Motorcycle touring off the beaten path offers a freedom and pleasure that one must experience to understand. The United States, and especially the West, is striped with hundreds of forest service and mining roads out through the deserts, parks, and wilderness areas. Because of the remote locations, motorcycles ridden in these areas need to be hardened to avoid breakdowns. Before you take off, add these crucial accessories, because it could mean the difference between life and death. The two most important areas are lights and armor.
The main lights on motorcycles are mostly designed to help the rider be seen by other traffic and are fairly paltry in their cast and breadth of beam. This makes it extremely hard for an adventure rider to acquire and identify obstacles and effectively avoid or safely ride them, while at speed at night. The first priority in getting ready for the back country, then, is to upgrade to high-output lights.
High-Intensity Discharge (HID) replacement kits are readily available for most motorcycles and from most dealers, like Kurtz Motorsports, Inc. These kits usually include an HID bulb, a new controller, and all of the wiring and hardware necessary to install the system. The advantage of HID kits is that there is no need to replace the stock stator (the part of the motorcycle that generates electricity, similar to an alternator in a car). You can also retain the stock look, since the light housing is not replaced, just the actual bulb.
If HIDs do not provide enough light, installation of LED (light-emitting diode) pods can give much better coverage. LEDs are more resistant to damage caused by impact or vibrations, they draw less power, and they have a longer service life than incandescent bulbs. This means that you can place small LED light sets on different parts of your bike to illuminate the sides and ground, giving better visibility.
When the going gets rough, an aftermarket skid plate could be the difference between a cracked engine housing and minor finish scratches. Thick skid plates and engine guards that cover vital low components--like the engine, transmission pan, and cooling systems--add weight to the motorcycle but keep the machine running if you drop off a ledge onto a rock or lay the bike down. They can also help protect your legs if you tip the motorcycle.
In addition to skid plates, it is a good idea to install brush guards on the handlebars to sweep away branches that would smack or even unseat the rider. Important to remember, brush guards protect the handlebar controls, like the throttle and brake or clutch levers from damage caused by impacts which could disable the bike.