Technology has enhanced almost all areas of our lives over the past decades and that’s true when it comes to our motorcycles as well. Bikes have become more and more advanced in recent years, making them safer, more enjoyable and easier to ride, yet even though our bikes leave the factory better than ever, there are plenty of people out there developing gadgets and accessories to enhance our riding lives even further. These are just five of our favourites…
Even in the days where many modern bikes have the facility to connect a smartphone to their TFT dashboards, many of us like to mount our phones on the bike.
It’s invaluable if you like to use your phone as a sat-nav, as it allows you to easily view the route ahead and to make changes (when stopped) without fumbling around.
However a good phone mount is essential. A cheapo item from the local pound shop might do the trick in the car, but the vibrations and motion from your motorcycle might well see it fly off down the road or shake itself to bits, in particular the camera mechanism can be quite sensitive.
Anything but a specialist motorcycle item is a false economy and the Quad Lock system is particularly renowned. It’s easy to transfer from bike to bike (and also bicycles too, if you like to cycle) and it has a specific damper (at additional cost) especially designed to stop vibrations causing damage. They also offer a range of other accessories, from alternative mounts, to charging adaptors and waterproof cases. It’s a very clever and adaptable system that helps you get the get out of your phone when riding.
Heads up display
Ok, so maybe not indispensable but cool nonetheless and another way to make integrating with your smartphone even easier.
Heads up displays were the stuff of fighter jets until a few years ago, but now you can have a HUD in your helmet for a few hundred pounds.
There are a few options out there, but we’re looking specifically at the DVISION Head Up Display. It has four modes, from the minimalist display showing time, navigation and speed warnings, through to the Explorer setting, which also includes data like speed, compass and even incoming calls.
Fitting is easy, with a small screen attaching inside the helmet, and its removable for when you don’t want to use it.
Airbags have been around in cars for decades, but the idea of motorcyclists actually wearing one is a relatively new concept.
As with so much technology, they’ve been developed in racing and it’s not unusual to see a top line racer blown up like the Michelin man as they trudge out of a gravel trap, thankfully walking away relatively unscathed.
If you take your safety seriously (and why shouldn’t you) you’ll already be wearing a back protector as part of your equipment, but an airbag takes things a step further by cocooning your upper body in the event of an impact.
Less than a decade ago the technology was at the very highest end of the price range, integrated into top spec Alpinestars and Dainese race suits, and the first suits aimed at road riders were deployed by means of a tether, which would set it off it you became separated from the motorcycle.
These days the technology is much more accessible. Detonation takes place in milliseconds, with sensors detecting an accident and a microprocessor inflating the vest ahead of impact. It’s still not super cheap, but it is more affordable and standalone vests can be worn with regular riding gear and not just integrated into a fancy one-piece suit. We tried and (unfortunately) tested Alpinestars’ Tech-Air vest and were very impressed.
If, like most of us, you ride a chain driven bike you will know the faff involved in keeping the drive chain in good order.
Cleaning and lubing can become a real ritual, and even then they can continue to wear our at a rapid rate.
So if you do lots of miles on your bike, it’s well worth looking at a chain oiling system. Other options are around, but Glasgow firm Scottoiler is so ubiquitous in the market that their name has become to chain oilers what Hoovers are to vacuum cleaners.
Scottoilers drip feed oil directly to your chain, keeping them constantly lubed to reduce tiresome maintenance and increase longevity. Many riders swear by them and, in recent years, digital technology has helped to make them more accurate, more efficient and even easier to fit than before.
Earplugs are another product that should be in every biker’s kitbag, and although cheap foam disposable items do a great job protecting your hearing, there are a bunch of more advanced versions available which can really enhance your riding.
Reusable plugs are better for the environment, and specialist plugs like those made by Auritech, have a tiny ceramic filter in them. These allow some sounds to be heard (such as your bike engine, speech and the likes) but filter out the high frequency sounds created by the wind hitting your help and which are harmful for your hearing.
If you can make it along to get an impression taken of your ear canals, an even more advanced option are custom fit plugs, which give a perfect fit for maximum comfort and sound attenuation. British company Ultimate Hearing Protection even offer custom fit plugs with built in speakers, for riders who like to listen to music or use an intercom on the go.