Archive for January, 2014

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.



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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.


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!!


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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If there is one vehicle ideally suited for hot weather transportation, it’s a motorcycle. Wind flowing over your body, enjoying the heat; bliss. But when you are riding during a heatwave, or just in Death Valley, it’s anything but fun. At that stage, being in a strongly air-conditioned car is probably nicer. But that is often a luxury which we can not, or want to, partake in.

So we end up riding our bike during intense heat, and that’s fine, as long as you don’t stop and keep riding. Because when you stop for a red light or a toll plaza, that’s when you really feel like riding in hell. So here are a few points you need to know when facing such a situation, and it’s not only you and your body. Your motorcycle doesn’t like intense heat either.

(c) Dakar

(c) Dakar


  1. Make sure you motorcycle’s coolant liquids are fully stocked. Look at the reservoir and make sure you are on the “max” line. Not above, not below, just perfectly on it.
  2. Same with your bike’s oil level. Make sure you’ve got plenty oil (check the oil level with the bike straight and cooled down). When you’ve stopped somewhere to eat, drink or check the sights, when you come back to your motorcycle, check your oil again. In intense heat, oil can start leaking.
  3. While riding, and especially when stopped with the engine running (red lights, traffic jams, toll plazas etc), check your engine temperature indicators, and if you are lucky enough to have temperature gauge, keep a narrow look on it. Once it goes up quickly, stop.
  4. Monitor the state of your tires. Already they are going to increase in temperature when you ride, but now in the intense heat, they may well increase too much. And they’ll start loosing air. If you are riding in a group, you can ask one of your riding buddies to check if your tires are deflating (or get one of those tire pressure monitors, they not only tell you about your air pressure, but also the temperature).
  5. Go easy on the brakes. Obviously when you need to brake hard, then you don’t have a choice, but if you start taking twisties fast by braking hard before entering the curve, you’ll end up without a working brake.
  6. When parking your bike, keep it in the shade. When not riding, it’s even hotter for your poor motorcycle.


You and your Body

  1. The obvious one, but often forgotten; drink plenty of fluids! And we don’t mean beer. Water, and lots of it. Best is to have a camelback pouch, enabling you to drink regularly while riding. The problem with dehydration is that you don’t know your exposed to it until you fall over. And falling over at 60 mph is not going to improve your looks. So even if you are not thirsty, DRINK!
  2. Avoid where possible to ride during the hottest part of the day. Prefer early morning, or late afternoon. This way you’ll enjoy the ride much more.
  3. Wear suitable clothes, but don’t ride without protection. ATGATT, but adapted gear. Summer gear, ventilated, meshed etc.
  4. Make sure you are wearing sunglasses. The sun can tire you out more than running a marathon.
  5. Open all vents, especially those on your helmet to keep air circulating.
  6. Put suntan lotion (high factor) on your neck and other exposed skin. Hours of riding in the intense heat, and when you arrive, you’ll be hospitalized with 2e degree burns.
  7. Stop regularly.

Now, get ready to ride in the heat. Enjoy the ride, but keep a careful watch on your bike and on your body. Oh yeah, and don’t forget, that often after intense heat comes the heavy rain. Bring some rain gear

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We’ve all heard of biker gangs, the famous/notorious 1%ers. These motorcycle clubs (M/C), called names like Hells Angels, Bandidos, Rebels, etc are common place, you will find them all over the world. The term 1%er was coined by the AMA when one of the gangs came into the news after some violence. AMA stated that they represented 1% of the motorcycle population. And the term stuck.

But there is another biker gang, maybe another 1% of the motorcycle population, which is called the Blue Knights.

Blue Knights-logo The Blue Knights, an international motorcycle club, is not what you think. If you think “Blue” and see a bit of TV than you’ll have probably seen one of the police series with the word “Blue” in it; NYPD Blue, Rookie Blue, Hill Street Blues, The Thin Blue Line, etc. Yes, the word “Blue” refers to the police. And yes, the Blue Knights are a club of Law Enforcement Officers (LEO) who ride motorcycles.

It’s not an official police gang, but a group of officers who work(ed) in law enforcement who have a motorcycle club.

Like many other 1% gangs, they go on motorcycle rides, do charity work and hang out in their club houses. The organization is a not-for-profit one, and was created in 1974 by several LEOs in Bangor, Maine. Often you see them riding in official rides as security and stewards.


The organization has contributed $16.5 million towards charities around the world. They currently have 637 chapters with over 20,000 members in 25 countries. Like other motorcycle “gangs” they have a logo and patches for their leathers, and of course they have a web site.

Click here to access the Blue Knights main web site.

So next time you see a motorcycle gang, they might just be a gang that is on the other side of the law.

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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!


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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