What the Farkle?

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FARKLE is an acronym for Fancy Accessory Really Kool and Likely Expensive. They are custom items motorcycle enthusiasts install on their bikes. The term is well known among those of us in the sport-touring and long-distance motorcycle communities. To use it in a sentence: A motorcyclist may be in the process of “farkling,” and their completed motorcycle is said to be “all farkled up.”

Though farkles may include accessories, they’re mainly intended to increase the function of a motorcycle and are not to be confused with bling, which is intended to decorate or glamorize.

Recently, I got a good deal on a new Yamaha Super Ténéré that needed to be farkled. I bought it because it’s a proven adventure-touring bike with ABS brakes, traction control and great character. It was also on my short list for quite some time. Within hours of my purchase, major offers of support and exciting news started to roll in!

First, a motorcycle dealership offered to supply a second bike and to service it in support of my quest to ride a million miles to bring attention to multiple sclerosis (MS) and the need for a cure. Then, a pharmaceutical company invited me to join their ambassador program and speak as a patient advocate across the country, which allows me to share my story to inspire others.

A day or two after that the major motorcycle accessory company Twisted Throttle agreed to be the main sponsor of my Endless Road Tour. They’ll provide me with just about every farkle I might possibly need or want. They also offered to promote and spread awareness of my MS mission in the motorcycle community, through their partners, and through their media connections.

I rode my new bike 200 miles the first day to get a sense of what accessories I wanted to add. I already knew I needed a full luggage rack and custom seat. I called Bill Mayer Saddles in Ventura, CA, to let him know that I was sending him the stock seat that came with the bike, so it could be customized to fit my anatomical measurements and preferences. I made a temporary substitute from a piece of plywood and cloth, tying it on the bike with a lonely sock that had been hanging around the garage. Over the week that it took the company to build the part and get it back to me, I rode another 800 miles. When the seat arrived, it was expertly crafted to fit. I’m confident it will allow me to be virtually pain-free during many 18-hour, thousand-mile rides.

In a motorcycle forum, I had asked about adding an auxiliary fuel system to the bike. Ernie Azevedo, a complete stranger to me, offered to build a custom fuel system, which will allow me to double my range. The auxiliary fuel gets plumbed into the stock tank, with a valve to transfer extra fuel after the main tank is depleted.

Next, I got a delivery with handlebar risers, windshield adjusters and GPS brackets. Now I can shift my windshield vertically and horizontally, which changes the airflow and reduces buffeting during long rides.

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This helps me manage changes in weather, temperature and riding conditions. The handlebar risers allow me to have more relaxed arms and better ergonomics, which reduce fatigue. The GPS set up allows me to make late night emergency gas station stops without worrying that my expensive navigation equipment will be snatched while I answer nature’s call. One snowy Friday in April, I rode to Rhode Island after work to meet my title sponsor Twisted Throttle and we got right to work installing the accessories.

Two employees volunteered their time, working with me into the night. We started with mounting luggage racks, saddlebags and a trunk giving me plenty of storage to pack for a week or more on the road. We also added heated grips. Bigger and stronger hand protectors both to keep my hands warm and dry, as well as to protect them from injury during a spill. Mirror extenders give me a better view of what’s behind me. We will soon add engine protection bars on which I’ll have high power LED driving lights to spot critters in the night and additional footrests to stretch out on long rides.

I have a SPOT satellite-tracking device that sends a signal every 10 minutes to assure my family that I am safe while traveling in areas with limited or lack of cellphone service. It can send an SOS signal to authorities or a message if I need medical or mechanical assistance. I have a throttle lock which acts as a primitive cruise control so I can, periodically, rest my hand.

I purchased a very high-end, lightweight, extremely quiet helmet because I realized it is necessary for the hundreds of hours and thousands of miles I will spend this year on the road. The fiberglass command center gives me access to phone, email, messages, weather, traffic, news, music, GPS prompts and radar beeps, all hands free. A tank bag will be electrified with USB ports to charge my phone and cameras while on the road.

During the warmer riding season heat becomes my enemy, but this year I’ll test out the Cool Shirt system, which runs ice cold water through tubes embedded in the shirt, potentially making my heat-induced MS symptoms a thing of the past!

Every farkle was added for safety, protection and comfort. The assistive technology helps me ride longer and farther, despite my weak hand and problems with heat and memory.

Most importantly, each farkle brings me closer to realizing my dream of crisscrossing the country, promoting greater awareness of MS, a condition that affects far too many of us.

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by Paul Pelland

Long Haul Paul

Articles in the Andy Madadian Issue; Senator Harkin — The Deaf President Movemen; Ashley Fiolek — From Pigging Out to Nutrition Classes; Humor — Part II of the “Greek Geek” Adventure; Candida — The Hands She Was Dealt; Derek Paravicini — He’s Got the Keys to the World; Geri Jewell — Next Exit, Joy; Seizure Dog — She Nose When; Long Haul Paul — What the Farkle?; China — Wang Kun Overcoming Obstacles for Art; Sharjah’s — Sheikha Jameela bint Mohammed Al Qasimi; Accountability — Employing People with Disabilities; ANDY — Music + Charity = Millions of Fans; QJMC — Team Quincy Jones Spreading Music’s Roots; Morgan’s Wonderland — An Accessible Fun-der-land; DRLC — The Blame Game in Gun Control ; ABILITY’s Crossword Puzzle; Events and Conferences…

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