long deep freeze, but when moving through the wind it’s really quite chilly!) There are some who go by the mantra, “All the gear, all the time.” This means they wear full leathers (or armored textiles) on every ride. I can’t claim to be that protective, but I wear my leather jacket, chaps and lined gloves for anything under 55 degrees; and, the jacket and gloves for anything under 65.

Helmet – Although in truth a helmet only provides limited protection, I wear one every time nonetheless. It’s gotten to the point where I feel naked without it. My current lid is a pink-and-pin-striped Fulmer half-helmet; it has the added bonus of being distinctive and memorable. (I swear: someone recently said to me, “I remember you – don’t you ride with a pink helmet?”)

Solid-gripping, ankle-protecting footwear – I used to wear a really nice pair of HD boots that were comfy even for all-day wear. Their only disadvantage was that they were lace-up and a pain to put on. Then I acquired a pair of red Ariat cowboy boots with good rubber soles, which I adore. And recently, I acquired another pair of HD boots also with rubber sole, but this time they lace AND side-zip for easy-on/off. A side benefit of all these boots – for me, anyway – is that they all have some degree of higher heel, which puts me flat-footed on the bike when I might otherwise not be.

Cell phone – do I even have to mention why this is important? Side benefit: mine has a built-in camera, in case I forget #5:

Digital Camera – Okay, sometimes I forget the camera. But I always kick myself when that happens. It’s important to me to document as many of our rides as possible, so that when I’m 90 and in a nursing home I can point to my pictures and tell the nurses, “You see? I used to be interesting too! And look – this hummingbird tattoo on my cleavage wasn’t always as close to my navel as it is now!”

What are the personal accessories you can’t live without?

Friday Fives: 5 must-have motorcycle accessories

by on April 17, 2009
in Friday Fives

Whenever I get a new computer, I always “load it up” with my favorite add-on tools: FTP program, graphics program, alternative browser, etc. And I’m the same with bikes, so today’s edition of Friday Fives presents my must-have motorcycle accessories. Each of these makes riding (especially highway riding) so much more comfortable – I couldn’t do without them!

Windshield – If you plan to do much highway riding (and believe me, most of those “open roads” you’ve heard about are indeed highways <grin>) you’re going to be amazed at the difference having a windshield makes. Not only does it catch the bugs that would otherwise end up in your teeth (you ARE smiling when you ride aren’t you??), it also lessens the wind force hitting your head and chest, making for a much more comfortable ride.

Saddlebags – you don’t give up the need to carry stuff just because you start riding a motorcycle. And I tend to carry a lot of stuff, including my rainsuit, a light-weight jacket, some tools, road map, makeup bag, bike paperwork, etc. If you’re a minimalist, I suppose you could get away with just a fork bag.

Wrist rest product – Again, if you’re going to be on the highway for any length of time, you’ll want one of those wrist thingies that lets you loosen your grip on the throttle while still keeping it wide open. Kuryakyn makes the Throttle Boss that coordinates with its ISO grips; other companies have similar non-proprietary products that work, too. I prefer these to the “cruise control” feature on some bikes – somehow locking the throttle open doesn’t feel safe to me.

Rider backrest – Does it strike you as odd that so many stock two-up seats come with backrests only for the passenger? If your bike’s stock seat makes your lower back or tailbone ache, you’ll want to check out after-market seats that offer rider backrests. The one I bought is made by Mustang. It did raise me up an inch or so, but the increased comfort is well worth it.

Voice-activated protective wrap-around bubble – This device deploys much like an airbag in a car, except it is voice-activated. If the rider shouts “Oh SHIT!” in a panicky voice, the bubble deploys and encases the bike and rider in a large see-through “hamster ball” made of indestructible space-age material. See also: Guardian Angel.

What are your must-have motorcycle accessories?