Adding a bluetooth headset to your helmet is both easy and fairly cheap. They add the ability to pipe turn by turn navigation from your GPS right into your helmet. You can also talk with your buddies when your gas light comes on, when you're looking for a bite to eat, or need to stop for any reason, is well worth it. Comm systems really cut down on the hand-signal tomfoolery we’ve all experienced on the side of the road. The Sena SMH 10 though not as fancy as some newer models, remains a very good, reliable workhorse in this area, and they’re relatively inexpensive these days. We recommend the Sena or Cardo as our favorite brands.
Google Maps is great for planning, and a programmable GPS for routing. But sometimes having a large, detailed map in the context of the whole huge region you’re in is a great tool. Batteries fail and GPS is a pretty small window. While you might be fine with a Google printout of a map (or several), we like Butler Maps. Their maps are designed for motorcyclists, by motorcyclists and are the best resource for the best roads for any kind of riding and they include some of the best places to stop along the way.
Earplugs are great for protecting your hearing and cutting down on fatigue, so they are ESPECIALLY nice for road trips. It's amazing how loud the inside of a helmet can be, and subjecting your unprotected ears to that for hours on end can lead to fatigue and hearing damage quickly if you are not wearing ear plugs. If you're using a bluetooth headset, they help to diminish some of the tinny sound of the cheapish speakers. Howard Leight makes some great ones that are very popular with riders. Remember, hearing loss is cumulative and permanent; once you damage your hearing there’s no going back. As long as you can still hear, damage can happen. Protect what you still have!
Since we all live and die by our cell phones these days, it’s a good idea to carry something to keep it charged. You’ll also need to top up your comm system and whatever other battery-powered accessories you carry. With advances in battery technology, it makes sense to carry something that will not only recharge your phone, but jump your or your riding buddy’s bike battery if it comes to that. The Weego 22s jump starter doesn’t look like much, but it packs a heck of a punch, and it’s super packable.
Usually your neck is the only exposed flesh while you're riding your bike. If you’ve never worn a neck gaiter, consider the versatility. They keep you warmer when it’s chilly. When it’s hot, you can soak them in water and they’ll cool you down in the wind. They will keep stinging insects from finding that one open area of vulnerability. Even a very lightweight one, like this cheap Amazon special, makes a huge difference. You can also pull it over your face in the dust, and wear it on your head at the end of the day to cover your helmet hair.
Motorcycles break. It's part of life and being a motorcyclist. Another part of motorcycling is riding for pleasure, which often includes remote and deserted roads. Combine the two and you have a wonderful recipe for sitting on the side of the road. I always have a small toolkit on me, even for day to day riding, and I will always recommend that. My tool kit has pulled my gonads out of the proverbial fire (and those of my riding buddies, too) more times than I care to count. I like the CruzTOOLS Roadtech Kit for a generic pre-built (note that one is metric!), but recommend building one specific to your bike. There are plenty of tool rolls out there: start with an empty one and do the maintenance on your bike out of that tool kit. Every time you need a tool that isn’t in there, add it, and carry it.
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