Ten Motorcycle Things I Can’t Live Without

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I just learned something, and I’m having a hard time wrapping my brain around this. Did you know that for some people, motorcycles are just a phase. I just don’t get it. Does it make any sense to you? Well, for the for the rest of us, those of us for whom riding a motorcycle is as embedded in our DNA as the shape of your belly button or earwax type, (yeah, earwax type is genetic!)

But I digress. So here’s a list of some of the motorcycle items that after a lifetime in the sport, I just can’t live without. Some of these are going to be expensive, some are going to be super cheap. But all of them are are, for realsies, motorcycle related items that I if they were taken away from me, it would really disturb my joy.

I’m going to skip over the super obvious stuff, like the motorcycle itself, top quality tires, and top quality riding gear because I think that’s fairly obvious. And lets first focus on maintenance and garage related stuff, before we talk about riding related stuff. Plus I’m going to try to move through this list quickly. So buckled up… Your Helmet, because this is motorcycling.

The centerpiece item that has made motorcycle ownership profoundly better is a hydraulic motorcycle scissor lift. You can make a table out of wood, and you can get that cheap one from Harbor Freight. But my humble advice to you is; buy right or buy twice.

Moto Lift ML-12 Motorcycle Lift

This is the Moto Lift ML-12 Powersports Service Lift. It’s made by the same folks who make No Mar tire changers, and like their tire changers, it’s full of subtle features that make this, in my humble opinion, one of best lifts you can buy.

Moto Lift ML-12 Motorcycle Lift e-track tie down point

Most notably are these e-track strap connectors. Most tables have one or two tie down points, that are never in the right place. Each of these slots is a potential tie-down point with these quick release straps things. Instead of using a hydraulic ram, this one uses a goodyear air spring. That means its virtually maintenance free and not prone to leaky seals like air rams, and if it fails, you can get a replacement at any auto-parts store.

Most of the other tables I’ve used throughout my career simply have maybe two or three height settings. Too high or too low. But this one not only is taller with more settings but has one hand operation to drop the table back down. And it would be a shame not to mention the removable plate that makes pulling wheels off bikes with full fenders significantly easier.

Moto Lift ML-12 Motorcycle Lift Orange

Having a table makes every single aspect of motorcycle ownership easier and cheaper! Yes. Cheaper. By a lot. Locally, our shop rates are about $150 an hour. One shop I know of, their rate is $200 an hour. It doesn’t take many jobs done yourself before the table pays for itself. And not even big stuff.

Change your oil. Remove your wheels. Install a slip-on. Change brake pads. Replace your chain and sprockets. All of these tasks are actually very easy and straight forward with basic tools. And they are made significantly easier when you are not kneeling on concrete and cardboard. Homeus Erectus, the way god intended. Oh, this is the way.

Working on your bike goes from a miserable chore, to something I honestly look forward to. Above everything else on this list, the scissor table is my most beloved, most used, motorcycle purchase. I wouldn’t be without one.

No-Mar Tire Changer

While I love my tire changer, I can’t call it a “can’t live without” item. I could live without it, as long as I had my table to make removing wheels so much easier. Most shops, if you buy the tire from them, and bring in the wheel off the bike, there’s no extra charge for mount and balance.

Wheel stands and even just a small pancake compressor are a must. Little compressors are cheap, like less than $100, and I’ve acquired quite the collection of Pit-Bull stands because they just seem to last and are fairly modular to accommodate different kinds of lift points. From buttons, to spools, to cradles.

PitBull Modular Front Motorcycle Stand

This front stand is modular to lift the bike from the steering stem so you can remove your forks for service (which again, will save you a mountain of cash in shop fee’s) or it’ll cradle the bottom of the fork legs for a simple wheel removal. If you buy them brand new, they are not cheap, but every one of these was purchased used from craigslist.

I feel so bad for motorcycles that have to sleep outside, in the cold and the snow. It’s inhumane. But a solution may be easier than you think. Next on the list is a garage.

Motorcycle Parked in the snow

Years ago, my buddy hopped on craigslist and bought a used Rubbermaid garden shed, disassembled it and put it back together in the back yard of the house he was renting. He did this for years. Moving that cragslist shed from rental to rental for nearly a decade.

And did you know that if you get on amazon, you can buy a motorcycle maintenance worthy sheds for, I’m not kidding, around $350.

This next one, is a relatively new purchase for me. But man, I love this thing. A medium sized ugga-dugga! Not the massive one. That pig really only gets used on the single sided swingarm nut. Unnecessary unless you have a bike that needs it. But the 3/8ths drive ugga-dugga gets used constantly. I don’t really use it much for putting things back together, but for removing stuff. The middle ugga-dugga impact driver is fantastic!

Milwaukee Fuel 3/8ths Drive Impact Driver

I chose Milwaukee simply because they sponsor racing, but the brand is less important. Milwaukee, Bosch, Makita, Ryobi, they are all good these days.

Garage fridge

No shop is complete without this little necessity. A garage fridge. Properly stocked with before beverages, and after beverages. And you have to be considerate when you have guests. The best bike nights I’ve ever had were when a buddy popped by and we ended spending a few hours sipping suds and talking bikes.

VP Racing Fuel Can / Jug

The modern gas can is pure evil. The vent free spout just means you spill everywhere. There is special place in hell for whomever came up with the design on modern gas can spout. Fortunately, a “race” gas can, like this one from VP Racing, paired with the VP Racing valved spout and everything is right with the world again. No more spilled fuel. I’d be loathe to part with mine.

Everyone needs a torque wrench, but when it comes to working on motorcycles where the greater half of most everything is threaded into aluminum, getting the lighter inch-lbs torque wrench will save future you from so many stripped threads. And you don’t even need to get a super expensive one. Beam-style ones work a peach and some of the best mechanics I know still prefer beam style over fancy-dancy digital ones.

Beam Torque Wrench

If you don’t have a magnet on a stick. Get one. You will drop a bolt, you will drop the nut on the back of your battery and it will fall into some impossible to reach place. For less than a fiver, get a magnet on a stick. Or two. Or three. Or four…

The last item on the garage list will actually cost you nothing. You need a spares box. Every good garage has one. This is where you throw all the random things that you might need later. Extra exhaust springs. I’ve even disassembled a broken brake lever for the spare bushing and pin and saved a weekend of riding after a minor tip-over.

Before making this video I polled our channel members and asked them what their “can’t live without” motorcycle item was. Overwhelmingly the answer was “I can’t live without my Cardo”. I’ll be honest. I was slow to really fall in love with headsets. It wasn’t until the modern Cardo (that actually works as advertised) that I really understood what all the fuss was about. Communicating with buddies or the better half.

Cardo Packtalk Edge

Listening to music or a podcast during a boring commute. Getting step-by-step directions from your phone in your pocket. All these little things just make the day-to-day riding experience better. Full disclosure, we do have a relationship with Cardo. They have really been great to us, and to you. At any time, you can use coupon code RIDEWELL for a discount from the Cardo website.

Phone on handlebars

And since we are on this topic, having some device on the handlebars. Either a mount for your phone – we prefer Quadlock, but I’m old school and still opt for the dedicated motorcycle GPS system. Simply because it works with gloves, less prone to damage from vibrations and it allows my phone to stay safe and sound in my pocket.

Motorcycle GPS

I love not getting lost in an unfamiliar city or being able to plan out a route, then when I’m riding I’m free to focus on my riding as long as I follow the purple line. Let me know if you’d like a video about how to plan and build a GPS motorcycle route.

Now this next item, you may not be able to live without, quite literally. I don’t leave home without my Garmin In-Reach. A subscription to the service is about $12 and that’s great. It’ll do live tracking of your rides that loved ones can follow without any cell service. If you get in a really bad pickle without cell service, hit the SOS button and help is on the way.

Garmin InReach SOS button

But the feature that makes this something I can’t live without is the Search and Rescue insurance. In my situation, I have two insurance plans attached to my device. One for me and one for my wife. If things do go wrong, anywhere in the world we happen to be, if we need a helicopter to come get one or both of us. We have insurance so we don’t have to foot that bill. It’s a surprisingly cheap thing that could potentially save us a small fortune.

Sometimes you want to carry your crap with you. A backpack works. I’m a fan of Kreiga backpacks that are designed for motorcycles, but I always worry, if I were to crash with a backpack what does that added weight and lump attached to my body do as I tumble down the road?

Kriega 10l Waterproof motorcycle bag

So instead, I prefer a bag on the bike. We ran tank bags for years, but I gotta admit, a tailbag is nicer. Its totally out of the way when riding and you don’t have to remove it to fill up. I prefer this small Kriega bag. It carries everything from the drone and camera gear to stuff for a weekend getaway. Mrs. CanyonChasers prefers this nifty bag from Nelson Rigg.

Is anyone else bothered by the fact that in America we have to have three different kinds of insurance just for our head? Anyway, our last two things are head related. Ear plugs. If you don’t ride with earplugs. Start now. Tinnitus is real, it sucks. I hate it and I would give most anything to have my hearing back. Just like everyone has different ear wax, everyones ears are shaped differently. Go to EarPlugStore dot com and order a sample kit to find out which plugs work for your ears. Then order a giant box of your favorite plugs for less than $20.

ear plugs

This last one, I’ve mentioned it before it made the internet angry. A dark smoke visor. Now, I know that CanyonChasers subscribers are smarter than the average rider, so I didn’t feel the need to explain this, but for those who aren’t subscribed yet, unless you are Corey Heart, don’t wear a dark smoke visor in the dark. Some of you got that joke. I see you!

Dark smoke visor

But for the rest of the time, a dark smoke visor is pure joy, especially if the sun shines where you live. It cuts the glare, it reduces heat, you don’t have to wear sunglasses glasses under your helmet, which is more comfortable, and It’s more private. When I close the tinted visor, I’m young and attractive. And if you do get caught out at night, a pair of clear lens glasses should be enough to get you where you are going, but I hate riding in the dark, so it’s just extra motivation to get home before the deer and the antelope play in the road.

That’s my list of motorcycle things I can’t live without. I’ve put links to lots of things in the description. Most of them are affiliate links to Amazon, which helps keep the channel going. But is there anything that I missed? What is your can’t live without motorcycle thing? Let me know.

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