What’s Your Winter DIY Moto-Project?

It’s that time of year when motorcycle enthusiasts think about working on their motorcycles, adding an accessory or two to get their bike ready for the upcoming season. Road salt and aluminum motorcycle engines aren’t happy bedfellows, so I always wait until the snow melts and the first few spring rainstorms have washed away the winter’s salt. (If you’re reading this and road salt and snow doesn’t apply to you, the rest of us are envious.) If I’ve added something to my bike over the off-season, I’m eager to get out to see how my riding experience improves.

I’m what you might call a reluctant do-it-yourselfer.

I want to save money by doing it myself, but I’m not what you’d classify as mechanically inclined. Mechanically challenged would be more like it. The good news is, for most of these upgrades, you don’t need to be. Besides, almost everything you want to add to your motorcycle has an installation instruction video online. So watch a few videos, grab your tools, and start at it. I’m always the most proud of the accessories I have added myself.

There are many upgrade options available for motorcycles these days. Some riders are early adopters and want the latest and greatest gadgets and tech. My interest lies in improving my motorcycling experience with accessories that increase my safety, comfort, or convenience. My farkles don’t sparkle; they are all on the practical side.

I bought my motorcycle in Victoria, British Columbia, planning to ride up and down the island and explore British Columbia before riding home via the Yellowhead Highway, and around the north shore of Lake Superior. The first thing I purchased in Victoria before leaving, besides my motorcycle, was a GPS. I also bought and installed a USB/12V charging lead that I would use with the GPS. It turned out that it is also ideal to use with my portable air compressor, a great gadget to have when your tires are low and you’re stuck in the middle of an out-of-the-way campground.

I didn’t know AdMore Lighting from Adam, but I knew I wanted their light bar

In 2017, before I purchased my current motorcycle, I visited a motorcycle show in downtown Toronto. Clinton Smout, a well-known local motorcycle instructor, did a motorcycle skills riding demo on a Yamaha that had AdMore’s Rear Light Bar, which he also demonstrated. I didn’t know AdMore Lighting from Adam at the time, but right away I knew I wanted it. Later that year, when I got my motorcycle home from British Columbia, the AdMore Rear Light Bar was the first accessory I added.

You might think the daunting task of adding a light that needs to be hooked into the brakes, the turn signals, the rear light, etc. would flummox somebody who can barely do an oil change, but that was not the case. I followed the directions step by step and within a few hours I had the AdMore Rear Light Bar installed. A tip for the mechanically challenged: Use your phone’s camera to take photos before and while you are taking things apart, so you know how to put them back together. I also keep a pad and pen nearby, and I write out and draw diagrams for clarification where needed.

The light bar increases the chance that car drivers behind me will see my bike and notice when I am slowing down

I have been a huge fan of AdMore’s Rear Light Bar ever since, and I have taken every opportunity to show it off to fellow motorcycle riders. The light bar on my motorcycle gives me the confidence that I’ve done everything possible to make myself safe while I’m riding, increasing the chance that car drivers behind me will see my bike and notice when I am slowing down.

This was a long time before I had any connection with AdMore Lighting, but it became one reason AdMore brought me on to write blog posts for them. Not only was I a published motorcycle writer, but I already had experience with their products and was a huge fan.

The next accessory I added to my motorcycle were auxiliary running lights. Like the rear light bar, the auxiliary running lights increased the conspicuity of my motorcycle, but this time from the front. They didn’t add more light for riding at night, per se, but they did make my bike more visible. I attached them to my crash bars and wired them with a relay directly onto the battery. They were easy to install. My bike is a 2013 Suzuki V-Strom, so it was easy to work with. You may need to consult your dealer (or manual) if you have a newer bike with more complex electronics and Can-BUS. Using the HEX ezCAN unit might be an ideal choice for you for adding accessories. It leverages the data available on your bike’s Can-BUS system to make it safe and easy to add and configure electrical accessories, e.g., auxiliary lights, an air horn, emergency brake lights, etc., that make your bike safer to ride. But, it is only available for some models of BMW, Ducati, Harley Davidson, Honda, Husqvarna, KTM, Triumph, and Yamaha.

Concurrently, I added a centre stand to make the bike’s chain easier to maintain. Trying to maintain my chain on a hilly and uneven dirt campground roadway without a centre stand is near impossible. I discovered this on my ride home from BC. This was definitely an accessory I purchased for convenience, but it’s one I suggest is essential if you have a chain drive and you tour.

Keeping my hands warm is the first step to staying warm overall

My trip home through the mountain passes in the Rockies, also taught me that things can get pretty cool, even in early June—especially when you’re riding through a cloud, beside a glacier, or when it starts to rain. It didn’t take me long to conclude that heated grips would be a welcome accessory. It turned out that even in the summer, when the weather becomes inclement or when riding after sunset, I would turn on the heated grips for a bit. For me, keeping my hands warm is the first step to staying warm overall. I installed the grips and have never looked back. They allow me to ride a full three seasons and help on the anomalous days in the summer too. I love them.

What are you going to add this winter?

My Suzuki V-Strom has 100,000 kilometres on the odometer, although it is still going strong. I’m hesitant to add additional accessories to this motorcycle at this stage of its life. That said, I have been considering an auxiliary air horn and possibly a power distribution accessory hub to clean up the wiring and protect my accessories. If I install them myself, it should cost under $500 for the two, so I might do it anyway. Besides, I’m riding a V-Strom, and they go and go and go like the energizer bunny. Getting 150,000 to 200,000 or more kilometres out of them is not uncommon before the bike may (or may not) need major work. So, I might just put these upgrades on my to-do list for this winter.

I’m also considering adding an airbag vest to my kit, but I’m going to write about that in another post.

That’s all for now. Get out there, ride safe, and be seen!

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