Accessorizing your ride is one of the best parts of motorcycle culture, allowing riders to unlock new capabilities, improve comfort and convenience, or just add a little panache to their bike. From custom paint jobs and to high-performance air filters, lighter wheels, and modified exhausts, there are plenty of ways to set your ride apart from the crowd. Parts and equipment upgrades can have a big impact on performance, but motorcycle clothing, safety accessories, tech, and adventure gear should never be treated as an afterthought. This type of equipment might not make your bike go any faster, but it can still have a huge impact on your overall ride quality and enjoyment, not to mention considerable safety benefits.
We’ve compiled a short list of some of the best motorcycle equipment for 2023, providing riders with a little inspiration for their next purchase. From stylish and protective jeans and cutting-edge smartglasses to an all-in-one audio solution and camping equipment, read on to discover some of those vital accessories that can level-up your next ride.
R1 Plus Bluetooth Communicator with Action Camera
Between their efficiency, flexibility and fun, motorcycles offer a number of advantages over traditional vehicles, but audio fidelity isn’t one of them. Until recently, riders had to settle for built-in motorcycle stereo systems, which suffer from some pretty major and obvious disadvantages when it comes to the listening experience. Without a cabin to trap the sound, these systems tend to get drowned out by the surrounding atmosphere, resulting in a frustrating experience for any rider who just wanted to enjoy some tunes. So what’s the two-wheeled audiophile to do? Bluetooth technology has been a revelation for the motorcycle set, allowing riders to pipe their favorite tunes directly into their helmets.
Helmets with built-in Bluetooth speakers have also become popular, but if you’re looking for an all-in-one solution that allows you to not only listen to the radio or your favorite album, but also communicate with the rest of your pack and record the ride for posterity, the R1 Plus Bluetooth Communicator with Action Camera is tough to beat. Designed with a Bluetooth speaker system, intercom, and GoPro-style camera, the R1 Plus is an affordable way to improve your mobile entertainment and communication capabilities without breaking the bank. Priced at just over $100, the R1 Plus features stereo speakers that fit inside your helmet, a 1080P high-definition camera with a 120-degree wide-angle lens, and a six-way, waterproof hands-free microphone that allows for communication with your fellow riders up to 3,200 feet away. Noise cancellation technology further improves the music listening experience, and a 1500 mAh high-performance lithium battery can power more than 30 hours of audio, or four to five hours of video recording before needing a charge. Best of all, the R1 Plus has some handy safety features, like a gravity-shock sensor that will immediately write-protect the video file if it senses a crash. This file could prove to be some valuable evidence should your insurance company, law enforcement, or another driver try to give you a hard time about liability, making the R1 Plus potentially worth its weight in gold.
Wolf Walker Two-Person Motorcycle Tent
Good motorcycle equipment isn’t always a particular bike part or accessory, or even a piece of clothing or protective gear. Sometimes it’s gear that helps to enhance the ride in other ways. Long-distance motorcycle touring is the holy grail for many riders, but between navigating a route, meal planning, and lodging, the logistics around a cross-country trip can be difficult, not to mention expensive. Camping out is a great way to defray the cost of a long-distance ride, but can be a little tough when it comes to pure cargo space. Folks who use their cars or trucks to camp have it easy. Just pop the trunk or lower the tailgate, throw in all the sleeping bags, coolers, tents, and gear you need for a night of roughing it, and you’re good to go. Motorcycle camping is another story altogether. With cargo space at a premium, accommodating all your equipment can be a challenge, but luckily there are a few companies out there offering compact, lightweight gear specifically designed for motorcycle riders.
The Wolf Walker Two-Person Motorcycle Tent is a great example. The tent is on the heavier side of things, weighing in at just under 15 pounds, but given its two-person capacity, that’s not a dealbreaker. In fact, one could even say that it’s technically designed with room for three, given the fact that it has a built-in “bike port” bay between the two sleeping sections that allows a rider to protect their bike from the elements for the night. The tent can be packed down into a modest 24 x 11 x 6-inch roll, allowing riders to easily stow it on the bike during the day.
If you’re seeking a smaller, one-person sleeping solution, there are plenty of ultralight tents on the market, mostly geared towards the backpacking set. The Clostnature 1-Person Tent is a lightweight and affordable example, ringing it at $80 and a modest four pounds.
BMW ConnectedRide Smartglasses
While the cabins of today’s four-wheeled vehicles have become digital playgrounds packed with a range of expansive touchscreens, customizable gauge clusters, and heads-up displays, the motorcycle segment has been lagging behind a little. This isn’t a criticism of the industry in general. With so little real estate to work with, it’s difficult to pack a standard motorcycle with the latest and greatest in mobile technology.
That could well be changing. BMW ConnectedRide Smartglasses are exactly what they sound like, wireless sunglasses with a built-in display that gives riders the ability to track various metrics while on the go. The Smartglasses are unobtrusively styled, looking no different than your average pair of Oakleys, but they sport some important differences that go a long way in justifying the $1,000 price. When paired with the BMW Motorrad Connected App, the Smartglasses can display information like speed, current gear position, turn-by-turn navigation, and even the posted speed limit through a micro heads-up display. Powered by a USB-rechargeable lithium-ion battery that’s good for 10 hours of use, the Smartglasses feature a built-in light sensor to ensure the display is legible no matter how bright the sun might be. The Smartglasses are sleek enough to fit comfortably under motorcycle helmets and operate in temperatures ranging from 14 to 122 degrees Fahrenheit. Sold with both clear and tinted lenses, they also come with a prescription adapter for those who want to get them fitted with prescription lenses.
This little slice of sci-fi futurism represents an exciting new piece of kit for riders, but there’s one rub. They only work with BMW motorcycles outfitted with the BMW Motorrad Connected App. The free Motorrad app can be installed on most BMW models with a TFT display, but those who ride other brands will have to wait to get their hands on a more universal pair of glasses sometime in the near future.
Dainese Smart Jacket Hi Vis
The best ride is a safe ride, which is why it’s so vital to be properly outfitted for the road ahead. Helmets are a rider’s primary line of defense when it comes to potential accidents, but good gloves, boots, jackets, and pads can all prove vital should you find yourself sliding across the asphalt. There have been plenty of advancements in the world of motorcycle safety since the first Triumph Model H rolled off the line in 1915, but few hold the life-saving potential of the motorcycle airbag jacket. First introduced in the early 1990s, these airbag jackets have come a long way in a few short decades, offering an unparalleled level of protection that gives riders some valuable peace of mind.
The Dainese Smart Jacket Hi Vis is our pick for the best motorcycle airbag garment on the market. While many other motorcycle airbag systems are integrated directly into riding jackets and race suits, the Dainese Smart Jacket can be worn over or under any riding jacket. Easily foldable and lightweight at four pounds, the Smart Jacket can be had for around $850. That’s certainly not cheap, but it’s well worth the investment when you consider what a hospital bill might end up running you.
In the event of a crash, the jacket’s airbags will deploy in 45 milliseconds, protecting your back, collar bones, and upper chest using Dainese’s microfilament technology that helps the airbags to retain their shape while inflated. If the airbags do deploy, you’ll have to send the jacket back to Dainese for servicing, which runs about $300. Again, that’s not cheap, but to put it in perspective, that’s about how much you’d spend on an ambulance ride alone. The airbag system arms itself for deployment anytime it senses vibrations from the engine or speeds over six mph. While some electric motorcycle riders might have an issue with the engine vibration detection feature, the speed detection should still enable you to use it. If you’re looking for something a little more breathable and lightweight, Dainese’s D-Air Stelvio is a great alternative, featuring Level 2 Pro-Armor 2.0 inserts in the elbows and shoulders along with its airbag technology.
PMJ Deux Jeans
Every motorcycle ride is another battle in the age-old war between style and safety. Sure, some riders like to hit the road in their best Easy Rider getup, tearing up the highway in nothing more than a cowboy hat and some aviators, but they must have missed the part of the movie where the protagonist is violently thrown off his bike. Traditionally, motorcycle safety gear hasn’t been the most fashionable garment known to man, but new technology has gone a long way towards injecting a little haute couture into the scene.
Case in point is PMJ’s Deux jeans. Styled to look just like your favorite pair of Levi’s, the PMJ Deux jeans are made of a Kevlar-like para-aramid material called Twaron, which is almost identical to the fabric found in bullet-proof vests for police and military applications. The Twaron is interwoven with cotton denim, making for a traditional jean-like look and feel while offering some serious accident protection. Their single-layer construction means they’re much lighter and more breathable than traditional riding pants, making them the perfect choice for summer journeys. By removing the ImpacTec hip and knee armor, the PMJ Deux jeans can quickly transform into a fashionable pair of jeans that will allow riders to transition from a long day on the road to a nice meal or function without having to peel off layers of protective gear.
Motorcycle ownership can often feel like a never-ending game of upgrades, customizations, and maintenance, but that’s half the fun. Of course, your equipment investments will largely depend on how you intend to use your bike. No one is going to chide a rider for dropping some cash on the newest safety equipment like the Dainese Smart Jacket Hi Vis or PMJ Deux jeans, but if you’re the type to limit their two-wheeled adventures to some short Sunday drives, a tent isn’t going to be much use. Likewise, a three-in-one camera, stereo, and communicator might be overkill on a short solo ride, but for those who want to chat with their fellow riders or cruise down the highway to the tune of their favorite album, it’s a must-have. If you’re new to the world of motorcycles, take a little time to discover what type of riding you prefer before investing in a full suite of motorcycle equipment. Those “must-have” items might start to lose their luster as you discover a niche, so start small, read plenty of reviews, and never be afraid to ask your fellow riders for some tips.