Top 8 Must-Have ADV Motorcycle Accessories for the Long Haul

Top 8 Must-Have ADV Motorcycle Accessories for the Long Haul

Why are adventure motorcycles so popular?

There are endless answers, from offering comfort to providing the optimal platform for those craving to explore a bit of the unknown, on both paved and dirt roads.  

The appeal of ADV riding lies in its versatility for riders from the older end of the Baby Boomers to newbies—it combines the thrill of off-road riding with the ability to cover vast distances comfortably.

I’m part of this statistic. I began my journey into adventure riding in 2012. I had my gallbladder removed, and after recovering, I promised myself I’d experiment with upright tourers that were worthy both on and off-road. My first ride was a 2002 V-Strom DL1000. 

So, my off-road ability wasn’t the best, but it influenced me so much that track days and road racing dreams quickly vanished in favor of backcountry adventure touring. Eventually, the sportbikes were replaced with a KTM 1190 Adventure R and now a Ducati DesertX.

However, the unpredictable nature of adventure riding, which involves crossing highways, gravel, dirt, and beyond, necessitates proper preparation.

The aftermarket parts and accessories market helped tremendously. Equipping your ADV bike with the right accessories can enhance safety, comfort, and enjoyment on long hauls, transforming a decent ride into an unforgettable adventure.

From rugged luggage solutions that keep your belongings secure in all weather conditions to protective gear that guards the bike and rider against the harsh trails, every accessory serves a purpose.

My Favorite Brands for Adventure Bike Accessories

Among the trusted brands that have become staples in our ADV community are Hepco & Becker due to its durable and functional motorcycle luggage systems; Eazi-Grip for its innovative tank grip solutions that enhance rider control and reduce fatigue, crucial for long distances; GB Racing, which synonymous with top-tier motorcycle protection, offering engine covers and protection accessories that shield the bike's vital parts against damage; Pyramid Plastics, which provides a range of fairing accessories that enhance both the bike's aesthetics and its aerodynamics; and Scorpion, respected worldwide for its performance motorcycle exhaust systems, offering a blend of power, efficiency, and unmistakable sound that resonates with the spirit of adventure.

These brands, among others offered at Moto Machines, play a pivotal role in the ADV riding experience. 

Choosing the proper accessories is a challenging feat, especially for adventure riders. By selecting the right accessories, you can ensure that your motorcycle is equipped to handle any adventure that lies ahead, be it crossing continents or exploring remote Backcountry Discovery Routes (BDR). 

Essential ADV Accessories for Your Next Journey

The following sections dig into these essential accessories, highlighting their benefits, unique features, and transformative impact on the adventure riding experience. 

As we say often, we know you’re ready for adventure—but is your bike?

1. Luggage Solutions: Hepco & Becker Hard Cases and Panniers

Whether you’re taking a quick ride through the country or a month-long trip, one of the primary concerns for adventure riders is safely securing personal items and equipment. 

You don’t want to get to camp or your final destination to discover some issues as I have in the past, like a soaking-wet camera or losing a tent that was strapped to the rear of the seat. 

Hepco & Becker motorcycle luggage solutions offer the four must-haves of luggage: capacity, durability, waterproofness, and security. The German-based company has offered luggage solutions for various brands since the 1970s. 

The brand knows the adventure market well, offering not just luggage solutions for all adventure motorcycles but also protection solutions for the BMW R1250 GS to the Africa Twin and everything in between. 

One item that surely sticks out is the Hepco & Becker Alu-case Xplorer cases, available on Moto Machines and offered in both 30 and 40 liters and in black or traditional aluminum. 

Here are a few unique features that adhere to the four must-haves listed above:

  • Durability: Constructed from 1.5 mm thick anodized aluminum and ABS plastic to combine the best of both worlds, Xplorer Bags withstand significant abuse without compromising the integrity of the contents.
  • Waterproofing: This is a huge deal! Comprehensive sealing technology ensures your luggage remains dry, a crucial feature for riders in diverse weather conditions.
  • Ease of Mounting/Dismounting: The quick-release system allows riders to quickly attach or remove the cases from the motorcycle, making it convenient for overnight stops or when transitioning from riding to exploring on foot. Once the panniers are installed, life is simple. And the bike with just the panniers looks great—and those panniers also act as rear crash bars!

2. Comfort for Your Backside Without Crazy Pricing: Cool Covers

When I purchase a motorcycle, whether new or used, I immediately enhance it with LED lighting, better wind protection, and seating. 

The latter is essential for adventure riders, especially those who tour hundreds of miles daily. A comfortable seat is also a must-have for riders who do a lot of standing all day. When your backend can settle nicely into a comfy seat after a day of standing off road, you’ll have that extra sense of comfort, and with comfort naturally arrives safety. 

Everyone has different requirements for seat comfort. The easiest way to know what works for you is to forget about the seat and feel zero discomfort.

Investing in a custom seat or a functional seat cover like those from Cool Covers can substantially improve overall comfort and endurance on long rides. These accessories are designed to distribute weight more evenly and provide additional padding and support where needed most.

Several brands stand out for their commitment to enhancing rider comfort through innovative seat designs, including my all-time favorite, Sargent. I have used Sargents for well over 150,000 miles between a few motorcycles. 

Sometimes, the factory seat is just fine and only needs a slight update for comfort while riding. My KTM 1190 Adventure R was one of those bikes. I bought it used, and it had the KTM Performance seat. It was good for about 100 miles before I slid around the seat to find comfort. 

Then I discovered Cool Covers, designed from three-dimensional 8mm thick material with an impressive 98% air permeability. 

These technical seat covers have emerged as a game-changer in enhancing the ADV riding experience, and here's why:

  • Endless Cool: The unique airflow design of the seat covers ensures that you remain cool and refreshed, mile after mile, by promoting air circulation between you and the seat. 
  • Weather-Proof Comfort: Stay comfortably dry through rain or shine. The design prevents water from making your rides uncomfortable, ensuring you stay dry even when the skies open up.
  • Beat the Heat: Forget the searing discomfort of hopping onto a sun-baked seat. These covers are sunlight resistant, ensuring your seat remains pleasantly cool, even under the glaring sun, for a comfortable touch at all times.
  • UV Durability: Crafted to combat the fading and wear from UV rays, these seat covers are built to last, preserving both their function and form even after prolonged exposure to sunlight.
  • Effortless Installation: Simplicity meets efficiency with a tool-free installation process. Equipped with Velcro and elastic bands, Cool Covers snugly fits your motorcycle seat in just minutes, with no tools necessary.
  • Simplified Upkeep: The seat cover is easily washable, ensuring it remains clean and hygienic ride after ride, ready for whatever adventure comes next.
  • Stylishly Functional: Beyond its remarkable functionality, Cool Covers doesn't compromise on looks. Its sleek design adds an element of style to your motorcycle, enhancing its appearance while improving your ride.

These seat covers aren't just an accessory; they upgrade your riding experience, combining comfort, performance, and style in one package.

3. Engine Protection

An adventure bike’s engine is vulnerable to damage from branches, rocks, and other off-road debris. 

I’ve had my share of issues when inexpensive protection could have made my riding time last longer while ADV touring, including one incident where I had to use J-B Weld Epoxy to keep a clutch cover from leaking so I could finish a ride. 

Yes, crash bars and control coverage protection are crucial, but more is needed for the engine. This is why I’ll highlight one of the top sellers here on Moto Machines: GB Racing engine covers.

The British brand’s covers are designed to provide an extra layer of protection, absorbing and deflecting impacts that could otherwise lead to costly repairs. Made from high-performance materials that offer lightweight protection, these covers are an essential investment, especially for off-road riders who push their bikes to the limits. 

I use these on my DesertX and I already saw the benefit when I got the bike, um, stuck between a rock and a tree. The right-side engine cover took the brunt of the impact, and I think I’d be in much worse shape if it were just Bologna metal on Northeastern PA rock. 

Not only do they provide protection from devastation, but they also give your engine’s mostly boring side covers a subtle customized look. 

Here are some specifics:

  • Materials: Utilizing reinforced polymers that are both lightweight and highly resistant to abrasion, GB Racing's engine covers do not add unnecessary weight or bulk to the bike.
  • Design: Each cover is engineered to fit perfectly over the existing engine case, providing a snug, secure fit that maximizes protection without compromising the motorcycle's performance or aesthetics.
  • Simple Install: GB Racing requires you to remove only a few of your side-engine cover bolts and replace them with longer ones. Installation on my DesertX took only five minutes for each side. 

Regarding other motorcycle protection, another customer favorite to protect their bikes and themselves from debris and mud/water is designed by Pyramid, previously known as Pyramid Plastics.

Pyramid’s “Extenda Fenda” solutions are simple yet effective. They are designed to extend the reach of the bike's existing fender or tail. The simple and inexpensive pieces can help keep debris from the engine, radiator, and other critical components. The rear tail extender also helps protect the riders behind you by deflecting rocks or whatever else you leave within your roost. 

4. Performance Upgrades: Scorpion Exhaust Systems

One of the very first upgrades I recommend for any motorcycle is an aftermarket exhaust. 

Some crave noise, others performance. But for ADV riders, noise is not always wanted. The two big attributes of an aftermarket ADV exhaust are performance—but without all the noise—and lighter weight. 

I saved well over 10 pounds when swapping out the exhaust on various bikes, especially ones where you go with a full system and drop those annoying and heavy catalytic converters. 

One of our customer favorites is Scorpion Exhaust, handcrafted in England. The company offers hundreds of slip-ons for all makes and models, from the BMW R 1200 GS to the Triumph Tiger 1200

Scorpion has the style to match basically any look, offering various options: carbon fiber, stainless steel, titanium, and black ceramic coated.

Here’s why Scorpion exhaust products resonate so strongly with our customers:

  • Weight Reduction: Scorpion exhausts are engineered to be lighter than stock systems, reducing the overall weight of the motorcycle. This reduction in weight translates to improved handling and acceleration, making your bike more agile and responsive, particularly beneficial on varied terrains encountered during adventure rides.
  • Improved Exhaust Flow: These systems are designed for optimal exhaust flow, allowing the engine to breathe better and expel gasses more efficiently. The result is a noticeable increase in power and torque, enhancing the motorcycle's performance across various conditions. Improved exhaust flow also contributes to better fuel efficiency, an essential factor for long-distance travel.
  • Inexpensive Upgrade: Start shopping for exhaust, and your prices range drastically, from systems well over $2K to cheap exhaust slip-ons that are basically straight pipes and do more harm than good. Scorpion’s products are priced to appeal to most budgets without the lack of performance or durability.

5. GPS and Mounts

Many modern motorcycle-specific GPS systems go well beyond mere navigation, offering detailed maps that include off-road trails and waypoints for camping sites, fuel stations, and points of interest. Many also offer weather reports and ways to avoid the bad stuff!

They are invaluable for route planning and ensuring that you stay on track, regardless of how far off the beaten path you venture.

And, of course, there are many offered. 

A fan (and personal!) favorite? The Garmin Zumo XT2. I used a Garmin 590LM for years as my adventure-touring GPS due to the off-road tracks and ease of uploading maps. As for my mostly street bikes, I have a TomTom Rider. 

But the XT2 builds upon the functionality and awesomeness of all other units, especially uploading maps from your phone via Bluetooth and the interface visuals with the topographic display!

Since I use one, I’m obviously a fan. I used to have separate GPS units for my rides, but now I use just this unit across my bikes, especially my main rides, the DesertX and Multistrada 1260 Grand Tour. 

The following is why the XT2 is so popular among adventure riders:

  • All-Terrain Navigation: Designed with adventure in mind, the Garmin Zumo XT2 provides comprehensive navigation capabilities across various terrains, including detailed off-road maps for trail riding and topographic details.
  • Rugged Design: Built to withstand the elements, it features a weather-resistant casing that protects against exposure to rain, dust, and extreme temperatures, making it suitable for any adventure.
  • High-Visibility Display: The sunlight-readable display remains clear in bright conditions, and the glove-friendly interface allows easy operation without removing your gloves.
  • Adventure-Focused Features: Includes features specifically for the adventure rider, such as track recording, off-road route planning, and points of interest for outdoor activities.
  • Connectivity and Smart Features: The Zumo XT2 offers Bluetooth connectivity for hands-free calling, music streaming, and sharing routes with fellow riders, enhancing the group riding experience.
  • Long Battery Life: Equipped with a battery that supports extended use, the Zumo XT2 is reliable enough for long rides without constant recharges.
  • Safety Alerts: The Zumo XT2 timely alerts for sharp curves, speed changes, and other potential hazards, enhancing rider safety on unfamiliar roads.

I have over 10 years from my Garmin 590LM, so I’m sure the quality will be as high on the XT2 (and the previous XT generation). I did have to replace the battery two years ago, and I’m sure it’s good for another decade, but the XT2 makes the ML feel vintage.

And the GPS mounts available for this unit are endless. 

When choosing a GPS system, look for models that offer:

  • Durability and Weather Resistance: Devices should withstand exposure to elements, including rain, dust, and extreme temperatures, ensuring reliability in all conditions.
  • Rider-Friendly Interface: Look for a system with a glove-friendly touchscreen and an intuitive interface that allows for easy operation without having to stop and remove gear.
  • Connectivity Features: Modern GPS units offer Bluetooth connectivity, allowing seamless integration with your smartphone and helmet communication systems for in-ride calls, music, and audible directions.

6. Lighting and Visibility: LED Lighting Upgrades

When ADV riding, conditions can change dramatically, and off-road trails can lead to low-visibility areas like those covered by a canopy of trees.

Upgrading your motorcycle’s lighting to LED is a significant safety enhancement. LED lights offer superior brightness and visibility compared to traditional halogen bulbs, making you more visible to other road users and illuminating the path ahead more effectively.

The following are different upgrade options:

  • Headlights: Upgrading to LED headlights can transform night riding, offering a broader and farther-reaching beam. This is especially useful for spotting obstacles or turns in the road ahead in advance.
  • Brake Lights and Turn Signals: LED brake lights and turn signals are much brighter than their stock counterparts. They catch the attention of drivers behind you more effectively, which is crucial for preventing rear-end collisions.
  • Auxiliary Lights: For those venturing off the beaten path, auxiliary LED lights can be mounted to provide additional illumination. These can be angled to fill in gaps that the main headlight beam doesn't cover, such as to the sides for cornering or down low for seeing through dips in the road.

Also, remember visibility isn't just about seeing; it's about being seen. LED lights are instantly recognizable and can cut through adverse weather conditions better than traditional lights, ensuring you remain visible in fog, rain, or dust. And this is especially useful when riding on tighter trails and other riders are coming towards you. The more visible, the better. 

We have loads of motorcycle lighting accessories available, and some of the customer’s favorites are Hepco & Becker lights, Ermax, and Motodemic.

7. Grip Enhancements: Eazi-Grip Tank Grips

Maintaining control over the motorcycle on long rides becomes paramount, especially on challenging terrains. 

Eazi-Grip tank grips enhance your ability to hold onto the bike when squeezing with your knees, helping reduce fatigue and improve overall control. We can get into technique here, but I’ll save that for another blog. 

Basically, some riders squeeze the tanks standing up, and others, like me, don’t. But sitting down is another situation when squeezing the tank can help you remain stable while allowing the bike to do the work (hanging off a bit during heavy lean angle—especially needed with aggressive knobbies to keep more rubber on the asphalt, or when sitting and leaning the bike into the dirt for stronger traction. Here, your knees engage often with the tank, and the less slippery, the better!). 

Eazi-Grip motorcycle tank grips are designed for easy installation, with pre-cut patterns that fit a wide range of motorcycle models. Additionally, the grips come in various textures and colors, allowing you to customize your ride’s look while enhancing functionality.

8. Tire Tire Repair Kits

An adventure ride can quickly turn sour with a flat tire, especially in remote locations where assistance may be hours away or nonexistent. I had my fair share of flats, and without the proper kit, I’d likely still be trying to get home due to some of the remote areas I like to ride. 

Carrying a portable tire repair kit and a compact air compressor empowers riders to address punctures promptly and efficiently, getting back on the road or trail with minimal downtime.

These kits typically include:

  • Plug Tools and Plugs: These are used to seal punctures in the tire tread. The process is straightforward and doesn't require the tire to be removed from the rim.
  • Tire Levers: Sturdy tire levers are indispensable in cases where the tire needs to be removed from the rim, such as with tube tires.
  • Tubes: Always carry extra tubes, even if you run tubeless tires. If your tubeless tire is punctured severely, you can also use tubes as a final step. 
  • Compact Air Compressors:  A portable air compressor is a game-changer for adventure riders. Not only is it crucial for re-inflating a tire after a repair, but it also allows for on-the-fly adjustments to tire pressure to suit changing terrain types, enhancing traction and ride quality. Look for features like:

  • Compact Size: It should be small enough to fit easily within your bike's luggage system.
  • Battery-Powered or Bike-Powered Options: Some models can be powered by an internal battery or directly from the motorcycle's battery, offering flexibility in various situations.
  • Pressure Gauge: An accurate gauge is critical for setting the correct tire pressure, whether re-inflating a tire after a repair or adjusting for terrain.

The essence of adventure riding lies in tackling the unknown with confidence. This guide has explored the essential accessories that turn challenges into mere parts of the adventure, focusing on enhancing the safety, comfort, and overall performance of your motorcycle. 

Investing in quality adventure motorcycle accessories is more than just about the immediate benefits. It's about ensuring that every journey can be approached confidently, knowing your equipment is as ready for the adventure as you are. Whether it's the added safety of LED lighting, the comfort of your seat, or the reliability of a well-packed pannier, the right accessories make all the difference.

Now, we turn to you, the riders who live and breathe these adventures. Share your stories and the accessories that have become indispensable on your journeys. Your experiences inspire and guide others as they prepare for their next adventure.

For those eager to explore these accessories further, visit our product pages for detailed specifications and purchasing information. For adventurers always looking for the next tip, trail, or gear review, consider signing up for our newsletter and following us on social media. Let's gear up together, share stories, and confidently continue exploring.