Bell Qualifier- Hi-Viz Rally in Black and Yellow

 

New to the Bell product line is the Bell Qualifier. Offering comfort and style, the Bell Qualifier takes the safety and durability of a helmet to a new level for riders. Having replaced the Bell Arrow, the Qualifier now features a new shield and ventilating system. The most noticeable change you’ll see to the Qualifier is the oval shaped helmet design, inspired by racer style helmets.  The change in shape provides riders with more aerodynamic capability. Staying true to the quality of Bell products, the Qualifier also comes with the exclusive Bell Click-Release system for a fast and simple way to remove shields. Definitely one of the stronger helmet design to show quality, presentation and safety.

The Bell Qualifier Rally in Hi-Viz Black and Yellow is one of our favorites in the new line of colors and designs to choose from. This style reflects a cool racing strip down the middle of the helmet, showing off detail in the reflective silver and yellow-tech graphics. Displayed in a rubberized style, the color is great for showing a sleek aesthetic of the Bell Qualifier. 

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

The Not So Helmet, Helmet

There’s a new voice in the ongoing debate between helmet advocates and freedom lovers: Wear a helmet that isn’t really there. We’re not sure we should even call it a “helmet” but for now we’ll use that word to describe this new twist on head protection.

The simplicity of the Swedish bike helmet design is brilliant. Prompted by a skeptic who said the helmet “would have to be invisible for me to actually want to wear it,” two Swedish women created a helmet that is actually a collar that is worn around the neck. When it senses “abnormal” movement, it inflates with helium and stays inflated for several seconds.

Although the Hövding is currently only approved for bicycle use, the implementations and future applications seem very promising. The pair has already won the “Epilepsy Innovation Seal of Excellence” by providing a new solution for people who suffer from seizures.

What role might this helmet play in motorcycling? The Hövding (which means leader or role model) claims to have 3 times the shock absorbancy of a traditional helmet and is able to take multiple hits in a single accident. We’ll have to wait and see if these strengths stand up to strict motorcycle helmet safety testing for ratings like ECE and Snell.

Some criticisms include the fact that it’s single use only. The obvious response is that every helmet needs to be replaced after an accident.

At $540, it is expensive for something you don’t even see. But that’s the point! For riders concerned about looking uncool as they walk into a bar or restaurant after a fast paced ride, the freedom of letting your hair blow in the wind without receiving criticism from helmet law advocates is going to cost you!

So what do you think? Does this look like something you could see yourself wearing at 60MPH or does your full face helmet have your unwavering loyalty?

Join the discussion on Google+: http://bit.ly/18ZZ0Bo

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

Singin’ In The Rain

BigGuy82

Great title for an old movie, but I don’t know many bikers who think riding through a rainstorm is any flavor of fun.  Recently, I had the “opportunity” to ride 9 hours through rain (often a downpour).  Not much of a choice on sitting this one out, because the forecast was the same for the next two days and I had a job to get to, so through the rain I rode.  Along the way, I learned a few things that you might find useful.

Safety comes first.  Tires bad?  Stop.  Bad highway with pooling water? Stop.  Torrential downpour?  Stop.  Tired?  Stop.  Not confident in your ability?  Stop.  But, if you decide to ride for extended periods in the rain, here are a few things to consider.

Let’s start with luggage.  All of those great pieces of “motorcycle” luggage come with a rain cover, which helps for a while.  But for extended periods in steady rain, plan on some amount of water getting in.  Why?  I don’t have a clue, but I can tell you that with the rain cover securely fastened over the top of a quality backpack type bag that was strapped to the sissy bar and rested on the passenger pillion of my seat, a lot of stuff in the bag got wet.  Every place on the bag was covered except the bottom, which rested on a covered seat, so the water was likely forced in through the bottom due to wind pressure.  Fortunately, I put my computer and camera in heavy duty, waterproof bags. Tank bag?  Same deal, but again, the essentials were in sealed plastic bags.

Now about saddlebags.  Go with hard bags if you can find them for your ride because they will stay dry inside (as long as the gaskets are good). If you go with soft bags, your stuff is going to get wet.  I spent 150 bucks on custom “waterproof” covers from a canvas maker.  These are waterproof, well made, and fit snugly.  Nevertheless, my bags had puddles in the bottom at the end of my ride.  My guess is there is absolutely no way to stop water spraying up off the roadway, the wheels and being forced in by 60-70 mph wind from getting into any tiny opening.  I think the water was forced in between the cover and the bag and once inside, it had no way to escape.

The most important rain gear you can have is a rain suit.  Don’t scrimp … buy quality.  My Tourmaster gear kept me dry and warm for the entire ride in 60 degree temperatures (rain gear also makes a great windbreaker in cold weather).  I’m not crazy about boot covers … mine got in the way when shifting/braking and were awkward when my feet were on the ground and during rest stops.  But, they did keep my boots dry.

Other stuff.  Some seats absorb water rather than repel it.  I have a custom seat cover and it was worth it because after the rain is long gone and you’re wearing jeans, your butt isn’t getting soaking wet from a saturated seat.  ABS brakes are simply better on wet roads (and I personally think they’re better all around).  If you have them, great.  If you’re going to be an all weather rider you should consider them for your next bike.

If you ride, you’re gonna get wet.  Dealing with it properly won’t leave you singin’ in the rain, but it will make the experience less aggravating.

BigGuy82

Save a Friend, Save Yourself

Shorter:  You are out on a ride on a country road with a friend. Your friend is ahead and disappears into a sweeper turn. You come around the bend to find said pal on the ground and the bike mangled a few feet away (deer? a car? oil on the road? It matters not for this tale.) What do you do first? Quickly now. What’s first?

Do you:

A) Get off your bike and attend immediately to your wounded friend?

B) Call 911?

C) Go back up the road to stop traffic and prevent a car or two from rolling over you both?

Alright, let’s make this a bit easier.

You are riding with 3 friends and 1 is injured. You have the presence of mind to send 1 rider up the road to warn traffic as you rush to your friend on the ground with your phone in hand. Traffic is safely stopped, 911 has been dialed (you were so lucky to get a signal way out here. So lucky.) Now you need to assess your friend and stabilize him. Are you a doctor?  You are not.  Are you perhaps a paramedic? You are not? What the frack to do?

Maybe you have taken a Red Cross class on trauma care. That would be good. You know enough not to precipitously drag your bud off of the road for fear of damaging him even further, perhaps fatally. The traffic is not a problem for you now and their looky-loo impatience to both move on and also take a good long gander at the scene are of no concern. Your mind is racing. Tick Tock. Is he conscious? Airway constricted? Can he tell you where it hurts? Can he move? Is anything broken? Are you worried about how much blood he has lost?

By the way, while we’re here let me ask — do you have a first aid kit under your seat? What’s in it? Bandaids and some Neosporin? That’s a start, bandaids are always a good idea but this is much more serious. What to pack?

There is gasoline spilling from your friends tank and 50 feet up the road one of the motorists, a well intentioned samaritan, pulls a couple of road flares out of the trunk of his car. A small crowd has gathered and starts to encircle you and your friends – back them off a little. Everyone has an idea.  You don’t need a ‘leader’ to take charge here – what you need to do is methodically, calmly, tick chores off of a mental list. Training in first aid and trauma aid will help you manage that list. You need collaborators. Send someone up the road to stop the guy with the flares. Get a couple of other people to shift the broken bike off the road and stop the gas leak. Maybe one of the cage drivers has a fire extinguisher. Find out.  It would be nice to keep that handy just in case. Many of these chores will be taken up by the people around you. Focus on your friend and apply your knowledge of first aid.

If he is in bad shape and you have ascertained that it will take some time for an ambulance to come then find out if you can get a Med-evac copter in there. Yes? Have someone scout the nearest landing spot. Is it going to be the roadway? Clear it of cars and cordon off that area. Let someone take care of that on another cell phone.

Let’s say you are luckier even still and while your friend’s bike is toast (because he is all ATGATT kitted out – motorcycle helmet, jacket, pants, boots, gloves) he has only suffered a sprained wrist. What do you do to immobilize the hand or do you just leave it alone?

Also, and I hate to bring this up, not everyone at the scene may be worthy of your trust. The scene is chaotic and it doesn’t take much for some stooge to go through your tank bag or that of one of your riding partners. Try to cluster your bikes together and see if you can get one of your buddies to keep more than half an eye on them. Yeah, its too much to contemplate that in the midst of this nightmare someone would rip you off but this is a tough planet. Don’t go all paranoid on me but just remain aware of your surroundings. Everyone in your crew should have their cell phones and any other pricey electronics on them while they wander around the site.  Your accident may not happen on a bucolic country road. The more chance there is for civilians to wander through the scene the higher the likelihood that you will get ripped off. ‘Nuff said.

Getting yourself trained up to be of help to yourself or another is a great idea whether it be at a car accident, a farm accident, a boating mishap or some bike smashingham. Merde avoir lieu. There is a guy who wrote a couple of books about first aid for motorcyclists. His name is Flash Gordon M.D. and I commend his books to you. He is a rider and it so happens that he is also an emergency room doctor. The books are: Blood, Sweat and Gears: Ramblings on Motorcycles and Medicine and the followup Blood, Sweat and 2nd Gear: More Medicine for Motorcyclists.  These 2 books will go a long way toward getting you up to speed. I repeat the recommendation that you take some first aid training through your community college or a group like the Red Cross (or its equivalent) where you live. This training will hold you in good stead no matter where you find yourself. Be a part of the solution and not a part of the problem.

Ride hard, ride safe and live to ride another day.

Gerde Applethwaite

Shoei Giveaway: Time to Pick Your Fav

Thank you to everyone who is participating in our Endless Summer Shoei Giveaway! The contest ends tonight at midnight.  If you haven’t entered yet, you can enter here.

We are excited about the grand prize: The choice of any Shoei helmet from the internal sunshield family!

The Shoei GT-Air, the Shoei Neotec and the Shoei J-Cruise are designed for different riding styles and each one provides an advantage depending on how and what you ride.

It may be an easy decision. Maybe you’ve always wanted to try the flexibility of a modular helmet so the Neotec would be an obvious choice. Or maybe you’re ready to upgrade the coverage and go full face. The GT-Air is one of our best full face helmets and has a streamlined aerodynamic design; if full-face helmets are your thing, you won’t be disappointed. Or if you want to freedom of less coverage, the J-Cruise might be the best style for you,

Let’s take a closer look at the features so you can make a more informed decision about which one you would add to your collection. It will be up to you to pick the best looking color on that model.

These three models round out Shoei’s “advanced integrated sunshield” family by providing a full face, open face and modular style all with the same state-of-the-art technology.  The integration of this sunshield was done without any compromise. They didn’t thin out the shell or the liner to accommodate the retractable shade. It’s perfectly seamless with the design of the helmet.

The built-in dark smoke visor provides instant relief from sun glare in one quick motion with an easy to reach switch. It’s operated with a steel cable which was built to withstand heavy use. This drop down visor is the only one on the market that meets the ANSI standard for non-prescription eyeglasses. It’s distortion-free & blocks 99% of harmful UV rays.

All these helmets were developed in Japan using Shoei’s in-house Wind Tunnel to maximize aerodynamic performance. They all use Shoei’s Advanced Integrated Matrix - a high performance fiberglass/ organic fiber blend that creates an ultra-lightweight, rigid and resilient shell structure. The ventilation system on these helmets is exceptional. The front and rear vents work together by scooping the fresh air in from the front and creating a vortex to move the air out of the back of the helmet for maximum cooling.  There’s also an exhaust port in the neck roll.

Each helmet uses the 3-D Max-Dry liner which is antibacterial and wicks 2 times more moisture than standard nylon liners on the market today. The foam cheek pads provide a secure fit, which means less road noise, and are eyeglass compatible. They also feature removable ear pockets to accommodate a communication system, if needed.

Now some specifics.

The chin bar of the Shoei Neotec is held in place with an easy-open lock release button. It feels solid, as do all of the moving parts. It truly has a full face feel when the chin bar is down. It feels very secure. The Neotec comes in all the Shoei solids: White, black, anthracite, light silver, wine red, and matte black. It also comes in one “hi-viz” accented graphic, the Borealis TC-3.

 

The shell of the full face GT-Air was sculpted specifically for the US market with a focus on aerodynamics, stability and ventilation. The GT-Air comes with a chin curtain, breath deflector, the CNS-1 pinlock ready shield AND includes a clear pinlock lens.  The base plates on the shield are self adjusting and draw in the gasket when the shield closes for a better seal than we’ve ever seen. The dual ridge, rubber beaded eyeport seal is exceptionally airtight. The GT-Air comes in Shoei’s solids but it’s also offered in 3 Journey graphics and 2 Wanderer designs. (We personally are drawn to the stunning good looks of the Shoei GT-Air Journey TC-2, but don’t let that influence you.)

The Shoei J-Cruise “leaves absolutely nothing to be desired,” according to one reviewer. He goes on the say:

“The aerodynamic design and thick padding deaden wind noise and make the inside this helmet far quieter that with any other helmet I have owned. The aerodynamic windscreen design really does redirect air down from the rider’s neck and also helps provide a quiet ride. The optically correct screen and sun shield really do seem to render a clearer picture of the surroundings. The sun screen mechanism is extremely smooth and the shade itself does not hit my eyeglasses which is a very annoying aspect of many built in sun screen helmets. Everything about this helmet says “quality”, from design to fit/finish to performance. It is the most expensive helmet I’ve ever owned and well worth the extra bucks. The J-Cruise comes in all the standard solid colors offered by Shoei: black, white, wine red , anthracite, brilliant yellow, matte black and matte deep grey.

That’s a very high recommendation from a serious long distance rider.

If you are torn, don’t hesitate to call us and discuss the features of these three models: 888-343-5638. We hope that even if you don’t win, you will consider adding one of these quality helmets to your collection.

Good luck and ride safe.

Scorpion EXO-900 Transformer – Rider’s Review

By Gerde Applethwaite

Shorter: The CE rated Scorpion EXO-900 is really a Swiss Army knife sort of helmet with a variety of features and plenty of versatility. The price seems more than reasonable to me too.

I took note of the Scorpion EXO-900 when it came out but I didn’t focus on it because I wasn’t interested in a modular unit. Now that I am an eyeglass wearer (see my previous post entitled Eyeglass Update) I have taken a closer look at the whole modular helmet scenario. I like the Scorpion because it is versatile, well thought out, CE rated and (absolutely mandatory for me) comes in a hi-viz flavor.

My head girth rings in at 60 cm.  This usually puts me right on the cusp of the medium and large dome sizes. Scorpion’s size chart steers me to the large. I popped it on and found, voila, the best fitting helmet I have ever had. The EXO-900 fits my head perfectly. I am what is known as a medium oval and this helmet feels as though it was custom crafted for my skull bone.

Ok, let’s start going through the features. The EXO-900 has a drop-down, fighter pilot, style of sunvisor. You work it with a modest push or pull on a left side lever and its easy with a gloved hand. The action is quick and smooth. When the visor drops down it pops gently off of your nose and then back up a little. Your nose may vary but for me it was just a gentle tap and then it was resting without contact. It retracts pretty easily too. The visor never got in the way of my eyeglasses. The visor is not polarized but it is dark enough to cut down on bright sunlight and its a neutral grey color. I would have preferred a nice brown lens but that’s me.

The whole modular unit hinges up and down by pulling outward on a red button on the chinbar. This too is easily done with a gloved hand. The chinbar moves up and rests on the top of the helmet. The motion is easy and sure. Scorpion goes you one better and once you have positioned the chinbar in the right place and pulled back on the 2 safety catches you can remove the chinbar unit in its entirety thereby leaving you with an open-faced helmet (with the drop-down sun visor.) That’s a neat trick. The mounting points are two bayonet style tabs in the chinbar. The tabs work in combination with the spring loaded safety catches that open up the receiving holes a bit so that you can insert the tabs. This whole operation is a bit tricky at first…and second … but by the fifth time I had it knocked. Please note that I have a bit of a hard time with shield swap outs and I have always found my Arai shields a bit of a test so I am clearly not the standard by which this process should be judged.

When you have finished removing the chinbar its time to install what Scorpion calls the “3/4 Peak Visor.” This is a plastic crescent that sits atop the upper ridge of the helmet’s face opening and snaps down along the sides of the face opening of the helmet. This makes the helmet look more like an open-faced helmet with a mini-bill, like the Shoei RJ Platinum-R. The Peak Visor uses the same bayonet and latch points that the chinbar utilizes. Once you suss the lineup, and with some practice, it also pops on and off pretty quickly. Make sure its all fully seated before you put the helmet on.

There are only two vents on the helmet and that makes sense – if you want more air take the chinbar off. Both vents open and close easily with a gloved hand: a top vent and a rear vent. I rode with the chinbar down and both vents open on a 78° day and it wasn’t stuffy inside the helmet.

The helmet has Scorpion’s air pump “Airfit” system that inflates segments of the padding around the lower part of your chin. There is a rubberized, red, circular button on the rear helmet padding: push the button – inflate the air bag. Press a small button next to the big button and release the air, hey presto. You do this with the helmet on your head and you stop when it feels right. The action on my test helmet was pretty minor so I took another Scorpion off the shelf to check it out. Apparently the inflated bag isn’t huge and the effects are subtle. I assume it will work to keep the helmet in place when you land and I can’t find any reason not to like it as long as it holds up. This is yet another clever idea from Scorpion. I have been an Arai person for years and years but I am starting to like these guys. I recently reviewed one of the Scorpion jackets and I liked the way that was put together too.

Having said that I must note that because the helmet is a modular it is necessarily heavier than my Arai. Because the Scorpion EXO-900 is a modular it is also noisier than my Arai full-face. I wear custom molded ear plugs and I also have tinnitus (life takes it tolls) so I may not be the most critical evaluator of wind noise. My testing equipment has been repeatedly and foolishly placed next to too many mega-concert speakers and has been hung out in the wind on too many unhelmeted motorcycle rides. Ahh, that’s all behind me now – sorry, what did you say?

I have two bikes, one has a moderate sized windscreen (bigger than a sport bike thumbnail but smaller than, say, a Vetter) and the other has no screen at all. The wind coming off of my screen at freeway speeds hit the helmet at an angle that seemed to catch under the ¾ Peak Visor and push my head back more than I am accustomed to. I am going to go for a ride without the chinbar and Peak Visor just to see what the wind does to the helmet on both bikes. The wind thing is tricky and you really have to match the helmet to your bike as well as to your head.

The padding material is wicking, removable and washable and feels like flannel pj’s. against your delicate skin. No, really.  As I said at the top the helmet’s interior fit me perfectly and yeah, way comfy.

The visor is billed as super strong and optically correct. From what I hear Scorpion has the visor thing down. It is also equipped with an anti-fog treatment called “EverClear” (no, not the same stuff) that they guarantee for a year. I have just gotten used to my Arai Pinlock system and fog is a thing of the past for me but riding around with EXO-900 I noticed no fogging either with the sun visor up or down. There is a chin curtain that snaps into place as well.

There are a variety of colors but quite frankly all I care about is hi-viz. They have it – I like it.

Oh – lest I forget, there are also external ports built into the helmet for a communication system. Just pop out the cover plates and install the comm.system. Scorpion does not make its own proprietary system but a host of manufacturer’s have designed adapter plates for this helmet. If you want a comm. system this should be a straightforward alteration.

All in all this is a dandy helmet and it is another of those products that I find to be well made and feature packed. Helmets keep getting better every year.  If you are already a modular wearer this one is a fine replacement and if you wear glasses this is a strong candidate for your next helmet.

Gerde Applethwaite

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!