Nothing holds a candle to the charm of riding a motorcycle. With the wind in your hair and the company of your closest buddies (or just nature to keep you company), motorcycle trips make for great experiences and even better tales to tell. But if you don’t take care of a few simple things, you will be telling stories of backaches and cramps! Let’s make sure that you stay comfortable on your rides.
Here are 10 most recommended comfort accessories for motorcycles.
1. Compression Garments
Whole Body Vibrations (WBV) can cause fatigue and in worse cases an upset stomach, motion sickness, headaches, or lack of sleep among other things. This fact has been researched extensively and there is a general consensus that too much vibration is bad for the muscles as well as the neurological system in our body.
Vibration Fatigue is a very common occurrence with long-distance riders, especially those riding on single-head or big-twin engines. To prevent vibrations from messing up your body, invest in some good quality compression riding garments. These hold your body in a snug hug that keeps the blood and lymphatic vessels working properly, and also compresses the muscles which reduce the jarring effect of WBV.
2. Exhaust Thermal Wrap
The pilot can be comfortable only when the pillion is comfortable. You don’t want the constant complaint of your pillion rider talking about the heat roasting his or her feet. While on long cruises, it is normal for the exhaust to make some heat. Now that usually does not affect the pilot, but for the pillion rider, it’s a whole different story.
The hot exhaust heats the air and rises up creating discomfort, and the heat can also be felt through the footpads and underneath the pillion seat. Thermal wrap for exhausts can make the world of a difference. Good quality thermal wraps can withstand up to 400ºF (204ºC) direct heat and up to 2000ºF (1023ºC) radiant heat. That means, not only will you protect the pillion rider from getting singed on a hot pipe, it will also keep them comfortable on long rides.
3. Handlebar Risers
From Ape Hangers to subtle risers, handlebars have fascinated riders for ages. While some handlebars are just for the looks of it, there are others that serve a very practical purpose.
Handlebar risers can dramatically improve your riding stance (rider’s triangle) and keep your spine from arching on long routes. Risers bring the bike’s control closer to you, instead of you having to reach out for it. Look for adjustable handlebar risers when you are shopping for one.
4. Floorboards (or Extended Footpegs)
If you found yourself shuffling your feet too much on the pegs looking for a comfortable position, then it’s time you invested in some floorboards. As the name suggests, these are flat and provide a floor for your feet to rest comfortably. The angle of the board can be adjusted for your height and riding position.
The other option is to outfit the bike with extended footpegs that sit up further away from the normal position and lets you extend your feet and get comfortable on the highway.
5. Gel or Memory Seats
It might be new to you, but the buttocks are like junctions of nerves! The most important of these are the Sciatica Nerves and if you happen to pinch them on a hard seat for too long it can get painful. A good seat is even more important if your bike loves to vibrate.
It’s important that you choose a motorcycle saddle that’s neither too hard nor too soft. A happy midway is the best choice. Gel or Memory Foam seats have been considered the best options because they keep your tushy comfortable even after a long stretch of riding on undulating surfaces.
6. Rider Backrests (Sissy Bars)
One of the quirks of motorcycle design is the sissy bar. Besides giving bikes a badass hot-rod look, sissy bars also serve the practical purpose of being a backrest mount. There are shorter bars that can be placed in the middle of the pilot and the pillion seat where you can mount a backrest to support the back.
Custom made rider backrests are also a great option that lets you add dollops of comfort on the bike. Backrests are important for long-distance comfort, that’s why Honda Goldwing’s are such a hot favorite among mile guzzlers.
7. Sun Visors & Ear Plugs
On bright sunny days, the glare on the road can tire your mind easily. When you squint in bright conditions you put a lot of stress on the facial muscles which compresses the nerves that create discomfort and headaches.
If you have experienced unexplained dull headaches, bright sunlight exposure could be a reason. Talk to a doctor. You might also want to invest in a dual visor helmet that has a sunshade inside the clear visor. Dual Visor Helmets are available in both full-face helmet designs and modular designs.
Sound pollution is a major reason for rider discomfort. The wind whistling constantly in your ears and the grubby noise of the rubber rolling on tarmac can get on your nerves!
The human ear has a bunch of tiny hair-like things that are called ‘Stereocilia’ (Stereo = sound, Cilia = Hair), which vibrate and send auditory signals to the brain. When these get constantly plummeted by loud noises, they get bent-over and distorted which can lead to dizziness and headaches, and even deafness in worst cases.
Protect your hearing and stay comfortable with earplugs. You can get a bunch of use-and-throw plugs for a bargain price, or try out the silicon ones which last longer. If you don’t want any compromises with the wellness of your auditory sense, then custom ear protectors are the way to go.
8. Luggage Bags
The last thing you want on a trip is to be weighed down by a huge backpack! This will create an unnecessary pressure on your spine and it will quickly become very uncomfortable. Avoid that by investing in bike luggage bags. These come in different configurations. You can either get a pair of side-hanging bags or a hard-case top box that can be mounted on the rear grab rail.
Good quality motorcycle shocks can make the difference between a bumpy ride and a nice comfortable one. Proper shocks not only help you maintain good control over the bike, but it will also soak up all the bumps and potholes keeping more comfortable on the saddle.
Nitrogen-charged shocks are more expensive than coil shocks, but they offer better damping and therefore, more comfort and control. While purchasing an upgrade, look for options that let you adjust the damping.
Last but not the least, motorcycle helmets are the most important accessories that not only ensure comfort but also keep you safe. There’s a lot of options to choose from based on your riding and lifestyle preferences. Branded motorcycle helmets come with air-vents on the top, sides, on the chin as well as the rear to ensure effortless cross-ventilation which keeps you fresher on a humid day.
Full face helmets are an obvious choice for most riders but you can also pick a modular helmet that lets you transform it from a full-face to an open face helmet with a few easy gestures.
If bugs and dust don’t bother you much, you also go for the one-third helmets and rock a pair of bike riding goggles for eye protection. While comfort is a key feature and you need to look for clear-vision Pinlock® Visors and hypoallergenic liners, it is also crucial that you don’t ignore certifications that validate the quality. In the USA, look for DOT certified helmets and if you reside in Europe, look for ECE certification.
Ride safe and stay comfortable with motorcycle comfort and safety accessories that best suits your riding style.
Aryan Khanna is an avid rider proud of the miles on his odometer! When he is not hitting the highways, Aryan loves sharing his experiences and opinions on motorcycle riding safety and scenic routes across South-East Asia. Over the last 8 years, Aryan has written on motorcycle safety topics such as helmets and gloves, as well as other aspects of road safety.
In this article, he shares 10 most-recommended motorcycle accessories for staying comfortable on two-wheels!