Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Motorcycle Gear Articles’ Category

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.

Read Full Post »

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.

Read Full Post »

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

Read Full Post »

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.

Read Full Post »

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

Read Full Post »

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

Read Full Post »

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.

Read Full Post »

« Newer Posts - Older Posts »

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 234 other followers