Tourers & the mad race for accessories

Once you own a motorcycle, it’s a very tempting proposition to seal one’s ownership on it by making it personal and instantly recognizable. This can be done in many ways but the easiest is to stamp a few stickers on it and feel happy about it.

It’s almost become a mandate to have fancy accessories  and some stickering/wraps to make a touring motorcycle feel complete for it’s owners. I’m sure some of it is because of actual needs but rest of it is sheer marketing.  Here’s are a couple of my favorite and most colorful off-roaders from Icon Motorsports Youtube channel (some crazy videos in there).

Motorcycle manufacturers have long been extracting whatever they can from this consumer trend (craze) launching basic motorcycles and a variant that comes fully loaded with all the accessories.  The Versys 650 ABS and Versys 650 LT (accessories filled variant that didn’t launch in India).

The most annoying part is when you see that the version you have can actually fit every single of these accessories but you’ll have to now source one at time to feel that the motorcycle is complete. The argument of the super-overpriced stock accessories or picking up a well known accessory manufacturer for a complete kit from someone like Hepco Becker, SW-Motech or Puig from a reseller is ongoing.

I was a part of a pan-India Versys owners group for a while where there were three things were discussed and precisely in that order – accessories, rides, & booze! It was a very short but useful experience on how people think about their premium motorcycles. Incomplete until it’s got all cool gadgets that muffle it. Every second hour, there was a discussion around accessories and sourcing it to India.

Having done a few trips now, I must say that it’s very tempting to have some accessories but the cost of these will make you think long and hard. After months of researching, I had finalized the list of accessories. In fact, even got the Barkbuster VPS handguards (kit & shell)  fixed and waiting to fix the side stand extender and radiator guard.

(PS: a part of me still wants to fix the stock Kawasaki handguards.)

A crash guard  seems like a requirement considering the weight and height. Putting the Versys down is going to be a more frequent affair than one can imagine. Skid plate looks necessary but I’m still confused. Well, the list is endless considering the gizmos that can be fitted to these motorcycles.

But, something is making me think again as to whether all these accessories are a necessity or I can still continue to tour on the Versys comfortably, with what I already have, the motorcycle. The answer is actually and surprisingly ‘yes.’

The kind of rider that I am and for my lifestyle, I’ll probably do a maximum of two weeks ride for which a simple soft-case luggage & a tank bag should do. Unless I’m riding at speeds that are above the limits, I don’t need those fancy gears for myself or for the motorcycle. And, if I could do a 4 day ride with none of these accessories then I should be able to do a 10 day or 14 days ride without much hassle. Everything else is just a good to have.

Versys 650 ABS 2015 Highway.jpg

Well, if things have to go down south, they definitely will.  The Versys 650 (your fancy touring motorcycle) is probably by itself the only must have in the bigger scheme of things. The mad race for accessories is probably unnecessary. This one is definitely not made for a race anyway – it’s just to stroll on the highway. Amble away!

21 thoughts on “Tourers & the mad race for accessories

  1. I tend to agree with you for most parts. But there are *some* so called accessories (or farkles) that are mandatory on a bike of this nature (ADV or Semi ADV). For instance:

    1. Hand guards – break your levers on a tip over and riding back home is not going to be fun – has happened to someone I know on the Versys.
    2. Engine guard – I’ve fallen as many as 4 times already on the bike at almost standstill. That block of iron is worth its weight in gold.
    3. Aux lights – god forbid you’re stuck somewhere and need to ride back at night on the “Indian” highways. Thankful many times over for this. The nights I didn’t have aux lights were a nightmare.
    4. Center stand – no center stand – no adv bike. I lasted one month trying to clean and lube the chain, moving this behemoth up and down the corridor. Hell. And less said about fixing punctures on the highway the better.
    5. DC converter – power your phone for the GPS (I use mine on every trip), or use it to power your air supply. I use it all the time to check tyre pressure at home every week.
    6. Rad guard/side stand extender – keeps your radiator reasonably clean. Extender’s been very helpful parking off the highway.
    7. Sump guard – its in the offing, the designs we have from both motech and hepco are terribly huge and gaudy.
    8. Things like luggage options and even windshields are rider-based decisions, depending on how tall you are, or how much you carry (I’m an ultra minimalist traveller), or whether you ride 2-up etc. I’m a proponent of soft waterproof luggage (drybags). Hard luggage tend to be very very expensive…and you’ve to be spending a hell of a lot of time on the bike to get that ROI going.

    I would also add things like the Scott oiler to this list. If you’re doing 4-5k kms a month on this bike, thats a lot of time spent every 500 kms to clean and lube the chain.

    The following aren’t accessories. They’re what I call Sparkles.

    1. Wrap jobs – Wait the bike already attracts a shit load of attention in India, I’ve to find a goddamn secure parking spot for the bike before I get myself a bed, I have to cover the bike with a cover, before I tuck myself into bed…and then you go get a flashy wrap job that attracts even more attention?
    2. Exhausts – A great way to go deaf in the next 6 months.
    3. Sena BT – Sometimes I’ve gotten fried in my head having to pull everything off to make a call to get directions or something, but I am extremely wary about listening to music while riding a motorbike on the highway. Somehow, in a car music doesnt seem to be a problem. On a motorbike, I can see it being potentially disastrous.

    Still, I do see the allure of wrap jobs or exhausts. Hell, I’ve dreamt about them myself now and then.

    I’ll end by calling out your point on gear. Whether you ride 2 days a week, or 2 months a year, good gear is always important. If you can afford to spend over 8 big ones on a bike like this, I think putting aside a 100 grand just on gear (lid/jacket/pants/gloves/boots) is very important (the Indian stuff is absolute bunkum save for a few bits from Rynox).

    With good gear you’ll only feel more confident taking those cross country jaunts solo – churning that ROI back quickly. Plus, it’ll make you look like a storm trooper. Who doesn’t wanna be a storm trooper now?

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    • Wow! That is a really detailed response to my post. Appreciate your inputs.

      – I do agree on stuff like handguards but see that it has increased the vibrations on the bike. Have you experienced anything similar?

      – Engine guards are really worth having but some of them end up adding as much as 4-5 kg on the existing weight.

      – I would love to have the stock aux lights and this is one accessory that’s worth every dime. I wish it came a little cheaper!

      – I’ve read about some issues with the center stand set up on the 2015 Versys 650 and hence decided on a paddock stand instead.

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  2. โ€“ I do agree on stuff like handguards but see that it has increased the vibrations on the bike. Have you experienced anything similar?

    Just get the barkbusters which are available as a stock accessory for the Versys.

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    • You will learn to live with the height. There is a frabricator in our Versys India group in Bangalore who just made a lowering kit for few Versys 650s. You should definitely join the group once you get your versys and reach out to Srivastha who can help you with the lowering kit!

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      • That’s good to hear, but can you please connect me with someone who is using it or Srivastha ? I just want to have a peace of mind that I can lower the height if I want to before investing such huge amount.

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      • I’ve also informed Sri that you will be reaching out to him. He’s a wonderful guy and has helped build a lot of accessories for Versys! He is a versys owner himself so can tell you about his ownership experience.

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      • Talked to him, really nice guy. Really optimistic about booking the bike asap. Should I wait for 2017 model? Does it have any worthy upgrades? and if you know when it is expected to come to India?

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      • News has it that the 2017 model may not be launched in India this year. I’d ask you to wait a bit if you are not in a hurry, since Kawasaki is coming up with their own showrooms and service centers after the breakup with Bajaj/ktm

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      • Yes I am aware of that, in fact I amen going to book from the showroom which is exclusively Kawasaki. Newly opened in mumbai, not from ktm showrooms. In most of the places showrooms are going to be operational in a month or so, here in Mumbai the date is 28th march I guess, but I am in touch with the sales manager of that showroom and he told we can see the bike and book in the showroom now itself.

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      • Then just confirm that 2017 model isn’t coming this year and book the versys โ˜บ๏ธ it’s a complete joy!

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