Do You Really Need Electronics on Motorcycles? by Mike Taylor

Welcome to Thoughts from the Road. Here’s Mike Taylor on if you really need electronics on motorcycles…  

Motorcycle Travel Lo Manthang Mustang Nepal
Fully laden with electronics or back to basics?
Picture of By Mike Taylor

By Mike Taylor

Motorcycle tourer and traveller

Mike’s seriously knowledgeable on Scotland and has been running tours there for the last 15 years. He also knows his way round Europe, goes on holiday too much, is a beer enthusiast and hordes motorcycles.

Mike runs a motorcycle touring company in Scotland. If you fancy a guided tour or need some help planning the perfect route, get in touch with him at

And you can find more of Mike’s articles on Mad or Nomad on the Contributor page.

Motorcycle electronics and why you don't need them

Picture the scene. You’re riding along one of the most scenic, amazing roads you’ve ever been on. It’s sublime. You feel one with the world. Zen like. You know what would make it better? A phone call from some scammer inquiring about your computer security.

You don’t agree? Me neither. It baffles me that there are so many questions on social media from poor souls who actually WANT to connect their phones to their bikes. “But it makes great GPS!” I hear you cry, well it can do, until Google maps gets you stuck in some town after trying to save 40 seconds on your 700-mile blast to the Alps because it didn’t realise you could filter through the traffic it was “helping” you avoid.

This takes me on to my next bugbear. Keyless systems. You see, it’s not actually keyless. You always need a key for something – be it opening a pannier or something. The thing I like about keys is that they are reliable. You always know where they are as they have an almost custom designed storage system, the ignition! You can turn the key and push the bike down a hill to bump start it, yes, even modern fuel injected bikes (you might just need a bigger hill). I have first-hand experience with this after helping someone bump start their bike after they had left their Bluetooth system on and flattened their battery.

Much of this stuff is not even optional anymore. Take Honda’s Africa Twin for example. Apple Car play comes as standard but a centre stand is optional. Phenomenal idea for an adventure bike, especially one that falls off its side stand with a flat rear tyre.

Try fixing a puncture with Crapple Car play rather than a centre stand. Don’t get me wrong, stuff like ABS and even traction control are great safety nets to have, but as soon as people begin to rely on them it’s a bad thing.

Many riders these days can’t even down change properly without the aid of an auto blipper. Yes, I’m sure saving 2.7 seconds on your four-week bike trip is important, but I can change gear quick enough. If you want an electronic package on your bike then that’s up to you, but I think it should always be an option that you can pay extra to get, not something built into the price.

Mike Taylor

Is your bike packed with gizmos and your helmet full of speakers? Or do you prefer to ride in peace and rely on your own riding skills? Let us know in the comments below. 

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Thanks for checking out this Thoughts from the Road column. We hope you enjoyed it! Here’s a few more articles on motorcycle electronics that we recommend you read next. 

7 thoughts on “Do You Really Need Electronics on Motorcycles? by Mike Taylor”

  1. Hi Mike, you are spot on ! People are generally a bit dismissive of my RE Himalayan….but it’s a 2 wheel land rover that I and others can fix without a complicated German IT diagnostics system and that’s why it’s the right bike for my forthcoming African adventure. 👍

    • Hey Jackie,
      That’s awesome to hear you’re off to Africa on your Royal Enfield Himalayan! Where abouts are you heading?
      And I couldn’t agree more – with Mike and yourself.
      I love the Himalayan, have done two big trips on it now (one through north India and one through north Nepal to Lo Manthang and it was the perfect bike for those trips. Easy to handle, ride, maintain and kept a smile on my face. Anything bigger and/or more complicated and if things went sideways I would have just been completely stuck.
      Enjoy your trip!

  2. Hi Andy,
    We are planning on 3 months in each of the southern African countries, going up to Uganda and Rwanda then back down to Tanzania to ship across to Oman and then ride back via Saudi, Jordan, Israel and back into Greece. The details are fuzzy but that’s ok…life is all so planned that for once we just want to see how it pans out. We have hugely appreciated your website, it’s been one of our go to resources for the last 3 years 👍 I hope things are all good with you and Alissa and your plans to get back on the road are going well! Cheers Jackie

    • Hi Jackie,
      Wow, sounds brilliant! What a trip!
      And I love your thinking – nicely said 🙂
      Oh! Thank you, that’s very kind of you to say and I’m glad it has helped.
      Yeah, plans are moving ahead – hopefully by the end of this month (fingers crossed).
      Maybe see you on the road someday, thanks again and please keep in touch!

  3. Wow
    I’m glad that Google show me this post.
    I thought that I was losing my mind as the only one that think like this, seeing the advertisement this days on electronic as a must have or you will no how to ride without it… when I love to manage the eco, the sports, all about the right wrist.
    Love to use papel maps, to show me options and that I can see the big picture.
    Cheers from Portugal

    • Hi Sergio, thanks for your comment and I’m glad to hear you liked Mike’s column!
      You’re definitely not the only one who thinks this way!
      And it’s interesting to read what you wrote about paper maps too – you might find Sam Manicom’s column on Paper Maps vs Sat Navs interesting as well 🙂


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