Biker Malady #1: Is There a Fix?

motorcycle maladyBIKERS MAY BE ACCUSED OF MANY THINGS, some true and some not, but for a number of riders, there is no escaping the accusation of being addicted to motorbikes. Can that get out of control? Although it’s hard to imagine “riding too much” becoming problematic, how about a malady that can be as visible as a completely chromed motorcycle, including the seat and tires?

Or how about an abundance of so many extra gadgets that the handlebar area looks like a free-form mechanical sculpture resplendent with enough wires and thingamajigs to make it seem impossible for a mere mortal to find the throttle?

There’s a name for this: Motorcycle Farkles Disease.

This might be considered as a relatively benign malady. Certainly, for most riders, it’s not terminal (wive’s or hubbie’s rantings to the contrary).

Let’s be clear that the subject of this article is not merely that of buying and installing a few accessories, called farkles (also spelled farkels). That would be as erroneous as describing anyone who enjoys a beer now and then as an alcoholic. This article describes something well beyond that.

But first, let’s clarify some terminology.

Motorbike Farkles

Farkels are certainly not limited to this list, but they serve as common examples:

♦ Radar Detectors

♦ Music, Radios and Audio Systems

♦ Wireless Communication Systems

♦ Global Positioning System (GPS) Receivers

♦ Heated Grips

♦ And of course lots of SHINY and ILLUMINATED THINGS

The list is endless.

A Motorcycle Malady Gone Wild

It may be arguable as to “when” the evolution of personalizing one’s motorbike crosses some threshold and becomes a malady that should be treated. But should you find yourself buying things to personalize motorcycles that you don’t own anymore, a little mental alarm bell ought to be giving you a jingle.

Even if your mental jingler was out of whack when personalization turned to obsession, it’s hard to argue that madness was not close to hand when your investment in farkles surpassed that of your house.

And speaking of houses, some home owners convert their garages to recreational rooms to gain more living space. However, should you find yourself converting living quarters to additional garage space to store more motorcycle accessories, there is cause for concern.

The good news is that such a disease does not require consultations with top doctors in various part of the globe. The standard cure is therapy for both your bike and soul: You need to ride more!

Your Favorite Accessories?

Having said all that, there are accessories and gadgets that truly improve the riding experience, whether practical and/or aesthetic.  What are your favorites? Please note them below.

58 thoughts on “Biker Malady #1: Is There a Fix?

  • I’m a minimalist. I don’t like fairings. They take away from the cool bike look but I suppose if you want all the ‘farkles’, you need a fairing. My big pet peeve that has nothing to do with farkles, is PINK bikes. Ugh. I’m a woman, but pink bikes, esp. Harleys, just make me want to vomit!

    The one thing I just put on my bike is a HELMET LOCK! I love it! I attached it to my engine guards and it works perfectly. Now I can go shopping w/o dragging my helmet along. I live in the big city now, and it’s not unusual for bikes to ‘go missing’, let alone helmets.

  • I have an ’04 Sabre 1100 Shadow, Mustang seat, throttle lock, saddle bags, small tail pack, windshield. The rest of the farkels, I simply do not understand. Tunes? Gotta have my TUNES???? I guess I am just sick, because the motorcycle itself is MY TUNE! I have acutally SEEN a guy get so rapped up with his “tunes” and was zoning on them so much that he missed a very tight corner. Went into it too fast in too high of a gear, and slid the Wing into the ditch. NO THANKS!

  • I have a BMW 1100 RT which I bought used. The bike comes with heated grips, hard saddle bags, rack behind the seat, an adjustable wind screen, which blocks wind a rain and when raised directs engine heat on to the tops of my legs via vents through the fairing. The previous owner added a take bag, Sargent seat and a soft bag for the rear rack. I have used everyone one of these items on different occasions. I’ve been spoiled, and I’d always want a bike with all the above options. I use the bike to commute to work. I’m able to carry my computer, lunches, extra books and papers. I went camping along the Skyline Dr. carrying tent, bed roll, sleeping bag, clothes and more.
    The bike is a fun ride and a 2nd car when necessary. Having all this “stuff” on the bike gives many options that I wouldn’t want to go with out.
    Rather than replace this bike, I’d sooner get a naked bike like a Triumph street triple. Having too many bike is another problem in it’s self.

  • I bought a ’97 Concours 1000 and after putting $1400 in farkles on it, I realized I was trying to update a bike designed in 1986. I quickly sold it to prevent any further farkling. I then bought a 2002 Kaw ZZR 1200 and found it was nearly the perfect motorcycle for me. I rode it for 18 months and only put on Gen-Mar risers and bought a used seat (the stock one was thin and more for racing). I’ve put 40k on it now and have since bought a used Givi touring windscreen and added a Givi rack. Total farkles are about $300 on the bike and I love riding it more than when I first bought it.

  • OK, I just bought a little micro-farkle, an extended foot for my R1200r kickstand. No more sand slides in parking lots. . .I draw the line at shock mud protectors, bras for the air cleaners. . jeez. . .What I *would pay for would be: A 7* LED front light, a seat with a built-in airhawk and/or heating, OK, maybe a movable windshield.

    None of these are necessary, perhaps because with my Motorport Black and Reflector Viz kevlar jacket and my retina-burning orange modular helmet, I am probably my bike’s biggest farkle.


  • I think for some people adding farkles , chrome, ect , is to make them look different from other bikers that own the same bike and also because there motorcycle is never nice enough for them.


  • I have what came on the bike – R1150GS – plus a caribou top case, simple thermometer, tire pressure monitor, and extra PIAA lights. I did add a headlight protector and would like a larger windshield for 400 mile highway days (just to get to Northern Michigan where I like to ride). Simple is better for me, but I’d say whatever is right for you……is right for you. Life is too short not to get passionate about things that bring you joy – so farkle away.

  • best fix is to not get started in the first place. I came to riding motorcycles in the 60’s. For me a bare bike is best. With the crowd I rode with, real bikers didn’t gob up their bikes with unnecessary crap. That means speedo, tach, maybe a volt meter and oil pressure gauge and nothing else. We laughed at the wanna be’s who fixed every gadget they could to a bike. The big offender and major nob accessory: cup holder. Next is radio. These days, all that junk comes stock. A bike was a “hog” if it was a dresser adorned with things that get in the way and weigh the bike down. A chopper or cafe bike was a stripped of all that junk and modified for speed and bare bones look. Too funny! I still laugh as I blister past those dresser bikes that look like Winnebago’s and can’t keep up on a winding road. HA!

  • 139db Stebel horn. . .a Depends-wetting attention getter for those hammered Hummered Housewives . .and a small GPS.

  • Play bike: 2011 Z1000 – don’t care about loud pipes or farkles. Suspension is good from factory, so the only thing I’ll add is a little taller windscreen and later this year wiring for heated gear.
    Touring/commuting bike: 2008 Kawasaki Versys. Ohlins back shock, Givi windshield, wired for heated gear, Givi racks for Pelican cases and Givi topbox.

    Nothing against farkle … with one exception – if you put sharp spiked things on your bike, please stay away from me on the road. I don’t mind you impaling yourself if you go down but I want to be far away from that bike.

  • GUILTY AS CHARGED YER WORSHIP…….. EVERYTHING LISTED PLUS MORE…..paid for a new Rolls Royce for Gary at Cyclemax 🙂 Dave

  • Does my hand held GPS strapped to my fore arm count? it gives me time of day, speed distance and direction. I may mount it on a holder. Since I have been riding with it I pried off the digital clock stuck to the side of the brake reservoir!

  • I have GPS, XM Satellite radio, cup holder, cooler rack on the back of my wing. I also added 2 driving lights under the mirrors, a LED in the air scoop, and drive with my fog lights, driving lights and HID headlights all on at once.

  • I have a 2003 Harley Davidson Night Train which I love just the way it is…oh…I DID have another key made….LOL

  • Farkles: Definition? Useful at times but not required… I ride a full dress Intruder 1500 and the only accessory I would add is a Tach. No Radios of any kind as they contribute to lack of attention i.e. riding safely. Besides I ride to get away from it all, not to take it with me. GPS, come on…if you can’t read a map you shouldn’t be out playing in traffic….besides, yet another distraction from paying attention to what’s happening around you like the music. Radar…simple. OBEY THE LAW…end of discussion. Kickstand pad?…sure I have one JIC. Drink holder? Yep, got one of those too. Cel phone holder? It should be turned off while riding so why would you need more than a pocket in your jeans? Loud pipes? Usless Farkle…Wastes gas and annoys everybody. Air Horn? – Great Farkle. Mustang Driver Back Rest? Wow, best farkle I got! Clock, great when it works. Saddlebags…a must for any rider who goes farther than around the block. Windshield? O’boy, can’ imagine suffering wind blast on long rides, or short ones. Besides, keeps the bugs off your teeth. Cruise Lock?…yep, my old wrist gets tired at times.

    So, some farkles are a pleasure to have mounted while others like entertainment systems are very dangerous to have on a bike, or even in a car for that matter, we almost never turn ours on in the car either and our cel phones are always off, yes always!

    Riding a motorcycle is for fun not for getting somewhere in a hurry. Fun is enjoying what’s around you, being a swivel head; not rolling down the road listening to some rock garbage or rap crap.

    60 years of riding and a million miles in the saddle and still enjoying every “farkle” minute of it.

  • My favorite accessory is GAS
    My favorite farkle is my GPS
    I ride a GL1800 and I belong to the Less Is More Non Chrome Society

  • If all the new farkles add to the safety and comfort of riding a motorcycle from A to Z then why not? As long as you don’t become preoccupied by them they will not be the end of you. All the gadgets that keep coming from the inventors are to make their mark, and to make them money.
    My motorcycle is a bare bones 1976 KZ 900 with some upgrades for performance and reliability. (new coils, progressive springs in the front forks, front fork brace, extra ground wires, electronic ignition, a new voltage regulator-solid state without diodes, a 4 into 2 exhaust since the original pipes are almost $2000-way too much money, a new chain, a new timing chain, and the seat redone the original one was too soft).
    Teams of engineers spend great periods of time to design and enhance the performance of a motorcycle. But some things do get better as the decades keep passing by. If they only do something to improve the attentiveness of car drivers, too many of them are oblivious to others, especially motorcyclists!!!

  • In July I made a trip from Missouri to Dallas TX on my ’06 Yamaha fjr 1300. As you know it has been HOT down there. Before my trip I knew I would need plenty to drink, so I devised a farkle for that. A large butter container with a hole cut in the lid and two magnets in the bottom held down with duct tape. ( I spray painted it flat black so it would look cool) Voila! A homemade magnetic cup holder. Using a large styrofoam Sonic cup and a straw, I had plenty of ice cold drink all day in the 100 degree heat.

  • Riding or day dreaming all day of riding is a serious disease. The biggest hurdle is convincing the spouse that ride time is an absolute requirement to go on living. This is one obsession I can live with. Not sure I ever owned a farkle but guess riding a 1981 Yamaha XT 550 for 22 yrs is pretty bare bones. Got a 98 Shadow but there is something about no shield , no add ons , just 325lbs of metal that has me clinging to the enduro bars every day. Had a BMW guy recently with way too much $ and farkles comment on my oil leaking , smoke belching , rough looking ride and it took all my control to not say , “little boy , go away before I beat you up and take that bike”. Love this forum and be safe out there.

  • I wouldn’t say disease, let’s just say that now that I’m divorced, my money goes to my new lady!

    Farkles just seem to grow… I had to add a shelf to my ST1100 for my GPS, my cell phone and (one day) a radar detector. I don’t consider my top box a Farkle, although I must admit that the custom paint and graphics might be considered by some a little too “farklely.”

    I don’t consider my Head and Tailight modulators farkles either, but a necessary safety item. Same for the Running lights underneath for nighttime safety. Now the transformers Autobot chrome logo, and the custom Bumblebee tank pad protector… I guess those are over the top (and they were the most inexpensive things I added!)

    Now, let’s see, I have long legs…where’s that website for those hiway pegs…

  • You may call them farkles, I call them necessities. The windscreen on my F800GS was absurdly inadequate for highway riding so I got a larger screen. Needed hand protectors, of course. A GPS is a necessity as are aux lighting for safe night driving. All seats on BMWs are miserable so a new seat was required. If you’re going to ride the highways without a radar detector you’re inviting a ticket which can cover a lot of farkles…er, ah…necessities. Without a top case you can’t safely store your helmet and those essential items like wrenches and side cases allow you to spend the night somewhere. a tank bag holds what you immediately need for traveling and if you don’t have a wide foot to add to your kickstand you’re sunk-literally. We haven’t even begun to discuss what you must carry in your increased baggage space. Farkles like this are really necessities. I don’t understand the issue.

  • Is there something called de-farkel? I’ve removed my passenger seat and sissy bar pad on my V Star950T, and only added safety-related items-highway bars, saddlebag protective bars, different handlebars , running lights and a Wolo Bad Boy air horn. That’s it! Outside of an aftermarket seat and windshield bag, nothing else. I have to listen to a two-way radio for eight hours at work, can’t figure out an iPod or SmartPhone, so the only music I hear is in my head! GPS?-old school (maps-when I use them). Cell phone? on my belt (turned off). Tach?- by ear (I used to own several air-cooled VWs).

  • Farkle……never heard of that term before.

    Anyway, in the last five years since I’ve had my current bike there have only been a few items I’ve added. First was a 12 volt power supply for charging mobile phone. For some unknown reason this was an option on the Australian version of the ST1100 and not standard as on the European version. When on tour (as opposed to going to work) I now have power for the air bed when camping.
    I use the GPS from the car. I mount this on what would be the fuel tank on most bikes. Comes in handy as to planning fuel stops, average speed/time/ distance travelled and more importantly not getting lost in strange cities. Use this only for touring.
    The original owner of the bike never had a top case fitted which wasn’t a problem at first. I have a small trailer for touring but sometimes for a few nights away from home visiting family etc the trailer is to much. So we sourced an original rack from England and fitted an aftermarket topcase. Gives us ample room for clothing changes, camera, cooler bag for drinks etc,
    They are the only non standard items on the bike except for the trailer wiring and towbar.
    I have replaced the windscreen for a 10cm taller one. Air pressure on top of helmet was a liitle excessive. Replaced after the screen had become all most unusable through heat damage. Replaced seat for a gel one when the upholstery cracked to much due to heat damage.
    Nearly forgot, I’ve added two small driving lights for the times that I have no choice but to ride at night on the open road.
    I can’t see myself getting another bike for a while yet so an electronic cruise control might be the next option on the list rather than the vista-cruise I use now.
    I don’t need a radio or cd player çause I have a phone which doubles as a media player as well.
    I have tried to keep my bike as near to original as possible.

  • I’m with Dakez and Malcom. All that electronic crap is nonsense on a bike.I have a GPS in my truck(truckdriver for my job) which I use religiously,but refuse to use it on the motorcycle.No music either.Enjoy the sounds around you.
    I have a bag that I carry a tire plug kit and air pump from cyclepump a few tools and my cameras.
    I do mount a GoPro camera on it from time to time to make a video.

    “You don’t need a GPS to discover America.You need a bike and you need the road.”

  • I was going all out on my ZG1000 w/GPS, bags, rack, Pelican Case, larger windshield…great for touring but a bit too much for everyday. I bought a ZG1400, put on GPS, and have a larger windshield & saddlebags but now I ride without all that, less to worry about, less to go wrong. When I need the extra capacity & GPS, its 2 minutes and its on. The only thing I carry in my backpack besides lunch is my nifty bike cover that slips on like a bikini. and covers the essentials to keep the sun/bugs/dust off of it.

  • I ride a little Nighthawk CB250. Great transportation and great for fun trips. It hass only one modification: a power cord for heated riding gear. Due to my Raynaud’s I cannot ride if I get chilled… hands go completely numb until several hours after I warm up. With the heated liner I have ridden into the lower 30’s. I think that any other “farkles” are totally unnecessary and makes the bike look downright silly. The upside is that when I laid down my CB350 last week I didn’t damage any accessories or scratch up any fru-fru chrome!

  • My life is complicated, but my biking is simple. I only have the bare essentials. When I get on the bike, I want to leave it all behind, not take it with me.

    That being said, some of the gadgets out there are very, very tempting…

  • I love my GPS. I set it to “return home” and they ride away from home until the “time of arrival” equals the time I have to be home. Then I turn around and follow the route home..

  • Hi Guys,
    I have really liked what i’ve seen in your raw, No B.S. evaluations. Keep it up Boys (and Girl)
    Kindest regards,
    Poppa Jack

  • OK…guilty as charged! I have likely spent more on my HD Classic and Honda GW than I have on all the cars I’ve ever owned. But I do so with a smile as I add a GPS; RAM camera mount; LED lights; modulating brake lights; bluetooth remote; extended mirrors; Aux front and rear lighting; airhawk cushions; sheepskin covers; extended and replaced handle bars; replaced grips; V&C (HD) and Cobra (GW) pipes; replaced windshield; chrome replacement parts; and hey…I’m not done! The list goes on, including a future custom project for air brushing on both machines. Why? first; comfort second; function third and bling comes in last. While I’m riding I want to be seen and heard…when parked, I’ll know which bike is mine. Do I care what others think of my bike? Not really…this is MY ride; MY choices for changes and an investment in two machines I can truly call my own… and for that, I apologize to no one!

  • I go old school chopper . If it doesn’t make my bike go faster or keep it street legal its not on there . The most I do is my sissy bar and soft saddle bags for storage . I go hardtail , sportster tank , no speedo , tach , blinkers , front brake … . Keep It Simple Stupid ! Me an my two wheels are all I need . Live free and ride . Leave the bullshit for the cagers

  • Travel accessories (NOT really “Farkels”): Hard saddlebags, rear fender luggage rack to carry tent + sleeping bag (took off backseat), AWESOME River Road two-piece tankbag, Memphis Shields quick release windshield, and I’m ready to hit the road and the mountains!!!

    “Farkel” Wishlist: Handlebar speakers + GPS (but I think I’ll keep GPS tucked away and use it only when needed).

  • I have a tank bag, tank pad, saddles, Crampbuster. Thanking about adding a GPS bracket on handle bar and a girl on back seat.

  • I like storage gear. Saddlebags, tank bags, and different size bags for the luggage rack. I’ve got gear I don’t use anymore sitting in the garage. I’ve got storage gear I only use now and then. BUT, my bike always has some amount of storage capacity.

  • Hmmm… Let me see… I ride a 2008 Yamaha 1300 V-Star Tourer and it is beautifully adorned with a cup holder. My boyfriend and I have the Sena Dual Bike to Bike communicators but I would hardly call those Farkles 🙂


  • While I LOVE my bike, LOVE to ride and most defiantly have been bitten repeatedly by the Motorcycle bug I do NOT suffer from the Farkle Disease.

    I am a Minimalist when it comes to riding.

    I am Anti-GPS (when mounted on the bars) as I think it is a distraction and gets far too many riders in trouble. If you think you need a GPS then leave it in the Tank Bag and pull it out if you think you are lost. Me? I like being lost. It adds to the adventure.

    I am Anti-music because I want the Word and the sound of the engine to be my song.


  • I am one of you. My brother-in-law sent me this article making fun of me as he has a nice and UN-Farkled Speed Triple 1050. My Suzuki on the other hand, is a Farkle, and I am proud to admit it, and it definatley IS NOT A PROBLEM Don.
    If I indeed rode my motorcycle any more than I already do, I would be clocking almost 25K annually. I do not own a car, as I ride this specific Bandit, 12 months a year. I’ll list my farkles and let you all, besides Mr. Don, decide.
    I have: Whistler ‘Cruiseader’ Radar-Detector – Heated Seat and grips – Red LED Lighting (a lot of it) – 4 White Strobe-LED’s – A Speedo Tuner – a Headlight Modulator – Custom installed Garage Door Opener, It’s just a button on the upper fairing by the left side controls – A Viper Motorcycle Specific Alarm/Security System (Motorcycle theft increased 65% in our area last November) – Cardo Systems Q2 Bluetooth Communication system – A Digital Oil Temp Gauge – I have my Motorola Q9h Global Phone w/ Sirius, GPS, and a sattelite controlled speedometer for acuratley adjusting the above listed Speedo Tuner – Camcorder Mount (or Dumbass Driver Camera Detection System – In the event of my death on my bike, it will be on the 32gb micro SD card inside the color coordinated Samsung SC-MX20 HD High Speed Camera attached to the Left mirror)

    Mr. Don – If I have indeed left something out, please feel free to expand upon my list of said farkles, as I am almost positive, your sister and I cannot remember everything the Bandit has.

    For my fellow Farkle-Friends – If you would like to witness this living farkle, in all it’s farkeling glory, please feel free to farkle on over to the following link. Don’t forget, all above listed farkles, are available for purchase there as well.

    I am going to make a farkle web page one day.


  • I do love my bike!! As its the first (of many bikes I have owned) Thats brand new–or was when I bought it!! Its a 2008 Yammer FJR. I would love to go nuts and shower her with gifts BUT common sence dictated restraint!! So the things I really needed have been added— Tank 1/2 bra– for support (LOL) to protect the paint, Frame sliders, throttle lock for obvious reasons. a larger wind screen and a tail trunk. all for what I think are good reasons!!! The Mink bike cover I admitt was a bit over the top But AS I said She is my first Brand New out of the wrapper— bike and SHE deserves all that I can give!! Think I have a case of farkelitis???

  • I haven’t farkeledup..yet. I’d like a clock and thermometer, throttle lock, and camera mount. I’m not sure, but I may have invented the full face shield helment snorkel! Cuts way down on helmet fog. Could be the next big thing.

  • My best option on my Ducati is the throttle lock. On long trips it is important to let me flex my right wrist now and then. All other features are nice to have,,,,, like the intercom etc. When running fast it is nice to talk to your bike mate to let them know what is going on. I agree, if you need more, get a car.

  • I’ve only added safety or comfort features to my Heritage Softail, but my daughter has a camera mount for the handlebars that I used on my Sporty once. You can take pix as you motor around, and it lets you swivel the camera for different angle shots. My comfort feature has been a new saddle & highway pegs for the engine bars. Safety–I had the dealer convert the blinkers to running/brake lights. Safety is my main concern.

  • i would love to buy toys for my vtx 1300 t but i have to limit what i want due to cost there are only a few things i really need a gear indicator ,tire gage indicator ,louder horn,g p s ,lugguge rack ,radio and speaker o my god i am one of you

  • Farkles R Us is what most Goldwing riders should be called..(I am one of those)

    But thankfully most of our farkles are built right into the standard motorcycle so they are least integrated, and not “add-on”. However I do have a few extra’s I really like…GPS, mp3 layer, cup holder for large drinks, helmet hook pin, and camera mount are a few of the extras mounted to the handlebars.

    The built in am fm stereo and cb are nice on the long trips.
    I wish the cruise control was a bt more accurate..the surging up an down that 1 MPH is maddening when I am figuring out my eta and fuel stops every 200 miles….

    Farkle away..Safety chrome is extra!

  • I call this syndrome, “J.C. Whitney ‘ itis”. This condition can lean to dead batteries, mysterious electrical shorts, and higher repair bills do to the fact that a mechanic needs to un-do most of these back yard accessory installations before he can figure out what is wrong with the bike when it comes in for repair.

  • I LOVE my handlebar clock! Push button for night illumination. I don’t have to worry about being late for something, has eliminated all rushing! And of course I’d feel naked without my handlebar fringe! But really those are my only two farkles. Your cure is correct! I’ve always said people who play/look/shine/accessorize their bikes too much don’t ride enough. I’ve ridden 12,000 mi this year. I’d much rather ride it than look at it!

  • Hi. My name is Daryl Martinez (Spanky) and I am a farkler. (Everyone: “Welcome Spanky!”) The mighty ’08 KLR-650 is a bit anemic when it comes to amenities and does require a bit of farkling. Remember the movie “Needful Things?’ Those are my farkles. Nerf bars, new unheated grips, GPS, I got a Garmin Csx-60…although I am a much better map/compass reader, new mirrors, small map/tank bag and a medi
    um MotoFizz tail bag. Hardly flashy farkling! I have seen some bikes that your first though is…where the heck are the handlebars. As long as it does not distract from our primary mission…SAFELY having fun…Farkle away…I say!

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