As the clock inches towards five p.m., I find myself daydreaming about my motorcycle. I remember my angst over how best to improve it with add-ons. Perhaps I can help those who come after me.
Luggage - I agonized over this. I finally got a givi rack and the amotostuff.com topcase rack, two E36N's for sidecase, and a E46N for a topcase. I added a givi backrest to the topcase.
This is a top-notch setup. The cases are built very well, they attach like a bank vault and they look cool. The matte black looks quality, but not flashy. I put my clothes in one 36, my x-box and laptop in the other 36, and bike stuff in the 46 topcase for a recent convention. On another couple trips, I got one 36 and my girlfriend got the other, with bike stuff going in the topcase.
"Bike Stuff" is a slime pump, tire gauge, chain lube, etc, but it is also things we need to get to quickly, such as ski pants, heavier gloves, maps, cameras, phones, money, water, jacket liners, etc. We are big on adding and subtracting layers for maximum comfort, and the 46N is the right size for all of that stuff.
I recommend the amotostuff topcase rack because I actually did need to move the topcase back some, even though my girlfriend is a small person. It is built very well. The 46N with the givi backrest is very solid-feeling and comfortable for my girlfriend, and has tremendously improved her sense of safety.
Seat - you can buy a $400 seat - we use therm-a-rest self-inflating seat pads, plus hook-attaching bungee nets to hold them in place. Total cost - about $40. It works, and gives me another 1" of seat height which fixed my knee problem. Give it a try.
Clothing - We each rock a Frank Thomas Aqua II textile rain jacket. It is good up to about 85 degrees if you keep moving, and good down to the 30's at speed with the liner, maybe lower. My glove options include Fieldsheer spring-weight leather gloves, which are awesome, a $12 set of glove liners, and a set of Alpinestar winter-weight textile gloves. Pants are $35 ski pants from Dick's, over jeans. Not as good as real motorcycle pants, but they are wind and waterproof and good down to the 30's, maybe more. We also have "micro" balaclavas from Dick's, $15. We both wear good hiking shoes with ankle support.
The real key to hand temperature, gloves aside, has been the OEM brushguards - good investment. Plus they look cool.
Windshield - Oh, how I agonized over this one! Finally I went with a Calsci medium. In the high position, the top of the shield was even with the horizon, which was distracting. In the bottom position I see over it quite well, and the difference is amazing. I haven't done a long trip with it yet, but I hope to this weekend!