Modern must have accessories, are they essential or a luxury?

Modern must have accessories, are they essential or a luxury?

Nothing fascinates me more than that such under appreciated luxury item on a motorcycle as a electric starter, see these days you don't even notice it as its considered natural,trust me I thank all manufactures for fitting them as I have spent years upgrading to over $4000 on each, fitting them onto various Vincent"s, Indian's Triumph's, Velo's, Norton's some with much success (Vincent) others dismal failures (Indian) and that was twice on the Indian! No point in going into why here but now I always secretly smile to myself as I thumb the button on my contemporary Scout. 


But what about things that we all take for granted today beside the electric start above it was a ingenious bolt-on part listed in 1916 and a dismal failure as a suitable accumulator (battery) hadn't been invented and it was a failure till Norton Electra 400 came out in the very early sixties and the Japanese refined it to perfection.

Other things Indian invented was the twist grip, something that the Brits re-invented by Velocette in 1928, Velocette invented the positive stop foot gearchange after factory engineer Harold Willis watched a wheat reaper at work in 1927,can you imagine a new Suzuki Hyabusa with a kick start, hand change or lawn mower throttle lever on the handlebars or no rear suspension? 


Saddle fuel tanks were out by 1928 (thanks to Velo) as bolt together fuel tanks as still used on Harley till recently were out of fashion the flat-tank era went within 2 years. 


Rear suspension was another feature on Indian in 1916 as well Harley never trusted it till 1954, nearly 40 years later and although Indian dropped the idea Vincent adapted a mono shock in 1928 Philip Vincent never built a rigid frame motorcycle, then Ariel had Anstey"s link rear plunger frame out in 1939 Indian fitted a true plunger suspension the same year till they stopped in 1953. BMW liked the idea of telescopic forks in 1939 as well but when 1955 came along everybody else agreed so they dropped it and went to Earles leading link forks but inn 1969 went back to them.


Tom Arter in UK fitted the first alloy spoke "modern wheel" to a racing G50 Matchless in the 60's the we're nicknamed "wheel barrow wheels" and took a long time till the seventies when they were accepted, personally I still hate them!

The first modern dual seat rather than a block of leather covered sponge arrived in 1947 with a firm in UK Feridax getting into bed with Vincent and the first 1947 Rapide was the machine to have it, it wasn't available as a spare part and people with other brands wanted them to fit to their models, even Vincent Owners could not buy one unless they had a damaged or crashed Vincent, the seat then would be returned to the Works and only then a new seat was sent out to the owner. Vincent's unique Girdraulic front fork for some time after its introduction in 1949 on the Black Shadow model was the same, unavailable.


We could go on but let's get back to modern machinery, GPS if it wasn't for Ronald Reagan and the Russians shooting down a commercial airplane over their airspace because they had crossed into Russian air space we might haven't have it yet as the military used it to guide missiles onto targets at Desert Storm. As soon as that was available,motorists got it first and my first Garmin Nui in 2008 cost $1160 on special I waited for some time for the Garmin Zumo 550 motorcycle unit to be invented and at $900 was considerably dearer than the by then readily available car versions as they had halved in price. One guy I used to know was quite sceptical about it saying "What good is that unless your lost" hmm they are a blessing and a curse we have all read in the daily"s about the Japanese tourist driving off the mainland into the ocean trying to drive to Tassie, but other benefits such as in UK the postcode isn't the suburb but the exact address of the place i.e. a house number and it takes you to the building your looking for I get lost going from my driveway so it's the best thing invented since the Casio calculator.

Dare I say another essential accessory is a clock I bought a BMW R100 RSR over 20 years ago, (sold it under 7,000 Klm's) but I've  fitted a clock since to every bike I own, this bike also introduced me to heated grips and to machines I ride regularly they are fitted as well.

Things I have had the pleasure of riding with on a Indian that I really miss, Cruise Control, wow is that a nice little option, if you have never had it on a bike imagine it's as good as the first car you owned with it, fantastic, unfortunately it's not on a bike I currently own. Windscreens are another essential piece to have in foul weather, sneering at such a thought is irrelevant in sleet or below freezing conditions, which I have ridden in over the last 46 years. Gear indicators help as well nothing worse than going up and down trying to find neutral at traffic lights. A fuel gauge is another refinement, if not a fuel light to warn you to fill up, who hasn't run out at some time or another?

A Corbin or Mustang aftermarket accessory seat is another way to pamper your body, years of being saddle sore after just a few miles in a standard seat has put paid to just " bearing it"and some are available heated a nice touch.

The final option has to be belt drive but only if it's easy to replace as it is on the Scout, on H-D's the rear end has to be dismantled so a 1/2 hour job turns into three or four hours, the good thing is no mess with unlike shaft drive the ease of gearing modifications, chains have been with us over 117 years now thanks to P&M (Panther) and although simple it's  un-practical on a modern road bike especially a touring model their place remains on off-road models. 

Phil Pilgrim