If you’ve spent much time around sport-touring or adventure-touring riders, you’ve likely heard a strange term being tossed casually around, typically at rallies or Saturday morning pre-ride coffee. “Farkle.”
You’re a smart cookie though, and have figured out that it seems to refer to motorcycle accessories…but why are some accessories “farkles” and others are just, well, accessories? Or is there even a difference? Allow us to provide this handy and very official-looking definition:
Farkle (n): A modification to a motorcycle that satisfies the following criteria: creates “bling,” serves a purpose (the usefulness of which is in the eyes of the farkler) and is most likely expensive. Often used among touring riders to denote or convey status amongst their peers. Ex: “I picked up a new farkle for my ST today: a GPS-based burger joint locator!” (v): To farkle; to accessorize one’s motorcycle with farkles. Ex: “Boy, John really farkled out his K1300GT; it’s even got a cup holder!”
Legend has it that the word “farkle” was invented by, or at least originated with, a Honda ST1100 owner’s group, as a way to describe the increasingly esoteric accessories that touring riders “needed” for the most comfortable, convenient ride possible. It has alternately been described as a mix of the words “function” and “sparkle,” in reference to the farkle’s stated purpose and tendency to look flashy and/or expensive, and as an acronym: Fancy Accessory, Really Kool, Likely Expensive.
The phenomenon isn’t limited to sport- and adventure-touring riders, of course—most motorcycle subgroups farkle to some extent. They just might not know it! Heated seats or grips, engine heat fans, windscreens/deflectors, GPS units, cup holders, anything that needs a RAM mount to be attached to the bike and auxiliary lights are all good examples of farkles. Elite farklers might even find that they need a supplemental bracket that allows them to mount all of their gadgets, often eliciting envy from fellow farklers.
The truth is, we love our farkles just as much as the next rider. They let us add a personal touch to our machines, and let’s face it, a well-chosen farkle really can make a long trip safer, more enjoyable and more comfortable.
Go check ironbutt.com and you will find endless examples for farkled bikes
Yes! And at least they have a purpose for their farkles.
Is the meaning of “farkle” evolving? This story is the first time I have seen “bling” included in its definition. I’ve been part of the Honda ST universe for many years and have always understood that bling is precisely what a farkle is NOT. ST riders don’t tend to add shiny bits for show to their bikes, but they sure like accessories that add function — and they call those farkles.
Hey Scott! The “bling” refers to the “sparkle” part of farkle. I would also say that not all bling has to be shiny…I think it can also be electronic bling, or just something that makes the bike look nice. Like a cool custom seat with contrasting piping or something. -Jenny
I’m with Bones. I was a member of the ST1100 universe a while back, though I have moved on since. I would agree that the term “farkle” was never intended to add sparkle. In fact, I seem to remember an early definition precluded the application of chrome as any part of the forking process. It’s about pure function. Even rough-cut, homemade “upgrades” would fall firmly in that category, even if they tend to greatly reduce the overall sparkle factor on the bike.
Damn autocorrect. Of course I was not talking about forking.
You guys are taking this silly post very seriously! But I will say that I’ve always understood the word “farkle” to be a combination of function and sparkle…that’s how it came to be what it is. I wasn’t even aware of the acronym until I was doing research for this story. I guess it has evolved over time. -Jenny
I had always heard Farkle to be an amalgamation of Functional and Sparkle. I had not heard the acronym before. Ultimately who cares. Jenny, you keep writing your articles and I’ll keep reading them.
Ride safe, friends. And as Bronson said, “hang in there” (I’m showing my age here) .
As a bona fide member of the ‘Dual Sport’ club, Farkle has mostly implied a mod that makes the bike more ‘yours’, than anything else. And it often includes ‘homemade’ mods, such as the time I discovered an old aluminum coffee pot for camping made a great heat shield for my KLR to protect my saddle bags.
It can anything from minor replacement of crappy OEM bolts to high grade stuff, or complete crash bars and saddle bags.
It isn’t ‘stuff’ as a much as it’s a ‘thing’.
i was at the very st100 owners rally (in update NY) where this term was born. we were standing around the bikes and the term just kinda fell out of someone’s mouth. we all just laughed, but it stuck. love that it’s gone on to have a life in the mc world.
for me, the definition covered anything you added to the bike – the more custom and self-fabricated, the better. at the time, i believe we were discussing some extra lighting brackets and dashboard upgrades a few of us had added.
One needs farkles
Functional Sparkle ? No. You have to go all the way back to the late 60’s to find the “Farkle Family” on Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In TV show. There was a character called “Sparkle Farkle” which is the likely origin.