An automobile is more than just glass, steel, rubber, plastic, cloth and fuel. To many, it’s a close friend. To others, a respected member of the family. In many households, people lovingly name their cars after gods, goddesses, or famous film stars.
Many people go to the extent of customising their vehicles by decorating them with flashy stickers and other types of add-ons. At times, the affection carries over to the interiors, when owners go all out decking out their vehicles as lavishly as possible. There was a time when one had to make all the upgrades to the paint job, upholstery and the overall cosmetics of their vehicle by sweating away in a workshop for hours, trying to get it right. Now, however, you can buy cars and bikes accessories all online.
Here’s our list of the most useful interior and exterior accessories for cars and bikes.
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Pillow Neck Rest
Pillow neck rests are great if you drive for more than a 100 km a day. They can be fixed to the back of the driver and/or passenger front seat. A pillow neck rest is made out of soft fibre material and should offer firm support to the area behind the neck. The best ones are covered with nylon or a sweat-absorbent material.
Glass Cleaning Tablets
A glass-cleaning tablet is a lot like dry soap powder. All you need to do is to mix it with water, and you have a detergent solution. Normal window shampoos make quite a mess. Glass cleaning tablets are easier to store, and can be used in any weather. They work well on motorcycle headlight covers, helmet visors and rear-view mirrors, too
A fast charger is compatible with most phones that use adaptive charging. This protects your phone from heating up while charging. Car chargers also come with a number of USB slots, so you can charge other gadgets, or plugin a travel adapter with multiple outlets if you have more than one phone. While purchasing one, make sure you go for a branded one. A short-circuit will be disastrous.
Portable Vacuum Cleaner
Portable Vacuum cleaners do a great job of keeping your car’s interiors spic and span. While purchasing one, make sure you get the longest possible power cord and at least two flexible heads. The longer power cords make it easy to reach under the seats and in spaces otherwise inaccessible. Flexible hoses let you clean dust and dirt under your doormats.
An organiser can be fixed to the back of a car seat. It has a number of pockets and zipped attachments where you can store essentials like medicines, water, and emergency rations. It can also be used for storing your documents, and baby supplies– if you like going on long drives with your family.
Tank Bags are a great way to carry all your essentials while on a long bike ride. They come in various shapes and sizes. Depending on your motorcycle, they can be attached magnetically or with straps. While buying tank bags, select something that comes with protective flaps — it protects your tank from scratches while mounting and removing the bags. Tank bags should be big enough to store your helmet and must be waterproof.
Motorcycle Side Bags
Motorcycle side bags are also called saddlebags. They come handy if you’re a long-distance rider. While buying one, make sure you go for a design that has as few straps as possible. Too many straps will run the risk of fouling with the rear wheels. There have been cases when the bags have actually caught fire because of friction due to fouling with the wheels.
Motorcycle Top Cases
If you want to do away with soft motorcycle luggage, a top case is a good idea. A top case is a rigid suitcase that fits firmly on the rear end of a motorcycle. Top cases generally come with their own mounts. Some even have in-built coolers, warmers and lights. They’re quite expensive but are tough, sturdy and weather-proof. You will need practice riding with a top-case, though.
Aftermarket Palm Grips
Holding a motorcycle throttle grip is a technique most overlook. You need to slide your palm to speed up. Most riders, on the other hand, tend to ‘choke’ the grip, hurting their fingers in the process. Thankfully, there are a lot of gel-filled motorcycle palm grips out there that absorb all the force and prevent pain.
Most adventure bikes come factory-fitted with raised handlebars. That’s because the more upright your riding posture, the easier it is to cover long distances. Raised handlebars maintain this upright posture by keeping your elbows at a near-90-degree angle to your torso. This reduces lumbar muscle strain.
Retro-reflective decals look great at night, and also make night drives and ride safer. When the headlights from a vehicle in front of or behind you bounce off a reflective sticker, the retro-reflective properties of the material illuminate it. This increases your visibility to other motorists.
Hazard lights are useful while riding information or when visibility is low. Remember, there’s a much higher chance of being rear-ended than actually smashing into a vehicle in front. Hazard lights are operated by a segment-switched LED controller, so you don’t need to replace your lights. They’re best installed on turn indicators, as they consume the least power.
Magnetic sunshades are lined with a permanent magnetic material that fixes on to the window sill of a car. When fixed firmly, a magnetic sunshade can be used even when the windows are lowered. They’re best used in the rear-side windows, as they also provide privacy and protection from the elements. Some are waterproof, too.
DRLs or Daytime Running Lights make a car stand out during the day and at night. You see, the human eye detects brighter objects faster than dull ones. Hence, a brightly-coloured DRL, if placed appropriately, will make your vehicle easily detectable in the day and at night. DRLs are made out of LED strips and can be used for cars and bikes alike.
Bluetooth Hands-Free Mics
Since answering a phone call, no matter how urgent, is illegal in India, a Bluetooth hands-free device may do the trick. It plugs into the power socket of a car, and when paired with your phone, streams calls and messages through a pair of speakers (from the sound system that comes installed in every car). Some BT devices also come with their own speaker systems and are small enough to be carried home.
Bluetooth speakers are a great way to listen to music while riding a motorcycle. All you need is a mount, which you can either fabricate or purchase online. Mounting them on the tank is the best option. Make sure that the speakers are waterproof and light enough to be carried home. You should also be able to charge them using the portable mobile charger power outlet.
If you have small hands, you may have a problem gripping the steering wheel firmly. Since changing the whole steering wheel is a costly fix, a much cheaper option is to fix grippy steering wheel covers. Good wheel covers are made out of rubber and have ribs and spikes, much like soccer boots. Some are perforated, too. They’re available at most accessory shops, and can also be purchased online.
While accessorising your vehicle, make sure you’re quite clear about what the law says you can and can’t do. Check out the latest amendments to the Motor Vehicle Bill. Generally, any modification that goes over and above manufacturer specs is considered illegal. This means no air horns, no tinted windows (especially the blacked-out ones), oversized wheels, or aftermarket exhausts. While most accessories merely tune up the looks, many turn out to be quite useful. We always recommend function over form.
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