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Accessory Necessities - Advice for New Riders on Typical Bike Modifications
By Janet Green

The more you ride, the more you're going to notice "little things" that need to be addressed with further modifications to the bike. Fortunately, there are "after market" parts for every problem you'll experience. Here are a few of the more common post-purchase "mods" you might want to make!

Problem: You feel like those cows in the movie "Twister."
When you're ready to hit the highway, the first thing you'll notice is how windy it is out there and how much you feel like you and your bike are being tossed around, even on a day when the treetops aren't swaying in the breeze. That's aerodynamics at work: you on your motorcycle are meeting air as you travel, and the fact that you're basically a squared off, upright object is causing the air to hit you head-on in a most un-dynamic way. The need for protective eyewear quickly becomes apparent, and if you're wearing a helmet you'll notice that the force – even on a calm day – can push your whole head backwards as the air tries to make a kite out of your visor.

Solution: Add a windshield!
Adding a windshield to your bike makes the kind of night-and-day difference in highway riding that makes you smack your own forehead and ask yourself why you didn't do it sooner. The main thing the windshield does is deflect the frictional force that hits your body-and-bike "object" as it moves down the road. It doesn't help you much in the case of a strong cross-wind, but it definitely protects your head and body from taking the brunt of the air's force as you travel forward. It's important to note that it doesn't take a big, wide windshield to reduce this force. Even a small "sport" windshield will dramatically change the way air flows over your bike, reducing the air's impact on you. Don't feel like you have to settle for a big police cruiser-style 'shield if that's not the look you want.

Problem: Your bike emits a low, efficient "whirring" sound instead of a satisfying rumble

Solution: Pipe up!
Okay, we all know that the main reason to change those exhaust pipes is simple: we love the rumble, and we want to make some noise, good citizenship be damned! And, you can make a pretty good argument for the notion that "loud pipes save lives." But there's another reason to change out the pipes: different exhaust changes the way air flows through the bike's engine, which can give you more horsepower at higher RPM's. If you change your exhaust, you'll probably also need to re-jet the carbureator, to account for the easier-breathing engine. One down-side here is that you could lose pep on the bottom end: things may feel a little sluggish when you pull away from that intersection. So, while you might find that shiney new (rumbly) pipes will increase your hp and your overall "wow" factor, they also might change the way you feed the throttle when you take off from a stop.

Problem: your wrists ache from gripping the bars and keeping the throttle open.

Solution: Get a Grip – A hand-grip, that is!
The degree to which your hands, wrists and forearms ache after a ride can be addressed in a number of ways, not the least of which is to simply relax a little... if you're a new rider, you're probably using the "death grip" on those handlebars. This will quickly make your forearms ache, and simply relaxing your grip a bit will make a noticeable difference.

Your bike's handlebars and handgrips might also be causing you problems. Particularly with drag bars, which put your hands in a parallel-to-the-ground position when riding, comfortable handgrips might be an easy change that will make a big difference. If you have drag bars and find your hands aching, try putting on a set of comfort grips to provide some padding as your weight comes down on your hands and wrists. And, don't forget the wrist-rest! You can attach a simple little device to the right hand grip that allows you press down with the heel of your hand and open your fingers, keeping the throttle open while you relax your grip. This is, frankly, a life-saver on longer trips.

Problem: You have nowhere to put your stuff.

Solution: Bag it.
In the male world, it's probably bikers who can most identify with women who say they need a place to put their stuff. Those bar-hopping chopper guys aside, bikers who travel on their bikes appreciate their saddlebags, t-bags, and little pouches and pockets of every size and purpose. Fortunately, solutions to this problem are plentiful. Options range from large full saddlebags that mount on the back of the bike, collapsible rolling suitcases that attach to the sissy bar, to pouches that fit on the inside of your windshield or attach to your own belt loops for quick access to frequently-needed items.

Problem: Your bike seems dull, lifeless, utterly without bling

Solution: Go shopping!
This is why motorcycles are the perfect hobby for women who love to shop: there's always some bit of chrome you can add to brighten things up or some accessory you can add to make things more fun or more convenient. The possibilities here are endless, from a chrome choke knob cover or a fully-chromed engine and transmission case for maximum shine, to leather or vinyl saddlebags or other totes for maximum storage. And here's even MORE good news: you can pick a theme, and choose bits that dress up the bike in a highly personalized style. Trying to scare the kiddies? Try the skull theme! Want to create at least the illusion of speed, even while you're still learning? Maybe flames are for you! Finally, don't ignore yourself: that awesomely courageous, "I am Woman Hear Me Roar" rider – you deserve to outfit yourself in the best protective gear, the coolest biker-babe t-shirts, and anything else that tells the world "I ride and I love it!"

Janet Green is the editor and chief biker chick at Biker Chick News, a popular web destination for women who ride motorcycles. For her complete ride journal, plus news and links of interest to women who ride, visit http://www.Bikerchicknews.com.

 




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