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Archive for the ‘Motorcycle Gear Articles’ Category

We’ve talked a few months ago about a new technology helmet coming from Russia, the Livemap helmet. But in the mean time, several other companies have announced the design of these kind of high-tech helmets.

One of the latest is from California and is called Skully Helmets. Skully Helmets, like Livemap, is stuffed with technologies; Heads Up Display, GPS, 180° video camera, Bluetooth connection, etc. (but it’s not limited to Skully; Nuviz, BikeHUD and even Reevu)

Skully Helmet

Skully Helmet

Jetfighter HUD

Jetfighter HUD

The technology used is what you will keep seeing, either integrated inside the helmet, or standalone like Google Glass. The idea is to provide essential information to the rider without overloading the biker.

Safety-wise it’s a double edge sword; the technology allows the rider to receive important information, like telemetry data (speed, revs, temperature, etc), navigation instructions (GPS), road & traffic data and other information without their eyes leaving the road. It’s safer since the rider can concentrate on the road and traffic.

But on the downside is the fact that there is more and more information given to the rider, with is not only a distraction but also an information overload. And furthermore, developers will not stop there. What about that important email from your boss? Shouldn’t that be displayed as well? Or the latest stock prices?

It is one of the reasons that Google Glass has been forbidden to be used while driving almost everywhere in the world.

So on one side, it’s handy to have a Robocop-like helmet, but on the other side, it the development is not strictly controlled, it will become a danger.

Robocop

Robocop

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When the weather gets cold, really cold, and the snow is on the ground, most of even the hardest of hardcore bikers will leave their motorcycles in the garage. Only a very few will go out in winter conditions on their motorcycle; some because of their passionate love for riding a motorcycle, some because they have no choice.

Heated-LinerBut whether you ride in the winter or not, the advantages of owning heated jackets (and even trousers and gloves) has advantages that many have not considered.

First of all, if you do decide to ride in the winter, you really need to keep very warm. If your body cools down, you are going to lose your focus and when you do, you are going to have an accident. Wrapping yourself up in layers of clothing is good, but probably not sufficient. Read these articles (part 1, part 2, part 3) we wrote about winter riding to find out more.

Putting on electrically heated clothing is going to make you feel very comfortable. So if you are planning to ride in the winter, plan to get some heated jackets at least. There are male and female versions. Heated gloves are going to be pretty much in demand as well.

An Advantage You Will Not Have Thought Of

But there is another advantage of owning heated clothing you probably will not have thought of. And that is to use it when driving your car!

snow-car

When your car sits outside in the cold, and you arrive in the morning to drive to work, all shivering, you start your car and put on the heater. Then you drive off, and all the time you wait for the heater to get to a proper temperature. And this takes quite some time, and then when you’ve reached a proper and cozy temperature, you’re probably already close to work, and your windows are fogged up.

If you put on an electrically heated liner for example under your coat, plug it in when you enter your car, you’ll find that the heat builds up almost instantaneously. So you will be warm and cozy even before you drive out of your street.

The other advantages are that your windows will not fog up and you use less power to heat your liner (and maybe gloves) than your conventional heater. Motorcycle heated clothing are made to be used on motorcycles where there is less power than in a car, so electrical consumption is far less, so you use less gas.

So now you can drive your car in the winter while feeling nice and warm, all by using your heated motorcycle clothing.

Be ecological, and use a heated motorcycle jacket in the car.

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At the Italian Eicma motorcycle exhibition, the world’s largest, Bell helmets made quite a splash with its recently announced Bullitt helmet. More and more motorcycles are being produced nowadays that have that retro look; the shape and design of yesteryears but with modern technology, so it goes without saying that the same fashion should come to our helmets.

Bell Bullitt Helmet

Bell Bullitt Helmet

The Bullitt helmet looks very much like an old fashion helmet, dating back a couple of decades ago. With a bubble visor, you in fact get more breathing room, so on its own, not a bad idea. But it is only the exterior that looks “old”; the helmet itself is high tech and fully DOT certified.

The shell is made out of a fiber composite, the inside is removable and washable, there are 5 air intake vents and the inside has precut areas for loudspeakers for those of you who want to install a Bluetooth communication kit.

Bell Bullitt Helmet with no visor

Bell Bullitt Helmet with no visor

And to make matter even easier, you can remove the visor and place goggles. Now how looks like Steve McQueen? Or just ride around with your sunglasses.

The helmet weighs 1400 grams, and three colors will be offered (metallic blue, matte black and cream/red).

The Bullitt helmet will be available next year in March 2014 and should cost around $399.

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This is part 2 of interesting products that were shown at the Italian Eicma motorcycle exhibition this month. If you missed part 1, click here.

Isotta

Italian Isotta make something that will allow you to stay reasonably dry on a scooter and even a motorcycle.

Isotta rain cover

Isotta rain cover

The cover is fixed to your wind shield, and extends to the rear. This allows you to be dry and away from wind turbulence.

They even had a version for bicycles.

NoNoise

NoNoise is a new Dutch company that makes different ear plugs to stop noise while riding your motorcycle.

NoNoise-1

The silicon-free ear plugs have been built to last, and inside the ear plug is a ceramic filter. It is this filter that remove the rumble of your bike while riding, but allows you to listen to your Bluetooth headset, music and traffic. So it is safe to use, and it remove the fuzzy-head syndrome after a ride.

NoNoise-2

The also have different types of earplugs, depending on use: sleeping, swimming, shooting etc.

The ear plugs are delivered in a nice metal canister that is easy to take with you and allows you to keep the ear plugs clean. They have recently signed up an American distributor, so expect to see them in stores shortly.

Sidi

Sidi showed their recently announced Crossfire2 motorcycle boots. These boots can be adapted to different feet and usage:

Sidi Crossfire2

Sidi Crossfire2

The soles can be changed, depending on how you are going to use the boots; motocross, enduro, supermotard, etc.

Sidi Crossfire2 straps

Sidi Crossfire2 straps

The straps are changeable as well, allowing the boots to be adapted to any type of foot characteristics. No matter what you foot looks like, you can change the straps to your liking.

Sidi Crossfire2

Sidi Crossfire2

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Despite the English name, the famous helmet brand named “Shark” is a French brand and has been in operation for some 25 years, so no fly-by-night. This innovative brand is now available at Jafrum.com.

Shark is very active in motor sports, supplying helmets for the road racing, motocross, rally and endurance categories. The names of famous racers adorn their trophy cupboard; big names like Tom Sykes, Alex Espargaro, Carl Fogarty, Troy Corser, Scott Redding, Stefan Bradl, Cyril Despres, and the list goes on and on.

A lot of the development done in the racing world finds its way to consumer helmets and it shows. Many Shark helmets are high tech with an innovative design. Easy to use, light, comfortable and most important, safe. All helmets are approved by world’s safety agencies, and the helmets have all received 4 or 5 stars in the Sharp helmet safety rating.

Shark has four main helmet ‘divisions’. Each division has its own style and use:

Shark Racing

Shark-Racing

This is the helmet used for racing. They are top-end helmets developed with professional racers like WSBK racer Sylvian Guintoli. Helmets that you can buy, some even as replicas of the racer’s helmet. These helmets use the latest technology, like the Race-R Pro Carbon helmet.

Shark Pulse

Shark-Pulse

These helmets have been developed by Shark’s R&D department for areas like stunt riding or just plain street riding. All have been made to be very light and comfortable.

Shark Discovery

Shark-Discovery

The Discovery division looks after helmets meant for long distance riding. The helmets have been developed with assistance of one of world’s leading movie stuntmen, Jean-Pierre Goy. Helmets are light, comfortable for long distances, and used off-road. The modular helmet Evoline series3 is very popular thanks to its innovative design.

Shark Metro

Shark-Metro

Shark RAW

Shark RAW

These helmets are designed for clean looks, used in the city. This is where you will find open face helmets and helmets used predominantly by scooter riders in the city. The Shark Raw helmet has caught the fancy of many riders recently.

Depending on the usage, Shark uses many different technologies inside their helmets. You will find helmets made out of carbon fiber, helmets with air pumps or with Shark’s own built-in wireless communication system, Shark Tooth.

Click here to see the full line of Shark Helmets available at Jafrum.com.

You won’t believe this epic commercial by none other than Shark! Enjoy

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The Italian Eicma exhibition is well over now, but there are some new things that have been shown that merit our attention.

Our roving reporter discovered some interesting new items, some that may or may not appear in our stores.

This is part 1 of the series of interesting new things appearing at Eicma.

Acerbis

Italian Acerbis showed an interesting motorcycle jacket that promotes our safety at night. As you can see from the animated gif photo below, the jacket has several LED strips built in to the jacket (sides, rear and front).

Acerbis High-LED jacket

Acerbis High-LED jacket

The LEDs have a low battery usage, and at night you can see the LED, but they are not strong. The animated gif was taken in full light, so you can not see how strong the lights are, but you get the message.

The jacket is called “High-LED” and is made out of Nylon Polyamide with Oxford 1680D reinforcements. It has a removable interior and EVA back protector

Airoh

Airoh helmets showed a different technology for motorcycle helmets to keep our cool during hot weather. They have a new visor system that reflects heat.

In the photo below, the first one you see the visor when it is hit by hot sunlight:

Warm sunlight

Warm sunlight

And in the next photo you see it during normal weather, when even with direct sunlight but not hot, the visor is clear. Obviously the sunlight strength is filtered out of your eyes, but more important, there is less heat coming into your helmet.

Not warm sunlight

Not warm sunlight

The visor has been approved in Europe for use on motorcycles.

D3O

We’ve already talked about the wonder material from D3O (click here to read it). It is light, extremely shock absorbant and it’s even high-tech. D3O have adapted their materials to the new protection requirement, EN1621-2.

D3O King Cobra

D3O King Cobra

The Cobra series are available for protection level 1 or 2. As you can see it is quite thin (22.5 mm) and will withstand crashes in all kinds of weather and temperatures.

D3O Cobra Pro

D3O Cobra Pro

The ultimate protection is called King Cobra, a level 2 protection for your back. The Cobra Pro featured here is level 2 as well.

GPA

French helmet maker GPA showed a Lacoste helmet. This is probably the ultimate helmet for fashion conscious bikers.

GPA Lacoste

GPA Lacoste

You can not imagine riding your Vespa scooter, dressed in your Dior or Armani clothes without this Lacoste helmet. It just wouldn’t look right.

GPA Lacoste

GPA Lacoste

More on Eicma shortly.

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Eicma in Milan, Italy is world’s biggest motorcycle expo & show, with thousands of companies showing off their latest products. At the 2013 Eicma, one of the manufacturers that showed some new products was Xena, the company that makes some of the more interesting and high-tech locks for motorcycles and scooters.

Xena-Eicma-2013-01

Xena-Eicma-2013-06One of their latest products is a “Ground Anchor”. The Ground Anchor is used by drilling a hole in your garage floor (presuming it is concrete), turning in the rod, and when finished, hitting the end with a hammer. That seals the rod into the ground, making it almost impossible to remove, unless you’ve got a JCB or jackhammer.

On the rod gets mounted a cap onto which you can hook up a solid metal chain and lock (see the last item here). The cap folds down so you can ride over it safely.

Xena-Eicma-2013-02

What is interesting with this Ground Anchor is that compared with its competition, the cap turns on itself. This means you do not need to put stress on the lock or chain when placing it onto the cap. No matter at what angle you park your scooter or motorcycle (or even bicycle), it is going to be easy to place the lock & chain. No turning big metal chain to fit the opening.

Xena-Eicma-2013-03

Xena have also added many more colors to their existing alarm disc locks. Now you can color match the lock with your bike’s colors.

Xena-Eicma-2013-04

Another change made to the existing locks is the key. Previous versions of the key were in a “S” shape which allowed people to jam stuff into the lock making it difficult to open. The new key is “8” shaped and easier to use. Placing the key into the hole is simple, almost self-guiding, and it is more difficult to place junk into the hole, and easier to remove if it has been done.

Xena-Eicma-2013-05

Finally, Xena now have an alarm lock for chains and for the Ground Anchor. This means you can place the Ground Anchor in the ground, and with the lock you have a very loud alarm in case someone still tries to relieve you of your bike.

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When seasons change, you are always faced with the same question; what to wear. Now that summer is fast approaching, or maybe it has already arrived for you, you need to look at what’s in your closet for riding in the summer. I’ve already written about staying cool in hot weather, but not everyone has extreme temperatures (link). Warm weather does mean adapting your motorcycle clothing.

But whatever you wear, you always need to remember the two important rules; 1) stay protected and 2) stay cool. You do want your body to stay cool, but you also want it protected in case of an involuntary “off”.

Scene from the movie "Waking Ted Devine"

Scene from the movie “Waking Ted Devine”

Helmets

Helmets-ColorsThe biggest winner for summer riding are open faced helmets. They allow the maximum of air coming into your face and head, keeping your head cool.

Obviously they do not protect your face in case of close encounters with the tarmac, but for the rest they will protect you.

The best alternative is a modular or flip-up helmet with lots of vents. Or a crossover helmet. Riding without a helmet is foolish, even if it’s just for bug hits.

Jackets

Nowadays most jackets are well aired, even leather ones. But for sure, a leather jacket is warmer than other materials, except for meshed jackets.

Use jackets that have plenty of vents, so that when it gets warmer during your ride, you just open more and more vents. When riding in the evening, you can close your vents.

Make sure that the jacket is abrasion proof. And since it can rain at any moment (maybe not in Death Valley), bring the rain gear. Just in case!

Trousers

Most bikers like wearing jeans, and although normal jeans are strong, they offer no protection whatsoever against impact or road rash. But there are special motorcycle jeans that do protect you. They will have removable armor and often materials like Kevlar.

But make sure the jeans are well aired, i.e., offer good ventilation. You can also buy trousers that are not jeans, like cargo pants, that are protected and well aired.

Shorts, no matter how welcome they are in the warm weather, are really out of the question. Unless of course you like tattooing your skin with asphalt.

Ad from Utah Department of Public Safety

Ad from Utah Department of Public Safety

Shoes

Obviously motorcycle boots are the best choice, but in warm weather, not very practical. If you insist on sneakers, get some that sits strongly around your ankles, like basketball sneakers.

For the sake of air pollution, yours and people around you, make sure your sneakers are well vented. Because taking them off after hours of riding; you know what I mean.

Gloves

When you take an off on your bike, your first instinct is to protect yourself with your hands. It’s a natural and very human reflex, and it’s the reason we need to wear gloves.

You can get gloves that are thin leather, enough to keep your skin intact after the first impact. They don’t cause much heat build up, and will protect your knuckles from those pesky bug hits.

So when riding your motorcycle in the summer, just be cool; wear protective but well aired clothing. Staying in a hospital in the summer is a real downer.

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With the hot days ahead of us, or maybe you are already riding your motorcycle in warm weather, it’s time to think about what hot temperatures do to us, and what we can do about it.

When temperatures get really warm, let’s say anything above 100°F, you need to realize that riding your motorcycle for hours on end, can result in the same dangers as riding intoxicated. Once your body heat increases and stays high, if you don’t hydrate and keep cool, your head will become drowsy and you will not longer be able to focus on traffic and riding. And that is dangerous.

There are a few things you can do about it. The easiest, but definitely the less fun, is to ride only when it’s cooler, like at night. But let’s face it, who wants to do that?

Thor Vapor Hydration Pack

Thor Vapor Hydration Pack

The first thing you got to do is ensure that you are well hydrated. Drink plenty of water (no, beer is of no help, and I’d forget about drinking sugar water like Coke). Plain old tap (or mineral) water and plenty of it. One of the best ways of keeping hydrated is using a hydration pack, also called a camelback. Hydration packs are usually used for off road riding, endurance and even by track racers, but you can use one as well for normal riding. The hotter it gets, the more you need to hydrate yourself.

Instead of buying a jacket with a built-in bladder, just get a backpack hydration pack. Fill it with water, and drink while riding. Easy and you will feel much better suited for riding in hot weather. You will thank me, trust me. You will feel that you can ride for miles, even in extreme hot days.

Now let’s look at what we can do to keep your body cool. One way, an extreme way, is to buy an external device that gets mounted on your motorcycle that blows cold air on your body. In other words, an air-conditioning for motorcycles. Believe it or not, they do exist.

Entrosys airco

Entrosys airco

In Israel, a country that is usually very hot (and I don’t mean political), they are building exactly such a device. Called Entrosys, it’s an airco that sits on your bike and blows cold air inside your jacket. But it’s a very expensive solution, you can’t take a pillion and it can really only be used if you commute everyday through Death Valley.

So if you are not in the market for a portable air-conditioning unit, the next best thing is your jacket. Riding without a jacket is not an option for me, not matter how warm it is. Riding in a t-shirt or with nothing is just inviting problems, and it’s not only the dreaded road rash; what do you think your body is going to say when a bug hits it at 55 mph?

The easy way if you don’t want to end up with multiple jackets is to ensure that when you buy a jacket it has many ventilation slots. One or two slots is not enough. You need a jacket that allows you to open your arm ventilation, two or more ventilation slots in the front and let’s not forget the back. If you don’t have any ventilation in the back, air will not circulate and that is the whole idea. Air should come in the front and exit out the back, cooling you down in the process.

When shopping for a jacket, make sure you get a jacket that is to be used for summer, since they usually have vents. Even multi-season jackets will do, as long as they are okay for riding in the summer. It does mean stripping out the liner and probably the rainproofing layer, but at least you will get fresh air on your body. Wear a t-shirt underneath.

Joe Rocket meshed jacket

Joe Rocket meshed jacket

The ultimate in warm weather gear is a mesh jacket. Mesh jackets are jackets that have tiny holes all over them. They have them in male and female styles. When you put one on, once you start riding it’s like you don’t have a jacket on. You will feel air all over your body, cooling you down in the process. Most of them feel like you’re riding with a jacket.

You can get many types of jackets that are meshed, from full riding jackets with all the protection and visibility you want, to just plain jackets with the minimum of protection.

Take a look at this jacket, it’s the Joe Rocket Reactor 3.0. It’s a leather jacket that is meshed, it’s has armor and reflective stripes. If you look at the photo closely, you’ll see the mesh in the front – lots of little holes.

These meshed (or ventilated) jackets will keep you cool while riding. For the rest, wear sensible shoes (you don’t need socks) and pants. Try not to ride with shorts, unless you don’t mind bug hits and possible road rash.

Now go out and enjoy your ride.

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Time for some riding, and a review of the fabulous Icon Field Armor Stryker Vest. Although I remain quite fanatic about wearing safety gear all the time (the famous ATGATT), I at times feel stifled with my heavy leather jacket, armor, gloves, boots etc. The Top Gear term of Power Ranger comes to mind. For a nice spring ride, with pleasant temperatures, no rain forecasted, a slight wind, there’s nothing more comfortable and easy going than going for a motorcycle ride wearing a hoodie. But if you do fall from your bike, a hoodie is not going to protect you whatsoever. You might as well ride naked.

So what I do is wear some armor under my hoodie (or summer jacket). This way I don’t feel like a giant rubber man but I’m still protected.

Icon Field Armor Stryker Vest

Icon Field Armor Stryker Vest

My armor of choice for this is the above mentioned Icon Stryker Vest. It’s a vest that’s thin enough to slip under your normal street clothing, but with some real protection.

The Stryker vest protects your back and front, and what I love about the product is the liquid metal d3o insert for your back. I love that d3o material since it’s soft, it takes any shape, and when subjected to a sudden impact, it becomes as hard as metal.

IconStrykerVest-back

Mind you, the Stryker Vest is not a t-shirt, so do accept that even under a hoodie it’ll show, but it’s not enormous, and more important, it’s not heavy.

Air flows quite good through the vest, although I’d prefer to have a bit more air since when the sun is hitting you in full force I start to sweat. It’s not a biggie, but it would be nice to have a few more vents.

I can’t tell you about the Stryker protection since I haven’t crashed, and I’m not planning to. If I do, I’ll let you know how I faired.

I do recommend that you complement the vest with some elbow protection, since if you’re going to go down, your elbows will for sure be hit. Try the Icon Stryker Elbow Field Armor.

Have a look at the video below about the Icon Stryker range of protection:

Click here to buy or learn more about the Icon Field Armor Stryker Vest

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Although gasoline prices are playing roller-coaster, up and down, on average there is no doubt fuel prices are increasing. Big bad SUV cars suffer the most but even motorcycles use fuel, and over time this can hurt your bank account.

Many of us bikers need to start paying attention to our fuel consumption. One way is to buy the latest motorcycle, since the newer the bike, the more fuel efficient it will be. Technology is changing and newer technology makes our bikes more fuel efficient. But it’s not enough, we need to change our riding behavior if we want to spend less money at the fuel pump.

Right Hand Reduction

Obviously one of the easiest ways to reduce fuel consumption is to take it easy with your right hand. Don’t accelerate like a dragster, increase throttle very gently. The more you open the throttle, the more fuel you’ll be using.

It’s no fun accelerating slowly, but it’s not fun having to take a second mortgage to pay for gasoline.

Be Switzerland When Possible

Coasting is one very big way of reducing fuel. Coming up to a red light or a stop sign, going down a hill? Pull in the clutch and put your gear in neutral (or just keep the clutch in, though it’s not recommended to do this all the time). Let your bike coast to a stop.

(c) Southbayriders.com

(c) Southbayriders.com

Hypermilling: You can hypermill, though you might feel a bit anxious, just kill the bike by pressing the kill switch. It stops gasoline from getting into the engine. If you’re going down a hill, once you get to the bottom, turn the engine back on. If you arrive at a red light or intersection, wait until you can continue before starting the engine.

This kind of hypermilling does have dangers. If you suddenly need to get yourself out of a jam, you’ll not have the time to start and engage your gears. Also, turning of the electricity means that you’ll no longer have ABS nor linked braking.

Idle Mind Is The Devil’s Playground, But Not With Motorcycles

Never idle your engine. When at a stop light or intersection, kill the engine. The gasoline that is used to start your engine is nothing compared to what is needed to idle.

It will cool down your engine, and a cooler engine is less fuel-efficient than a warmer one, but overall you’ll be using less fuel.

Delated-tirePressure, Pressure, Pressure

Tire pressure is essential. Badly inflated tires will make you ride to the pumps more frequently, and they also represent a danger to you and others.

Buy a tire pressure meter and check your tires regularly, like daily.

A Weighty Matter

Weight on your motorcycle means more fuel is needed to transport everything. Check your top case and dump what you really don’t need.

It would be nice to dump your pillion, but I don’t think that is going to fly.

Let The air Flow

Proper air flow on a bike is essential. If you’re riding a sportsbike, no problem, your body will not catch any wind, but if you’re riding a cruiser or touring bike, you will be upright and therefore catch a maximum of air, slowing down the bike, and therefore using up a lot of fuel. Bend you body forward to minimize aerodynamic drag.

Do you really need those saddle bags? No? Remove them for your trip, they’re only catching wind.

Have you got a jet helmet? Change it for a full face helmet, they are far more aerodynamic.

Be Pulled Is Better Than Push

Dangerous but very good for fuel-economy: ride behind a big 18 wheeler truck. The truck will “suck” you along, like it is pulling you. It’s a trick most car racers use on the circuits, using the car’s draft air in front of them to pull them along, giving them a sudden acceleration. If you stay behind a truck, you will be using up a lot less fuel. But you need to keep a sharp eye for the truck’s lights (hoping that they actually work).

Behind-a-truck

To reduce your fuel consumption, you need to do all those things we bikers love doing. Stop riding the twisties, stop accelerating, don’t gun your engine, etc. No fun, but if money is tight, you’ll not have any other options except walk. Or buy an electric motorcycle.

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If there’s one thing that we use all of the time while riding our motorcycles, it’s the handlebar grips. Grips are indispensable, since without them you might as well have a soapbox cart. Handlebar grips need to be sturdy, allow for a good, if not great, grip, look good and be very comfortable.

A buddy of mine asked some help to put on a Kuryakyn Premium ISO Grip on his Harley Road King Classic. So I decided to use the occasion to review these grips.

Kuryakyn Premium ISO Grip

Kuryakyn Premium ISO Grip

Putting them on was quite easy. Unfasten the screws/bolts that hold the current grip (the housing). The left side is glued on, so you need some patience to get it off (use a razor blade or even a cutter). Once off, put the supplied glue in the new grip and slide in. Simple. 5 minutes maximum.

If you’re not so comfortable in doing this, have a look at the video below. It explains how to put the grip on.

Once installed I set out on my friend’s Harley. I have been on it many times, so I know how it feels. The first thing I noticed is that the Kuryakyn grips are slightly thicker than the stock ones. To be honest, they feel a lot better, and I mean A LOT.

The hand is very comfortable holding these grips, even when holding them in a death grip. But the most important part of these grips is the lack of vibrations! The stock grips transmit the Harley’s engine vibrations to your hand, which will make you tired. The Kuryakyn do not transmit vibrations. Fantastic, great for long distance rides.

Not only do they feel great, and do not make your hands tired, they look great. These are the grips Harley-Davidson should have made in the first place.

If you want to customize your bike, I strongly recommend that this is the first thing you change. Your hands and body will thank you.

Click here to see and buy the Kuryakyn Premium ISO Grips

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The dual-sport, or dual-purpose motorcycles have become very popular since BMW came out of the famous GS motorcycle. Many manufacturers have tried to take a stab at the GS crown, some with success, some less so. But whatever brand motorcycle you ride on and off road, you will need to think about your feet.

If you do ride your dual-purpose bike on the streets and the trails, you’d better think about a good sturdy boot to protect your feet when riding off-road. But you also need to think about walking in those boots, since often we go for walks when we’ve arrived at our destination on our dual-purpose motorcycles.

Gaerne Balance Oiled Boots

Gaerne Balance Oiled Boots

One boot I love that fulfills all the above requirements is the Gaerne Balance Oiled Off-Road Boots. These boots look, feel & perform the business. The brown leather is oiled, meaning it will handle very well in damp and wet conditions.

Mind you, they are not waterproof, so don’t go fly-fishing with them, but if you need to cross a stream or river on your bike, you’ll be ensured that your feet will stay warm & dry.

The soles are made out of gum rubber which enhances your grip on the soil, no matter how much dirt and sand. Even when crossing a river, these soles handle the way they should.

I recently took my BMW R1150GS for a run, and after a good 35 miles riding down the blacktops, we went off-road following a fire lane through a forest and then climbing up a hill. There were two smaller streams to cross. Both the GS and the boots functioned perfectly. The GS may be a pig, heavy and sluggish, but it just keeps on riding. The Gaerne boots are light, much lighter than what they look like. The 3 buckles can be adjusted so they fit perfectly. The boots didn’t move but my feet remained snug and safe. There’s sufficient air to keep the feet comfortable, but just watch it when you remove the boots after a long day, and you are in a small enclosed space. But it’s not as bad as many boots I’ve tried.

After arriving at our destination (I was traveling with 2 others, both on KTM), we stopped for a picnic. We walked for about 500 yards up a hill, and the boots felt comfortable and despite riding through 2 streams (I’m a bit of a chicken, since I ground my feet on the ground to ensure I don’t tip over, the others just ride fast and splash through), my feet remained dry. For the walk, these boots were more than fine, almost like hiking boots.

As boots for riding street and dirt trails, and for walking, they don’t get any better. But mind you, do not think these are motocross boots!!!! They are not. Do not plan to use them in real off-road riding, enduro or motocross. They are not designed for it; your ankles are not protected enough for this kind of riding.

If you are a real dual-purpose rider, these are the boots for you.

Click here to but the Gaerne Balance Oiled Off-Road Boots

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FirstGear Kilimanjaro Jacket

FirstGear Kilimanjaro Jacket

The weather has changed, winter is gone replaced by some sunshine, warmer temperatures, and more important, lots of rain. Riding in the rain can be fun (see previous article) as long as you dress for the part. When you put on your riding gear, you need to ensure that it’s not only warm, but also very rainproof. And to that effect, there is nothing better for all kinds of weather riding than FirstGear’s Kilimanjaro Jacket,a full 3/4 length jacket.

As motorcycle jackets go, this one is difficult to beat. It has become an industry standard.

FirstGearKilimanjaroJacket-bThe Kilimanjaro Jacket is made out of a waterproof but very breathable shell (in contrast with others that use rainproof liners), using nylon materials. To show you that this jacket is meant for rain, it has a rain hood that can easily be worn under your helmet. What that means is that no rain water will drip down your neck from your helmet, something that does happen often enough with other jackets.

The jacket is well protected with the ultimate in biker armor; D3O. This means you really don’t need to worry when hitting the pavement unexpectedly since D3O is a liquid gel that hardens on impact without adding too much weight or bulk.

Another thing I really liked about the FirstGear Kilimanjaro Jacket are the air vents. If the weather gets warm you can open a total of 6 vents allowing fresher air to circulate, cooling down your body.

Another great thing about the jacket is the numerous pockets. As a biker I can never have enough pockets. The many pockets available on the Kilimanjaro have proper all-weather closures so no water can seep into them. Only thing missing IMHO is a sleeve pocket since that is where I keep my credit card and driving license.

If you’re riding in-between seasons, you have a removable thermal liner which keeps you warm when the temperature outside is too cold. If you have got the matching pants, you can zip them up to the jacket, thereby ensuring that no cold air moves through your body.

Review Ride

For the ride, it was very damp and rainy. Temperature was pleasant, around 55-60 but the whole day was rained on by the weather Gods. A perfect day to test the jacket.

Putting on the Kilimanjaro is no problem.Usually you need to squeeze on a motorcycle jacket, but this jacket uses stretch material in the shoulder, arm and elbow areas, making it much easier to put on. With the straps on the bicep and forearm, you adjust the the sleeves to fit your body. With the waist belt, you adjust to your belly. This unique capabilities make the jacket fit you like it was tailored, a very nice experience.

I had put on the rain hood under my helmet, no problem there, and set out for the ride. The ride lasted 1 hour 45 minutes and throughout the ride, my body never felt wet nor cold. The jacket fulfills its promise to 100%.

At one stage, later in the day, temperatures started rising so I opened the back vents, enough to give some cooler air, but not allow water to get inside. A cool back is enough to stay comfortable.

Summary

On the positive side, the Kilimanjaro is heaven. It’s comfortable, it blocks water and cold air, it allows cool air in when it’s warm, it’s not heavy and you can get it in high-visibility colors.

On the downside, the sleeves at the hand are very open & wide. If you are wearing thin gloves, you’ll be getting air and rain inside via the hand, though there is a neoprene closure. It’s not a biggie.

The jacket is an all-round perfect jacket.

Watch the video below for more information.

Click here to buy the FirstGear Kilimanjaro jacket.

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Bell Star Helmet

Bell Star Helmet

I had stayed away from Bell Helmets for a while since their build quality had been dubious, but after hearing a lot of good things about their Star helmet I decided to give it a try. So I went to the shop and borrowed a Bell Star helmet.

When you have it in your hands you notice that it’s a quality product, something that in the past Bell was well known for. At first glance it looked like they got their act together. So let’s see how they stack up.

The Star helmet is a full face helmet which can be bought in one of three colors (black, matte black or metallic silver), I went for the black model. The helmet itself is made out of lightweight TriMatrix Composite material and Kevlar combined with Carbon and Fiberglass making it very strong but also very light (1550 grams). Despite being a full face helmet, it feels very light in your hands, and once you put it on, you can barely feel it.

Putting it on was quite easy. Make sure you pull the straps wide open and slip it on. The cheek pads fit me very fine, but I have read somewhere that you can get different cheek pads in case yours are too tight. I have to say, the fit was very comfortable with very little top pressure.

The helmet has a clear visor, but you can buy different kind of visors, liked a smoked one (and even a photochromatic one). I prefer the clear one. The helmet has the Bell patent pending magnetic strap keeper, which is a magnetic holder for the end of your strap; it might sound like a gadget, but after having been hit by the end of the strap at high speed because it was flapping, I know it’s not. It’s a great idea making the helmet just that touch better. Just “click” the end of the strap onto the buckle holder and it stays in place.

Once I hit the road with the helmet it was time to find out how good it really was. Temperature was high 40’s, pleasant sun and a bit humid. First thing I noticed was that my ears were very comfortable. I hate it when a helmet presses very hard, specially when riding, on my ears. The Bell helmet has a recess for the ears, meaning your ears are not squashed.

Since it was sunny I put on my sunglasses. I had to remove the sunglasses before putting on the helmet, but once I put on the glasses, they fit fine. I have to say there’s a slight pressure on the glasses, but hardly noticeable on the face.

Noise levels, even at high speeds were very good. The helmet is very quite, maybe not the quietest I’ve had, but very quite nevertheless. In fact, it’s quite impressive.

The visor/shield can be set to three positions, something you’ll love when riding in traffic, or when riding on a track. You can set the shield to open a crack to let air in when you are riding in the city or at lower speeds.

Ventilation is no problem whatsoever. You can adjust the air flow giving you exactly what you want. Remember that the Bell Star helmet was born from motorcycle racing so Bell understands airflow and aerodynamics. Ventilation options are plentiful and excellent.

After a 5 hour motorcycle trip, the helmet stayed comfortable (which is not always the case, since things can start hurting or itching) and quite.

Bad points: In fact, I can’t really find one except the price. It’s in the higher price range for motorcycle helmets, but you pay for quality. If you want something that is really good, be prepared to pay a price. On the other hand, the helmet has a 5 year warranty.

Check out the video below for a more detailed explanation about this awesome helmet.

Click here to buy the Bell Star Helmet

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Many people think a battery tender/charger is only of use during the winter months when your motorcycle is hibernating, but I respectively disagree. After any trip, at any time during the year, I’ll plug my bike onto my batter tender. I want to be sure that even if the bike is not used for a few days, that the battery is in perfect working condition. It will not be the first time I roll out one of my motorcycles out of the garage, turn the ignition and all I hear is clicking noises. Dead battery, despite having been on a ride a week ago. It all depends on weather and the state of your battery, so I’m no longer taking any risks.

But, and that’s a big BUT, the most important thing for charging your battery is making sure you’ve got a good, if not great, battery tender. Many people think that by buying a battery tender that trickle charges, your battery is safe. Wrong! A trickle charge keeps sending small amounts of current to the battery, even when it’s fully charged. What happens then, is that the battery starts “cooking”, and that’s the death spell for your battery.

DelTran 12 Volt Battery Tender Plus 1.25 Amp

DelTran 12 Volt Battery Tender Plus 1.25 Amp

My favorite battery charger/tender is the DelTran 12 V Tender Plus 1.25 Amp. Obviously as the title suggests, it’s a 12V charger, so if you’re using one of those 6 V batteries (your bike must be pretty old), then don’t even think about it (a 6V version does exist). The interesting thing about the DelTran is that it compensates charging depending on the ambient temperature. Temperature strongly affects your battery, the colder it is, the worse your batteries behave (that is why electric motorcycles and cars misbehave in freezing climates). When it’s colder, you just need more juice to ensure a 100% charged battery.

The best part of the DelTran is that it doesn’t trickle charger, it switches from full charge to floating charge mode automatically, meaning that when the battery is fully charged, it will send a low level juice to keep the battery fully charged. This method is much better than trickle charging since your battery will never be cooked, and will always be charged at 100%. You can click here to read more about float charging.

One of the other things I like of my DelTran is that when you hook up the charger you don’t get any sparks (okay, I admit, this happens when I use it on my car). My old charger always did that, and it scared the living daylights out of me.

The Tender Plus comes with normal alligator plugs (like what you’d use for a car) but also with a quick & easy access plug-in (a hard-wire you keep connected to your battery, allowing you just plug in the tender). The quick access plug-in is great for motorcycles. Batteries are usually well hidden and would involve removing lots of pieces of motorcycle (like the fuel tank) to get at the battery. With the DelTran Tender Plus, you only need to do it once. Wire the quick access to the battery, and place the extremity of the wire somewhere you can easily reach on your bike (under your saddle, in your front cowling, handlebars, etc). Then all you need to do is plug-in and charge.

To be honest, I love this product. I’ve currently got 3 bikes, and each one has its own DelTran Tender Plus. I never have a problem starting one of the bikes, even if they haven’t been moved for months.

Click here to read more about it, or to buy it.

Here’s a short video explaining a thing or two about the DelTran:

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Let me start with the short review. This is one seriously cool and well thought out backpack. Simply one of the very best backpacks you can use on a motorcycle especially a sportsbike.

So that was the short review. If you’re interested in more, read on.

Ogio No Drag Mach 5

Ogio No Drag Mach 5

The Ogio No Drag Mach 5 Backpack is a very sleek aerodynamic backpack, made for motorcycle riders. Its dimensions are Height: 20.5”, Width: 14.5” and Depth: 7”. So, it’s big but not cumbersome, an ideal size for any type of motorcycle, but specially for sports motorcycles.

The Mach 5 is aerodynamic, meaning you’ll not be pulled when riding, even in a crouched position. I tried it on my Ducati, and honest, you don’t feel any drag whatsoever. Empty, the Mach 5 bag weighs next to nothing, 3.7 lbs (that’s 1.67 kilos for people living in Europe and Asia). But we don’t use backpacks with nothing in them, so this is where the genius of the Ogio come in.

Ogio Storage

Ogio Storage

Storage

The Mach 5 has so much space in special compartments you’d think it would be heavier. There’s a special compartment for a 15” laptop, and the compartment is padded for extra protection. It’s always been a fear of mine that knocks onto the backpack will mess up my precious laptop, but have no fears with the Mach 5. There’s also an equally protected compartment for iPad or other tablets/e-readers, AND a compartment for smartphone.

But the Mach 5 has several other very nicely though out designs; there’s a special protected compartment for helmet visors (how many backpacks can you name that have that?), there’s even a compartment to put your street shoes in. Imagine the comfort of that. You ride up to your office using your motorcycle boots, and at your destination, you put on your street shoes. Very handy!

Ogio Straps

Ogio Straps

Comfort

I have to say, after 6 hours on the road on the Ducati, the backpack was still comfortable. The back is padded so it feels like a soft pillow on your back, and the straps do not bite into your shoulders; they are padded and can be fully adjusted.

The Mach 5 has a handle that is 1) aerodynamic and 2) concealed. At your destination, you can easily get at the handle and carry the pack. You can use the handle to hang up the Mach 5 on a coat rack.

OgioNoDragMach5Backpack-onThe Ogio is rainproof, close even to waterproof. So there’s no worries when it rains. One thing that’s always bothered me with backpacks on motorcycles is the hip belt. They often scratch my fuel tank when in crouched position. The Ogio hip belt can easily be removed, preventing scratching.

Despite being quite big myself, it wasn’t difficult to put the backpack on, and more particular, taking it off. I’ve had easier ones, but I’ve also have far more difficult ones.

Have a look at the video, you’ll be amazed:

You can’t go wrong, except maybe with the price, since it doesn’t come cheap; but quality and well designed products never do.

Click here to buy the Ogio No Drag Mach 5 Backpack (you will not regret it)

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This is part 2 of a long review of the Scala Rider Q2 Pro Helmet Headset, a wireless communication device for motorcycle helmets. Click here to read part 1.

Music
I turned on the iPhone’s music. The Q2 Pro is equipped with the A2DP/AVRCP Bluetooth profiles, meaning you get a very good quality stereo, and it showed. The sound was excellent, close to being in a concert hall. It’s a very enjoyable experience, listening to music while riding. And if your music player doesn’t have Bluetooth, the Q2 Pro has a standard audio jack into which can plug your player.

The advantage of the Q2 Pro is that sound is priority driven, meaning that while you are listening to your favorite music, if your pillion starts talking to you on the intercom, or your riding partner does, or even if your GPS has navigation instructions to give you, the music is interrupted until the other party is finished. Then music is turned back on, and all this is done automatically.

Obviously the same applies to your phone. If someone rings, your music or conversations are interrupted, and you can talk to whoever is calling you. BUT, please pull over to continue your conversation. Talking on the phone while riding is VERY dangerous.

The Q2 Pro is also equipped with a decent FM radio with a RDS function (that’s a feature that bikers love, since if a radio station has different antennas located in geographically parts of the country, the Q2 will select the transmitter with the strongest signal; No need to “dial” the best station, the Q2 does it for you). 6 stations can be pre-programmed, and selecting the station is relatively easy, a question of pressing a button sequence.

Battery
The Q2 Pro battery is slated for a total of 8 hours continuous operations (and 7 days in standby mode). Our experience is more or less that. We did spend most of the day on the road, had lunch, continued riding, and in between we did turn off the units. So we can’t tell you 100% if the 8 hours were met, but if they didn’t, it was close. But do remember that the older the batteries become, the less long they go.

Charging the units takes about 3 hours, so easy and quick.

Scala-Rider-Q2-Pro-3

Summary
The units worked very well as advertised. Sound was crystal clear and loud enough at any speed. The intercom usage was great, even fun. Music was beautiful, the range of notes that can be played through the speakers was very good. It made the riding experience, whether riding with others or solo a more memorable experience. If you’ve never tried riding with music, TRY IT.

The Q2 Pro can be used with other Scala Rider units, which is an advantage; It means if you buy it, you can continue using it even if your friends have upgraded to more advanced Scala Rider units.

On the downside of the Q2 (and other Scala units) is that using the models requires you to memorize button sequences (it does have voice commands, but it’s not very practical). Often it’s not a question of pushing one of the four buttons, but a sequence. And that makes it more difficult when riding, when your brains are focussing on the road, it become difficult to remember what to press.

My suggestion to Scala is make a remote control unit that gets placed on your handlebars (like the Parrot SK4000), or maybe even an application for the smartphone to control the units.

But for the rest, I really liked the Q2 Pro. And for the price, you can a full biker entertainment & communication system. What’s there not to like in that?

Click here to buy the Scala Rider Q2 Pro.

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There’s something to be said about riding your motorcycle with only the sound of your throbbing engine, wind blowing over your helmet and the whistling of the tires on the road. You’re on your own, and nothing and nobody to bother you in the solitude of your ride. But then there are times that you would want to communicate with someone while riding.

Many of us bikers ride with pillions or with other bikers. During the ride we do want to talk to them. For example with your pillion; “do we stop now”, “should we go left here”, etc. Same with your riding buddies: “watch out for that SUV!”, “I’ll wait for you at the gas station”.

There’s also a large population of bikers who like listening to music while riding. Many bikers can blast music through rainproof speakers, but that’s not very friendly towards other people who are sharing the road.

One way of doing all of the above is by using a special headset that gets fitted into your helmet. The unit communicates with other devices, including music players, without any wires. The wireless technology is called Bluetooth, something most modern smartphones are equipped with, and many electronic devices use as standard.

One of the undisputed leaders in the field of biker wireless communications is Scala. They have a range of Bluetooth headsets called “Rider”. For this review, I decided to try out their best selling Q2 Pro model.

Scala Rider Q2 Pro

Scala Rider Q2 Pro

Before you begin using the Scala (or any other manufacturer’s model) you need to install the unit inside your helmet. Most of them are stereo, so you’ll need to fit two (usually very flat) loudspeakers, a microphone (make sure you’re ordering the right one for your type of helmet) and the control unit/battery. For some it’s going to be easy, for others it might be more of a problem.

Test Ride
For the review I went for a ride with Jake, who was on his Harley. He has a similar Scala Rider Q2 Pro fitted in his helmet (NOTE: Bluetooth communications devices will only work with other units from the same manufacturer, not with other ones; you can not mix & match units from different manufacturers).

Both units were paired to each other (pairing is a way to inter-connect units to each other and to other devices, and it basically involves pressing a button sequence), and my Q2 was paired with my iPhone. My iPhone has, obviously, music in its “iPod” part and a TomTom GPS navigator software. All these items can be accessed through the Q2 Pro, including the phone.

Scala Rider Q2 Pro Devices

Scala Rider Q2 Pro Devices

Bike-to-Bike/Intercom
The bike-to-bike communications function is billed to work up to 2300 feet, but that’s the theoretical range, not the real working range. The real range will depend on where you are riding and what the atmospheric conditions are. In our case, when we had an open road with little traffic the range was pretty good, some 1900 feet, which is pretty impressive. In the forests, range dropped to 1300-1500 feet, and in the city we would be lucky with 900 feet. But despite the range being lower than what it’s billed for, it’s still very good. It beats shouting.

Talking to each other is a great way of riding. Sharing the fun is twice the fun. Sound is loud & clear (you can turn the volume up sufficiently), and the communication with Jake, even at the limits of the range, was very good and clear at all times The noise cancellation microphone works very well. Not a single time did the communication channel get opened because of outside noise, something older units suffered from.

An important aspect of Bluetooth communications is that it’s not like the good old CB radio or walkie-talkie days. It’s not one person talking and then saying “over”. The transmission is full duplex, in other words, both parties can talk at the same time.

The Q2 Pro will only handle one intercom; your pillion or your riding partner. If you need to handle multiple bikers, either go for one of the bigger models (and more expensive), or get a Bluetooth equipped walkie-talkie.

That ends part 1 of the review. Click here for Part 2.

Click here for more info on the Scala Rider Q2 Pro.

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Motorcycle boots are as important as motorcycle jackets. Many bikers don’t think so, but in my (humble) opinion, the choice of good boots is as important. When you go unintended off your bike, your back will hit the ground, but so will your feet. If your boots aren’t properly tied to your feet, they’ll come off during the first impact, and then the rest of the trip over the pavement will result in severe asphalt rash on your feet, and possibly broken ankles.

Another thing to keep in mind is when you come at a stop for stop lights or at an intersection, and car can easily drive over your feet. It’s not uncommon, and having boots that are sturdy and protected will save you loads of aggravation.

I decided one day to go for a ride during a bit of rain, since boots should be rain proof. I selected the Alpinestars Alpha Touring WP Boots for the ride. The reason I took these is a) touring boots are supposed to be more comfortable, b) rain proof and c) a low price. Here’s what I saw & felt:

Alpinestars Alpha Touring WP Boots

Alpinestars Alpha Touring WP Boots

The Alpinestars boots are made of different materials; synthetic leather, some rubber-like compound and what appears to be a leather-like plastic. For the price, don’t expect a 100% leather boot.

Putting on the boots

Putting on the boots, in contrast with a few others I’ve tried, is easy. Open the zipper all the way, and there’s ample room to slide your foot in (and out when finished).

The fit is, I have to say, very comfortable. There’s an instep that allows your foot to rest comfortably and still allow enough wiggle room not to feel restrained.

The toe and heel area is reinforced, and you do notice it. No fear that some cager is going to drive their SUV over your foot.

Riding Comfort

Riding was fine. The boot is not totally “air locked”, so it breathes properly (something I determined after removing the boots, it wasn’t smelly). My feet stayed warm, despite the “almost-spring” air not being that warm.

There was occasional drizzle, and the boots stayed dry. There’s a waterproof membrane which prevents water from entering your boots. Possibly if you’re riding in a tropical downpour, you’ll get water coming in, but I suspect that it’ll be more a question of ensuring that your trousers block the top part of the boots. The membrane does the job admirably.

Walking

These boots aren’t really meant for hiking. You can easily walk in them, but if you arrive at your destination and plan to hike, bring hiking shoes. You can walk in the boots for a good 20 to 30 minutes, after that it’ll get uncomfortable (which is a pity).

Another thing I liked were the soles. They handle dirt and oil on the road very well, and don’t slip. I needed to fuel up, and the gas station had fuel on the floor, but the boots did not slip.

The rear part of the boot have a light reflecting strip, which adds some visibility at night from vehicles coming behind you.

Click here to read more about the boots or to buy them.

Have a look at the video below:

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