The Hi-viz Conundrum

By Gerde Applethwaite

Shorter: Why wouldn’t you wear hi-viz? After I bought a Firstgear Mil. Spec. Hi-viz Vest for a friend as a Christmas present I got to thinking about hi-viz…..again.

I bought the Firstgear Mil. Spec. Hi-viz Vest because it is my favorite amongst our hi-viz vest options. My pal’s gear is pretty much all black and I thought It would be smart to help make him more visible on the road. He thanked me for the present and then made a self-deprecating joke about his reluctance to wear it not because of some sort of fashion choice but because its just too visible. Yeah, we both cracked up. This lead me to wonder about what keeps people from buying hi-viz gear. I see more and more folks kitted out in hi-viz every day especially bicycle riders. Whether on Motorcycle or bicycle I only wear hi-viz these days.

For a mere $60.00 you get an instant upgrade for your lo-viz jacket or suit. For me this is a no-brainer yet there are plenty of folks out there who do not see hi-viz as a viable option. I am sure that moto gear manufacturers take this into account when designing their new gear. How they go about this I do not know. I imagine gnomes in Alpen caves looking into vats of bubbling future-predicting goo to suss the trends for the latest Alpinestars lineup. Who knows? I guess they hire fashion consultants (who may or may not ride) in order to get input into the designs for the latest looks. If you read my stuff at all you know by now that I constantly rant about the cluelessness of gear manufacturers when it comes to both hi-viz and reflective tape use. This seasonal design thing quickly becomes an odd game of cat and mouse though: when does consumer desire tilt the scales for manufacturers and when do the fashion mavens wholly dictate product design? Mostly I suspect it is the latter.

The fashion bonzos are not asking questions like: “What percentage of cage drivers who strike motorcyclists say to investigators “Golly, I just didn’t see him.”  Instead I am convinced they are saying stuff like “if we add the farkle X graphic scheme to this helmet how much can we expect it to bump up our sales in the 18-24 demographic or ”Sure we have to put some reflective stuff on jacket Y but “If we only put a little bit of reflective tape on this jacket we can save an extra .02 cents per unit.”

Another way that might work in the effort to coax manufacturers toward the bright would be to have insurance companies offer riders a discount for wearing hi-viz clothing and helmets. It would certainly be to their advantage but I don’t know how you would enforce it.

I am convinced that unless the push comes from the consumer side my vision of a hi-viz option in every part of a manufacturer’s line is a very long way off. The next time you go shopping for riding gear think for a moment about that half-wit in a cage texting his way down the road – right toward you.

Gerde Applethwaite

Hypothermia: The Chilling Truth

By Gerde Applethwaite

Shorter: T’is the season to feel the brunt of the cold weather on your weary bones. Here’s the quick low-down on Hypothermia.

I have been really cold on several occasions, of note are: once while surfing in Northern California’s 53 degree water while clad in a completely clapped-out rental wet suit, once in Amsterdam on Sint Niklaas Eve while wearing ridiculous shoes as I trudged through the snow on my way to a party (doing my best, quite unintentional, imitation of Hans Christian Anderson’s  The Little Match Girl) and a few times while on the motorcycle – most often while wet from a rainstorm. On all of those occasions I got so cold that I got the shakes and I couldn’t stop them for quite some time and I guess it is important to note that it was all user inflicted. I mean, had I taken the time to dress for the weather and the environment I could have avoided all of it.

Infants and seniors are more vulnerable to Hypothermia as are people with heart conditions and folks who are taking anti-depressants, anti-psychotics or sedatives. My intention here is to give you an overview of Hypothermia and hopefully inspire you to go researching on the intertoobz at your convenience (see the reference note at the bottom of this article.) I cannot give you credible medical advice but I can certainly steer you toward those who can. If you live in a cold climate or plan to spend any time in one you should really get to know the information and advice surrounding Hypothermia. Be advised too that it is possible to suffer from Hypothermia even if you are not resident in what is considered a cold climate. Seniors die in their homes every year because older people’s natural body temperature monitoring senses become less useful to them and they do not realize how cold they are – then the addled brain syndrome, so much a part of Hypothermia, sets in and damage or death follows.

History is littered with folks who have learned the Hypothermia lesson hard way. The most infamous of which is Napoleon Bonaparte who decided to go after the Russians. It didn’t fare well for Napoleon or his 500,000 troops. Various Polar explorers, prepared as they were, learned the hard lessons of Hypothermia as have many climbers and Sherpas on missions to summit Mt. Everest.

Napoleon smashed his way, in mid-1812, toward Russia (can you hear the Tchaikovsky cannons in the background) with the simple mission to convince Alexander the First not to support the Brit’s. by buying British goods through proxies. Seems like a small thing right, but Napoleon brought his half million with him to help with the coaxing. The Russians played an effectively brutal game of cat and mouse with Napoleon that extended the time line and turned out to be increasingly catastrophic for both sides. Bonaparte started out in Spring but the thing dragged out into November and the Russian winter.  Russians were forced by their leaders to flee their cities ahead of Napoleon’s advance and forced as well to leave no food or supplies behind them. By August Napoleon was near Smolensk and after a great deal of back and forth the Russians fled the city but not before destroying supplies that would be useful to Napoleon. This caught Napoleon and his gang by surprise and further diminished his capabilities as his re-supply lines were already under constant threat from raiding Cossacks.  – an army of 500,000 needs its supply lines. Soon one of the key elements in the Russian victory would come into play: Hypothermia. The French troops were not prepared for a Russian winter and tens of thousands died of the cold. By the time it was over Napoleon staggered homeward with just 27,000 fit troops and a cadre of wounded. The painting at the top of this post by Adolph Northen is the most famous of those that depict Napoleon’s ignominious retreat.

For an extraordinary documentary about one tragic attempt to summit Everest you can do no better than to watch the 2008 PBS piece by David Breashears entitled Storm Over Everest. If this documentary doesn’t make you want to go out and buy heated gear before your next cold weather ride then you have ice in your veins.

Hypothermia and Hyperthermia are two different things, they are opposites and some folks confuse one for the other. Hyperthermia is the state of having a fever (which can be caused by disease and/or environmental factors) while Hypothermia is a substantial drop in body temperature and that’s what i’m talking about here. There are 3 stages of Hypothermia (some say 4 stages and add a final stage called Profound Hypothermia): mild, moderate and severe. I will only speak to mild Hypothermia here.

Most of us will only experience mild Hypothermia but mild as it may be it is certainly enough to kill you. In mild Hypothermia your body temperature is in that range from just below your normal temp. down to 96 (some readings say 95) degrees Fahrenheit -  it only has to drop below 96 degrees Fahrenheit before you enter moderate Hypothermia. When you are in the mild zone your ability to use to your hands and feet in a coordinated manner diminishes and you will at some point start to shiver — most importantly your mental faculties are now no longer reliable. If you are out on your bike (adding to the potential complexity of the mix is the fact that its already a challenge to drive in rain or ice or snow) any one of these things can be fatal.

Generally you will be coldest first in your extremities, so hands and feet are the most likely candidates for Hypothermia damage as well as the exposed nose. It takes more effort to circulate the warm blood out to your hands and feet and as you get colder your body tries to keep the core warm in order to keep you alive — you will risk frost nip, then frostbite. You manufacture heat in your muscle tissue and this will include your heart and liver. You lose heat predominantly thorough your skin (90%) and the lungs – the other 10%. I was told some years back that you lose 25% of your body heat through your head – something about all of those capillaries and such in your scalp. It turns out not to be true (except in infants and their heads should always be protected in even moderately chilly weather.)  Adults, you lose the same amount through your head as through the rest of your outer wrapping.

Remember you also lose your ability to think clearly and that starts at level one. When you combine the loss of rationality with the diminishing control of your arms and legs then you are seriously courting a crash.  When I got cold on the bike I would often go in somewhere and get a cup of hot coffee. Coffee and alcohol dilate your blood vessels and send the instant sensation of warmth back to your hands and feet at the expense of your core. For a while you feel good again. The core sacrifices warm blood to warm the limbs through now dilated vessels and the body’s core thereby loses its ability to maintain its equilibrium. The new blood in your limbs is now re-chilled when you are re-exposed to the weather making you feel even colder than before you had the coffee or the alcohol. The stress of a body core now colder than it was before can lead to heart failure or stroke. The limbs cannot be rewarmed until the core can be maintained at a warm temperature. Let’s say you are not the one who has suffered from mild Hypothermia but its your pal Stan (I hope, for the sake of this example, that you do not actually have a pal named Stan but if so please accept my humble commiserations.) You rush over to Stan and you take charge. You immediately start to warm up his cold hands and feet – makes sense, right? Within minutes blood rushes back to his extremities, Stan develops an Arrhythmia that turns into a heart attack and before your eyes Stan dies. When the warming process begins it should start at the core. Did you know this? I did not. My first move would have been to warm up the cold hands and feet. There is much to learn. Please read the outside informational sources and do the homework – someone’s life could depend upon your knowledge and skill. Forewarned is forearmed.

I knew a guy with a great rat bike who took two of those gallon and a quarter semi-rectangular vegetable oil plastic jugs, cut them out and glued on foam yoga mat type material. He slid them over his handlebars and bent some bronze TIG wire into shape on the inside to keep the wind from pushing the jugs against his clutch and brake levers. Some pop rivets and some bending and voila – hand protection for next to no money. It worked a treat and was of course completely within the decorative theme of the bike. There is a company called Hippo-hands that make a nice looking professional version of the same idea. I think they are slowly phasing out the business now and although they still have merchandise for sale the inventory is thinning out. I have a pair of something similar but smaller that I use on both bikes: they have a sort of faux-fur lining inside. I forget who makes them. I have had them going on twenty years now and I still get cold on some rides. No electrics for me as yet and I don’t know why. I am really ready for heated gloves at a minimum. It is also time for me to start looking into heated body gear.  On a ride I will get really chilled and then swear to buy some heated gear right away and then somehow never get around to it. I think this may be the year.

We have a pretty decent selection of heated gear and their accompanying controllers. Take a look. Expose as little of your body to the wind as possible. Wear a Balaclava or a necklacava. – we have those too. We also have great winter gloves. Make sure you are prepared before you set out on your next cold weather ride. Your choice of clothing is important. Synthetics and wool fabrics will hold their heat better when wet than will cotton. You can still perspire underneath all of those layers of clothing even on a cold day. If you wear clothing that wicks out the moisture away from your skin then you will have less heat transference from your body into your clothing. Polypropylene and polyester fabrics are moisture wicking.

Note: I used 4 sources for the medical information contained herein: The Mayo Clinic website, The NIH website, The Princeton University website and Wikipedia. I recommend you go to all of them in order to get more detail than my cursory overview provides. You will find treatment and diagnosis advice and you will also find notes on prevention.

Of course, if you have any questions about our heated gear, gloves or ancillary clothing do not hesitate to give us a call. I wish you all good riding in 2014.

Gerde Applethwaite

Tourmaster Centurion Suit Review

by Gerde Applethwaite

Shorter: I think the Tourmaster Centurion riding suit is a good deal for the price. The weather has turned seriously cold in many parts of the country and its time to take yet another look at a riding suit that won’t break your wallet.

There was a time in ancient history when I used to ride in a beat up ‘Wild One’ style leather jacket, 501′s and a pair of Chucks. On my head I sported a bruised silver Bell Custom 500 helmet when I wore a helmet at all. That was it, that was my total commitment to gear for many years – oh yeah and Serengeti Driver sunglasses. Ever have a bee smash itself into that space between your nose and the nose bridge on your glasses at 60 MPH? Very disconcerting. Riding gear has improved since then and my inclination has improved as well. I am, as you likely know by now, all about the ATGATT and the hi-viz. In my slowly expanding collection of riding gear there is a pile of Tourmaster/Cortech textile kit. I am not a big spender on gear: I just don’t have a Klim type budget. I have found over the years that I really get major bang for my buck with Tourmaster gear. I am often amazed at what they are able to crank out for their price point. My #2 go-to is Firstgear with Scorpion coming on strong.

The Tourmaster Centurion suit has been around for a while and I see it often on touring riders. It comes in just below $400.00 and for that price you get whizzbangs not seen in many of the pricier suits. The suit that I have been riding around in is the Joe Rocket Survivor suit. It is slightly less expensive than the Tourmaster and its a good suit. When I was shopping it out I thought about getting the Centurion suit but decided almost immediately against it because they do not have a hi-viz model. When Joe Rocket presented its semi-hi-viz version I jumped on it. If you are looking into suits and are not interested in hi-viz riding gear then the Centurion should be an option for you.

The shoulder, knee, and elbow armor is puck style with a cushioning layer on the wet-ware side and Tourmaster says it is CE rated. They say no more than that so it is safe to assume that this means it is Level 1 CE armor. It appears that the back armor is some version of the standard place-holder foam. The hip pads are also place-holder foam. Were I to buy this suit I would have to replace all of the armor with CE level 2 armor. That’s why its irrelevant to me whether or not the back armor is just a place-holder pad – it would have to go anyway. The armor in the newly released 2014 Firstgear TPG Expedition suit is CE Level 2 except for the back armor which is (disappointingly) Level 1. The Firstgear suit is also ALL molecular D30. You pay extra for that but I think this is the direction that all quality makers will be heading toward in the not too far distant future. The armor in the Centurion resides in Velcro’d pockets in the mesh breather layer. The mesh layer is gauzy consequently the armor has the tendency to float around. This is not good. Floating armor means you are playing roulette with fate and your bone surgeon while you are in mid-flight: maybe you’ll land on the armor … then again.

The Centurion has a thermal liner. This is as it should be. I think all suits should have a zip-out thermal liner. Some do not: The Expedition does not, in spite of the fact that it is over $150.00 costier. The Tourmaster offering also has a few other nifty features that please me. They have incorporated a rain hood under the collar (the Expedition has one too), it zips down into place once you curl it back up. I love the rain hood idea. If you have ever ridden in the rain and had the cold wetness slither down the back of your neck you will truly appreciate the foldup-rain-hood-in-the-collar. They have also designed a truly nifty (removable) rain and wind gator that comes across the neck. I haven’t seen this elsewhere as standard on factory gear. This is a great feature and it is so simple. Clearly aspects of this suit were designed by riders or by people who actually listened to riders. Go to any rally and talk to the gathered over the course of a weekend and you will get enough information to design the perfect riding suit. Some features of this suit seem to have been designed by riders – others not so much. Tourmaster has also incorporated a small zippered pocket on the left forearm sleeve. Inside is a key hook on a bit of elastic string. This is a great pocket for a small wad of bridge toll cash or change for parking meters, for my eye drops and even a key or two. If you attach a small day-glo disc to the key ring and leave it outside of the zippered closed pocket it will serve as a visual reminder not to leave your keys in the ignition when you go to the coffee shop. If you see the disc when you are off the bike then your keys are not back in the forearm pocket – where are my keys? It might also be possible to fit a moderately sized Li-on battery pack in there for a heated glove.

The zippers are sturdy YKK and the exposed areas are rubberized. The Captain Kangaroo pockets are fold over style with Velcro but are not zippered. They have an angled, zippered foldover pocket on the chest. That zipper is not rubberized. Pockets abound for those who are into that sort of thing. If you need to carry a tuna sandwich in one pocket and a set of 3/8′s drive metric sockets in another then you will have no trouble here. The main zipper runs from neck to the top of the right thigh. The leg zippers run from ankle to the top of the hip. I like this because its a nice long run and the suit is easy in and easy out but it does cause some bunching when you’re seated on the bike (combine this with the floating armor and you are fidgeting for just a bit to get yourself situated before you set off.) The big zippers have rain/wind flaps secured with Velcro to keep out the weather. The crotch area has a big rain gator and I cannot testify to its efficiency at keeping you and the rain from commingling. I don’t get to ride the review suits in the wet.

The sleeve cuffs do not have a zipper but a pie slice shaped expansion insert that cinches over with Velcro. Some folks like the velcro cuff closure better because they ride with their gloves tucked under the the sleeve and the zipper cuffs make that harder. I have gauntlet gloves and it only makes sense to me, aerodynamically, to ride with them out over the cuff. I like the zipper style better because it makes it easier to reach in and grab your sweatshirt to pull it down. That’s just me. The legs do not have an inner gator panel to protect against water infiltration. It is expected that a good tug on the Velcro cinch will be sufficient to keep the wind and rain from crawling up your boots.

The collar has the traditional soft flannel type lining – no complaints there. Tourmaster has also included a Velcro tab to allow you to secure the top front of the collar on one side to the shoulder when you are riding on a warm day with the zipper partially open. This suit comes in both black with black on black and the suit that I received which is grey with black on grey with a silvery material across the shoulders. The shoulder vents are nice when you are leaning forward on the bike and in combination with the rear shoulder vent you get plenty of airflow. Tourmaster has added a snap in the middle of the front shoulder vents to keep the vents pooched open on warm days. This is easily a 3 season suit but stretching it into a full time four season might not work. in really warm summer weather you might cook too much – especially in the black on black version. My Joe Rocket suit is black with black and some hi-viz panels and in warm weather with a t-shirt and jeans on underneath it gets a bit toasty out in the valley on those long, endless freeway stretches. The tarmac can be a cruel mistress in the summer. Underneath the waffle weave silvery stuff on the shoulders are some foam pads that may or may not help you in a get-off but at a minimum help to give you something of that je ne sais quoi Transformer elegance. The material is 600 denier throughout and as a bonus a doubled layer of 1680 denier material at the main potential impact points. They have done a very nice job with this: the knees are covered in this extra layer and the pattern is a sort of overlapping chevron. The silvery stuff on the shoulder is an additional impact layer too. From the elbows to the wrist on the outside is more of this extra layer. Kudos. The lower back has accordion “Carboflex” material to help with the stretch over to the handlebars. They have also put accordion material at the elbow and knee joints. I read online somewhere that one rider complained that the accordion pleated material was the source of leakage into the suit on a rainy day but I have seen no such complaints elsewhere. I cannot testify one way or the other. I don’t get a chance to torture test these review suits – only the gear I ultimately buy for myself. Tourmaster has included a long thin strip of heat resistant material on the right inner calf (some suits do not have any) but if your exhaust pipes and hot bits happen to be on the left, well … there you are. Finally, bringing up the rear is a layer of black durable material on the butt side to reduce wear through. You know some suits do not have an extra layer here – how is that possible? Do they talk to anyone who rides? These suits are being bought by people who commute to work every day or by folks who are long distance riders. Why wouldn’t you reinforce the sitzplatz area? Again Tourmaster has clearly paid attention to some of the practical details.

They have included the typical waist cinching Velcro to snug the suit into fit. There are also snap closures on the arms for adjustment. Oh, and they include a little bag of extra snaps for repairs down the road. That’s a thoughtful touch.

There is reflective material on this suit and in any of the suits I have reviewed no maker seems to offer enough of it to satisfy my standards. This is easy – the closer you get to a standard construction worker’s hi-viz vest reflective scheme the better. The Expedition suit and the Tourmaster suit seem to be fond of the blackout type of reflective material. Its a fashion choice and not a full tilt safety choice. Did they do a survey and find that touring riders blanched when seeing 2” wide stripes of highly reflective silver safety tape sewn into their clothing? I doubt it, so where does this come from? I think the fashion drones back in the main office have decided that lots of reflective material are not syley style. They take the subway to work or they park their cage in the company lot. They are clearly not riding around on motorcycles at night. The black reflective material is not as reflectively effective as the silvery stuff. Scorpion’s Passport suit uses silver type reflective stuff (not enough by any means) but it is sprayed (or silk-screened) on and I worry about its longevity – even though I must say this sprayed on stuff from them really catches the light. Joe Rocket’s Survivor suit utilizes a combination of sprayed on and sewn on reflective materials. They went with the silvery stuff and although there is far too little of it the stuff they used is highly reflective as well. Firstgear has an unyielding affection for the lesser reflective black material.

Remember this is a $400.00 suit. I have quibbles with every suit I review, some more than others, but I always try to balance price against features. Of the 4 suits available to me I have chosen the least expensive one among them as my preferred choice. Price should not be the main deciding factor when you shop for any gear. Really take a close look at features and the quality of construction and then look at price. Tourmaster and Cortech seem to consistently do a good job at this balancing act. This suit may seem a bit dated in terms of its armor, its leg and sleeve closures and the way in which the thermal liner is secured to the suit with Velcro on the legs but all in all I am impressed. Were it offered in a hi-viz version I might have jumped on it for my personal ride. I am eager to see what lessons Tourmaster takes from this suit and from the advancements in armor in recent years for the design of their next iteration Centurion suit. In the meantime If you are looking for a touring/commute suit at a reasonable price I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this one

Gerde Applethwaite.

Other suit reviews:

Firstgear Expedition

Joe Rocker Survivor Suit

Firstgear TPG Expedition Suit – Up Close

By Gerde Applethwaite

Shorter: NFL games in the snow and freezing rain – yup, its time for another riding suit review. In my ongoing quest for the best touring/commute suit I got my hands on the 2014 version of Firstgear’s Expedition Suit. Here is what I found.

This iteration of the Firstgear TPG Expedition Riding Suit is not perfect but it certainly is one of the better choices out there. My notion of the right suit is a hybrid combination of the various suits we offer. If one of the manufacturers came to me (hah) and said “Gerde, please tell us what we should include in our suit for this season and what we should leave out” I would be tickled sideways. As it turns out no suit that I have run across so far is quite right – some more so than others.

I want a suit that is; hi-viz, is made of a quality textile cloth, has inner leg protection material against hot exhaust pipes and hot bike parts, has large (2” wide or more) patches of quality sewn-in reflective material across the back, sides and front, has rubberized YKK zippers in all areas where rain might infiltrate, a thermal inner suit that zips out, a fold-up rain hood under the collar, enough zippered venting that the suit can truly be used as a 4 season riding coverall, a gator section at the gut/crotch level that will really keep rainwater infiltration out, an interior gator at the cuff that cinches up against your boot to keep out the wind and water, a pullback loop at the top of the front zipper to keep the suit from flapping against your neck when you ride on warm days with the zip partially opened, Level 2 CE armor in ALL of the armor pockets (including the back), doubled material in the likely impact areas, full main zipper that extends from neck to knee, an accordion pleated stretch panel in the lower back, and more. These are the basics and comprise the bulk of my checklist when I get a suit for review. Its pretty simple, I look at the suit for fit and feel and I go through the checklist: some suits do much better than others. Another consideration for me is price. My budget isn’t very high but I still want a respectable suit.  As a suit approaches ‘stich prices it better have ‘stich-like features – otherwise what’s the point?

The Firstgear TPG Expedition Suit was initially and recently re-introduced into the market place at a price point that brought it entirely too close to a ‘stich offering. They have since whittled a chunk off of the price as I suspect they came to a better understanding of the market place and their place in the market. This now makes the suit worth a genuine look-see.

Let’s get out of the way the 4 things that I dislike the most about this suit and then I can stretch out and spend the rest of the time talking about what I like. Firstly, (and this is the most egregious thing by my way of thinking) there is no hi-viz offering. The only color available is your typical no-viz grey with grey on grey. I really don’t want any riding gear that is not hi-viz. My days of riding with no-viz or lo-viz gear are done. Many of you may not care about this and if that is the case then this suit is a candidate for you. Second, Firstgear has once again designed some riding clothing that skimps on the reflective materials. There are tiny, thin patches on this suit but they are absurdly small and they really seem like an afterthought. I don’t know why Firstgear continually has such a hard time with this – for the money you are paying on this suit you should expect wide reflective panels in the appropriate areas. Third, I will sing Firstgear’s praises down a couple of paragraphs or so when I talk about the armor in this suit because it comes stock out of the box with Level 2 CE D30 armor except in the back where it is only level 1. Again, for this money I would expect them to upgrade the back to level 2 as well. [For more about molecular armor see Gerde's earlier post entitled “Traversing the Molecular Armor Maze.”] Finally, I think a four season riding suit on the moderately pricey end of the spectrum should come stock with a zip-out thermal liner (My $360.00 Joe Rocket Survivor Suit has one and its also has hi-viz panels.)

Having said all this let’s move on to the stuff that makes this suit a reasonably good buy. I have a bunch of Firstgear gear and I respect their attention to detail for the most part. Firstgear has also always been in that middle ground when it comes to price. This suit is now priced out at $552.xx.

The main zipper runs on a slant from neck to the top of the right thigh. Ingress is not too difficult when you unzip the main and leg zippers and dance your way in. The normal cautions apply about wearing your boots when you try to get in – don’t do it. You really need to get into any suit wearing your socks and not your boots. This just keeps you from snagging stuff inside the suit. I tuck my pant’s cuffs into my socks first and then its easy going sliding into a suit. The zippers are your traditional, durable YKK type and are rubber coated where it counts. The leg zippers are really nice because they run the full length of the leg. The leg zippers also have an internal panel that runs the length: it is designed as yet another barrier to the wind and rain. The panel closes up with intermittent Velcro. The waist cinches to adjustment with the standard Velcro’d belt on each hip. Firstgear has not included an accordion stretch panel at the lower back.

There is plenty of venting on this suit. Its pretty clear that you can wear this suit in the warm summer weather too. If you are touring in a climate where there are big changes between daytime and evening temps this suit will not disappoint.  As mentioned above the suit does not come with a thermal liner, alas. So layer up.

Oddly, at the time of this post, there is no suit box in the sizing chart from Firstgear. Wha? I am 5’10” and 150 pounds (more since thanksgiving, thank you) and I threw myself upon the wisdom of the distributor to send me the right sized review suit. They sent me a large. My standard riding toggery is usually a t-shirt (or more depending upon weather), a pair of Duluth work pants and my Sidi On-Road Goretex boots. The large Expedition suit seems a little swimmy for me but when, for cold weather, I add: a sweat shirt, a vest and sweat pants I start to fill up the room inside the suit. I wish Firstgear would make our jobs over here a little easier by supplying a sizing chart for their suit – come on guys.

The suit is made of “Hypertex” (a proprietary name) nylon 420 denier material which is touted as waterproof and breathable. It is down from 600 denier in the previous model. I have to do some research on this because I would like to resist the simple-minded temptation to make this a numbers game: 600 is better than 420 denier because it is more. This topic is worthy of a separate post and I am surprised that I haven’t done one yet. The suit also has material on the sides of the legs just below the knee that resists heat burn and melting from hot bike parts. This is good and cannot be taken for granted anymore because some suit makers have foolishly left it out. I wish Firstgear had actually made it larger than they had but at least they have it.  Firstgear has included a very small note on the tags that warns you if you burn the suit its on you. Obviously they are thinking about it and covering their liability here but if so you’d think they would make the safety/heat panel longer. The suit material is not doubled in impact areas like the shoulders, elbows and knees – too bad. The suit fabric is bonded to a waterproof internal layer and this seems to be the way that everyone is going these day. The age of a separate waterproofing layer are being cut out as the industry figures that a single layer makes the suit more waterproof while simultaneously reducing bulk and weight. Of course there is an internal mesh layer to keep the bugs out when you are riding with the vents open.

The cuff end of the legs have an internal rain skirt that is cinched up with a snap and Velcro to give you a good seal against your boot. In addition the gator has an elasticized bottom that is coated on the inside with a few, thin, running beads of silicone. The exterior cuffs of the Expedition suit have a Velcro cinch to further help in snugging the pants leg up against your boot. You don’t ride with boots? Don’t be ridiculous – of course you do.

One of the things that I really like about this suit is that they do not go nuts with the Captain Kangaroo pockets. I don’t want to land on the stuff in my pockets if I have a get-off. I really just need room for some keys, some cash, a thin wallet (and/or passport), and my eye drops. There are, thankfully, no pockets on the legs and just 2 pockets on the chest. These pockets are closed with a velcro’d overflap and a waterproof zipper – they are plenty roomy enough. There is a safe pocket inside the main zipper on the left chest. This is generally where I keep stuff like ID, credit cards and emergency contact info. There is also a cell phone sized flap pocket on the deep inside of the suit on the right chest. I never use those.

The neck has a great rain hood that rolls up under the collar.  I really like those things – you can find one on the Tourmaster Centurion suit but not much elsewhere. It is superb at keeping the rain from crawling down the back of your neck in a downpour and its out of the way when you don’t need it. The centurion suit also has a nice addition that you don’t see elsewhere – a removable neck gator that bridges across the top of the neck line and acts as a wind/weather break. I wish more suits had them but I seem to be doing ok with my necklacava. The collar also has an elasticized loop that hooks onto a catch further back to open up the neck when you are riding in warm weather and to keep the collar from flapping. The interior neck line is the standard soft flannel-like material that your skin will really appreciate after four hours of riding.

Finally, the armor. Firstgear was an earl adopter of the molecular armor tech. They have jumped the game with this suit because ALL of the armor (except, sadly, the back armor) is CE-LEVEL 2 D30. This is great! Gear manufacturers are slowly heading in the right direction and at some point I speculate that all armor will be be CE-Level 2 as standard. It is a combination of consumer awareness and demand in tandem with economies of scale that will lower the wholesale prices of molecular armor. This in turn will insure the ready availability of decent armor in the gear made by reputable manufacturers. Firstgear is leading the way.  Having said this I would not hesitate to ditch the D30 level 1 armor in the back and replace it with a D30 level 2 slab.  The armor adjustment in riding gear can be a nuisance. If you do not get your armor lined up properly it does you little good when you find yourself on the descent side of your involuntary air borne launch. The Expedition suit has the armor in pouches with Velcro on the front side. They have slathered the inside of the suit with enough mating Velcro that you can really align the armor precisely where you need it. Another suit that I recently reviewed was pretty lazy about this and it was nigh on impossible to get the armor lined up on my knees. Kudos to Firstgear.

This a well made suit. It is not by any means my ideal suit but I live in hope. The price adjustments have made this a good buy and as I edit this on a Sunday morning I have the NFL games on in the background. Snow is coming down in a serious way on the field and there is no better time to write about a good riding suit.

If you have questions about the fit of this suit just call us up and we will get you into the right size.

Gerde Applethwaite

Nelson-Rigg Tank Bag Review

By Gerde Applethwaite

Shorter:  I bought a tank bag to replace my tired old unit.

I thought I could get through one more season with my aged tank bag but It was to not to be. I have had the old one for many years and the plastic see-through map cover turned a nice opaque mustard color somewhere circa pre I-phone (I know! was there a pre I-phone?) The zipper did not zip so much as it rammed to a halt mid-way one day and decided to stay there.

Shopping for a replacement bag was sorta fun. I only really look at tank bags out in the wild when we go on a ride and find ourselves up at Alice’s Restaurant or at a campground somewhere with other riders. Then I take some notice of what folks are using. My old bag is not very large and it does not have the potential to accordion out to make itself bigger. My personal preference is not to carry a lot of stuff up front on the tank and although folks with a more forward riding position will rest on their tank bags when they ride that just doesn’t work for me: my riding position is more upright.  So, a smaller non-accordion bag was in order.

My 3 mandates were: 1) I didn’t want to spend a lot of money on a tank bag, 2) I wanted something compact and 3) I wanted to be able to unsnap the bag from the tank and sling it over my shoulder with a carry strap when I walked away from my unattended bike. I’m really sold on the notion of hands-free gear and if the option exists I weight that heavily. My experience as a beast of burden has taught me to put it on my shoulders whenever possible.

The Nelson-Rigg Mini Tank Bag (CL-1010) was tempting but too small for me and I didn’t need the Expandable Tank/Tail Bag  (CL-903) so the porridge I chose was the Nelson-Rigg (CL-904) Standard Tank/Tail Bag. It’s just right at 12”x 8.5” x 4.5” and is advertized as capable of squirreling away 7.52 liters of maps, trail mix, zombie DVD’s and sunscreen.  One of the little blurb cards that comes with the bag mentions that it is capable of holding up to 10 pounds.

The bag itself is only $50.00 (well within my range) but the mounting kits are extra. When you buy the bag you have to specify which mounting system you want: magnetic, strap or suction cup (oh, and they even have a tail bag strap option – nice.)  One of my bikes has a steel tank and the other is aluminum. I didn’t want the bag to be a dedicated unit for the steel tanked bike so the magnetic option was out. My old tank bag was a standard strap mount type and I do not mind having the small straps and connectors hanging out a bit when the bag is not hooked up so I went with the strap mount kit.  Nelson-Rigg was smart to set it up this way. Why spend extra money getting a bag that has all of the mounting options included as standard when you know you will only be using one style of mount? I ordered up the bag with strap kits (it is a pull-down option window on our website) but when the bag came there were no mounting kits. Wha? I didn’t think that was possible. So, we had to go in and adjust the order and order up the strap kits separately. The prices all worked out the same but the time delay was a nuisance. Make sure when you place your order that you confirm your mounting kits.

The exterior is made of something Nelson-Rigg calls “UV-treated Tri-Max® ballistic polyester with reflective piping” and it seems like your standard durable, black, woven poly material that has been designed to help resist the ravages of UV sunlight. The zipper seems sound as well but it is not rubberized and there is no flap that covers it over to help shed water. The assumption is that you will use the supplied rain cover (comes with drawstring) when things get sloshy.  On the two long side walls of the bag there are 2 lines each of a reflective piping. That piping, along with the circumferential black piping on the bottom of the bag, serve to give the bag some rigidity as the walls are soft. The top of the bag is the traditional clear plastic map cover. The map cover measures 7-1/4” x 10-1/2” and can fit one folded standard road map easily and about 1/3 of another one. The map pocket has a Velcro(-like) closure.

The interior of the CL-904 is lined with a thin tight weave polyester material and it looks like it will take well to a cleaning with soap and water and a garden hose.

The bag has an anti-scratch base to help protect your gas tank and it appears to be a rubberized version of the inner bag material  but I bought a sheet of Snider’s Paintguard to protect the tank on one of the bikes. I put a lot of pazzoozas into the paint work on that bike and the Paintguard sheet will let me worry less.  Paintguard is just a plastic sheet that is held down by static electricity and it is designed to eliminate the possibility of those rubbing scratches.

At the front of the bag (toward the headlight) is a pouch that looks big enough for a cell phone  but more likely is an ideal place for any of those stray wires from your GPS, bar mounted phone or camera setup. It is also the ideal location for a supplemental Li-on battery and most of its feed wires. The opposite side of the bag has a carry handle so if you really want to lug it around by hand you can. More importantly the bag has a shoulder strap that snaps on and that makes so much sense to me. Finally, Nelson-Rigg offers a “lifetime no-hassle warranty.” Can’t beat that.

Gerde Applethwaite

Last One Out….Turn Off the Lights

By Gerde Applethwaite

Shorter: In Winterfell the cold days are here – keep your loved ones close and banish the darkness.

When I was growing up we were dog people. We were not cat people. We had all sorts of dogs but mostly, as I got older, they were field dogs. It was our habit to put a hook near the front door and hang a leash from it. If you grabbed that leash and made a noise with it you would have an ecstatic Black Lab. or Golden Retriever at the door in mere seconds.

If you ride and you live in a cold climate that first day when you can sense spring in the air is like that. You can smell it and you can also feel it in your bones. Ridin’ weather is comin’ – and soon. Sometimes its a false alarm and you have another couple of weeks with snow, sleet or some other ride interfering noise from the heavens but sometimes you wake up and it feels warm outside and the snow has receded to just patches up against the sides of buildings or nestled into that area between your staircase and the building. The street is dry and it just feels good to be outside in a t-shirt.

You got gear for Christmas and its put away in a closet. Get it out. You got some mod. For the bike and you already bolted that thing up one cold Saturday afternoon in February. The battery has been on the tender and the gas was stabilized when you put the bike up. Put some air in the tires, fire it up – you’re rett’ to go!

For a great many folks in the upper hemisphere the cold season is most seriously upon us. That reverse sense has hit you – the day you walked outside and felt the chill on your bare arms and said to yourself  ‘I’m gonna have to put the bike up soon.’ How many more rides can I get in? Yeah, some of you ride all year in the snow and sleet but I gave that up some time ago. The combination now of ice on the road and idiot texters in cars just makes it not so much fun anymore.

I haven’t had a cold weather riding season in a long time. Oh, I have had them believe me. I have frozen my ass off because I wasn’t geared up. I have also felt the icy chill when I was indeed properly suited up. Merde avoir lieu. Now though, I am spoiled with that Camelot Cali. moto life. Don’t be thinking about movin’ out here. We have no room and besides the state is full of loons. Trust me you wouldn’t like it. Stay there – Minnesota needs you, right there. Come visit in the summer, we’ll take you up to Napa — heck we’ll even show you where the speed traps are on Silverado Trail or dang near anywhere on Highway 17 heading over the hill. We’ll take you up the windy road to Alice’s on a Sunday late morning and let you wander around with a cup of coffee in your hand while you ogle all of the bikes parked chock a block. For the moment you just have to get through the cold season in Winterfell.

The Winter won’t be so bad. There are episodes of Cafe Racer to be watched and you can listen to your pal Ansell gripe about how they are taking perfectly good ___________ (name the bike) motorcycles and ruining them with a cutoff wheel and some off the shelf mod’s.  Me, I like the cafe racer bikes for the most part but after a couple of beers Ansell (and most everyone who has put their bike up for the winter) gets a little stir crazy – waiting for the sound of the leash at the front door and the feel of warm long sunlight on their arms. 

Hang in there. Buy a trick license plate taillight assembly and figure out how to bolt and wire it up. Buy some heated gear and sit in the recliner with your glass mat battery on the tv tray and your gear kluge-plugged into it. that should be good for a larff or two. Spring will be here before you know it. In the meantime cherish your family and your friends – life is short.

Gerde Applethwaite

Gerde’s To-Do List

By Gerde Applethwaite

When I am the only the one who finds it necessary in my cohort to get there on time I am referred to as “kkkkair-duh.” The key is to get a really good rolling ‘chuh’ sound from the back of the throat at the beginning. When I am the one who really would rather wear sweats and stay home watching Game of Thrones repeats I am called “Gertie.” Gertie needs a good to-do list. Here is part of it.

1.) I have to get the scratch out of my old Arai Corsair face shield because it is in my field of vision and it bugs me. TAP plastics has a scratch remover kit. I really have to get over there and pick one up. If that doesn’t do the trick I just need to replace the shield with a new one.

2.) My Sidi boots are due for some treatment. They have held me in good stead and I need to care for them soon. If you go to one of the touring blogs and search out the posts for boot care you will get chit-chat that hottens up nearly as much as an oil thread. I am not sure what to use. If anyone has the true ticket please drop a note here.

3.) Some of the stitches are coming undone on the side of the right knee of my main riding pants (textile.) I need to get in there and do a little sewing. then I need to test them to see if their water resisting capability is still there. There is a way to treat the threads with some goop to water proof the area. I may need to get some of that.

4.) I also want to try out a pair of suspenders on another pair of pants because i think they will stay up better that way – especially when they get wet. If I recall Duluth Trading has some good old red suspenders. Gotta go look that up. I will then be an honorary member of the red suspender crowd. All I will need then will be the traditional corn cob pipe.

5.) The taillight lens is getting dull on one of my bikes. I need to use some of that TAP plastic stuff on it. Someone told me to use toothpaste on the lens. I guess I’ll try that first because at least I have the toothpaste.

6.) I need a new bicycle helmet because mine now has a crack in the plastic. I want a helmet with a bill on the front like a baseball cap. I like that because it really helps to keep the sun out of your eyes when you are riding right into the light. I always have trouble finding a bike helmet I like. Some of the helmets that have a lot of holes in them also have a sort of forward projection that works like a ball cap bill. I just don’t like the helmets with all of the holes in them. I have to find a new helmet.

7.) My small portable air compressor, the one that fits under the bike’s seat, has crapped out. I need to find another one, a better one.

8.) I’m thinking about getting a small winch to fit into the head of the bed of the pickup truck to make it easier to get a bike into the truck. I need to design a sturdy mount for the winch out of angle iron.

9.) It would be good to have more visibility at the back of the bike at night. Texting clown car drivers have almost driven into me a couple of times while I’m sitting at a light waiting for it to change. Those license plate light setups seem to be a popular idea. I need to look into that and find one I like.

The New Year is around the corner. For many it is time to put the bike up for the winter and there are a series of tasks related to that; gasoline additives, bike stands, bike covers, etc. I am fortunate enough to live in California and we have a 12 month riding season so I can forgo those chores.

Another year nearly done – where does it go?

Gerde Applethwaite

Scorpion Passport Suit

 Scorpion Passport Suit

By Gerde Applethwaite

Shorter: Scorpion comes out with it’s Passport Suit for 2014 and it has Sas-Tec armor and a hi-viz version.

In general Europeans like touring riders on their turf. There is something about the whole wanderlust thing that reaches deep into the Euro-soul. This means, generally, that you get treated reasonably well when you go to a hotel or a gasthuis. When you tour on a bike in Europe you see all manner of nicely set up riding gear being sported by your fellow riders. Scorpion is a German company and they have come up with their first offering of a touring/commute oversuit for the 2014 season. I have some quibbles with this suit but I think for its price point you get a lot. I ordered one up so that I could give it the closeup once over.

The Scorpion Passport Suit is a part of their XDR line (Extreme Distance Riding.) It comes in 2 flavors; you have your standard grey with black on grey and a semi hi-viz. I am only interested in the hi-viz. The hi-viz is really well thought out and it passes my hi-viz standard in spite of the fact that it has a section of black running down the middle of the suit. The non hi-viz panels are also where you would want them to be. You will find the butt area and the inner leg area where it might contact the bike to be made of black material and this will help keep the suit from looking dirty as time goes on.

The suit comes with reflective patches but they are sparse and they are of the sprayed on persuasion. The outer body of the Passport is a 600 denier nylon material that is standard in the business.  There is a mesh inner liner for airflow when you open the vents and the suit is billed as waterproof. It may well indeed be waterproof. They have installed a gator around and down the waist which is designed to eliminate the problem of water pooling up in the crotch area of the suit when you are riding in the rain (this is a persistent problem with riding suits and pants alike.) Scorpion also touts its “H2O Blok” engineering which is a series of layers designed to keep you separated from the storm outside. There are stretch accordion panels in the lower back and in the knee adjacent real estate.

In hot weather you are going to be a little too toasty in this suit but it should be a 3 season riding suit if you bulk up the layers in the really cold weather.

The main zipper on the suit runs from the neck down the body and across to mid-thigh. This is plenty deep enough to allow for booted entry and exit (although unbooted ingress and egress is the only thing that makes sense and helps calm fears of tearing anything up inside a suit and its so much easier.) Its always a bit of dance getting in and out of riding suits but Scorpion has placed zippers on the inner side of the legs as well so once you get the thing zipped open its merely a matter of artfully dumping yourself into the flexible origami you hold before you in your hands (pro-tip: once you have arrived at your destination for the evening I recommend taking the suit off before you start with the quaffing of the beers.) Where are my pink bunny slippers?

The main gator closure on the front comes with Scorpion’s signature neodymium magnet flap seal.  Obvious cautions apply for folks with pacemakers. The vents come in pairs: there are 2 chest vents, 2 back vents and 2 sleeve vents. These zippered vents are sufficient to flow air through the upper body and cool you down in all but the warmest weather but it seems odd to me that they placed the rear vents directly behind the back armor. Doh.  The suit also comes with adjustable sizing straps in the waist and the arms.

Sizing? I am 5’10” tall and weigh in at 150 pounds. My review suit was a medium and the fit without the liner in and while wearing a t-shirt, Duluth work pants and Sidi On-Road Goretex Boots was tight from crotch to the back of the shoulder when on the bike. It looks like I am a large. Bear this in mind when you try to figure out what suit will work for you. These suits come in bulk sizes (S,M,L,XL) and not in graded sizes. Scorpion has a sizing chart for this suit so look it up and make your best guess as to your size and of course call us at *888-343-5638* with any fitting questions.

One of the great advantages of this suit, at this price ($430-$445), is that it comes bolt stock out the door with level one Sas-Tec molecular armor. I am quite fond of Sas-Tec kit and to have it come stock in a suit was a smart move. I think we will find more and more manufacturers going with molecular armor in the future and the moves by Scorpion and Firstgear (D3O) really help this along. If I bought this suit I swap out all of the level 1 Sas-Tec with a Level 2 upgrade. That’s just me. The back protector is your standard place-holder perforated flat foam that cries out for replacement with something… like Sas-Tec’s new SCL line (the yellow colored stuff) that is rated at level 2. I am not sure whether or not it is a straight swap fit as I do not have any of the SCL to hand. Note: If you swap in armor that has no venting holes then it will only make the already poorly located rear vent strips even less viable.

What’s left? There is a boot gator to keep the water from creeping up your boot and into the suit in the rain. The bottom of the gator has a silicon band that really cinches the seal – nice touch. There are some wear/anti-slide patches where your butt bones (‘Ischial Tuberosities’ – for those in the house who ride bicycles with any regularity or those who are pre-med, or both) hit the seat. The zippers are YKK and none of them are rubberized except the zips on the inner leg..  The thermal liner is quilted and zips out. The suit has a mesh liner inside to keep you away from the walls of the suit itself and to help wick away internal moisture. I’m not sure how you plan to keep your suit protected from the hot bits on your bike as they do not appear to have installed any sort of canvas buffer material, or the like, on the inner leg. Is that possible? There are a few large Captain Kangaroo pockets for your cell phone and your trail mix and your eye drops. Atop the left thigh pocket is piggybacked a clear plastic outer pocket that is a befuddlement to me. It is designed to accept a Butler Map (you get the option for a free one when you buy the suit.) I like the Butler maps and we are seeing more and more of them these days but I really think this pocket is a mistake. When are you supposed to look at it? When you are riding? Heck, no! You have to take you eyes off the road and look too far down to get a bead on the map while you are riding. That just doesn’t seem like a savvy move to me. I’d rather have the map right up there on the tank bag. Also, this clear plastic outer cover is bound to dull out and go opaque in time with the unrelenting beating of the ultraviolet sunlight — in the manner that all of my old tank bag map holders have. Then what do you do?

If you are in the market for a moderately priced touring suit give this first time entry from Scorpion a look.

Gerde Applethwaite.

Firstgear Mil. Spec. Hi-Viz Vest On The Road

By Gerde Applethwaite

Shorter: I bought the Firstgear Mil. Spec. Vest and took it out on the road to see and be seen.

I wrote recently about the wisdom of buying a hi-viz vest and just popped for the Firstgear version. Wait? What! More hi-viz chatter from Gerde? Yup. Hold on – this is a nifty sixty-some-odd dollar solution to your hi-viz needs. This time I flipped my hi-viz ride test scenario. Instead of riding around with it myself and asking folks how well they could see me on the road I reversed it. I loaned the vest to various riders on a few rides so that I could judge its visibility over that of conventional jackets. As predicted it makes a huge difference. I am now a big fan of the hi-viz vest for substantially increasing your visibility while wearing one of your no-viz jackets. Firstgear says that it provides you with visibility at a thousand yards away. This is not hyperbole, I tested it out and yup it’s true.

The design of this vest is the best I have seen to date as regards the placement of both the hi-viz fabric and the reflective material. The design is savvy all the way around – including the side area below the arm pit which is hi-viz, black and reflective. It is your standard CE EN-471 hi-viz color.

First gear makes this in three doubled sizes, I mean; extra small/ small, medium/large and large/2XL. I bought the medium/large and its a snug fit on my old medium Tourmaster jacket. They have sets of adjustment straps on the sides so you can easily snug it up to fit your jacket.

The vest is constructed mostly of a double layered mesh material so it will breathe air right through to the vents in your jacket. The mesh also gives it low wind resistance and I don’t get any annoying flapping at all – the vest zippers closed. They have placed an ID wallet on the chest (that’s required for the Mil.Spec. Part.) It is Velcro’d on and you can just pull it off if you do not need to have your id immediately available. If you have any particular medical needs in case of an accident I think its a good idea to leave the wallet in place and put that info in this chest wallet thing on a laminated card. I ironed a Flying Spaghetti Monster patch over the front of mine. Voila.

There is a long narrow pocket on the back and it just fits my empty helmet bag. It will instead fit a pair of gloves

Ask yourself this: how many times have you idled past drivers on a clotted freeway or at a stop light and looked over to see folks banging away on their cell phones? I see it every damned day! For something a bit over sixty dollars why wouldn’t you want to enhance your visibility in the face of the half-wits on phones in car cages across the land.

Gerde Applethwaite

This I’d Like to See: Thoughts on Motorcycle Gear

By Gerde Applethwaite

Shorter: A random collection of things I’d like to see in the world of motorcycle gear.

1) I’d like to see all manufacturers offer a full (solid) hi-viz version of each of the helmets in their line.

2) Isn’t it about time that helmet design technology advanced beyond the simple EPS liner?

I’d like to see manufacturers come up with a helmet that replaces the conventional EPS liner with Sas-Tec or D3O viscoelastic material. I know D30 makes a helmet liner – let’s see it in some motorcycle helmets. Also, there must be new energy absorption technologies on the horizon that can be mass produced. Let’s have them.

3) I’d like to see the manufacturers of cameras that are designed to be used on helmets come up with standardized universal mount that helmet manufacturers can then universally embrace and make a space for on their helmets.

4) I’d like to see a federal standard and standardized testing for helmet wind noise so that we can evaluate a motorcycle helmet more objectively.

5) I’d like to see replaceable, drop-down helmet sun shields that come with swappable dark and light brown polarized lenses.

6) I’d like to see more Scotchlite type reflective material on the back and sides of most jackets.

7) I’d like to see an inexpensive but durable solar charger panel (about the size of an ipad) that I can mount onto the tail of the bike that will allow me to charge my phone and/or GPS while I ride or while I am parked at the camp site.

8)  I’d like to see a major manufacturer of motorcycle gear come out with an LED hi-viz vest with wireless brake light and turn signal capabilities. Do they have those already?

Aye, now that we have that all sorted next up will be my list on motorcycles and then pastry. Mmmmm, pastry.

Gerde Applethwaite