Bikes in our countries generally fall under two broad categories. They are either affordable commuters with basic features or fun rides that are priced so high that they might as well look for a used car.
Naturally, most riders go with the former and learn to live with the limitation of their budget offering.
However, as with everything, there are a host of bolt-on upgrades that will make your daily drive a much more practical machine to live with. Here are a few that will make your bike, at the very least, safer to ride every day.
As we wrote in a previous article, while the yellow halogens look nostalgic, they are not the best option for illumination.
Your average 35-watt halogen headlight bulb generates a little over five hundred lumens and will usually go out after a thousand hours. That is barely enough to see the road six feet in front of you, and you will likely need to change that bulb at least a few times before your next upgrade.
Alternatively, you can swap the said halogen for a Light Emitting Diode (LED) that can create a near blinding five thousand lumens for over 15 thousand hours, which would be more than enough to cover your entire bike ownership time. That said, make sure the LED you are getting has multiple faces, or the light projection will be extremely one-sided.
In addition to the main headlight, LED indicators and brake lights also exist. These look sleeker and flashes brighter than the bulbous regulation meeting stock options found on most stock models. Price ranges from a few hundred to thousands, depending on the quality and brightness. Because you need to splice some wires, we recommend you go to a professional for this one.
Also, make sure the new lights are properly aligned, or you will end up blinding oncoming traffic.
Phone mount and charger
If your bike has Xonnect or something similar, ignore this one.
For the rest, if there is one thing riders really do not like while riding a motorcycle is an incoming call or message alert. Unless you have invested in a smartwatch, the only way to safely check who contacted you is to park beside the road and pull out your phone.
A quick and cheap solution for this is to get a cell phone mount and then stick your phone on it. Not only do such mounts allow you to keep an eye on the alerts, but it also lets you use some of the phone's other useful features, such as maps and music.
Different types of mounts exist, from suction cups to handlebar clamps to mounts that are designed to be fitted directly on your fork stamps. These cost anything from a few hundred to an upward of Tk5,000 if you want something premium such as a RAM Mount. Pick one that fits your budget the best.
Speaking of phones, charging them is annoying, but carrying around a power bank to charge in case of emergency is infuriating. And while some new bikes do come with a built-in charging socket, the only option is to mount aftermarket ones for the rest of us.
Prices for such chargers fall somewhere between a few hundred or thousands and require a bit of wiring know-how to get them to work. Best to have a professional mount it for you.
Hydrophobic side mirrors
For motorcyclists, getting soaked in the rain is part of life. Alternatively, we tend to run for shelter every time there is a cloudburst, leaving our bikes in the open. This leaves the bike covered in rainwater, which in addition to creating a damp seat, covers the outside rearview mirrors (ORVM) with lots of water droplets.
Not only are these droplets hard to wipe off without a dry fabric —something that is as rare as a unicorn after precipitation— they also tend to fog up the glass making them almost impossible to use.
There are two ways to clear up this issue. The first one is hydrophobic stickers. These sticky transparent films come in various shapes and sizes but the round ones are the most common. Stick them onto your mirrors and they will keep the covered area free of water or condensation. These rarely cost more than a couple of hundred bucks but do have a tendency to fall off or lose effectiveness after a while.
The other, a more long-term solution is to use a hydrophobic coating. Two drops of such coating are usually enough to cover the entire surface of the mirror, with the coating doing as well as a job, if not better, as the sticker. You will have to re-apply the coat every few months, but considering a small bottle costs slightly more than a sticker and will last you years, that is a non-issue.
Sticking to the damp theme, let us discuss rear wheel mudguards. Although slowly becoming a stock option in some 150/165cc bikes, most of the bikes still roll off the dealer lot with a bare rear wheel.
This causes the rear wheel to turn into a mud fountain every time the biker rides over soft wet terrain, showering the entire underside of the bike, the poor fella who was behind the bike, and sometimes the unfortunate pillion rider's back, with mud. Aftermarket mudguards cost a few hundred bucks are a simple bolt-on solution to this messy vexation.
Tank pad and cruise assist
This one is for long-distance riders. Riding a backpack on long rides is a bad idea. The extra weight on the back causes additional fatigue and puts needless strain on the spine. A quick fix to this issue is to have the bag at the front, preferably on top of the fuel tank. However, this ends up scratching up the tank quite badly, thanks to constant rubbing.
A simple fix to this issue is to get a tank pad, a stick-on rubber pad that is mounted onto the fuel tank surface through adhesive. These cheap sacrificial pads protect both the tank and provide an extra gripping surface for the bag to hold onto.
The second item to get for long highway rides is what is commonly called a 'Cruiser assist'. Essentially a piece of plastic that clips onto your throttle lever, it turns the twisting motion of throttling input to a pushing motion. This prevents the rider's hand and wrists from becoming sore as it cuts down hand movement by half. It is one of the best upgrades you can make to your cruiser or other long-distance rides at a few hundred bucks.