16 Bike Hacks That Will Save You Time and Money

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Motorcycle Hacks

Struggling with body position?

Try and kiss your mirror. Works every time. (Don’t actually kiss it, that’s just weird.)

Run out of gas?

Supporting the bike on your leg, lean it over as far as you can and shake it. That will free up any gas trapped in the nooks and crannies. The fuel pickup is on one side, gas might be on the other.

Dirty leathers?

Forget expensive leather cleaners. Unscented baby wipes remove tough messes while moisturizing the hide.

Worn out tire?

Some Shoe Goo might get you home.

Boots soaking wet?

Stuff them with newspaper overnight, it’ll draw out the water and prevent odors.

Non removable helmet liner dirty?

Take it in the shower with you and use Johnson’s Baby Shampoo to clean it. Leaves no residue and won’t irritate your skin.

Kick stand sinking in the mud?

Crush a can or use an old credit card/hotel key card to increase the footprint.

Bugs stuck to your visor?

Soak a paper towel in water and lay it on the visor for five minutes before wiping clean. Doing so re-hydrates the bug carcasses, meaning they’ll lift off without scratching your expensive face shield.

What tips do you have to add to the list?

  • nick2ny

    Don’t tell people about my bike shorts!

    • HoldenL

      Too late, nerd!

  • http://garrett-nelson.tumblr.com/ Garrett Nelson

    Cargo net is the best investment any Motorcycle rider can make.

  • C.Stevens

    You guys keep recommending Fix-a-flat. It’s pretty nasty and it’s a pain to clean up when you change tires. A plug kit and a Co2 inflater are way better options. Or better yet, add Stans (or your choice of latex tubeless fluid, although haven’t found anything that works as good as Stans) when you install.

    Definitely recommend the newspaper tricks though. Used both of those before. I’d also recommend keeping a plastic ziplock bag balled up somewhere below your seat. Provided you’re running a carb’d bike, you can transfer gas by removing the gas line from the petcock and letting gravity transfer fuel into the bag. Did this in the desert before after a friend ran out of gas. Ziplock bag takes up no space.

    • http://RideApart.com/ Wes Siler

      Gets the job done quickly, easily, cheaply and effectively. If I’m stranded on the side of a highway, next to fast moving traffic, I just want to get moving again as quickly as possible. A little extra clean up when it’s time to change tires (honestly, it’s nothing more than turning a hose on the tire for a second), is well worth the added convenience.

      • Will Mederski

        gotta say, carrying a $30 tire patch/CO2 kit will get you home AND give your tire a second chance. (not to mention, they are typically SMALLER than a can of goop)
        filling it with some goop will definitely trash the tire, and your rim, and your valve.
        in the former, you get it home/to a shop and make sure the patch is safe. in the former, you are going to have to pull the wheel & tire and give both a good cleaning.

        i’ve also been told the goop can cause dangerous balance / vibration issues.

        • http://RideApart.com/ Wes Siler

          All of that is overkill. The goop works just fine and really doesn’t require more than 30 seconds of clean up. Rideaway right away and you won’t suffer balance/vibration issues.

          • Will Mederski

            also, it says on Fix-a-Flat’s own site not intended for use in motorcycle tires.
            twice.
            http://www.fixaflat.com/faq/

            • http://RideApart.com/ Wes Siler

              Still works though :)

              • Brian

                except on motorcycles that run tubes!!! I have personally experienced this. Was good for about 5 minutes worth of riding to get me to an air pump to confirm that I would in fact have to replace the tube because of a spoke puncture due to the rim strip having been just too thin to endure any further abuse.

            • TheBoatDude

              I’d guess that’s legal CYA. There’s lots of things that we do things with that we’re not supposed to…like Q-tips: I can’t think of anything they’re used for other than cleaning ears, but sure enough, they tell you not to stick ‘em in your ear… Also, Fix a Flat is not a permanent fix; it’s to limp home (or to the shop) on, not to ride Laguna Seca.

              • Matt Mason

                My mind is now blown as I have no idea what Q-tips were invented for if not ears.

          • Darek M

            How is a single snake plug and two medium size screwdriver-like tools overkill, and a huge paint spray can isn’t? And you must be super sensitive to sense less than a gram of the plug’s weight in your tire.

            I also used Slime once and it wasn’t very effective. A plug sets in 10 minutes and lasts thousands of miles.

          • Dewalt vd Walt

            I agree with you, plus id rather get a new tire had a bad experience with a plugged tire going around a corner once… will never ride a plugged tire again… new is safer! might be a lil more money but what is your life worth to you?

        • Partha

          Ive been using the goop/slime for over 4000kms on my tyres without any issue.

      • Piglet2010

        OK, but which size can works for most motorcycle tires?

        • http://RideApart.com/ Wes Siler

          “Standard Tire” seems to give about the right amount of inflation for a rear.

      • grindz145

        I’ve never seen fix-a-flat work, ever. Plugs are way more worth your time.

      • christian lacasse

        Agreed!! Some highways near or in the city indicate stats of 15-20 minutes life expectancy if you stand on the side… as an example when fixing a flat. Just sayin’ I’d rather be outta there asap.

    • http://www.waynestokes.com/ Wayne Stokes

      Does fix a flat work just as well in tube tires as in tubeless? I see that some of the Slime brand sealant has stuff rated “tubeless automotive” and “tube”. The “tube” slime appears to be for bicycles but can anyone clarify what the difference is?

      • Jason

        I have tried regular Fix-A-Flat in a tube tire and it didn’t work. It was a last ditch effort on a rental bike to get me from Palm Desert back to San Diego. I tried two cans and it inflated the tire a little bit then started leaking out around the spokes. Cost me $300 for a tow back to San Diego.

        • http://RideApart.com/ Wes Siler

          Yeah, it won’t work in tubes. Best thing with those is prevention: install Slime or similar and you won’t have to worry too much about punctures.

    • runnermatt

      You can add Stan’s No-Tubes through Schrader valves as well. All you need is the tool to take the core out of the valve (recommended when there is no pressure in the tire or tube). I used a needleless 10cc syringe as a funnel.

    • Tyler 250

      Yah, I don’t see the point when a plug kit takes up less space and works so much better. If you’re too dumb to be able to plug a tire, then you’re probably not thinking far enough ahead to be carrying ANYTHING to deal with a puncture, anyway. Maybe it’s not outright BAD advice, but it’s not the RIGHT advice.

      • Partha

        But carrying a plug kit, you also need to carry an air compressor and other paraphernalia.

        • Tyler 250

          No you don’t. Two CO2 cartridges will fill a rear tire more than enough to ride on it.

          http://www.stopngo.com/pocket-tire-plugger-plus-co2-inflation/

        • Darek M

          You could also fumble with the fix-a-flat can and waste the air, and not have enough to inflate. An electric compressor that’s taken out of its plastic enclosure takes up as much or possibly less room than the can.

  • Martin

    “Loop your left arm through the bottom opening of a helmet and out the visor port, the bend of your elbow on the bars will hold it in place.”

    This seems like a perfect way to slightly compromise use of one arm, and increase the likelihood and severity of an arm injury in the event that you go down.

    “A $5 bungee net can strap ANYTHING to your bike.”

    For example, a second helmet.

    • Remi Trang

      Came to the comments to say just this … This one goes in the “squid-mistakes” columns as a sure way to f** up your elbow if you were to go down.
      And yes, we’ve probably all done it … that’s no excuse for spreading bad/dangerous advice on riding behaviors. RideApart is usually filled with good advice, I don’t see how this one made it here :-(

      • http://RideApart.com/ Wes Siler

        Show me how carrying a piece of impact absorbent protective gear on your arm is going to mess up your elbow. You certainly don’t want to do a trackday like that, but if you’re just popping down the street to pick someone up, and don’t have a better way to carry it, it gets the job done.

        • Justin McClintock

          Simple Wes. You just put a big freakin’ lever on your elbow so whatever you hit can rotate it however it wants. So while it might prevent a little road rash, that’ll be of little condolence when you realize you just tore every ligament in your elbow. Like the guys above said, just use the bungee that you should already have. Or the helmet lock if the bike has one (even my DT175 does).

          • Piglet2010

            I think using a bungee net to hold the lid would be better than a helmet lock, as the lid would bang against the bike, or even burn melt (the helmet lock on my pre-gen Ninjette lets the lid rest against one of the mufflers).

            Odd that the only bike I own that does not have some type of helmet lock is the Bonnie (although the cable strap that comes with the Honda Dullsville is goofy in a bad way).

        • Martin

          I honestly think it would increase your chances of a fractured radius or ulna if you landed directly on to it and could also increase the chance of a shoulder, elbow, or rib injury. Obviously, neither of us has a data one way or another.

          We all know motorcycling is risky. We often make small compromises on how much risk we are willing to accept. If people want to carry a helmet like this, they obviously may do so. I am gonna hassle you about it just a little bit, though. That’s just how I do.

        • Dewalt vd Walt

          alternatively buy a honda nc700.. put the helmet in the storage compartment :)
          that’s what I did..

    • MrFelo

      Driving with more than a kilo hanging from your elbow doesn´t feel just right and the helmet won´t keep in place, it´s gonna slide and interfere with your hand´s mobility. What I used to do when I don´t have my “bungee net” as the guys here call it, is using the strap to secure the helmet to my pant´s belt on the side, it won´t hit anything, won´t be jumping around nor rotate nor interfere with driving.

  • Chris McAlevy

    I’m under the impression that gasoline will eat through water bottles in not very much time, which is why all the ADV guys recommend the MSR fuel bottles.

    • http://RideApart.com/ Wes Siler

      You certainly don’t want to store gasoline in a plastic water bottle. But if you just need to grab something on the go, and don’t have time to order an MSR fuel bottle online and wait for it to be delivered to you in the middle of nowhere, a water bottle gets the job done every time.

      • Piglet2010

        Just remember not to drink out of it afterwards. ;)

        A simple siphon kit would not be a bad idea, in case your buddy runs out of gas.

        • Kr Tong

          Gotta remember that most gas tanks nowadays are plastic anyway.

          Oil bottles work well too.

          • Generic42

            There are many type of plastics though, gas tank plastic =/= water bottle plastic.

            • Kr Tong

              Ethanol in the gas will destroy all of them, I assure you. Cant let gas sit in any type of plastic container for too long.

              • Piglet2010

                Yeah, if you have a Ducati with a polymer tank, avoid gasoline with ethanol (as the manager at a Ducati dealer told me).

              • NYRider

                All my gas cans are plastic….

                Newer, thinner water bottles will not take kindly to gasoline, certain brand soda bottles are more than fine for use with gasoline, and not just for a short while, but long term storage as well.

                Have you ever gotten gasoline in a third world country? Where they store gasoline, diesel and kerosene in different colored soda bottles. Have seen it in Mexico, central and south America as well as Africa. I’d have to double check the recycle code on the bottom to figure out which ones work and which do not.

                I would not use a “water” bottle, but a coke bottle almost always works fine.

                And here’s something I’ve been carrying on road trips for years. The coffee bladder from a star bucks or dunkin donuts coffee to go box. It’s mylar, thick and will hold gasoline. Next time you’re there ask for an empty one and 9 times out of 10 they’ll give it to you. Fold it up and add it to your tool kit.

                In order to ensure it was safe to use I filled one with gas and left it in the backyard, it’s lasted full for a year, I would step on it, toss it around the concrete floor and generally abuse it everytime I was near it, just to test it. It never burst or leaked. I was however careful to ensure the cap was right side up.

                They hold about half a gallon2 liters.

  • Jeremy Alvarado

    my girl won’t let me loop my left arm through her visor port… how else can i pick her up ?

    • http://RideApart.com/ Wes Siler

      Clearly it’s time for a new girlfriend.

      • Kitty Fone

        Well, I’m guessing she won’t let him loop his arm through her visor becasue she’s wearing the helmet while riding HER bike :)

  • Wayne Stokes

    Regarding the fix a flat stuff, does it work just as well in tube tires as in tubeless? I see that some of the Slime brand sealant has stuff rated “tubeless automotive” and “tube”. The “tube” slime appears to be for bicycles but can anyone clarify what the difference is?

    • runnermatt

      Fix-A-Flat should work fine in either. Another option that would work for small punctures is “Stan’s No-tubes”, which was developed for tubeless Mountain bike tires.

      That said if you use Fix-A-Flat your tire changer is going to hate you next time you have that tire changed.

      • http://RideApart.com/ Wes Siler

        It’s really, really not as bad as everyone makes out. There’s a little goop, it’s not a big deal.

        • Brian

          tell me that after you have personally changed the tire yourself after having used the stuff….especially if it has been in there longer than 2 weeks and it starts to REALLY set and get harder to remove….it does gunk up the valve stem unless you end up having to add more air after the can does its job, which can alleviate that issue.

          • http://RideApart.com/ Wes Siler

            Well, it’s a really good idea to wipe the valve stem clean afterwards and yeah, you usually want to go check your pressures and top up afterwards.

            I have pulled tires off that I’ve previously had fix-a-flat in and other than some beige slime that hosed off in 5 seconds, there really wasn’t a mess.

        • Gordon Pull

          Agreed and this is coming from someone who has changed out probably over 2k tires for customers. Slime is 10x worse than Fix-A-Flat, but it’s still a simple wipe/spray down.

          Good read, Wes!

    • Brian

      if you have tubes, forget about using any of those solutions except as a temporary bandaid fixture to slow down the inevitable replacement of your innertube.

  • JR

    If you pay such poor attention to the condition of your tires prior to heading on a trip that you are reduced to attempting a repair with shoe goo, then do us all a favor and never get on your bike again.

    • BillW

      Maybe, maybe not. I’ve had the exact same make, model and size of tire on the same bike wear out in 6000 miles or in 10000 miles, and it can be hard to judge how much rubber is left with some tires (I’m looking at you, Metzeler Z6s!). The abrasive characteristics of pavement vary a lot from state to state, or even areas within states. Utah will eat your tires, but you’ll have fun while it’s happening. That being said, if you’ve got cord showing, a tow is much safer option than shoe goo.

    • DaveDawsonAlaska

      Tires do occasionally wear out mid trip, especially trips that have you spending multiple days on the road.

  • runnermatt

    What would be the “best” place to purchase one of the cargo nets?

    • http://RideApart.com/ Wes Siler

      Doesn’t really matter, they’re all created equal. Order one from Amazon or Revzilla or wherever.

    • DaveDawsonAlaska

      Almost every MC/ATV/Powersports dealer should have a Bikemaster cargo net in stock. If not, try WalMart in the automotive/RV section.

  • Tuscan Foodie

    Re the cold: no need to squish the paper: just put it as an open newspaper on your torso, and you are done.

  • Tweezer

    Hah brilliant little article – just the kind of tips that are worth their weight in gold when you are in the sticks. I will now start preaching this “wisdom” to my long suffering fellow Indonesia expat bikers.

  • Kr Tong

    Hacks that didn’t make it to print:

    Bar end mirrors as grocery bag hooks/Grocery bags as steering dampers.

    Hooking tiedowns to rear sets and riding with your new tires to the shop. Useful for misers who buy takeoffs on craigslist and can’t get them shipped. Using a moving blanket to avoid scuffs is optional.

    Side stand pivot everywhere. Disregard any slight bends or cracks to the side stand.

    Wheelie for safety.

    • Lee Scuppers

      Always wheelie while splitting lanes. This gets your handlebars clear of people’s side mirrors.

    • Keith K

      “Side stand pivot everywhere.”
      Unless your side stand is attached to the engine. Like on a Ducati. Leads to broke engine tabs :(

  • Piglet2010

    I like the baby wipes and baby shampoo ideas. In the summer, I have to pull the helmet pads and wash them once a week to keep things from being funky, and this is with showering/shampooing every morning, and rotating between 3 different lids. :(

    • Afonso Mata

      You, sir, are a sweaty Pig(let) :P

    • The Truffle Shuffle

      Tried cleaning my Dainese leather jacket and boots with the baby wipes – they now look fresh again, although I did use some Zaino Z9 leather stuff on the jacket, and it now looks better than new!

    • Kitty Fone

      I have a better idea – DRY SHAMPOO!! I use it all the time inbetween helmet pad washing. Works great, absorbs oil and dirt and brushes right off!!

  • Piglet2010

    Can we argue about body position? While some approve/teach the knee out, butt off the seat position, I was taught to *not* hang way off the bike (only one cheek off the seat) and for my knee to go forward instead during Star Motorcycle School (aka Jason Pridmore & Company).

    • http://RideApart.com/ Wes Siler

      That’s exactly what you see here. One cheek off, knee forward. I’m just lanky as can be and stock ergonomics alter my interaction with the bike when compared to the ideal you see in 20 year old, five foot tall GP racers.

  • The Truffle Shuffle

    Cycle shorts are a great idea – i’ve been doing it for some years now and the decent ones really do help to relieve the pressure on your undercarriage and make longer distances easier. The only problem is if it’s very warm; they’re not designed to go under clothes, so you will sweat on your botty!

    • tbowdre

      for little bit more money than bicycle shorts, down hill mountain bike or motocross shorts will work also and they have armor/extra padding on the hips and tail bone

      • appliance5000

        In fact the mountain bike people seem to be moving quicker to d30 armor. I have armored shorts with this and getting the Demon knee/elbow stuff. I figure hitting a rock on a mtn bike id the same as hitting the ground on the street.

      • The Truffle Shuffle

        That would be a great idea – what you really want is a mesh pair that keep you cool too.

  • KeithB

    Good tips! Most of which I have used, except the “kiss the mirror thing”
    Have to try next time I’m on a freeway ramp :)

    • Scott Pargett

      open your hips to the corner as well, winning combo there.

  • Eric

    This falls under the category of ‘folklore’, but I’ve heard condoms can hold about a gallon of gas. This sounds completely insane to me, carrying around one of the deadliest water balloons, how you’d fill it, how you’d use it afterwards. Nothing about it sounds sane nor safe. But how legitimate is this folklore?

    • MrDefo

      I would refrain from using that condom after you’ve filled it with gasoline. It would probably burn.

      • Lee Scuppers

        You get used to it.

      • appliance5000

        Best to use it before you fill it (with gas). The fluids coat and protect it from harsh gasoline reactions.

    • Keith K

      Say what? Even if it did work, why would I waste a perfectly good condom just so I could keep from pushing the bike up a hill in traffic? That’s crazy talk.

  • Scott Baker

    I just use the chin strap to attach the helmet to the center strap on my Kreiga backpack. My body breaks the wind so it doesn’t flop around. If you’ve the foresight to grab a helmet for your pillion you should have a backpack too.

    • Piglet2010

      If you have a Roadcrafter, there is a carabiner clip on the chest pocket for carrying a lid without using your hands.

      • http://RideApart.com/ Wes Siler

        That’s for keys, you really don’t want a lid flying around your chest/chin area.

        • Piglet2010

          Well, the carabiner is at least for helmets when you are off the bike, according to Mr. Subjective. But I only carry keys on it when riding.

  • mikki sixx

    Also, I put dryer sheets in my helmet. Change them out every few weeks. Helps mitigate the funk in there.

    • Keith K

      Wet dryer sheets clean up bugs real well too. I don’t know if they scratch shields though…

  • motoguru.
  • Alexis

    A comme on some poeple most get hurt sometime! that’s just the way it work’s!
    stop the paranoia maybe 1 out a 1000 will get an injury because of that and I am pretty shure he would deserve it!

  • http://RideApart.com/ Wes Siler

    Well, sure enough that I’ve done it a bunch of times myself. Again, you don’t want to be storing gas in a water bottle, but if you’re in a pinch and you gotta get some gas to a stranded buddy or pack a little extra if the gas stations are just too far apart, this works.

  • Tony M

    Instead of tape, I started using PVC sun screens (meant for shading baby car seats–link below) that I cut to size with an exacto knife. I measure the length of the inside of the visor using a fabric tape measure (or string) and then cut a 1-inch strip. It attaches securely to the inside without adhesive and can be removed without residue. Visibility through the screen is ~70% as good as the clear visor, and the screen is extremely dark so it blocks out most glare. You don’t realize how much glare tires your eyes until you start using this. Consider this trick the “earplugs for your eyes”–it’s just as helpful.

    Thanks to this article on Web Bike World http://www.webbikeworld.com/Reviewed-motorcycle-products/shade/. Here’s a similar product on Amazon http://www.amazon.com/Diono-40100-Cool-Shade-Black/dp/B005O6FZ3M . I picked up a two-pack @ Pepboys for $3.

  • TheBoatDude

    OK, then, I have a philosophical question in regard to the helmet carry. First, it’s a slick idea, but it intimates that the woman you’re about to pick up has exactly zero riding gear (OK, maybe there are folks out there that have riding pants, jacket, boots and gloves, but no helmet…but that’d be sort of odd, no?). So her head is protected (and legal) but the rest of her can turn into a giant weeping sore if things go south. So how is that dealt with? Hope for the best?

  • Maneesh Joshi

    I live in India and we have followed these other highly unusual hacks that are completely illegal even here. And helmets? 8 out of 10 Indians don’t wear them, so go figure.

  • Geert Willem van der Horst

    Never thought I would purchase my first pack of baby whipes for cleaning my leather jacket…

  • dinoSnake

    Best list ever!

  • Mykola

    Here’s one I’ve heard if you have problems with tripping lights at night (or whenever there aren’t cars behind/beside you) with the electromagnetic induction loops: when coming to a stop align the body of your bike directly over one side of the typically-square loops cut into the pavement. If that alone doesn’t seem to help, a little revving of the motor seems to have helped me a bit on a smaller lighter bike I had, and I’ve read that touching down your sidestand to the inductive loop might also help.

  • Bradha562

    Straight-legging a fellow rider that is out of gas. Works best on sportbikes but I’m sure it can be used on other bike types. Place your bike on the left of the out of gas bike, set your right foot on the out of gas bikes’ rear passenger peg and straight-leg that bitch down the road. This sure beats pushing!

  • Joel Sparks

    Stick on shelf-liner works great over rear fairings to prevent them from saddlebag scuffs and such. The adhesive washes right off when you’re done your trip. Costs less than $1.

  • bandit 1200 rider

    I also keep a bag under the seat with a few nuts and bolts, 4 feet of lamp cord, zip ties and duct tape for emergencies. Also, if you break a throttle or clutch cable, a pair of small vice grips will allow you to limp it home if it breaks at the bars; unhook cable from perch, grip with vice grips and hang tool over the bar for leverage.

  • Matt Bowers

    Fix-A-Flat, Noooo! Many garages will not work on a wheel/tire that has this stuff in it. If you have a warranty or service plan, this voids it.

  • KOLN_Watchdog

    Buy a water bottle from a gas station, drink it, then put your gas in it. Works just fine, costs way less than a jerry can, is available everywhere and it’s super easy to stash in a pocket or strap to your bike.

    This is just a plan bad idea. Not to mention against the law since all gas must be dispensed in an approved container, of which a water bottle is not.

    • Mark Vizcarra

      The gas will also eat the plastic right through the bottle within minutes

      • SneakyJimmy

        Buy a 24oz Rockstar or montser. drink it – pour gas into aluminum canister. Also illegal but should last longer than plastic

  • knobalicious

    Fix a flat? You’ve gotta be kidding me. That is temporary only, as in you put in, then drive to a dealer to be fixed. That stuff has been known to practically “weld” the tire to your rim. Get it done right, with a patch and an inside plug.

  • http://garrett-nelson.tumblr.com/ Garrett Nelson

    Cargo net is the best thing I’ve ever purchased for my motorcycle!

  • William Connor

    I have used the wet towel to great effect many times. Compression shorts are nice, I find over pants to be a better comfort solution. Bungees do rock when you remember to leave them on the bike to use them.

  • kevin

    Just want to mention that gas will eventually eat away at the inside of a plastic water bottle. It’s a good idea as long as you remember to use the extra fuel sometime soon.

  • metric_G

    Maybe even less, depends on the plastic. I emptied the little gas left in my tank when I had to change the gas pump gasket on my TLR into a clean plastic bottle I cut in half, 30 or so minutes later the only thing left on my garage floor was a misshapen blop of plastic and a gas stain on the concrete.

  • Glenn Rueger

    +1 on the trapped fuel tip.
    The modern Bonnevilles trap about 1/2 gallon of fuel on the right side.
    So there’s at least 20 more miles for you if you can tilt it way over. YMMV.

  • Julian

    use a baby wipes to clean chain lube off your rear wheel, two at the most should do the trick!

  • Rob Armstrong

    coke bottle will last for days on end and the cap generally stays on better because its designed to handle more pressure than a water bottle

  • Wheelier

    Where am I going to find this “newspaper”?

  • John Ora

    An uncrumpled newspaper put flat on your chest and zipped inside your riding jacket works very well to keep you warm. Rode in the Rocky Mountains for years where the temp can change 30 degrees without warning. Picked up a paper at a gas station more than once…