The gear disease | Let's talk gear series
You have a new off-road bike, a twitchy finger when it comes to adding to cart, and no idea what you really need in terms of accessories? Join the club!
There is a pandemic of epic proportions within the off-road world, especially within dual-sport and adventure riding, and we need to address it!
It doesn't matter if you are repurposing an enduro bike for adventure, buying a new big trail, or anything in the middle. Chances are you are being told by dealers, stores, internet groups, and even your riding buddies that you need to buy accessories and upgrades.
First tell-tale of the disease?
Dealers have books of accessories you can buy for your bike, but only seldomly will you find a dealer recommending you tailored off-road training as an upgrade to your bike deal.
This becomes even clearer when brands such as BMW, which is known for their ADV bikes and ADV schools, don't have their training as an accessory you can purchase directly from the dealer's floor.
So I ask, should we as riders hold ourselves accountable for not asking more questions when its time to add-to-cart, or should we blame a system where we are lead to believe an accessory or upgrade alone can improve our riding experience and technique?
I believe both to be right, but as no one is born with the gift of knowledge, its easy to fall into the mousetrap.
This being, becoming more knowledgable is the first step into changing the system and taking more out of our bike deals and riding experience.
KNOW WHAT YOU NEED
Over the years, I haven't hidden my dislike for many accessories on the market that claim they will assist you in your riding or safety, and improve your ability to perform this or that off-road technique better.
Those magic accessories do exist, and many do indeed help, so the real question is, which will help you, and how?
Professional racing-grade suspensions, for instance, can make the difference between winning or losing a Dakar or a Baja, and will effectively make riders like Toby Price or Ricky Brabec faster, but that doesn't mean they will help you in the way you need.
Those guys are riding at the highest levels, pushing the limits at every flick of the throttle.
Are you? Or are you just cruising along with your friends, and regardless of who is the better rider, you'll most likely all arrive at the same time for a cold beer?
Are you, from the get-go, so in tune with your bike and riding ability that you can bluntly say that you have exhausted the capabilities of a part, or explain how this or that mod will suit you to a tee?
More often than not, the answer is no. So why do we insist on caving into marketing and buying everything the market has to offer instead of figuring out what we actually need?
For many of those that want to go off-road, instruction is seen as a superfluous luxury. In contrast, accessories, and even bikes, are seen as an easy and fast way to overcome difficulties that may not even exist, a flawed cheat code if you will.
So, how can you know what accessories you should buy?
Without help, or without buying everything to try it out, you can't. So even though many of us jump aboard the "accessory train" without skipping a beat, I urge you to mimic those that need to know more before opening their wallets.
The idea? To avoid being this guy.
Reference: Cartoon from. H. Aue
ASK FOR ADVICE
There is only one way to get answers, and that is by asking questions.
And how should you know what to ask?
By investigating and learning more, and on all fairness, that's what many riders do.
The issue is with whom and where they are trying to find their answers.
Questions like "what is the best bike," "what tire do you advice," or "what accessories do I need for my new bike" flood online groups and forums, in the same way that they populate conversations amongst groups of riders.
Considering that dealer floors may not have all the answers, searching for them within riding communities makes perfect sense, and it can be an incredible source of valuable information.
Places like advrider or horizonsunlimited amongst others, are filled with seasoned riders that will gladly share incredible info, and tailor their answers to you, for free!
Some will even follow up with you to make sure there were no miss-understandings and to know if you are happy with the results.
That, however, is not the reality across all of the internet, or riding groups and forums, and they are not to blame for it.
When we ask that type of questions in those places, we need to understand that there is a limit to what we can expect from mediums where usually the other side doesn't have all the tools or time required to help us.
There are many good-hearted folks out there, but I'll still take a real doctor if I need one, over the well-intentioned medical advice of my mum when we have time for a chat.
Again, I'll point out that extremely knowledgeable riders are willing to go the extra mile to help you search for answers. Still, you need to ask yourself if you prefer to try your luck searching for a one in a million fellow rider, who's job is not to help you, or if you prefer to save time and potentially get a bit more out of the deal by going straight to an instructor or riding school?
Like many of you, I was skeptical of the answer myself.
I bought the wrong bikes, bought unsuitable accessories, and asked for advice and help to the wrong riders, and it took me a long time to understand how that was setting me back.
Today, as an off-road instructor, I am in a position to help, so this article serves as a preface for a series of articles talking about the most common accessories, and designed to assist you in understanding if they are right for you or not.
That being said, these articles will never replace the assistance of an instructor helping you face to face. So either with me, at the BN-Enduro Camp, or with any other certified instructor in a school near you, search for professional help before buying the best bike, or the best accessory.
Talk to those that make a living out of helping others. Make the most out of every penny you will ever spend on a motorcycle while boosting your learning curve and fun on top of a bike!
Be smart, invest wisely, and ride safely!