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

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

Arai Corsair V Graphic Release: Nicky GP Camo

BORN TO RIDE

Arai will be releasing a new limited edition graphic for the Corsair V helmet this January!  We are stoked about the new Nicky GP design.  The camo finish appears to be in the shape of a helmet with a facial depiction, just add a dark smoke shield and you will be indistinguishable from other riders.  Bullets, peace signs, and the words “Born to Ride” cover the rest of the helmet making this one unique looking lid!

Arai Corsair V Nicky GP - Camo

Arai Corsair V Nicky GP - CamoThe Arai Corsair V is one of the most popular motorcycle helmets due to it’s intermediate oval shape.  Giving the rider an optimum fit and maximum comfort.  Aerodynamics on this helmet are unbeatable with no annoying sounds or pulls.  With out a doubt the Corsair V is one of our favorite helmets and we are sure you will love it just as much as we do!

Only a few will be available for a limited time so snatch one up before they vanish: http://bit.ly/1eVZ2uO

 

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

Motorcycle Safety in the Bathroom

Overheard in the bathroom stall this morning: “If I had been a better rider, I probably wouldn’t have gone down. It seemed like the car came out of nowhere!” I wanted to jump out and say, “I’m Sarah from Helmet City, how can I help you?” But I assumed the poor woman had been through enough.

As I washed my hands, I watched as she wiped the fingers that extruded from the cast and explained to her friends that she had surgery scheduled for Thursday to repair a broken bone in her wrist.

I wondered if she would ride again. Not her bike, I gathered, as I heard her telling her friends it was totaled, but ever again.  And I wondered, “What could have happened differently to keep this woman from going down after only 8 months of riding?”

How prepared are new riders after basic motorcycle training?

I know riders that have many years and thousands of miles under their belts that are still surprised by motorists and challenged by tough riding conditions. So what is the answer?

  • More classroom time?
  • Required riding with an experienced motorcyclists?

Knowing the requirements for a motorcycle helmet (which is the #1 question on the CA DMV test), being able to identify the nine important parts of motorcycle and ride in a small figure 8 is important for motorcycle safety. But how can these new riders be properly prepared for scenarios they will see on the road? How can they have the most knowledge possible under their belts before they make that difficult turn or come up against that distracted driver?

What has been the most important lesson to you to keep you safe in your motorcycling career?

And what would you say to the woman in the bathroom?

After she exited, of course…

We would love to hear your thoughts.

Helmetselfie Highlight: Scorpion Helmet in Action

Sarita

George Ferreira was the first only one to submit a helmetselfie in the the short amount of time after we announced this week’s #helmetselfie project on Google+. We know it takes some time to get those action shots with helmet on and bike revving and we will hope that more pics roll in for next week’s blog highlight.

In the meantime, we want to take a minute to thank George for all his amazing contributions. His gorgeous pictures of his Scorpion helmet are so dramatic with the reflection in the iridium shield . We have come to admire his photogenic helmet (and his skill in taking awesome selfie pictures on his bike). The scenery always looks spectacular and his composition is mototastic.

 

George has shared pictures with us from rides that cover lots of miles and lots of road. This picture was near Mono Lake in CA, but George has ridden on both coasts and many places in between.

 

So THANK YOU George for all the colorful contributions. We dedicate this week’s “Helmetselfie Highlight” to you!

Ride and safe and keep those amazing pictures coming!