10 Ways To Turn Your Motorcycle Into A Car

How To -



Cruise Control
Motorcycles with built in electronic cruise control still sort of scare us. Hand and wrist fatigue is a real issue, especially on multi-day treks, but we just aren’t comfortable giving up that much control of our motorcycles. That said, those little adapters you attach to the grip of your throttle, which allow you to operate the throttle without having to grip throttle tightly, are an absolute godsend.

Heated Seat Pads
For those of you in really cold climates, or those of you who just can’t seem to stay warm but refuse to take your car, there’s the hallowed heated seat pad. When used in conjunction with proper layering and heated garments, the heated seat bad can keep you toasty in pretty much any climate.

cup holder

You scoff, but we’ve seen it. Sometimes you just don’t want to pour that coffee or soda in your camelback because it will be a hassle to clean, and yet you still want to cruise down the road with a drink. We don’t really recommend it, but they’re available for purchase so knock yourself out.

Motorcycle Trailer

One of our favorite things about scooters is the massive trunk space that’s often included. Whether it’s picking up take-out, stashing your helmet while you run into the market, or packing an overnight bag; the space is always useful. Most motorcycles don’t have this so many of us have gotten used to packing light and strapping it to our backs or our bikes. For those of you unwilling to either pack light or strap that pack down, there’s always the trailer….

Goldwing Trike

A Third Wheel
Some people say that having to balance a big heavy touring bike is either too much work or too difficult. Their friends go on amazing long trips on their Harleys or Goldwings while they stay home, feeling left out. Other people say that adding a third wheel ruins the handling and all of the joys of riding a motorcycle and you may as well just take a car. We’re trying to stay out of it. But again, the third wheel is an option.

How far is too far? What lengths are you willing to go to in order to make motorcycling a little more comfortable? Are the people who pursue these options pragmatic or ruining the experience of being on the open road?

Related Links:
Gear: Sena SMH10R and SMH10 headsets
Gear: Garmin zumo 390LM Motorcycle Navigation System
Gear: Baja Designs Squadron LED Motorcycle Lights

  • http://www.nathanielsalzman.com/ Nathaniel Salzman

    #11: Inappropriately large windshields.

    • http://www.twitter.com/seanmacdonald sean macdonald

      well played, sir

    • gregory

      That dude’s scooter has three wheels. Is it a trike? :-)

      • jian khan

        In france, legaly, yes, it’s a “tricycle with motor”.

      • dinoSnake

        You’ve never seen the MP3 scooter series from Piaggio?

    • Stuki

      Don’t know how “appropriate” that one is, but an Aeroflow half fairing completely changes the long distance comfort of a BMW GS. As does, to a lesser degree, well designed for each specific rider, aftermarket shields for a lot of bikes.

      Most stock windshields seem to be pretty much worst of all worlds. Not large or well shaped enough to offer much protection, but instead just the right size to disturb what would otherwise be a nice, smooth airflow to the helmet; replacing it with a noisy, turbulent mess. Cue standard GS, VStrom and S10 shields…….. Or the worst offender of all, the “touring shields” some sadistic Germans get such a kick out of charging poor suckers hundreds of dollars for installing to ruin all that is conceivably good about several generations of R1xx0Rs.

  • Kevin

    You’ve mentioned a lot of electrical accessories, which would probably justify an auxiliary fuse box (like http://www.fuzeblocks.com). Greatly cleans up and simplifies the wiring, and saves you from the inevitable dead battery that will come from wiring all those gizmos directly to the battery.

    I would also add to your list a powered USB connector and a SAE connector for hooking up heated clothing, an air compressor, or a trickle charger.

  • gregory

    Hey, man, don’t diss heated grips. They’re wonderful. Put foam gauntlets around your heated grips and it’s even better: you’re set for the worst of winter. Also, GPS is acceptable for its live traffic updates. Just get the app for your phone and get a RAM mount on the handlebars into which you place your phone. Voila: instant city traffic maps. But the other things on the list… yeah, they’re pretty bad.

    Mind you… I ride a 250cc scooter, so there.

    • Piglet2010

      I am more manly than you, since I ride a 108cc scooter. ;)

      Cold hands are a safety issue, so I will agree on that. More light to see by is good too.

    • http://www.twitter.com/seanmacdonald sean macdonald


      • http://metabomber.com/ Jesse

        Short for disrespect, good sir.

        • http://www.twitter.com/seanmacdonald sean macdonald

          obviously. but where in the article did i diss heated grips?

          • http://metabomber.com/ Jesse

            In the title, wherein a list of processes to turn one’s motorcycle (yay!) into a car (boo!) was invoked. It may have been construed as “do these things, and you are motorcycling wrong.”

            I do get the intent of the article, though – In the quest to make our motorcycles more year-roundable (in places where it isn’t San Diego at 75* all the time), or have more safety / capacity, where is the line drawn?

            Myself, I’m guilty of several.
            - Heated gear – which saved me on my 28 degree ride, 35 miles of 80MPH commute this morning. I was toasty, thanks to the recommendations from this very article.

            - Extra storage – I have a GIVI e45 topcase on my late 90′s sportbike.

            - Device charging / GPS – I have a USB power port on my late 90′s sportbike, for those days when I’m using my phone as a map.

            There is still some considerable ground to cover before my F3 evolves into my Dad’s old Bargewing, but the horizon is viewable from where I sit. All I’m missing is two more cases, the CB, and the cupholder for my morning coffee.

            • http://www.twitter.com/seanmacdonald sean macdonald

              Hah, personally I think there’s a line that goes too far, but the intent wasn’t that all these things are bad at all. In fact, they’re sorted from least invasive/most normal to most invasive/most ridiculous. I’m a huge fan of the first 4.

    • Jorn Bjorn Jorvi

      how awesome are ram mounts.

  • Bruce Steever

    Trikes are like fake boobs: they’re only acceptable after life-altering accidents or surgeries.

    • Piglet2010

      The only type of motorized trike I would want would be a single-seater “tadpole” with a very low GC – be like driving an open-wheel race car.

    • jian khan

      Trike is acceptable after a two legs amputation. At least one leg? Use a side! :p

      • Richard Gozinya

        Double amputees can still ride on two wheels. Even triple amputees can do it.

        • pdad13

          That dude has got some balls…probably.

        • jian khan

          Hey, it was a joke…

        • ThinkingInImages


  • Piglet2010

    Are heated seats really helpful? – My butt being cold was never a problem, even when I rode 4 hours in freezing weather on a CB400T in a thin jacket, thinly lined gloves, jeans, and engineer’s boots (hey, it was the 1980′s and I was a freshman in college returning from spring break). Same trip now on my Deauville with heated grips, Aerostich Kanetsu vest/Roadcrafter suit, and Alpinestars WP Scout boots would actually be comfortable, and I would not need to warm my hands on the exhaust headers.

    • gregory

      Suffering builds character. But I’d never want to be in my 20s again. I love my heated grips.

      • Piglet2010

        Only issue I ever had with heated grips was the glue not holding – fixed under warranty by my Honda dealer (who installed them in the first place). I wonder if the alternators in my TW200 and Elite 110 would be up to running them?

    • Stuki

      Exactly where external heat enters your body is not all that relevant, since your blood will circulate it to where it needs to go. The seat is where most of your body weight presses down on the bike, compressing, hence reducing the insulation value of, the layers between you and any present heat source. Hence, an ideal place to heat you through.

      An electric west worn UNDER insulated and windproof garments are even better, but less “everywhere-always-available’ than a heated seat and heated grips.

    • http://www.nathanielsalzman.com/ Nathaniel Salzman

      Ever since I first experienced the heated seat/grip combo, I’ve wanted it on every bike I own.

    • Brammofan

      Seated heats would have helped these guys on their trip to Aspen.

  • Piglet2010

    If you find cruise control disturbing, what about those mechanical throttle locks?

    • http://www.twitter.com/seanmacdonald sean macdonald

      not into it

      • sixgunsteve

        I was never into throttle locks either until I hit a deer a couple years ago; broke both wrists and radius and ulna in both forearms (among some other injuries). Regardless of position, both hands tend to go numb and fall asleep in a disturbingly short time. I could always “wake up” my left hand by releasing the grip and shaking it out. Until I bought the Kaoka throttle lock I couldn’t do that with my right rand. Granted, you have to pick the right time to lock up the throttle, and I only do it for short periods to relieve my right hand, but being able to “feel” the throttle and front brake is worth the hundred bucks I spent. YMMV.

  • gregory

    Some of the hardcore post-apocalyptic “Mad Max” delivery courier dudes here (Seoul) have cup holders on their handlebars. They also have at least two smartphones set up on their handlebars to receive messages from their dispatcher on one machine and to have live traffic maps/ navigation software on the other. These backyard mechanic dashboard panel setups generally have a shade or cover on them so that the screens are legible in full-on sunlight while driving. It blocks the speedometer & tachometer, but who needs those anyway? Cup holders sometimes host a can of coffee, but I’ve also seen ash trays. They ride with their full-face helmet tilted up onto their forehead and have a lit cigarette in their mouth, carefully tapping the ash into their on-handlebar ash tray.

    • http://www.RideApart.com/ Jen Degtjarewsky

      Gregory – We clearly need to hear more about the scene in Seoul.

    • Syed Ghazanfer

      post some pictures

  • Stuki

    For those unwilling to go full trike, the low speed “landing gear” some people outfit their ‘Glides and ‘Wings with, are a nice compromise. Particularly on the ‘Wing, which has electric reverse

    • Guest

      3. Snow – TW200 and tire studs.

      But I agree on the $20K bike – I would rather have a $10K, a $5K, and two $2.5K bikes instead.

      • Piglet2010

        Why is my reply to another post showing up here as from “Guest:???

        • http://metabomber.com/ Jesse


  • Rameses the 2nd

    I love my motorcycle, but I must say that my car is 1000 times better when it comes down to comfort, safety, and reliability. Let’s see:

    1. Heading Out – Gear up; wear special boots, special jacket, gloves, helmet and other safety crap. Put your gym stuff and work stuff startegically in a single bag and then properly secure it on the back seat of your bike.
    2. Raining – Either take public transportation or wait till the rain is over or buy another layer of waterproof rain clothing to wear on top of your regular motorcycle armor.
    3. Snowing – No way, Jose.
    4. Long Trips – Buy special bags, battery chargers, special GPS, bluetooth headset, etc…
    5. Winter – Buy heated gear, hand guards, ugly windshield, etc…
    6. Gas Mileage and Range – Better than most cars, but be prepared to find a gas station after every 130 to 200 miles.
    7. Safety – Minimal
    8. Fun – Infinity, if you are not stuck behind a city bus or big SUV in a traffic.

    1. Heading Out – Throw gym bag and laptop bag on back seat and you are good to go.
    2. Raining – Windows up. Problem solved.
    3. Snowing – No problem. Just make sure to have a shovel and ice scraper/snow brush in your car.
    4. Long Trips – Charge your phone and other stuff in the car. GPS, bluetooth connectivity, cup holders and XM radio are all there when you need them.
    5. Winter – No problem. Set the temperature to 70 degrees and you are all set. My car also has heated mirrors and heated seats.
    6. Gas Mileage and Range – I get 50+ mpg on my Hybrid car and I can drive 450 to 500 miles without stopping at a gas station.
    7. Safety – ABS is standard in pretty much all 2013 cars. Not to mention air bags, seat belts and a solid steel frame (cage) that is around you.
    8. Fun – A little less lamer than public transportation.

    I could list another half a dozen things. This is why motorcycle will never replace car and this is why most people cannot justify spending $20,000 on an exotic motorcycle.

    • Piglet2010

      3. Snow – TW200 and tire studs from Aerostich.

      But I agree on the $20K bike – I would rather have a $10K, a $5K, and two $2.5K bikes instead.

    • Zanpa

      “Fun – A little less lamer than public transportation.”
      … “my Hybrid car”

      Yeah, just get a fun car, and you can have just as much fun driving than riding.

      • Rameses the 2nd

        I disagree. I have owned bigger and faster cars and it is just not the same.

        • Zanpa

          Bigger and faster doesn’t mean more fun.

      • Stuki

        No way, Jo-Sey.

      • Justin McClintock

        No. Not even kinda. Besides, I bought my DT175 for $500 used. I have a ton of fun on that thing. I don’t think I can even buy a running car for that amount of money, let alone a fun one. And to get something (car) that will accelerate with my SV1K would require 6 figures. So again, no.

        And there’s one issue you’ll never get around. Cars lean the wrong way. Period.

    • Chris McAlevy

      raining: get wet
      long trip: sore butt, one change of clothes
      winter: get wet and/or cold
      methinks you’ve grown a little too used to the comforts of caging.

  • Mark D

    A good way to free up some wattage from a bike not designed for touring accessories is to swap out running lights with LEDs Your alternator will thank you.

  • Kingsix87

    In my opinion if you want the everyday comfort of a car, but want to stay on two wheels, scooters are the way to go. Modern maxi scooters are powerful and some of them don’t look bad. They can have skirts to keep your legs warmish during cold days and grip sleeves for your hands. Also, the selection of “winter” tires is larger for scooters. The big screens and storage also are beneficial. The main thing against scooters really is that society sees them as less cool and there are no dual purpose scooters. Although, yesterday some young schoolgirl shouted at me she didn’t like my bike (“96 CB500) as I was passing by…

    That said, I prefer bikes. But as the days keep getting colder and the riding season is more or less over here I begin to have my doubts.

    Trikes are not bikes in my opinion and you are better off with a convertible car. Trikes are less stable than bikes and cars in the turns, filter through traffic much more difficultly. And if you choose to buy 1700 cc bike and complain it is heavy, that’s your fault. Some people go around the world on 125 cc bikes.

  • clasqm

    It’s about time they gave us heated footpegs!

    • susannaschick

      my 2009 R1 comes with them, standard! I had to put platforms on my favorite riding boots because the heat was unbearable, especially in August.

      • clasqm

        :-) I had a BMW with built-in ankle warmers once …

  • Khali

    Dont turn your bike into a car, buy a 2 wheeled motorcycle car:
    BMW K1200 engine, it looks fun :D

  • gregory

    Suffering builds character. Tour light.

    • BillW

      Or at least it makes for better stories after the fact. :)

  • it_weenie

    I love my Sena. Talk to my wife while 2-up or just listen to music while on the highway.

  • Chris McAlevy

    You need to comment more.

  • grindz145

    As would be suggested by a certain cohort of Goldwing riders, simply adding a car tire to your ride, might work quite well if you’re into the not-leaning, and less fun thing.

  • Kr Tong

    Heated grips work because there are more capillaries closer to the surface of your skin in your extremities, ie your hands, feet, and face. If you are overheating at the track you will cool off much faster if you dunk your hands and feet in a bucket of ice water than say, peeling off your track suit.

    Heated grips work the same way. Keep your hands, face, and feet warm and your body will be warm too.

  • CruisingTroll

    Auxilary lights, cupholder, and trailer. All the rest are either useless gadgets (GPS, Bluetooth, sound system) or cantankerous not-gonna actually work gadgets (heated grips & seat).

    Trailer is far and away the best from a purely functional standpoint. Riding two up, ATGATT, to a concert. Where you gonna put your gear? 1 minute to take it off and throw it all (including riding boots) into the trailer, lock the trailer, and on your way to the concert in whatever clothes one deems appropriate.

    All the sudden discover that your crew from college is dropping by for an impromptu BBQ in two hours? And you’re responsible for the beer and soda? Off to the market, and come back with keg or two, all the red plastic cups you’ll need for a rousing game of beer pong, and plenty of soda for the designated drivers.

    Need to go 800 miles to help out on a remodeling project? Toss a “trunkload” of tools into the trailer and off ya go.

    • Stuki

      I like your hardcore go-by-bike-or-stay-home attitude.

      I’d probably lose the trailer the moment I forgot it was there and tried to squeeze between two lines of blocked cars……… To me, a bike is first and foremost a way to not have to deal so directly with the fact that the rest of humanity consist of little more than stuck in traffic cage apes wasting away sucking smog when there is a perfectly good life to be lived.

      • CruisingTroll

        Fortunately, and unfortunately, the whole squeezing between two lines of blocked cars isn’t really a “go to” option for me. I do understand how Cali and foreign riders bring a different perspective to trailers though.

    • Piglet2010

      Heated grips can be reliable in the cases of factory installed or even dealer installed/manufacturer made.

      But there should be a way of using all the waste heat a motorcycle produces to keep the rider warm. :(

    • http://ericrshelton.com/ Eric R. Shelton

      Heated grips work. GPS is fantastic, especially in unfamiliar territory.

      But a trailer?!?! Give me panniers and a top case (especially the top case) for storage any day. Some goofy add-on that makes my bike as long as crew cab long bed pickup? By the gods, no! Ease of parking in “not technically parking spots” is one of the best parts of being on a bike! If I need to buy kegs, I’ll use my truck. :P

  • http://ericrshelton.com/ Eric R. Shelton

    I maintain (and likely always will) that a trike is a stupid vehicle designed to high-side and with none of the benefits of a motorcycle OR a car. Doubly so when towing a trailer. At least sidecar rigs do cool things like fly the chair. Better to buy a used Miata if one needs the open air feeling so badly.

  • Cody

    The very premise of this article is hilarious. They make convertibles for a reason.

  • LS650

    For some guys who have mobility issues and need a cane to get around, a trike or a sidecar makes sense.

    Hopefully I’ll never feel like I need one.

  • HammSammich

    Not a fan of trikes. I’ve always said that at the point that I can no longer safely ride a motorcyle, I’ll trade it in for a roadster (MG, Triumph, Miata, etc). Then again, I’m a healthy 35 y/old, so maybe my perspective will change if/when I’m faced with the reality…