Small Can Equal Big

No matter what bike you ride, you will customize it to fit your needs and wants. The smallest items can have a big impact.

By JD and Jody

It never ceases to amaze me that when you are in need, whether it’s for comfort, survival or just to get from point A to B, it can be the smallest thing you rely on. I have ridden motorcycles for years and on my chopper, and used a Buff (long cylindrical headwrap) to protect my face. Umpteen times I pulled it on and didn’t give it a second thought, until the day I lost it. Not having it didn’t stop my ride, but you can bet I missed it. That an item I can stuff in my pocket can have such an impact to make a ride more enjoyable seemed odd. That is until you look at what you add to your bike or personal gear that are a must, and yet they are taken for granted. 

Jody and I have taken to the adventure riding tribe these days and changed from two small dual sports to a more serious Honda CRF 1000 Africa Twin. It wasn’t long before we wanted, or should I say needed, to add accessories to just make it ours. We wanted to also make the ride, no wait, the adventure even better.

 The break-in period didn’t take long and it gave me a chance to get more familiar with my new gal. Dave Gearhart, a friend at work, has an AT as well, and he was a great help to straighten my learning curve about some of the key concerns he noticed when he first got his AT.  So, with a few areas flagged by Dave and some I picked out myself, I decided what I needed to just get going. 

I had given thought years ago to customizing a bike, and how there seem to be “categories.” Rider safety, rider comfort and just plain cool s*!t.  I don’t want to get too involved in the cool aspect of our AT but lean more towards rider safety and comfort.

After a couple hours in the garage, I had lower and upper crash bars installed. I wouldn’t say they are small but they are a must. I’m mostly going to cover items that are not as noticeable or obvious.

The first accessory I added is one of the most obscure. I say this because anyone looking would believe it to be a stock piece. And that part is the Swegotech fork shield. This fork shield takes about twenty minutes or less to install. If you are unsure about the Africa Twin and the air funnel the forks create, next time when on one, look down in front of the tank. It’s as plain as day. The Swegotech fork shield stops the air buffeting under your chin. It maintains the super clean look of the AT and is extremely easy to install. This well-thought-out part is not only simple, it’s very inexpensive, plus you’ll be happy to have the comfort and not give it another thought.

The next part that was needed was pegs.  The amount of time adventure riders spend standing makes it paramount to have a good base. Something your foot can stick to will give you confidence when the trail turns rough. The factory pegs are almost 3 inches by 1.5 inches. Can you use factory pegs? Sure you can. But then one slip when miles away from cell service or from help– and you’d be kicking yourself, with your good foot. Pegs are split in the category of rider safety and comfort. A good, large platform allows you to stand securely. And the larger surface area adds comfort.  

I chose the IMS Products’ CORE pegs for many reasons. First, they look badass.. but also they offer nearly twice the size of factory pegs with a pointed construction so your foot will ride secure, standing or sitting. IMS Products engineers many types of pegs that offer superior craftsmanship and reliability. Rachael at IMS Products said they are a “family business and they are proud of their products.” I’d have to agree that they should be proud of such a great product that literally took minutes to install, fitting right into place of the factory mounts. And when riding there is never a second thought, my feet are planted.

After installing my IMS Products pegs, I addressed my hand guards. Again, Honda did a good job in giving the rider a hand guard, but that hard plastic that will break will only offer some protection. So, for rider safety and bike protection I went to Barkbuster.  Twisted Throttle offers a wide variety of hand guards. I wanted the guards that not only protected my hands but also the levers. The Barkbuster with heavy aluminum frame can give you the best protection for both you and your bike. These handguards are built specifically for the year and model of bike. You will not have to work hard at getting them to fit because they make one handguard to fit several years, makes and models. These installed quite easily and trust me when I say you will be testing them out, you will. And just looking at them after mounting, you’ll see the stoutness and feel better about having them over factory.

  An item that many put on their adventure bikes and sport bikes is a tank packs. That just isn’t for me, not saying there isn’t a need for some, and that’s why they have them. I went a simpler way. I went to a handlebar bag from Giant Loop. The small handlebar bag lets me keep my registration and such items in an easy access location. I have put my registration in a coat pocket, which works until you grab a different coat. I have found I can even put the bag on the side on my crash bars. The handy way of strapping and mounting the bag allows you to use your imagination on the many locations you can attach it. I not only put my registration in it, I can put my garage door opener in it. When at the end of a ride, it is convenient to access, taking seconds.

The last item I addressed was a lack of lighting. Many writers who first critiqued the Africa Twin mentioned the headlights, how the dual lighting set-up just wasn’t enough. My buddy Dave confirmed this very issue when he and Boyd had ridden some of the Backcountry Discovery Routes in eastern Oregon. So, I looked at what would fit, look cool, yet above all, work. 

I went with Denali S4 TriOptic LEDs. These lights would meet every criteria I had. The look great and are extremely bright when I need them. It didn’t take long to mount them, but Honda requires you to dismantle all your plastics and gas tank to keep the great looks of the AT. My friend Dave Beauchamp at Twisted Throttle also thought these would be the best for my wants and needs.  Not only were the lights badass but the mounts for the crash bar made it very versatile, allowing me to mount them in a way that I get full advantage of the lighting capabilities and tuck them where they are protected when I hit the dirt. 

The Denali lights more than compensated for the factory miss but added to my overall safety. I can not only see better at night, but I can be seen. The Pacific Northwest is famous for its logging roads, and coming around a corner and meeting a log truck is always a concern. I know these lights will give me and others a heads up. 

The items I have covered here added to my comfort and safety.  Most adventure riders have in one way or another had to address this and other issues for their riding style and the type of riding conditions they will expect. This article is about items that in my opinion will add value to your adventure bike. And while not wanting to go there, every product did make our bike more badass with all the cool s*!t added!