12 Must-Have Pieces of Gear for Commuting by Motorcycle!
Commuting on a motorcycle is fun and fast, but doing it right means being prepared for every possible situation. All of us who commute on our bikes worked together to bring you a thorough list of twelve things you shouldn't leave home without!
Commuting on a motorcycle is a fun to way to make the drive to work a lot less of a drag, and you usually get there and back faster too. But ecause you're riding daily, in varying weather conditions, and in every traffic scenario imaginable, there are many challenges you’ll face and needs that will arise along the way.
Since a lot of us here commute (or have done it in the past) we brainstormed to bring you a thorough list of twelve things you’ll want to have if you plan to commute on your bike. Some of them are obvious, but some are things you may not think of at all until the need arises. We’re trying to save you the trouble before it does!
You don't have to take our advice on motorcycle commuting essentials...but you might wish you did when the unexpected happens!
1. Rain Suit
A simple rain suit is a thin layer made to go over your existing gear in wet weather. They are thin and light, and store easily in a tail-bag or saddlebags. Getting one in a hi-viz color makes you easier to see in wet weather, when its even more important to be seen as wet roads reduce your ability to make evasive maneuvers. Rain overboots are the same concept as a rain suit, but for your feet. Soggy feet can really put a damper on your work day; and remember it takes all day for socks to dry with your shoes on.
If you get caught in the rain, you'll want this; inexpensive, compact, and easy to stuff in a bag and keep with you.
Note: If you’re really serious, you can also make the step up to a dedicated touring suit perfect for commuting. These suits will incorporate features like tough fabrics, armor, multiple layers and venting for varying weather conditions, hi-viz accents for safety, and will be easiest to put on and take off over work clothes. A bigger investment than just a rain suit, but you will get far more for your money, and have a suit that you can use on any number of weekend touring adventures as well.
2. Commuter-friendly Boots
Since they’re the one piece of gear you’ll probably wear all day on and off the bike, your boots have a lot of roles to fill. They have to keep your feet protected from crashes and weather while still looking discreet and presentable; and most importantly, be comfortable. There are some great options for commuters these days - check out our detailed boots buyers guide for more information!
A windshield is one simple upgrade makes it so much more pleasant to cruise at highway speeds, it cuts down on rider fatigue, and keeps rain off you. Highly recommended!
4. Backpack, Tank-bag or Tail-bag
Look for a motorcycle bag that you can easily detach and carry with you. It’s also a good idea to have one in a hi-viz color, like the Icon Squad 3 or the Alpinestars Charger; in the unfortunate event that you lose it on the highway, it will be much easier to find than if it's black.
A small, aerodynamic tail bag like this is the perfect starter motorcycle bag for commuters.
5. Photochromic Visor, or Spare Clear/Tinted Visor
You never know if you’ll get caught in bright sun or riding at night, and it’s a great idea to have an extra visor handy for the occasion. A visor that automatically adjusts, like the Bell TintAdjust Photochromic Faceshield, is an ideal solution that a lot of us really like.
The Bell Photochromic Faceshield has been a big hit with us at BikeBandit.
6. Balaclava or Face Mask
A balaclava keeps your neck and face warm when its cold, and wicks sweat when its hot, not to mention protecting your exposed neck from rocks and bugs. Keeps your helmet liner a lot cleaner too. A good all-arounder for every season is this Alpinestars Open Face Balaclava.
Many riders are apprehensive of being able to stay connected to the road with earplugs in, but they don’t cut you off from the road as much as you might think. Mostly they cut high-pitched wind noise, protecting your hearing and making you less fatigued - especially important when on the way to work. (Click here to check out a full article I wrote on the benefits of riding with hearing protection.)
When it gets cold, the much-needed dexterity in your hands is the first thing to go. Keeping the wind chill off your hands with handguards can make a huge difference.
9. Functional Side Mirrors
They don’t look as cool as slick aftermarket bar-end mirrors, but they make it a lot easier to get through traffic safely, while keeping an eye out for sketchy drivers or the highway patrol.
10. Bungee Cords or Lashing Straps
For extra cargo room when you need it, keep a few bungee cords in different sizes. With a little creativity you can really carry a lot on a bike securely with these!
11. Microfiber Towels
Keep a couple of these in your bag to wipe down your visor or windshield, and for wiping the seat off if your bike’s been sitting out in the rain.
12. Disc Locks
While nothing will stop a truly determined thief, putting as many obstacles in their way is the key to getting them to move on and find another bike to steal. Parking your bike all day while you’re working not only leaves your bike vulnerable, but your habits become easier to predict. A brightly colored disc lock lets would-be thieves know they’re going to have a hassle in front of them; a disc lock on each wheel is even more discouraging.
A disc lock like this Kryptonite Evolution discourages theft and hopefully makes thieves move on to another bike. I use one on both my front and rear when my bike's unattended for a while!
Do you commute on your motorcycle and have a great piece of gear that you won't leave home without? Share it with the community in the comments below!