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Archive for February, 2013

Scorpion-Exo-1000

Scorpion-Exo-1000

It was time for me to try out a new helmet, and the choice quickly fell upon the popular Scorpion EXO 1000 Helmet. I’d read a few reviews, spoken with a few owners and decided this was the helmet to try.

I got my shiny new, and very black, Scorpion helmet but when I put it on, I noticed that it was a bit too “snug”, if not too tight. I used my previous measurements for helmet sizes, but obviously Scorpion’s sizes are different. So back it went, and a few days later I was the happy “owner” of a new, but slightly larger (1 size) Exo 1000 helmet. Note: when ordering the EXO 1000 get one that is 1 size bigger than normal. You’ll thank me for it.

That one, when it went on was a good, if not perfect fit. There are two really good things about this helmet; a) a very good drop down sun visor and b) pump up cheek pads.

But I’m ahead of the review, so let’s good back to the test ride. Weather was nice and sunny, some 71°F, dry. I took a road through a forest through the Tail of the Dragon. The first thing I noticed is that the helmet is quite. There’s very little outside noise, and even wind noise was down to a minimum.

At a later stage I used the air pump. The air pump, an idea used by sneakers a few years back, pumps air into the cheek pads, making the helmet sit much more snug, as tight as you want to make it. Initially I looked at this as a marketing gadget, but it’s far more that. Not only does you helmet fit you to perfection with this feature, I also noticed that it cut down noise even further. I guess it’s because the helmet “vibrates” less due to the snug fit, so it lets less vibration noise into your head. Color me impressed!

The helmet was already snug, but with the air pumps, I have to say, I felt much safer. Helmets should not move when they are on, and this “gadget” makes sure that it doesn’t. It’s like a customizable helmet, made to perfectly fit your head.

The sun visor is heaven sent. Riding through a forest means that you’ll be facing times that it’s dark, followed by times that the forest clears and you’re hit by direct sunlight. Putting on a dark visor is problematic when it’s dark. Same with sunglasses. Now it’s just a question of pushing down the sun visor, or up if it’s dark. Less than a second and you’re dark or clear.

Ventilation was excellent, no problems there. The visor never fogged up, and the head stayed in a perfect temperature.

The only downside for the Scorpion is the weight. This is a heavy helmet (Kevlar and fiberglass), more so than most helmets in the price range. But after an hour of riding, I have to say that it did not feel that heavy. I thought that my neck would feel it, but apparently the aerodynamic flow of the helmet is done in such a way that it doesn’t push down on the neck. Maybe you’ll feel it in city riding with lots of lights and intersections. But for normal riding, no problems.

As helmets go, I can highly recommend this one. You can’t got wrong with the price, nor with the sun visor and air pump cheek pads.

The Scorpion EXO 1000 helmet received top rating at the very strict UK Government test site, Sharp. Click here to read the test results.

To buy the EXO 1000 helmet, click here

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Safety for bikers is something many look for. Helmets, body armor, gloves, special boots, all are items that most would consider normal in a biker’s everyday life.

But for the last few years, airbags have made an entry in the motorcycle world. They started with big motorcycle jackets with incorporated airbags. The first models had a wire attached to the motorcycle, and if the biker left the motorcycle unexpectedly, the wire pulled a CO2 canister that pumped air into the jacket within milliseconds. This way, if the biker was flung from the bike, the body was pretty well protected from impact.

Michelin Man

Michelin Man

The first models were a bit slow, and when the airbag was deployed you looked like the Michelin man. But in recent years, airbag technology evolved. Much of that is thanks to the efforts of MotoGP racers who tested such airbags, and are currently using them when racing.

The first airbag jackets were made by manufacturers who made nothing else than airbag jackets, but soon big names, like Dainese (D-Air series), Alpinestars (Tech Air), Spidi, etc. came into the game.

Now airbag jackets are high-tech. Many of them don’t have a string attached to the bike, but use sophisticated electronics to determine if a biker is leaving the motorcycle unplanned. Of course, it means that there are counter electronics installed on the bike, which communicates with the jacket. And when we say sophisticated electronics, it also means sophisticated price; a big price. The Alpinestars Tech Air Racing Replica 1 cost for example US$2,899.95

Spidi DPS Airbag vest

Spidi DPS Airbag vest

But if you’re not a racer, or not someone who makes full use of open track days, it doesn’t need to be that expensive. If all you’re looking for is some added protection without having to spend a fortune on new jackets, you can buy a vest that is put over your current jacket. So you keep your current jacket, and have the added protection of an airbag.

The technology is still not that cheap that anyone can purchase it, count a couple of 100’s of dollars for a vest. But if you can afford it, what’s the price of safety?

Since more and more manufacturers are now making airbag jackets, the concept is becoming mainstream. In the next few years, prices will become competitive, and most manufacturers will offer airbag models.

Have a look at this video to see how effective the airbag jacket is.

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The last part of the test review of my winter ride is the boots (click here for the Tour Master Synergy 2 review and click here for a review of the Bell Vortex Helmet). Your body temperature must be kept warm, as does your head. But the parts of the body that usually suffers are your feet (and your hands, but that can be solved quickly and reasonably cheaply). Although you can buy heated socks, I decided that those might be too much for 32°F. Maybe for when I visit the North Pole.

I put on my trusty Alpinestars Scout Waterproof Boots. I’ve used them for off-road riding, but it was the first time I used them in the winter. For winter riding you need to not only have boots that are at least waterproof, but also boots that grip well on the ground. When you stop your motorcycle during winter, chances are that the ground at best will be wet, or worse, that there’s ice or snow.

Alpinestars Scout Waterproof Boots

Alpinestars Scout Waterproof Boots

The Alpinestars are made out of leather, but have an inside membrane that is 100% waterproof. So not rain proof; no, much better – waterproof. This means no matter how much water the weather God throws at you, your feet will remain dry (as long as the water doesn’t come in from above).

The ankles are well protected from impact and crashes, and a removable insole helps absorb shocks. However, I’m uncomfortable with the “footbed”, since my feet are high, so I don’t wear it. It’s a question of comfort, and it may work for you, it didn’t for me.

The whole boot is closed with three adjustable buckles.

During the winter ride my feet stayed not only dry, despite there being a lot of wet surfaces, but also warm. I did not feel any cold air, either circulating inside, or from the outside. And that is a good thing, especially in the winter. For boots that are not even billed as winter boots, they do the job very well. Very versatile.

Alpinestars-Scout-Waterproof-Boots-SoleSeveral times I had to stop for traffic lights and intersections while the road was wet and slippery; The boots worked admirably. The sole part is like a Continental TKC-80 off-road tire; heavy studs. The road grip is admirably and safe.

Changing gears was no problem whatsoever. Easy to move, easy to shift.

As boots go, this one is tops. Highly recommendable.

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You’ve probably heard of chicken strips, or maybe you haven’t. Chicken strips is a term used in the motorcycle world for the edge of the motorcycle tires.

Chicken-Strips-1

Each tire when it rolls out of the manufacturing plant has small strips on the side. These strips, depending on the tire type, are the small little cones that stick out of a tire, which can be found on the edge (like in the photo above). Normally speaking, these strips get worn off when you ride, particularly when you use the bike a lot in curves while maintaining a high lean angle. The more you put your knee closer to the road, the less chicken strips will be visible.

Chicken-Strips-2

For other types of tires, particularly sportstires (like the photo above), the chicken strip is the edge of the tire that has not been used, and is therefore still raw.

For many clubs and discussion forums, chicken strips therefore indicate whether you are afraid to take curves aggressively. The less chicken strips you have, the more you are willing to attack a curve.

With many bikers it has become a thing of honor; no chicken strips. So much so that they have started using sandpaper to remove the strips, in other words……. cheating.

Obviously it’s a question of how far you are comfortable in putting your knee down. Never try to outdo your own capability, no matter how many chicken strips you have left on your tires.

Jafrum.com

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Wanna get this poster? Check out this Motorcycle Quotes Poster Giveaway

Motorcycle Quotes Poster

Motorcycle Quotes Poster

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When I went for the test ride of the before mentioned Tour Master Synergy 2 Heated Liner (click here to read the review), I also wanted to test my Bell Vortex Helmet.

The Bell helmet is one of the better helmets that you can buy for a moderate price. Snell and DOT approved, it only weighs 1600 grams thanks to the lightweight composite polycarbonate allow shell.

Bell Vortex Helmet

Bell Vortex Helmet

An important aspect I wanted to test in the cold weather was the air circulation, since when it’s cold outside, my body was being heated by the Tour Master Heated Liner, so you can count on your visor fogging up.

The Bell Vortex helmet has a special area reserved for loudspeakers, and I am using it for my Cardo Scala Rider G9 headset. I just love listening to music while I ride.

When you put on the helmet the first thing you notice is the magnetic strap keeper mechanism. It’s handy, but I’m worried for long usage, but that is something we’ll see over time. But what the strap keeper does is keep the remainder of the strap from flapping in the wind. On its own, a great idea, but time will tell how it holds up.

As mentioned before, the weather was pretty cold, about 32°F, and the Tour Master was doing its job in heating my body.

The collar of the helmet is padded, which means that there’s less cold air entering the helmet from below, and the noise is reduced as well, although I have to say the helmet, for its price, is quite silent. Obviously when you open the air vents, more noise comes in, but when the vents are closed the helmet is surprisingly quite.

I started with the air vents closed, but quickly the heat coming from my body started putting patches of fog on the visor, so I opened up the vents. That not only cleared the visor, although I did have to open the visor once or twice, but the air flow was comfortable over my head. I was afraid it would freeze my brain, but it didn’t and it felt nice. The helmet fit is snug, but that will depend on your own head size and shape.

Noise levels with and without air vents were more than adequate. I was listening to the Cardo Rider built-in FM radio, and had no problems hearing anything. Even with the radio switched on, noise levels are kept to a minimum. Remember, this is a sub-200 dollar helmet!

The one thing I didn’t like about the Bell is its size. It’s bigger than my other helmets and has a problem fitting in the top case. But for the price, I can live with that. On the other hand, you can get many different colored visors and other accessories.

Click here to buy the Bell Vortex Helmet

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MIC-LogoDespite gloomy forecasts last year, the Motorcycle Industry Council (MIC) announced that a very strong sales of new motorcycles and scooters was achieved during 2012 in the USA. An increase of 2.6 percent was gained by the leading 19 manufacturers that the council tracks.

A total of 452,386 motorcycles were sold last year.

Almost half of the motorcycles sold were Harley-Davidson, who saw their growth increase by 6.2% in the USA (and +5.6% abroad).

Harley-Davidson-Showroom-Door

All four main segments of the market grew, a first since 2002. The scooter segment had the best increase, with 7.7%, showing that more and more people are turning to scooters for their daily commute, a lot like what has happened in Europe.

Dual-purpose motorcycles also had a spectacular growth, with 7.4 %. Dual-purpose bikes allow bikers to ride on and off road, an attractive proposition for many.

Off-highway motorcycles, i.e. dirt bikes, grew by 2.1%, while on-highway bikes went up 1.8%. All very positive results showing that more and more Americans are using motorcycles & scooters for fun and work.

MIC compared the number of miles travelled during 2009 and 2003, and the difference is astonishing; during 2009 29 BILLION miles were travelled, an increase of 8 BILLION miles over 2003.

Source: MIC

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