The days appear longer, the air is rich with the scent of blossoming flowers, and the weather is finally beginning to improve. Spring has arrived. Springtime brings about different feelings for everyone, but it’s unarguably a time of change, and maybe for motorcyclists more than anyone else. Whether you’ve been forced off the road due to intolerable weather or managed to stay two-up throughout the winter, spring is a time for you and your machine to stretch your legs in unison once more.
No other motorist is more connected to the elements than a motorcyclist, but this connection is a double-edged sword. High temperatures provide confidence-inspiring levels of traction on the right road, while the vents in your gear ram refreshing cool air throughout your body. Not much else compares. But if the heavens open up and your wheels and you don’t have the right gear on your bike or body, you’re in for a lackluster spin at best and a dangerous one at worst.
Here you’ll find all the gear that you should consider getting before kicking off your riding season this spring.
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To oversimplify things, winter is cold and summer is hot, but spring brings its own unique blend of hot, cold, wet, and dry weather to various degrees, depending on where you live. In a sense, it's the time of year when you and your bike need to be prepared for almost anything.
Many motorcycles awaken from the dormant state they’ve been kept in all winter, which means Sunday spins and weekend road trips are back on the menu. It also means your bike might need a few accessories to keep you safe, comfortable, and wearing a silly grin while your tush is on the saddle.
What you need depends on the gear you already have, the weather you'll face, and the type of riding you do. Are you going to rack up the miles every three-day weekend between now and the end of June, or are you more interested in revisiting your favorite road when the sky looks clear? To get you and your bike ready for riding throughout spring, we’re going to cover three aspects: rider gear, motorcycle accessories, and motorcycle parts.
Aside from ensuring your bike is in good mechanical order, your riding gear is the next most important thing to consider. What you wear when you’re out for a spin in spring should arguably be the most versatile gear you own.
Every time a biker hits the road between March and June, they do so in the hopes that the weather stays warm and dry. The reality is, it probably won’t, or at least not every time. So, you’ll need a pair of pants and a jacket that are both well ventilated and offer some form of waterproofing, whether it’s laminate technology or a removable liner. If buying all this gear is too much of a stretch, a cheaper alternative is to buy a rain jacket and pants that you can put on if it starts to rain.
It’s not just the rain you need to watch out for in spring. When the clouds block the sun, it won't be long before the cold creeps in. Ideally, you’d have a jacket and pair of pants that have a removable thermal lining. But a more financially viable option is a good set of base and mid-layers, which provide just as much warmth and are easy to take off and store once things heat up. In fact, if it were me, I’d pick up base and mid-layers regardless of if I had thermal liners. Some day you could need the whole set.
I’ve been hit by a car while riding, and yet riding through unexpected rain and cold headwinds on a two-hour highway trip is arguably my worst biking experience to date. Wet gloves being blasted by cold 70-mph winds can leave your hands feeling like foreign objects, ones that you can see but have no physical sensations. For spring, having gloves that have an element of waterproof protection while offering plenty of dexterity is a must.
If your helmet’s visor is pinlock-ready, then an anti-fog lens insert can make a world of difference on misty morning rides. Anyone who doesn’t have a helmet with a pinlock system can use an anti-fog visor spray, which is helpful but not as good as an insert.
Here’s a summary of all the riding gear you should consider picking up this spring:
The proper riding gear ensures you’ll stay comfortable, but going for a spring spin is also about having fun. One way to get the most out of your trip is to fit your motorcycle with the right accessories.
Anyone who wants to go on group rides or two-up adventures should consider investing in a Bluetooth communication system. These systems are useful for solo riders, too, as you can listen to your favorite tunes or hear what turn to take when you’re tackling an unknown route. If a communication system is over your budget, a good phone mount is an excellent option for anyone who wants to use their phone as a navigation system.
If you’re planning on taking some long-distance trips, fitting storage to your bike is a must. For some people, a top case will be enough, but others will want side cases, especially if you bring a passenger on your trips. Riders who travel light should consider a waterproof motorcycle backpack, which will ensure you always have the bare essentials.
One of the most surprisingly beneficial upgrades I ever made was adding a Puig windscreen to my TDM 850. The bike was already comfortable to ride, but taking the windblast off my shoulders and placing it above my head made highway journeys far more enjoyable. Taking nasty headwinds out of the equation encouraged me to venture a bit farther on my weekend escapades, and hopefully, it will for you too.
Here’s a quick summary of all the bike accessories that can make each trip more enjoyable:
We’ve already covered how to mechanically prepare your bike for spring, which you can find here. This section covers any parts you can fit to make your machine safer and perform better during springtime.
Specifically, there's one upgrade you can make, one that is overlooked far too often: your tires. Your bike’s performance and how it feels on the road are unequivocally linked to the rubber that wraps its wheels. If you need to be equally prepared to ride over sun-soaked streets or through a rainstorm, so do your tires. Slapping on a pair of the Michelin Road 5 tires is a great choice before hitting the road this spring, as they’re known for providing plenty of traction in both wet and dry conditions.
Here’s the best part you can add to your bike to improve your confidence on the road:
Not everyone is going to need every piece of gear I’ve recommended, some of you might already be covered with what you have. These are the main factors to take into consideration:
Where you live is largely going to determine what spring gear will benefit you the most. For example, riders in Arizona won’t be as concerned about waterproof jackets (when it's not monsoon season) as those in Mississippi. Regardless of where you live, there will be common storage options for bikers who like to take road trips.
The next thing to consider is the type of riding you'll do this spring. Someone who wants to travel 500 miles most weekends will need different accessories than a rider who’s starting to tackle their daily commute on two wheels again Consider the type of riding you’ll do, and that’ll help you understand what gear will be most beneficial to you most often.
If your riding season usually lasts from March until December, spring is a great time to fill any holes in your motorcycle gear inventory. Good base layers will serve you just as well in spring as they will in fall and having optional extra storage can come in handy year-round.
Of course, the final deciding factor in any purchasing decision is your budget. Thankfully, there are low-cost alternatives for most of the items I’ve put on this list.
You’ve got questions. The Drive has answers.
A. Spring officially starts March 20, but does that mean that’s the date you start riding? Of course not. Take your first ride of the new year on the first day that the weather makes you comfortable enough to do so.
A. Unless the roads are laden with ice or frost, it’s never too cold to ride if you have the right gear. But, if you want to know how it’ll feel on the open road, then consider this: At 30 mph, the temperature is 12 degrees Fahrenheit colder than your thermometer reads. The temperature will continue to drop by two degrees every 10 mph you travel faster than 30 mph, so at 70 mph it’ll feel 20 degrees colder.
A. Pull over to a sheltered area at your earliest convenience and put your rain gear on if you have any. When you get back on the road, remember to slow down and be smooth when turning, braking, and accelerating. Try to find a dry line on the road and avoid wet leaves, manhole covers, and oil spills. Never trust a puddle. Go around them if it’s safe to, as you don’t always know what lurks beneath.
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