Eyeglass Update

By Gerde Applethwaite

Shorter: I took a couple of helmets with me to the optician and wound up with conventional frames anyway.

This is just a quick note about my visit to the Costco opticians. They were great and really friendly. They didn’t giggle when I came in with the helmets, instead the woman who helped me was nonchalant and said that they get motorcyclists in there every once in awhile and they often bring helmets with them. Bring your helmet/s.

Bottom line for me is that I wound up with a rather conventional frame. I looked at the prices and I went with something inexpensive and traditional in shape because I know I am going to be rough on these frames and I’ll be back soon enough for a replacement. Why replace an expensive frame just to bang it up again? My approach to the selection process is utilitarian and not fashion oriented. Mind you, its not that I am not tempted by a vintage pair of rhinestone encrusted Auntie Mame sunglasses but that’s for the Playa and its just not the done thing under one’s helmet.

How do they fit into my helmets? I took my Arai RX-Q and I grabbed a Scorpion EXO-900 modular helmet too. The Modular is clearly easier to work with when it comes to getting glasses off and on. No question.

I have been wearing straight templed Smith sunglasses with my Arai RX-Q for some time but since I got myself set up with the Pinlock shields on the Arai RX-Q I haven’t worn sunglasses. The eyeglasses fit in the helmet more awkwardly than the sunglasses did because the ear end of the temple arm is curved (like a regular pair of glasses.) Its a snug fit and bending the glasses up and into that area between my head, my hair and the thick foam padding is a bit of a challenge.

On the other hand the modular helmet makes this task much easier. On the Scorpion EXO-900 I press the red button on the chin bar, flip up the front piece and I am now afforded much more room to wrangle the glasses onto my head. Its true what the eyeglass wearers say about flip-ups. This still mandates the dance of wedging the frame in beside the padding and my head but it is made all so much easier with the additional room afforded by the flip-up. I have never worn a modular helmet before but I could get used to this pretty quickly. I cannot envision riding with the modular unit in the open position but the combination of being able to pop it open when stopped and then quickly dealing with the glasses or talking to toll takers and gas station attendants makes a flip-up tempting. On the other hand if I wanted to ride with the helmet in open-face style I could because Scorpion has designed the EXO-900 Transformer helmet so that the entire modular front end can be removed (while it retains its CE rating.) My next post will be a rider’s review of the Scorpion EXO-900 Transformer.

There is a Shark modular helmet, the Evoline 3 ST, I want to look into because it too is rated CE 22.05. More about this helmet in the not too far distant future.

Get on out there.

Gerde Applethwaite

But what about the pants?

BigGuy82

OK … I’m not a big fan of wearing a motorcycle jacket, especially when the temperature is 90 degrees and the humidity has you feeling like you’re in a sauna.  I’m a big fan of T-shirts when it gets hot (I also like to show off my ink).  Remember, I’m a motorcycle “libertarian” … I think adults should evaluate a risk and make their own decision as to accepting that risk.  That said, there’s no arguing that a leather or Kevlar type jacket with armor in the right places can save you from some serious pain and disfigurement.  But, even though the first thing riders think of when considering these jackets is usually safety and/or looks, there is also a strong case to be made for comfort.

On a recent journey, I rode through rain and temperatures that ranged from the low 50’s in the Rockies to 105 in the Texas panhandle. For this trip, I selected a Tourmaster Intake Air Series 3 Jacket.  While there are a lot of brands to choose from out there, if you’re looking for comfort, you should ensure that whichever one you choose has similar features that will make your ride more comfortable.

This jacket has a mesh shell that is very well ventilated and that means it remains relatively cool on a hot day (when you’re moving).  When the temperature gets cool, you have a choice of two liners that can be inserted separately or in combination for maximum insulation.  The lightweight liner provides great wind resistance and is also rain resistant (not at the level of a quality rain suit, but it does keep you dry in light or moderate rain).  The lightweight padded liner provides insulation and when these two are used together, the jacket provides comfort at temperatures as low as 45 degrees (for me).  Stick a thermal T-shirt under it and your good to go down to about 40.  For hot desert weather in the 90’s or higher, you can wear the mesh outer jacket over a wet T-shirt to keep cool and hydrated.  This jacket provides the advantages of three different pieces of clothing resulting in less required storage room and lighter weight, both premium requirements for long road trips.  Both liners can be rolled up tightly and take up very little room.  During my trip, I actually wore the jacket in extremely high dessert heat and at 12,500 feet in the Rockies, where I went from the high 70’s in Ft. Collins, CO to the low 50’s at 12,500 feet in Rocky Mountain National Park and then back down, all in less than three hours. I was able to adjust my clothing for comfort in just a few minutes and then easily readjust as I descended.  Very convenient, very compact and far less expensive than multiple jackets.

For those of you who also value the protective aspect of outerwear more than me, this particular jacket offers construction of Armor Link, 600 Denier Carbolex and 1680 Denier ballistic polyester with CE approved armor at all the strategic locations.  Hell, I don’t have a clue what all that means, other than it offers you some great protection from impact and road rash.

Comfortable long trips on a motorcycle don’t take any luck at all … they take careful planning.  The correct choice of equipment is critical.  You must pack lightly, compactly and efficiently, meaning that everything you bring along should preferably have more than one use and leather doesn’t fit this description.  This premium jacket certainly fits the bill (all right … leather looks a little cooler, but even without the liner and with the vents open, it is still hot as hell on a warm day).

Pants are a whole other subject …

Must-See Motorcycle Rallies

Summer may be winding down  but thankfully the motorcycle community doesn’t stop for any season. Motorcycle rallies are held all year round throughout the United States and cater to a wide variety of different riders and different interests. Sure most riders have heard of Sturgis at least in passing but what other fun gatherings are there? Let us enlighten you:

 

1. Biketoberfest is coming up soon as a way for riders to escape the imminent winter by cruising on out to Daytona Beach, Florida. Attracting visitors from the world over, this event has rallies, track events, and a myriad of other attractions. You can learn more about it here.

 

2. The Cannonball Bike Run, held abroad in places such as Morocco and Spain, is a six-day celebration that’s the Gumball 3000 for motorcycles. This is a rather wild event from what we understand and having the right gear to bring out your adventurous side is a must (say perhaps our Arai XC & Bell Rogue helmets?). While you may think you’ve seen everything, you definitely haven’t seen this. Learn more about the ride here(unfortunately the 9th Cannonball Bike Run just happened at the beginning of July. Next year anyone?).

 

3. One of the biggest rallies is Daytona Bike Week, an event put on by the Daytona Chamber of Commerce. With over 500,000 attendees, this isn’t your local club’s backyard BBQ. Featuring concerts, races and street festivals, this is a must-see gathering. It runs every year usually during the first week of March. For more information, click here.

 

4. And (of course) Sturgis. We may have mentioned it as a well-known event but it’s still worth talking about. The 73rd Annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally is actually at the beginning of August (yes, right around the corner!) With concerts, rides, competitions, bike shows, and plenty of vendors, Sturgis is a mecca for motorcyclists. If you have a flexible schedule and some extra money laying around for a great time, here’s the link to the official event website.

 

The events highlighted above really bring it home for us why riding is so amazing: we all have a common passion. From weekend warrior to daily commuter, all of us have a love for motorcycles and these rallies are a great way to connect, have fun, and share that passion.

Ride safe and have fun,

mikey/Helmet City

P.S.: We always like it when you ride in style so don’t forget to check out our Arai XC& Bell Rogue helmets before you head out!

The Merits of Going Topless …

BigGuy82

I’m a believer in voluntary helmet use – I live in New York State where the law demands helmet usage but I believe that adult riders are capable of deciding for themselves.  While I often times don’t wear a helmet outside of NY (because I do love the wind in my face and through my hair), I strongly suggest that you determine how much risk you are willing to accept, because regardless of what type of accident you may become involved in (hopefully none), your chances of survival are increased by helmet usage.

During a recent trip, I passed through 14 states that don’t require motorcycle helmets.  Some mandate them for the passenger.  At times, I wore my helmet and chose not to wear it at other times.  Why?  Well, for me, helmet usage is determined by how I will be riding that day.  For instance, whenever I’m on the highway for extended periods of time, I wear a helmet.  I do it more for comfort than safety, but I also believe that wearing it increases my chances for survival in an accident.  While it may look “cool” to cruise down the interstate at 75 mph with your hair blowing in the breeze, what’s not cool is the wind blasting your face for extended periods.  This causes your eyes to water (even with a windshield and/or sunglasses) and after a while, they dry out and get itchy, which in turn is very distracting.  You dehydrate more quickly because wind is blasting your eyes as well as your nasal and oral passages.  Another consideration is the noise level, even with earplugs.  When you wear a helmet, it is much quieter and the chance for long-term hearing loss is reduced. Wind noise is also just plain annoying after many hours on the road.

Although I have several helmets, I knew that the 6,000 mile trip I was planning would need a special one.  I wanted something that would fit perfectly, give me a great view of my surroundings (eliminating a full face or modular helmet), had a built-in sun visor so I wouldn’t need to fool with sunglasses and regular glasses, give me excellent hearing protection (meaning a thicker internal padding system) and protect me from wind buffeting.   After a lot of research, I decided on the new Shoei J Cruise because it has everything I wanted and more.

It’s an open face helmet that has an optically correct face shield, giving me a full picture of my surroundings (unlike a full face or modular helmet) while still protecting my face, eyes and ears from wind and other elements.  For those of you who get a little claustrophobic inside a full face or modular helmet, this wide face shield really opens things up.  Another great feature is the retractable, optically correct sunscreen, allowing use of prescription glasses while offering full protection from glare.  The Shoei sunscreen is special because it doesn’t smack into my glasses when I lower it like most full helmets with this feature.  Shoei designed the shell around it … they didn’t just add a sunscreen to an existing shell.  Thick padding provides excellent protection and the best noise reduction of any helmet I have owned.  It has outstanding ventilation even on the hottest days (I wore it on a 104 degree day in Oklahoma).

Whether you are a fan of helmets or not, there are times when it makes very good sense to wear one.  Whatever brand you choose, make sure it offers everything you’re looking for, regardless of price.

BigGuy82

Vested Interest

By Gerde Applethwaite

Shorter: Hi-viz vests are relatively inexpensive and increase your visibility when worn over your lo-viz jacket.

What do construction workers and reasonably smart motorcyclists have in common? Construction workers wear helmets to help protect them if and when something lands on their heads. Motorcyclists wear helmets to help protect them when they land on their heads. Construction workers wear bright hi-viz vests with reflective tape on them so that they can be readily seen on site and it helps avoid accidents. Reasonably smart motorcyclists wear hi-viz apparel, like vests, to be seen on the road and it helps avoid being struck by idiots on cell phones or idiots who might otherwise make left turns into them or idiots who are backing out of driveways or….

I have a few motorcycle jackets that are not hi-viz, indeed for the most part they are quite lo-viz. Pop on a hi-viz vest like the Fieldsheer, Fly Racing or Icon vests we offer and your old jackets are now brighter and more readily readable on the road. If you are not ready to buy a new hi-viz jacket you can get vastly improved visibility with a hi-viz vest at a substantially reduced cost. You need to be visible from your 6; if you are riding with a pillion passenger who is not wearing a hi-viz jacket put a hi-viz vest on them to make you both more visible to approaching traffic.

I recently bought a riding suit that didn’t have the level of visibility that I wanted so I popped for a hi-viz vest to wear with the suit. It works a treat. I wish that more hi-viz options were available but until they are the hi-viz vest just might be the thing to make it right.

The U.S. Military has sussed the value of conspicuity on their bases. They require that all folks on base who are riding a motorcycle or scooter where an approved Mil. Spec. hi-viz vest. They do this because they can….and because they do not want or need to have their people laid up in hospital. Its inconvenient. On the other side of the fence in civilian land no one can make you wear a hi-viz vest when you ride. we can only plead with you and show you the wisdom and sanity of the notion.

Broadly speaking hi-viz vests come in two flavors: you’ve got yer orange vest and you got yer  bright lime yellow/chartreusey vest. Either vest will do the trick but I have opted for the yellow/green vest because I believe it can be seen better at night than the orange.

As far as I am concerned the more reflective tape on the vest and the jacket and the pants the happier I am. The military spec. includes requirements for a certain size and intensity of reflectivity of the reflective tape. They do this to ensure that the reflective component isn’t merely stuck on as a sort of fashion afterthought. They want the tape to be there to aid in your visibility. Some of the non-Mil Spec. vests are better than others about this.

Gerde Applethwaite