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  • robertfarago1

3 Motorcycle Accessories That Don't Suck

I'm preparing to bug-out for The Wandering Jew - My Ridiculously Random Motorcycle Tour. It's been an expensive process, both psychologically and financially.

Gear shopping added enough red ink to my bank account to tattoo a hundred Chinese Communists. Most spectacularly: trading a new Honda Gold Wing for a new BMW K1600 GTL. After fifteen minutes of ownership.

Depreciation appreciation! Swapping bikes was the best worst decision I’ve ever made. File my feelings about the Bimmer under The Love That Dare Speak Its Name. Liebling.

If you’re looking for the One Motorcycle Thing That Doesn’t Suck, the K bike is it. Munich’s mega-motorcycle's fast, smooth, agile, comfortable, practical and not at all ugly. As Woody Pride advised Andy’s toys, if you don’t have one GET ONE.

Meanwhile, here are three accessories for anyone with a similar two-wheeled affliction who appreciates maximum comfort and convenience (i.e., an OFWG with a need for speed).

Regular readers know I struggle with my hearing. Listening too, but that's another story.

As Anita Wood would say, the Gold Wing’s engine sound rang my bell-ell-ell. Leaving me with tinnitus. No, not the gladiator. Ringing in ears. Mandating the BMW bike swap, but not completely solving the problem. That's because...

Bimmer’s class-leading TFT display screen is seriously cool! Thanks to a loud AF fan buried in its body. HOW LOUD IS IT? Louder than the K1600's 160hp straight six engine at cruising speed. Hardly music to my ears. Sigh.

So I bought custom earplugs and all kinds of motorcycle-specific earplugs. They either blocked out too much sound or not enough. I spent a fortune on a brand new Shoei full-face helmet and ein Schuberth Motorradhelm.

Wann die Visier ist geschlossen! With the visor open, the wind tunnel-tested German lid is as noisy as any other helmet. The Geneva Convention prohibits closing the visor on a hot day. Shoei The First, same deal.

It got to the point where I faced a stark choice: lose my hearing or abandon trip. And then I tried Bose’s QuietComfort Earbuds II.

Problem solved! Take it from a former bass player, Bose is the balls. More importantly, I can dial-in their patented automatic noise cancellation (ANC) to reduce engine, fan and wind noise and hear enough ambient sound not to be blindsided by a firetruck.

So why Apple AirPods Pro not Bose? See: below. Meanwhile, for me, it’s not either/or. It’s both.

Paranoid preppers know the score: one is none, two is one. Losing a bud would strand me until I could secure a replacement. Yeah, it’s that important.

Two issues bedevil the earbud motorcycle/full-face helmet nexus.

First, if the buds aren’t mashed right into your lugs, they're up your ear canal without a paddle. The noise cancellation's cancelled. Putting on a full-face helmet over the buds was painful enough to make me Aang-ry (i.e., the last Earbender), and it tends to move the buds out of position.

Reaching in with a fingertip to push the buds deeper, to re-activate the ANC, is virtually impossible. Awkward if it isn't. And embarrassing in all cases. With no guarantee of success.

Second, removing a standard full-face helmet with the buds in place is also painful and they go flying. Searching the street on your hands and knees for the tiny plastic devices is not a good look.

Experimenting with various techniques with various full face helmets delivered neither relief nor secure extraction. Brainstorm! Try a modular (as in flip-up) helmet!

After pissing away two grand on non-modular helmets, the Shoei Neotec II modular helmet was the answer to how not to lose $250 worth of noise-cancelling earbuds. Times two.

Raise the chin bar (face), prise the sides apart, gently slip the helmet over your ears and BA-BAM! I mean, ba-bam. To de-liddify, raise the chin bar, grab Neo’s sides, wiggle the helmet and remove. No pain and the buds remain earborne.

Here’s where the Apple Airpods Pro win: their dangly-bit design renders them less prone to take wing when removing the Shoei. I prefer BOSE audio but the AirPods offer more features and awwwwww baby! They don’t leave me that way. 

Quad-Lock iPhone Mount - About $300 Plus Install

BMW went to great lengths to integrate the K1600 GTL’s TFT screen with an iPhone, so that it could be controlled by its handlebar-mounted wheel of fortune.

Reinventing the wheel didn’t include bluetooth ear buddery. Why would it? That action skirts the law. The K’s electronics are set up for bluetooth helmets, whose audio rivals AM radio, and not in a good way.

At the same time, or not, the big bad Bimmer’s dash and controller don't allow for any Apple apps save BMW’s connected nav app (which must be open to fully work), phone-to-helmet and music.

The auto-closing and locking cooled phone compartment is clever, but a PITA. It doesn’t fit an iPhone Pro or with a case (or a larger phone obvs.), the power connector is fiddly AF and extracting your phone is a four-stage process.

QuadLock FTW. A simple twist safely and securely places the iPhone front and off-center. It’s easily switched from vertical or landscape mode and removed with another Chubby Checker dance move.

With a QuadLocked iPhone I can use Apple, Google or Waze maps. I can see texts and who’s calling and pull over to respond (rather than texting with gloves or schmoozing via helmet-connected phone audio).

The downside: bluetooth helmet audio facilitates intra-bike and intra-passenger comms. No concern of mine.

If I really wanted to use the BMW Connected app via the TFT display, I could buy a second iPhone and stash it in the dash. Not my monkeys, not my zoo? We shall see…

Other stuff

I’ve worked (i.e., spent) my way through various bags and clothes, but that’s a subject for another day. Suffice it to say, I’m less than three weeks away from bailing. Watch this space.

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