Cycle Gadgetry: A Convenience or a Catastrophe-in-the-Making? Part I

//Cycle Gadgetry: A Convenience or a Catastrophe-in-the-Making? Part I

Cycle Gadgetry: A Convenience or a Catastrophe-in-the-Making? Part I

Editor’s Note: Like every other discussion involving motorcycles, there’s always at least two opposing views, and this week’s topic is certainly no exception. In today’s post, we have Bud Milza opining on the total lack of necessity for communications and directional equipment to be installed on bikes. He believes one should be communicating with nature and the road, not the Internet highway. Tomorrow we’ll hear from Jason Hayes who will describe the ease, convenience and comfort that electronics bring to your ride. But first, let it all out, Bud:

Riding the Way the Good Lord Intended — Unplugged

By Bud Milza


Let me start off by saying the opinions expressed in this blog are my own and don’t necessarily reflect the views of J&P Cycles. Now that we’ve got that out of the way, I’m writing today to encourage you to pull the plug on all that electronic communication and entertainment gadgetry on your bike. It’s distracting you from the real purpose of the ride.

I mean, look around. Nowadays, just about everyone has become obsessed with staying connected.  Cell phones have evolved into miniature PCs, allowing their users to do virtually anything they can do from home or the office. Does anyone even use them to talk anymore? Everybody’s pushing buttons to communicate through text messages and email. And now this social programming is creeping into our sacred world of motorcycling.

What’s with the Bluetooth thing?  Apparently, Bluetooth keeps you hella-connected with anyone and anything that could possibly disturb you during your ride. It syncs up to your smartphone to assure that you will never miss a phone call, text message or email while riding.  Have no fear, not a single tweet or Facebook status update will slip through your fingertips with this accessory.  What better way is there to get out and enjoy your ride than by turning your bike into a mobile office?  You tech riders will be happy to know that HP plans to release its first Tour-Pak fax machine — complete with copier and scanner — in the spring of 2011.

And how about intercoms?  These things are now available in setups that not only allow you to communicate from bike-to-bike, but from rider-to-passenger, Why on earth do I need a headset to chat with my chick who’s tucked in tight right behind me? If she’s having trouble hearing me, all I have to do to “communicate” with her is SPEAK A LITTLE LOUDER. When I’m ripping around with my buddies, I find that raising my voice or flashing some hand signals never fails to get my point across. If they’re a little too far away, a twist of the wick works wonders to close the distance between us. I can’t imagine having something so important to discuss that it can’t wait till the next gas stop.  I just don’t get it.

I know I’m starting to sound like Andy Rooney on 60 Minutes, but another thing I just don’t get is these navigation devices. First off, I don’t believe taking your eyes off the road to mash buttons or even glance at this idiot box is exactly safe. Between that and the automated voice barking orders at you, it’s just as much of a distraction as a cell phone is to the drivers who jeopardize your safety.  There are two types of riders who use GPS — those who insist they must remain on the cutting edge of technology in all aspects of their lives, and those who can’t read a map.

The list of gadgets goes on and on, but this is a blog and not book, so I’ll leave it at that.

I consider myself very fortunate to be able to ride almost every day, all year round. It’s my time to disconnect from everything and everyone. Shredding traffic up U.S.-1 every morning gets me pumped. It’s me and my bike versus the cagers and the cops. That’s it, pure and simple, with no distractions. No need for an MP3 player, because the sound of the motor is music to my ears. By the time I pull into the parking lot at work, I’m stoked to be there and ready to get down to business. The fact that I work at the Taj Mahal of motorcycle parts may also have something to do with that, but the ride is a huge factor.

I don’t mean to bash the people who choose to hook up to all this gadgetry. I’d rather use this opportunity to encourage you to disconnect. Leave the comforts of home and the conveniences of your office where they belong. They’ll be there when you return. Lose the drink holder, unplug the electronics and enjoy the ride.

As a wise man named Cochise would say, try doing it “the way it was and still should be.”

About the Author:


  1. Colin Walker January 16, 2011 at 7:50 pm

    As I am doing the four corner run then adding on a Trans Canada, betcha I am going to have a GPS. Yes I will have my tunes on cruising to the Eagles or ripping with ZZ Top.
    Hey, there is a lot of road out there an each of us ride with the freedom we want and the way we want.
    Have some great riding!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  2. Dub Mims January 15, 2011 at 6:16 am

    I’m an adventure rider aka dual-purpose. I’ve ridden thousands of miles on and off-road on my Kawi KLR 650’s. Without a GPS, cross-country adv. riding wouldn’t be near as rewarding nor as safe. If you have ever had to practically disassemble a 400lb. bike to get it up out of a deep ravine, then you know what I’m talking about.

  3. Archie D. January 14, 2011 at 12:20 pm

    I agree that we should all find our way to enjoyment however that may be. to each his (or her) own. Part of riding is doing your own thing with no one telling you how it should be done. enjoy and RIDE SAFE. P.S. The only music I listen to is in my head.

  4. Hogrider January 12, 2011 at 10:45 am

    Listen, Do you hear that? It’s your bike speaking to you. That’s all I hve ever needed when I ride. WHich is every day of the year. Even in Alaska! Studded Trike in Winter. Don’t need any electronics, If I get lost which is not often I see,meet a lot of people, places I would never have seen otherwise. I can read a map. Been thru 8 grades! If I have a rather dificult day ahead I look at map nite before, jot a few major mile stones and or route numbers get up and go! Or I just ride and when I get where I’m headed I’m where I wanted to be!

  5. Jimmy Wright January 12, 2011 at 12:44 am

    Bud, I’m a good case in point. Much engineering, hacking, welding, powdercoating etc. got my TomTom on the bars for a long trip from Chicago to Dundee OR. All packed up to return, ole’ Tommy Boy took me in the opposite direction, into downtown Newberg; “You have arrived at your destination”. Now, I reacquaint myself with the Road Atlas (or one of several ripped-out pages) at gas-up time. But honestly, it’s for each of us to decide if he/she is Jim Bronson or Captain Kirk.

  6. Sumo January 11, 2011 at 5:47 pm

    I mostly agree. However, a GPS is a great thing to have, to get home. Spend all day out riding without the gps on, amd, at the end of the day, use it to find out where you are and get back. I carry my phone with in case of emergencies. I understand, commuting to work and riding to shake off the daily grind are totally different and should be discussed differently.

  7. Houndawg January 11, 2011 at 2:00 pm

    A-Freaken-men Bud!!!

  8. Wayne January 11, 2011 at 4:10 am

    This blog post is silly. Ok, so you don’t need a GPS and the ability to stay in touch when you do your ten-minute ride to the HD dealer on Sunday. But some of us actually use bikes fir transportation. We go to real far-away places and we get off the freeway so it helps to have some guidance on where you’re headed. And we’re gone for long enough that someone may need to contact us.

  9. Paul December 18, 2010 at 6:59 am

    If the writer is wanting to be safe then why is he worried about the cops? I agree with the writer in part II. Just need common sense…

  10. steve szasz December 16, 2010 at 11:17 pm

    the reason i bought an electraglide std and not an ultra is because i don’t need all that stuff. I have an electronic compass i’m always going in the right direction…E W N S that’s my stereo,bluetooth,heated this and that.

  11. Ron December 16, 2010 at 9:56 pm

    hmmm… I agree, mostly.

    I have a 2009 Softail Custom, and it came with enough electronics to make sure the cops don’t get me, and that I don’t run out of gas.

    I did add a GPS because I like to discover different roads. I don’t always follow it, but it keeps me from getting lost, which I have been known to do on occasion.

    One other thing I would like is a stereo, but not for driving though, just for when I’m parked or taking a smoke break. I still believe in LOUD pipes, and that’s ALL you need when you’re riding!

  12. James Rawlinson December 16, 2010 at 8:40 pm

    Well, I guess I have to disagree. I feel having my music while I ride adds to the enjoyment of the ride. having my GPS means that I can plan a route and follow that route, I can explore new territory and have some confidence that I can find a gas station, restaurant or hotel when I need one. I can participate with my chapter of STAR Touring and Riding and serve as a tail-gunner. BTW The US Government taught me to read a map and I am pretty good at it, but have you ever tried to verify directions on a ride? It’s good that we have differing opinions, I applaud the opinion of the writer and hope he can applaud mine.

    I encourage everyone to ride when you can do so safely. and enjoy it in your own way.

  13. Mike December 16, 2010 at 6:19 pm

    i totally and completely agree. the music of the motor and the open road is all i need. gps on a bike = lame. sometimes its best not knowing where your going. as long as your enjoying the ride!

  14. G December 16, 2010 at 5:37 pm

    I concur most of the things are un-needed. I just recently completed a 48 state tour and after getting lost 2 or 3 times going through some of the larger metro areas I broke down and got a GPS. It was very needed. The cost saving in maps and time stopping to read them was well worth it to me. Going through the South West United States; a camel-bak was used for hydration, this was also needed. Just my thoughts.

  15. John December 16, 2010 at 5:21 pm

    Need the drink holder here in the desert. Too far between places to find water.

  16. James December 16, 2010 at 5:15 pm

    Great topic. I agree, the only thing I see in front of me is the road and an oil gauge. No buttons, no gadgets, nada.

  17. saul hernandezenstein December 16, 2010 at 5:10 pm

    i agree other than the cup holder…… i like leaving dunks with a 1/2 a coffee still to drink and when its empty it doubles up as a trash bin for gun wrappers and stuff while im jamming along….

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