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Archive for the ‘Motorcycle Gear’ Category

WD-40 needs very little introduction to anyone who has something mechanical. Anything that moves needs to be lubricated and motorcycles are no exception. The following illustration is one of a biker’s normal workflow diagrams:

WD-40-Duct-tape

But so far, WD-40 has been used mostly as a lubrication oil. A handy spray-can that allows you to spray a good quality oil somewhere to make things move. But now WD-40 have extended their Specialist care product range to include motorcycles.

The WD-40 Special Motorcycle product range is currently on sale in Europe (I haven’t been able to find it in the USA, yet – but it will come, no doubt about it). The products are:

WD-40-Brake-CleanerBrake Cleaner

This product is designed to quickly remove brake dust, dirt, oil, and brake fluid from brake and clutch systems. The fast working formula dries in minutes and leaves no residue. Regular cleaning helps brake discs and pads last longer.

WD-40-Chain-CleanerChain Cleaner

This product is easy to use and quickly removes dirt, grime, dust and oil from chains. Compatible with O, X and Z ring chains the formula blasts off contaminants and dries in minutes. Regular cleaning helps to reduce wear on the chain to maintain performance for longer.

WD-40-Chain-LubeChain Lube

This product provides lasting lubrication and protection for your chain and is O, X, Z ring compatible. Its exceptional long lasting action makes it particularly suitable for dry conditions. It’s also quick drying and provides outstanding anti-fling properties. Regular use helps maintain the performance and life of your chain.

WD-40-Chain-WaxChain Wax

This product provides lasting lubrication and protection for your chain and is O, X, Z ring compatible. Its exceptional long lasting action makes it particularly suitable for dry conditions. It’s also quick drying and provides outstanding anti-fling properties. Regular use helps maintain the performance and life of your chain.

WD-40-Silicone-ShineSilicone Shine

This product is designed to give an all over great shine to your bike. The fast evaporating formula acts quickly and is easy to apply with no need to buff.

WD-40-Total-WashTotal Wash

This product is an all-purpose cleaner designed to quickly cut through traffic film and road grime. This formula leaves a great finish and is sage to use on paintwork, plastic, rubber, aluminium, chrome, carbon fibre and disc pads – basically all over the bike!

WD-40-Wax-PolishWax & Polish

This product is designed to leave your bike with a deep glossy shine. The formula contains Carnauba Wax, one of the hardest naturally occurring waxes, which provides a wet look finish and long lasting shine. It’s great for repelling water, allowing it to bead off paintwork to maintain a fantastic finish for longer. It’s easy to apply and streak free.

So now you can get a complete set of maintenance fluids for your motorcycle, all from that same dependable company (which turned 60 years this year).

You can find the whole range of WD-40 Special Motorcycle Care product by clicking here.

Is this something you would be interested in, or do you think it’s just a marketing gimmick?

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In the last article we explained about track days and all the preparations to go to one. It’s your chance to find out how fast you really are without running into cars, stoplights and even cops.

Now let’s look at some tips on the actually racing. Most of this you will hear from the circuit professionals, something you will really, really, need to go for. Ask them, since they will show you all the ropes, more than I can ever tell you. Track day training is going to be essential.

But for the mean time, here are a few points.

  1. Before going out, make sure you know what each flag stands for. Know when the track marshals are telling you that there is oil on the track, when the session has been called off, when to stop, etc etc. It’s very important to know all the flags, since it can save your life.Trackday-flags
  2. Have fun out there. You don’t have a career in racing, so have fun. You are not there to race everyone on the circuit. Eventually you will find some other racers whom you can measure yourself against, but don’t try it in the first few sessions.
  3. First few laps, ride behind an experienced racer. They will know when and where to brake, and enter into the corners. This way you get a “feel” for the circuit, and you slowly memorize the layout.
  4. Never, ever, look just in front of your tires. Always look as far ahead as your can, especially in a curve. If you look down in front of you, that is where your bike will go. So look towards the exit of the curve, unless of course you want to inspect the grass and gravel.
  5. When hitting the brakes, remember that most of the work will be done by the front brakes. It’s an 80/20 rule – 80% front and 20% the rest (remember your body can also slow down your bike, so not only your rear is in the 20%).
  6. If you do run off the track, do not use your front brakes. When you are still at speed, keep straight and slowly use your rear brakes to slow down. If you are still going too fast and heading for the crash barriers, get off your bike. You will stop faster than your bike.
  7. If you do go back to the pits, make sure the other riders know this, or even when you are slowing down. Race your arm, signaling that you are slowing down. This will prevent another riders from slamming into you.
  8. Don’t over do it. Know you limits, and slowly start improving them. Just because Nicky Hayden was riding in front of you and managed to take that curve at 150 mph, doesn’t mean you can. Do not ride outside your limits. It’s going to take time and practice.
  9. Slowly start lowering your body alongside the bike in the corners. Don’t worry if you can’t put your knee down yet. It takes time and practice to be comfortable doing this. Move your center of gravity (CoG) more and more to the inside of the curve.
  10. When going out on the first laps, take it slow to warm up the tires. Be safe and take two laps making sure the tires have reached perfect temperature, but when you do, keep looking behind you since other racers will already be in their fast laps, and you don’t want to “mingle” with them.
  11. Relax! Racing is about being relaxed. If you stiffen up, you will not be racing smoothly, and therefore you will not be racing at all. More likely, you will be crashing a lot. Just relax, breath going into the corners through the nose, breath out when exiting through the mouth. This way you get a good rhythm going, and you will not fog up your visor.
  12. Oh, and if you think you’ll look cool doing that winner’s wheelie, think again. You’ll find that the circuit will ask you to leave.
  13. When you are part of a novice group, and the seasoned riders are on the track, go and look how they are doing it and learn from them. Talk to them when not riding, and ask for advice. You’ll find that most of them will help you if they can.

Trackday-3

So now you are ready to go and play on the tracks. Remember, it’s for fun. You will learn a lot, and gain more skills in riding your motorcycle in day-to-day traffic in the city. And you will finally find out in a safe way how fast you really are. And that is what it’s all about.

Have fun.

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Once you have got your motorcycle, you will want to find out how quick it, and you, is. If you have a sportsbike, chances are it’s very fast, and trying it on the streets is not the way to find out. You will probably find out what the inside of a hospital or morgue looks like before finding out how fast you are. The smart thing to do is race your motorcycle on a circuit. And for that, you don’t need to be a Nicky Hayden: anyone can try their skills on a race circuit. Most circuits have track days, days that the race tracks are open to the general public. Click here for a list of many track day organizers.

Find a race track close to you and call them, or check their web site. Track days are usually during the week, since weekends are for races. It’s not going to be cheap, count about $100 per day and that is just for the privilege of riding on the track.

Trackday-1

Instruction

Most circuits will have professional racers available to show you the ropes. They will take you around the track to show you where you need to watch out, when to hit the brakes, where to take your curve etc. It’s a bit like tennis courts of golf links; it’s the circuit pro who knows the track inside out. Pay attention, any advice they give is going to be important, no matter how small the details.

So don’t worry if you have never done it before. Newbies are just as welcome as seasoned track day racers. And if the pro is not available, ask the other users. A good friendship is always to be found on the circuits, people are usually eager to help each other.

When registering for track day, go for the new rider slots & training. Almost every circuit has them, and for your first few times, you will need it. Do not be ashamed to do it, everyone has done it.

Which Motorcycles?

There is no hard and fast rule. Any bike will do, but obviously you are going to be looking a bit silly racing a cruiser. Street bikes and sportsbikes will be the ones seen the most on track days.

Trackday-2b

ATGATT

If there is one rule that should be golden it’s the ATGATT rule. All The Gear, All The Time. Most circuits will not even allow you to race without proper gear. No skimping, your life is going to depend on it.

Get a full face integral helmet. Not even a flip up helmet will do here, it needs to be one piece. And the lighter it is, the more you will enjoy it since your head is going to be pulled by the G-forces.

You will need race gloves. If you do go off the bike, chances are that your speed is going to be very fast, and when sliding, those gloves will need to withstand a long slide. Unless of course you don’t mind some skin grafts.

Best is leather pants and jackets, preferably racing ones, but they are very expensive. Best are of course the one-piece racing suits. Expensive, but worth it. But whatever your have, you will need to have either leather or synthetic anti-abrasion material. Do not go out in jeans.

A spine protector really is a must. You’ve probably seen images of professional racers tumbling across the sand and gravel after a shunt. Now imagine this is you, and what your spine is going to go through!

And finally, get some race boots. They need to fit properly, since if you do go off, you don’t want to see your foot without boots sliding 150 mph over the track, do you?

Check Your Motorcycle

You are going to need to make sure your motorcycle is in racing condition. No, I don’t mean that you have sponsor decals on your bike, and umbrella girls. Tires and brake pads should be new, not worn down. The tires should really be racing tires since they stick better to the surface. But race tires wear down quickly, so be prepared to buy a few.

Remove your mirrors and if possible your indicators. If not the track will do that for you when you drop your bike the first time, but it’s not going to be neat.

Tape up your remaining lights, since if your bike goes down, chances are their is going to be debris on the track.

Your suspension should be set up properly for racing. Usually the firmer, the better. Read the manual for the best settings.

Make sure your bike has had a full maintenance done recently, and that fuel, water, coolants, fluids etc are all topped up.

Trackday-2

Going There

If you have done all of the above, best is to transport your motorcycle on a trailer. Not only does it save time once you are at the circuit, but also in case you wreck your bike, you at least have some form of transportation to get back home.

Alternatively, ask if the circuit rents sportsbikes. Some do, and this way you can wreck someone else’s motorcycle.

Check the sleeping conditions at the track in case you are a bit far away. Many circuits offer sleeping areas, but don’t expect comfort – more likely that they’ll be bunk beds.

Eat & Drink Smart

Obviously the last thing you want to do the night before your track day is go on a drinking (and even eating) bender. Avoid alcohol since you are going to be sweating a lot during the day, even if it’s cold. Make sure you hydrate continuously, so bring plenty of water.

Have a good breakfast since you energy is going to be zapped. It’s like going into combat; your adrenaline is going to be pumping through your veins, so make sure you have proteins and fluid in your tummy and more to top it up during the day. Soldiers don’t fight well on an empty stomach, and neither do racers.

Paperwork

You will be needing to sign all sorts of waiver forms with the circuit, but that’s normal. Do check with your insurance company what they will cover on track days. You’ll be surprised that insurance companies accept track days, since at the end, it improves your riding skills.

In our next episode, we will tell you more about the physical aspects of racing your motorcycle during track days. The “how to race” part.

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We have talked about riding when it is cold (part 1part 2part 3), an activity which is not as much fun as riding during the summer to say the least. But with the right clothing (heated jackets, gloves, etc) and equipment (heated grips, saddles) you can ride even when it is freezing.

Apron-Cutoff

But if you have ever been in Europe, even in the summer, you will have with no doubt noticed that many motorcycles and scooters have something over their ride; it is an apron.

Many riders over there buy an apron that gets attached to the handlebar or a central attach point, and then the apron stretches all the way over the rider’s legs and even chest.

Apron-grips

Several aprons even extend over the handlebars covering the rider’s arms. Usually the aprons are leather or thick plastic and you will not be surprised to see the inside made out of fur or wool.

The apron keeps the rider not only warm but also dry. Which is why you also see aprons used during the summer months; the rider wants to be kept dry. It is quite often the couriers / express delivery riders who use aprons, but nowadays business folks who use their two wheels to commute. Remember that in most European countries, people keep riding all year long, and often have their motorcycle as only mode of transportation. So it is a necessity.

Apron-Motorcycle-Taxi

Motorcycle taxi almost all have them now. These taxis transport their passengers all year long, so they need to keep them warm, toasty and happy.

It is an interesting way of keeping warm and dry, even in the winter that does not seem to have caught on in the USA. Maybe one day?

Apron-Motorcycle

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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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Cowboy-SaddlebagSaddlebags are great. No matter what kind of a motorcycle you ride, you always need to take something with you. The only bikers that don’t need a saddlebag are the track racers.

Commuters, day trippers, Round The World riders, city bikers, rural riders, you name it ..if you ride a motorcycle, chances are you have stuff you need to take with you. And what better than storing it behind you in some nice saddlebags.

Then you can walk around with the saddlebags slung over your back like in the old days.

But you need to take care of what you are going to buy. Here are a few pointers for those of you who are about to buy a saddlebag.

Leather-SaddlebagsMaterial

First of all, let’s be clear. For me a saddlebag has to be made out of leather. Imagine a plastic saddlebag? That’s like serving a hamburger in the Four Seasons restaurant.

But even leather comes in different types:

Top Grain Leather

The most expensive part of a cow. It shows the most of the leather’s grain.

Full Grain (also known as Whole Grain) Leather

It’s a one piece leather, so not split. It is the top leather you can use for saddlebags. It’s heavy and thick.

Split Leather

Split leather is leather that has usually some other material in it. It comes from the bottom part of Full Grain leather, so much cheaper. It is usually thinner.

Bonded Leather

Leather mixed with another material, usually plastic. If done right, it can be quite good and less expensive while still giving the impression of real leather.

Covered Leather

This is the cheapest form, it’s when there is a different material covered by a thin layer of leather.

Waterproof Or Not?

You will need to think about waterproof. If you ride only in the desert, than skip this, but if you stand the chance of riding in the rain, you’ll need to think about this.

Most leather saddlebags aren’t really rainproof. This might surprise you, but it’s a fact. But you can buy waterproofing leather cream that will stop moisture from penetrating your saddlebags. But if your bags fall in the river, all hope is lost.

But if you live in a wet climate, better go for waterproof saddlebags. Maybe they’ll not be 100% leather, but at least you spare socks and phone will not get wet.

Saddlebags Support

throw-over-saddlebagsThe last thing you need to remember is that you can not just buy a nice saddlebag and throw it over the rear of your motorcycle. It’ll come off seconds after you open the throttle. So you need to ensure that you also get the saddlebag support for YOUR bike’s model. Not all models are available for a given saddlebag, so watch out carefully.

However, some bags can be used without supports, but those require it to be tied-down. Called Throw Over Saddlebags, they do allow you a lot of flexibility, but personally, I prefer my bags to be fully locked onto my bike’s support. Perish the thought that the bag leaves my bike while riding. Stuff of nightmares!!

Maintenance

Like everything that is good in life, believe it or not, saddlebags require maintenance. Leather will deteriorate over time. The elements are not nice to them; sun, rain, snow, dust & dirt – all will make your leather turn ugly.

To prevent this from happening, and to enjoy the saddlebags for many years you need to wipe the bag clean and place leather cream over it and then rub the cream in. This keeps the leather soft and supple, AND it makes the leather waterproof.

A few minutes and your leather is good to go for many more weeks.

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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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It is that time of the year again, when many parents need to bring their children to school. Many just let them take the school bus, and many stuff their kids in a car and bring them to school. But there are also many of you who have one child and a motorcycle. So they do the easiest thing, and that is ride to school on their motorcycle, drop off their kid and then head for work.

It makes sense, but you do need to take several precautions. Remember that you are responsible for the child, and children do not always behave like adults (in fact they probably behave better than most adults I know, but that is a different topic).

Many-Kids-As-Pillion

The first question you need to ask yourself is at what age should I be able to take my child with me on my motorcycle. A lot of will depend on where you live. Laws are different in each state, even in different countries. But personally as a rule of thumb, if the kid’s legs can reach the foot rest, they should be fine. If not, a child seat will become a necessity but personally I think that is a can of worms. Manufacturing quality of the seat, ability to hold your child in place, legality of the seat, etc, more questions than answers, so I would forgo really small children on motorcycles (and don’t even think about placing your child on your fuel tank).

What not to do!

What not to do!

One thing you need to make sure: that you kid’s limbs do not touch moving or hot parts (wheel spokes, chains and exhausts). Since their legs are small, they have the possibility of moving more easily and get caught or burnt.

If the kid’s feet do not reach the foot rest it means your child is not balanced. One curve and you might just find your child on the ground.

Seat Belt

An alternative is a seat belt. There are a few on the market, and they could save the life of your child. If you buy the right one, you could even use it for an adult pillion. When you are riding long distance, pillions often get bored and can fall asleep. A seat belt will prevent them from keeling over onto the road.

Children-Motorcycle-Harness

One of the better ideas is having a harness. The harness is like a seat belt that holds your child to you.

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

Helmet

Get a good and but not too heavy helmet for your child. Even if you live in a helmet-less state, do think about your child; it is so easy to fall from the motorcycle, and for them the pillion seat is high, and the fall long.

It’s preferable to get a full face helmet, or a modular one. Avoid open face helmets, but if you can’t get one of the preferred ones, get a motocross helmet.

A too heavy helmet will bring future problems for your child since the weight will push down on his cervical vertebrae, so unless you want to spend a fortune on chiropractors, keep in mind the easy formula; the weight of the helmet should not be more than 1/25th of the weight of the child.

Click here to have a look at many different children helmets.

ATGATT

Accidents do happen no matter how good a biker you are, and often they are just harmless fender benders. But a small fender bender will probably mean your child will hit the ground, so best to make sure, apart from the helmet, to have a proper trouser, jacket, gloves and preferably boots. So do not bring your child on a motorcycle with a t-shirt, bermuda shorts and sandals.

Click here to look at different kid’s clothing for motorcycles

It is an investment that is for sure, and children tend to grow, so you need to buy replacements every year, but it is a worthy investment. Not only will it mean you will be riding your motorcycle, but it will probably also mean your kid will love going to school. And that is a good thing, isn’t it?

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Riding your motorcycle is fun, but when you ride for longer periods of time, your body will start protesting. At least, that is the case for many bikers. Apart from the famous monkey butt, one of the main areas of pain is your back.

If you think about it, or analyze it, your back will take all the strain of your riding posture. A lot depends on several factors; your body measurements, your motorcycle type and some parts of your motorcycle.

Motorcycle Type

Let us start with the type of motorcycle. Basically there are three types, Standard, Sports and Cruiser. Each has a body position, feet position and hands position. These three parts will form a portion of your riding comfort.

Standard

Standard Motorcycle (c) http://www.innova-pain.com/

Standard Motorcycle (c) http://www.innova-pain.com/

In the Standard motorcycle type (typically dual sports, touring bikes), your body is by default straight up, feet are directly below you and your hands straight. This is by far the best position for riding a motorcycle for longer distances.

Cruiser

The second best motorcycle type is Cruiser. Like the Standard type, your body is straight, your hands are straight (unless you are riding an extreme ape handlebar) and your feet are slightly ahead of you. Your legs will “hold” your body less than the Standard type, but your body will remain reasonable straight.

Sports

Sports Motorcycle (c) http://www.innova-pain.com/

Sports Motorcycle (c) http://www.innova-pain.com/

The Sports type requires your body to lean forward, and at higher speeds your torso will be required to fight a strong wind, while your hands are lower and your feet are behind you. In other words, there is a lot of stress on your body, one of the reasons you can not really go that far on a sports motorcycle.

Your Body

Looking at the above motorcycle types, your body measurements will have a big influence on your back. Obviously your body mass (i.e. obesity) will play an enormous factor, but then it will in other aspects of your life.

If you are above average height, you will stoop, hunching your back and thereby creating pain. Raising your handlebars will alleviate that issue. If you are smaller than average, the problem will be different, but the area that will cause your back ache will be your feet. Obviously lower your handlebars (if possible) will help, but few bikes can do that. If your feet reach the ground properly (if they don’t, change your motorcycle), then see if you can raise your foot pegs.

The objective is to straighten your back and keep it straight.

Motorcycle Parts

There are three parts to your motorcycle that can be adapted to make it easier on your back; handlebars, seat and foot pegs.

Handlebars

A motorcycle’s handlebar is made for an average height of the biker. It is obvious that a big percentage of bikers are not the right height, either too small or too big. To make your life more comfortable, and less back aches and hand/finger numbness, you can change the handlebar on your bike for something that fits better. Taller, shorter, wider, etc. When you look at the handlebar make sure it fits your body measurements.

Ask an ergonomics expert for advise what measurements you should take. When you buy a handlebar from a company like Pro Taper, they have an added advantage of usually being lighter and transmit less vibrations.

Seat

Usually the stock seat of a motorcycle is of average quality, and changing the seat for something more comfortable and more adapted towards your body measurements will do wonders towards riding longer distances.

Just adding a Airhawk can make all the difference.

Foot Pegs

Changing the position of your foot pegs will change your body posture. Many bikes allow you to lower or raise foot pegs, and if you buy aftermarket pegs, you can get something that suits your body better.

An alternative to standard foot pegs, depending on your bike are floor boards.

Summary

As you can see, your back ache comes from different areas, and you can help yourself by changing some part of your motorcycle.

Click here to read more about the positions on the three different motorcycles.

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Going on holiday with your motorcycle is twice the fun, first of all you are on holidays, and second, you are on your motorcycle. What more would you want (well, maybe some nice weather)?

But traveling on your bike with your gear requires a few reflections before you set off. Here are a few hints & tips for those of you planning to use your motorcycle to go on vacation.

Heavy-Load

The first thing you really need to do is grab your instructions/owner manual to see what the authorized maximum weight is (if you have lost yours, check the web). These figures are always listed since they represent the weight that your bike can carry safely. Any weight above that and you will forfeit any warrantee claims. You might also want to check your insurance policy what happens if you do not stick to the manufacturer’s restrictions.

Then you will need to add your weight and your pillion’s weight (if you have a pillion), plus any baggage weight. You will then know whether you are safe or not.

In practice, most bikers overload their motorcycles and still ride it safely. But you never know what bad effects it will have on your bike’s health.

Saddlebags, Panniers & topcases

If you have special saddlebags, panniers or topcases, you might want to check their maximum weight restrictions as well. These storage compartments often are limited in weight, and usually it is not for the storage compartment itself but for the compartment’s attachment points (luggage racks).

Suspension & Tires

Again, consult your manual. Each motorcycle has its own setup for heavy loads. You will need to set up your suspension accordingly, making it firmer. The last thing you want is to reach the outer limits of your suspension when taking a curve.

Your tires will need to be inflated to the right pressure. If not you risk bursting your tires while riding.

Ride (More) Safely

Riding with a heavy load on your motorcycle requires a bit more thought and patience to the actual riding itself:

Braking

For example, hitting the brakes while riding two-up and with all your luggage will mean that it is going to take longer to come to a full stop. If you require to brake several times, your brake pads will start suffering as well, and will need to be cooled down.

Your brakes need to slow down a lot of weight now. Remember that.

Handling

The handling of your motorcycle is going to be different. The Center of Gravity (CoG) will have shifted with all the weight, so you will need to take that into account when riding, especially in the tight curves.

The first few miles get to “feel” the bike’s handling.

Wind Sensitivity

Your bike will be more wind sensitive. There is more surface for the wind to push, so you will need to pay attention to that. The same applies to passing (or being passed) by trucks, on both directions (in other words watch out of oncoming trucks as well).

Once your bike starts moving because if the wind, it is going to take longer to get it back to the correct path.

Stopping

When coming to a full stop, remember that you have a lot of extra weight. This might cause your motorcycle to tumble over.

Also watch out when you put the side stand or even central stand out. Your bike is now a lot heavier and can easily dig in, causing your bike to fall over.

Theft

An obvious one that often gets forgotten. When you are in the holiday spirit, riding your heavily loaded motorcycle to your final destination, you stop over for lunch somewhere. Many bikers just leave their bikes parked with all their gear on it. When they come back, they are surprised that all their luggage is gone.

If you need to leave your bike, make sure you can keep an eye on it at all times. It is very easy to take something of your motorcycle.

Now, go out and enjoy your holiday.

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Motorcycle helmets have been unchanged for decades. Apart from new materials, and even new designs, not much has changed. But if one Russian designer, Andrew Artishchev, were to be believed, that is now going to change.

Called LiveMap, the idea is to give the motorcycle rider all the information she or he needs without requiring the biker to look away from the road. Navigational instructions, telemetric data, performance, maybe even that important email from your mother.

LiveMap uses a technology that fighter pilots (and upmarket cars) have had at their disposal for many years now; HUD, or Heads Up Display. The important data is projected inside the helmet’s visor, but obviously not 100% but just enough that it’s transparent but you can still read the data and see the road:

LiveMap-1

This way, while riding your motorcycle, you can see where you need to go without looking at your GPS, and you can see at what speed you are traveling. It’s therefore much safer for everyone involved.

LiveMap-2

The helmet would incorporate all the technology; display, electronics, batteries and even microphone. Why a microphone? Because you will be able to talk to your equipment. The helmet will be able to receive your vocal instructions to change, for example, a destination on your GPS. For example, while riding to Sturgis, the GPS is showing you the way, but then on the display you notice that you are running out of fuel. You simply tell the helmet to route you to the nearest gas station. All that without your hands leaving the handlebar and your eyes leaving the road.

LiveMap-3

The helmet will be equipped with G-sensors, gyroscope and even a digital compass. You move your head, the image on your visor changes, very much like fighter pilots in their cockpits. With light sensors on the outside, the display will brighten if there’s more outside light and dim at night.

Does this sound farfetched? You think it’s not going to happen shortly? Well think again. The Russian designer has already receive a 1 million $ grant from the Russian government, and he is currently looking for additional funding at the crowd-funding site Indiegogo.

The idea is to start making the helmets and sell a basic version for $1500 to $2000. They hope to have North American certification by mid 2014 and European ones by 2015.

Have a look at the video below for much more detail and examples:

Click here to read more about LiveMap

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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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Riding your motorcycle alone is fun, but sometimes it’s fun to share. Or you might just need to bring someone somewhere. But whatever the reason, riding with a pillion behind you has its own set of rules and customs.

Remember when you have a pillion, you are the captain of a vessel and the safety of your passengers is in your hands. So always, and I mean always, be responsible.

When I travel with a pillion, I do pretend I am the captain of an airplane. I give my passenger a safety “lesson”. Not the kind that says “this is where the emergency exits are”, and “this is how you put on your life jacket”, but more a do and do not.

(c) BMW

(c) BMW

Here are “my” rules:

Before Riding Off

  • Always ensure that your pillion is properly equippedhelmet and jacket are the minimum, gloves would be very nice as well.. Do remember that in a situation, your passenger probably doesn’t see it coming so can’t brace. The better their body is protected the safer it is for them.
  • Tell them the following:
  1. Getting on or off the motorcycle, always check with the rider first. The motorcycle is suddenly going to get or loose weight which will destabilize the bike. If the biker is not prepared, everyone is going to go down.
  2. Sit straight, not sideways.
  3. When going into a curve, either sit straight, or look over the shoulder that is inside the curve. By moving your head to the biker’s shoulder that is on the inside of the curve, the center of gravity remains the same, doing the opposite means the bike will wobble.
  4. When riding at low speeds, or in between lanes, do not fidget in your seat. Until you have reached gyroscopic speed, the bike will not be stable. Fidgeting will cause the bike to wobble, and you will all fall.
  5. No sudden movements. Moving is fine, but no sudden or jerky movements because the rider will not be prepared to counter. You can turn back, but only from the waist up.
  6. Explain some basic signals and communication. It’s up to you to “invent” them, but you can say “two taps on the shoulder means slow down” or “a shoulder squeeze means I need to stop”.
  7. They are allowed to wave at other motorcycles, but all other communication to other vehicles is up to the captain (i.e. you).

While Riding

(c) BMW

(c) BMW

  • Do NOT try to impress or scare the pillion.
  • Do not accelerate like a madman. The pillion’s head is going to be whiplashed since they don’t control the bike.
  • Do not brake strongly (unless you need to for emergencies). Strong braking is not only uncomfortable for your pillion, but the pillion will most probably slam into you.
  • Speed kills, especially when you are a pillion. It’s also very uncomfortable for them.

Things To Check Before Riding Off

  • Check the tire pressure. Usually when you have added a pillion, the weight of the bike will be such that you need to add air to your tires. Check your manual, it usually says what the tire pressure should be for pillion riding.
  • Adjust your mirrors
  • If you’ll be riding a night, check your headlights. The extra weight might be moving the headlights upwards, so you will be blinding oncoming vehicles.

Riding with a pillion can be fun since it’s two people sharing something nice. But always remember you are responsible for the pillion’s wellbeing.

If you will be riding often with a pillion, and if you bike allows it, get a sissybar. Your pillion will thank you.

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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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If you have been using your motorcycle for a few years, and you have been riding safely with a helmet, you know that after a while, your helmet starts to smell.

The odor has nothing to do with your personal hygiene, but from the fact that your skin and hair breathe and at the same time ooze an oily substance. There is very little you can do about it, and after a few years, you will be able to notice it inside your helmet. Even wearing a bandana will not prevent your helmet from smelling, it just takes longer.

So if you like having that “new helmet smell” you can either buy a fragrance especially made for helmets, or you can just clean your helmet. I much more prefer to clean my helmet and not put in some chemicals.

There are two types of insides for helmets, one is very easy to clean, the other requires a bit more work.

Removable Lining

The easy one is removable liners. This means you can remove, usually by gently pulling out, the cheekpads and lining. They are mostly held by Velcro or push-buttons, so just pull out.

Helmet Inside

Then your next step is put the removed linings and other bit & bobs into your washing machine (laundry) and set it to the “delicate” cycle. This will ensure that the linings don’t get boiled. Don’t forget to add your detergent before starting the washing machine.

When finished, just hang out to dry. Do not put in the dryer. That’s all there is to it.

Not Removable Lining

In some helmets, you can not remove the insides. For those you need a bit more work. For best working conditions, I recommend doing this in the shower.

CheekpadRemove all removable parts like your visor, cheekpads, or anything that moves. Get a big basin or bucket that is big enough for your helmet to fit in, fill it with lukewarm water and put a generous portion of good shampoo in it. Stir the water so that soap suds appear.

Use your shower to wet your helmet, in and outside. This rising operation will ensure that a) bits & dirt are removed and b) it’s ready to be cleaned.

Now place your helmet, bottom first, inside the bucket or basin. Make sure it is all in. After soaking it in, pull out the helmet and turn in around so you have access to the inside.

With your hand rub the inside. It should be covered with shampoo suds, so easy to clean. Rub the shampoo all over the inside. Be gently but firm.

Then using your shower, rinse out the shampoo thoroughly. Make sure that you have removed all shampoo, because if you don’t, you’ll have dundruff…. ;)

Place the helmet, bottom below on a surface that is well aired and let it dry naturally. I do NOT recommend using a hairdryer.

Cleaning The Outside

Although it has nothing to do with the smell you may experience when you are wearing your helmet, since you are in a cleaning mood, why not spend some time cleaning the outside?

Use a mild detergent, usually a shampoo or even a mild dish-cleaning liquid. Wet a cloth, (cotton or microfibre) put some drops of the detergent on it and gently wipe the shell. Once you have cleaned off all the dirt and dead bugs, use another wet cloth to wipe the helmet.

Helmet-Fresh-SprayRemember to clean the outside of your visor, although I prefer to do that with paper towels since they don’t leave any marks.

Using a spray cleaner

If you don’t want to spend the time cleaning your helmet, get a spray cleaner that eliminates odors.

It is not the same, but it does work, though you will need to at one time do a proper cleaning.

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