Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Helmets by Kabuto

Kabuto Helmets Introduction and Review


This past week I got to check out the new line up of helmets by Kabuto. This company from Japan offers a group of helmets that offer great features and compete heavily with any mid price helmet out there. 

I have tried on all three of the full face helmets they brought to us and I have to say they all fit very differently and they all ran small to me. Each one clearly had a different shell shape and features but there was one clear winner for my noggin and I'm sure there is one for yours. 

Let's start with a look at the company first and then on to the helmets.

Kabuto got it's start way back in 1982. Today it is one of the most popular helmets in Japan and is still a leader in the industry. The word "Kabuto" comes from the well known and respected class of Samurai fighters and the helmet's they once wore. So the emphasis on quality, safety, build, and integrity of their product remains a very big part of this company's beliefs. Kabuto believes that even the very best can always be improved upon.

Kabuto helmets carry a 5 year warranty which is pretty impressive considering we're NOT talking about a five hundred dollar helmet here.. in fact we're not talking about a four or even three hundred dollar helmet....The Kamui retails for $250.

Recently I have started seeing more and more helmet manufacturers try to "up the anty" with longer warranties, crash policies, and features like drop down visors and PinLock Systems included in their helmets. Kabuto does all of the above but with one big difference. 

The helmets that Kabuto make feel, look, and just show a higher quality of built, a more reliable sense of construction, and elements in their helmets that most helmets at this price point don't. They show that the company is really striving to bringing you all of the best features they can at a very fair and reasonable price. 

So, let's take a look at the 3 models we brought into the shop this past week.

1. The FF5V

The FF5V is Kabuto's Race Helmet. It's design is the most aggressive out of the lineup and offers the features which racers will enjoy. The fit is a intermediate oval on most people, and runs a bit small especially in the neck roll area. You will find this to be true on both the FF5V and also on the Aeroblade III.  Both helmets are pretty tight going on, but this is how the helmet stays quiet and stable while riding at higher speeds. Retail price is around $430 for solids. 

The FF5V was the second most comfortable on my head, but I expected in time once the neck roll packed in the entry and exit would be better. Once on it was a really snug fit all over with no pressure points. The weight was fine coming in at about 1700 grams and the noise levels were surprising quiet just riding on the street. 

The FF5V meets the DOT standard and all of it's sizes are SNELL M2010 certified. The helmet comes in three shell sizes (XS/S, M/L, XL/XXL) and the liners interchange between each shell size and the cheek pads are also interchangeable for each model (XS through XXL) to build a more or less custom-fit helmet.



2. The Aeroblade III  



When I first took a look at the Aeroblade III I thought, "Wow, now this helmet looks nice, cool,
and intriguing to me. It's design is really hot for a street helmet and it comes with some of the same features that the FF5V does and yet is about a hundred dollars less. 

It's my belief that Kabuto really wanted this helmet to be their "RockStar" and to blow everyone away. I believe they hoped it would be the most popular of the line up and fit most people... but disappointingly it was for me the worst fit of the bunch. Great design, great features, but wayyyyy too tight and narrow for most american heads. The helmet makes a great touring and street helmet IF it fits you.

The Aeroblade III comes with a COOLMAX interior, a really cool Wake Stabilizer that really does work, "I tried it" and a kind of weird, "fish like" ventilation on the bottom of the helmet that can be removed for cleaning. Add into the mix the PINLOCK ANTI FOG system free of charge.. and well, for $350 the Shoei QWEST is lacking in a number of areas at almost the same price. 

Unfortunately, this helmet was the most painful and worse fit for me. Now, I have tried on many helmets but wow.. this one make the neck roll on a Schuberth feel like a limo compared to getting into a F1 sports car. It was excruciating to take off and lifted my eye lids up so high I actually yelled out in pain, and the skin on my cheeks to the point where I felt that my beard and skin was being pulled off.


This helmet also ran the smallest and the tightest in width of them all to me. Tight Oval for sure.

By the way both helmets use a really cool SAF quick shield replacement design that you can feel a little unsure of at times. It seemed to me to be some what difficult to be sure it was locked in place. The user must slide the "teardrop" shield cover back and forth into the right direction when taking the shield on and off which sounds easy, but at times the cover was hard to detect that it was in place, locked. So, check it to be sure after you change shields. 

The Aeroblade III also has outstanding ventilation, especially in the upper half of the helmet and offers better peripheral vision and a taller height of view than most helmets. 

3. The Kamui 


The Kamui is really an awesome helmet for it's price. Packed with all of the features that riders are asking for these days, it give them these and more all for around $250.00.


These include a drop down sun visor, PINLOCK Shield and Lens, and even grooves cut out for those of you who wear eye glasses. It is a polycarbonate shell, and is going to be great for touring and street. 

The Kamui is DOT and also ECE 22-05 certified and is the one full face helmet out of the full face group to NOT make SNELL rating, but this is of course as you all know because of it's drop down sun visor which automatically disqualifies any helmet from making it SNELL worthy.

From the moment I tried the Kamui on it was the best fitting helmet on me. Which means nothing other than it worked best on my head. Like I said before if I could see into the future, the FF5V would actually be my first pick, but the Kamui was really good right from the start.

I really like the wake stabilizer which is built into it's design to keep the helmet from moving side to side and also firmly planted down and around the riders neck all while keeping noise down. And the coolest thing too is it uses the European clasp lock..the sliding racket
alternative to the "D" ring design we have forever used here in the U.S. 

For an awesome helmet at a great price with all the great features you will want for the street or touring.. I strongly encourage you to check this great helmet out. 

CONCLUSION:

Pretty much anything Japanese is made well and has good to excellent design with well thought out features. That's exactly what the whole Kabuto line offers. Well made, safe, helmets that all vent well to excellent and are pretty impressive in the noise department compared to most others in their price range.

Add to this the PINLOCK and Drop down visor option and you will have a hard time picking your favorite. 

If I had to say anything negative about them I would just say they all seemed to run small, more specifically in the Aeroblade III and the FF5V I had to go up a whole size to be able to even get them on my head. I have NEVER worn a medium in my life. In the Kamui however I could wear my normal size small. Again, let me reiterate that the FF5V was a very close second and would probably be fine after packing in. 

These helmets are really going to give Shoei, HJC, KBC, Icon, and even AGV a run for their money. 

If you looking for a new helmet that will not break the bank but will offer you tons, go get a Kabuto!

Saturday, May 17, 2014

What is the right size for your first bike?

There's an old saying that goes... "Opinions are like assholes, everyone’s got one".  

Now I'm not an expert on anything.. But I do think that the more people you ask about something the more opinions you will get and you usually end up more confused and mixed up than when you started. So, just keep it in mind when you start asking people what they think.

Remember too that people will always tell you THEIR opinion based on THEIR experiences. 

Your ride, your lifestyle, your budget, and even your goals of what you want to do with your riding is something only you can decide and ultimately will likely change over time the longer you ride. 

Each week or so I get asked by a new rider what my opinion is around picking out your first bike. They always want to know what size I think is good for starting out with. Most people either have no idea the kind of bike they want to ride, and they might not have even considered what kind of riding they want to end up doing?

So to these folks I usually ask the following questions:

1. Have you thought about the style of bike you like, and why? If so, then start there. 
2. What kinds of riding do you realistically think you will be doing?.. aka race laps versus commuting.
3. What is your budget? And this is where I usually shock people by reminding them that their "budget" needs to also include: 

a) Gas
b) Insurance, and not just liability
c) Storage or garage rent
d) Unexpected accidents like when someone knocks their bike over. 
e) A basic budget of about one thousand dollars for their gear set up.

4. Do you plan on ever taking a passenger.. because if you do for more then one block, a super aggressive sport bike will not be a good call. Also, if you plan on touring or traveling.. think about luggage set up's for your bike and what options it will have.

All of these help narrow the field down a bit but this still leaves the motor size to consider. 

Over the years that I've been in this sport and also working at Scuderia I have repeatedly heard the same suggestion for people. NOT always from us, "the staff" but people in general have this customary response when someone new asks what size bike they should get PURELY based on this old school theory.

"Get a little 250cc to start out on. You can always go up if you outgrow it".

This seems like the generic reply that everyone has because for generation’s prior everyone else said the same thing. I happen to disagree with it and I usually follow this philosophy: 

1. If you’re concerned with power, speed, and how fast your first bike will go consider buying bike of a "higher" displacement, but on a bike that is slightly older. In other words, a 600cc bike that is from 1998 while still a 600.. will not take off, have the power, or launch you the way a newer, more powerful, higher revving motor will in a bike made today would.

Both are 600's but the older bike uses different technology and processes than what the newer bikes "that by the way are also half the weight of older bikes too" will use. So think of it as NOT so much about the displacement as much as the motor, and how the bike was designed and built to ride. Consider too if you do buy a bike a few years older, where will you go for service and how available will parts for the bike be? 

2. Never buy a new bike for your first bike. I feel very strongly about this one. There are two kinds of riders in the world. The ones who have dropped their bikes.. and the ones who are about to.  

Your first bike is really supposed to be a learning tool. It's there to teach you how to ride better and better over time. It's intent is for you to learn things like how much you'll actually use a bike, help you decide if you even like the sport, what to do when you drop it and have to pick it up? 

Skills like how to enter into a turn, how do you ride over manhole covers in the rain? Tons and tons it will teach you. So going out and buying the most incredible, sexy, super fast, "impress everyone with it" bike is idiotic and a waste of money. 

Think about this too: How are you going to feel when you come out of your house, the gym, or a restaurant and see it lying on it's side with gas leaking out of it with a huge dent in the exhaust pipe or with your levers and mirrors broken off?  

Oh, and did I mention that your brand new Italian sports bike is so new that the parts you need to fix your bike.. oh those.. well, those will take 4 months to be sent from Milan. 

In a nutshell buy a bike that you can enjoy owning and that you won't be devastated both financially and emotionally when you drop it or someone hits it. Use it to learn on. If it has a ding here, a scratch there.. so what. It shows at least your using it. 

After you have been riding for a year or two.. THEN go out and buy the pretty, sexy, cool new bike. By that time, you'll actually be able to ride it and not look like a fool. 

3. Don't buy a 250cc bike if your 6'4. Ergonomics matter. Both in the sense of comfort but also in handling and steering. If your 250 lbs. or 6'4" just because your new at riding DOES NOT mean you should get a "smaller" sized bike. You have to think about how you will fit on the bike and....

How long will it be before you find yourself having outgrown this bike and wanting a bike that has more power or speed. 

It's totally acceptable to buy a 600 or even a 800cc bike it you are this big. It still does not have to be the newest, fastest, lightest model on the sales floor. Just get a bike that you will fit on, perhaps with options like adjustable rear sets, or different seats that you can buy. And ultimately a bike that your legs, back and reach to the bars will all feel just fine on. 

At the end of the day your first bike is never going to be your last bike unless you decide the sport is not for you or it get's stolen, hit, or wrecked in some other way. It's the bike you will always go back to with great memories and a smile when you think of all the times you had on it and all the fun it brought to you. 

Sure, you'll remember it's color, the epic rides you went on, and well maybe even the time you dumped it in front of all of your friends. But you will never stay with it forever.

Some of us have even deliberately chosen NOT to stay with even one style of bike over the years. I happen to think the more types of bikes you ride, the better more versatile and well-rounded rider you become. 


Good luck and enjoy the decision making process!










Thursday, May 15, 2014

My Top 10 Motorcycle Products of 2014!

Every year people and blogs and magazines come out with their idea of the top products of the year. I figured why not me too since I get to see, sell, and hear about them directly from people everyday. So here my friends are my favorite products for this year and a brief explanation as to why I've chosen them.

1. Kriega Luggage Systems

These incredible bags, backpacks, and all sorts of products feature great design, versatility, and features for anyone on a bike. From modular systems to backpacks that FINALLY work while riding, to waterproofing techniques that will keep your things dry these ingenious bags from Kriega are the best. 

With a ten year warranty you can rest assure they will last through many rides whether your in Baja or Alaska. I've never had one of these ever returned in over 3 years, so I know they are fantastic. With a variety of attachment options you will sure to be find a tank. tail, backpack, or even pannier to work for you.


















2. The Sidi Adventure Rain boot

From it's super cool bad-ass design to it's level of comfort while riding the Sidi Adventure Rain boot rocks! For those Adventure and Touring rides you need a boot that offers ankle and shin armor, the ease of straps and Sidi's famous buckles, and is waterproof. The Adventure Rain seems to offer just the perfect blend of armor, protection, comfort and design to make it work for almost anybody. All this and they are super light too!

Offering a lug sole which is not only really nice on the feet, it's also possible to have these re-soled later for even more years of wear. The Adventure Rain is the boot of the year in my book. 


3. Giant Loop!

Giant Loop products are not only designed to last, but are so scientifically well thought out it's amazing. These adventure motorcycle packing systems typically shave 30 or more pounds of metal from adventure touring motorcycles when compared to typical motorcycle hard luggage systems and they are even made in the USA. 

Weight is positioned closer to the center of the bike – both front-to-back and side-to-side – which instantly improves off-road handling and performance. Giant Loop’s unique “biomorphic” design also wraps the load around the motorcycle subframe, placing it exactly where engineers intended for bikes to carry weight. 

Also unique are the separate dry pods to help keep your gear dry and separated. Check out the Great Basin and the Diablo Tank bags.




4. Held Phantom 2 gloves

Anyone who knows gloves knows the name Held. This German company has produced gloves since 1946 and makes some of the best out there. The Phantom is no exception. 

This glove solidifies the bringing together of age old handcrafted glove design, with some of the newest and most impressive safety and protection materials in a glove today. Not only is this glove made with really unique materials and outstanding armor, but it's actually comfortable in spite of it. 

Kangaroo palms, Titanium knuckles and even stingray leather and the very famous Held finger squeegee that everyone who owns a pair of Held gloves has come to know and love. 

While these are NOT for winter, and have no insulation they are perfect for the track and even the dangers of street riding. 




5. Rev'it Sand 2 Jacket and Pant

This past year Rev'it redesigned and refined it's Sand Jacket and pants to bring us a better fitting, better looking, and better function filled set of gear that is my personal favorite from any other that I've seen in this category and price point. 

It is virtually impossible to beat. From it's great design which offers the most points of custom fit than any other Rev'it product, to it's improved ventilation and it's compatibility for use with Leatt neck braces. Add to this two zippers that will allow the rider to put his Sand 2 pants together on either a 20cm or a full size 70cm zipper to keep the wind and rain out and you have an awesome outfit. Adjustable snaps near the mid chest FINALLY make it's vents stay open no matter what position your ride is. 

The Sand 2 pants are just as great. These well fitted and tailored pants have a rich, simple yet well thought out design and they also come in short, standard or long sizes making these one of the few off the rack pants that offer this. I also want to point out that these pants have full wrap around zippers at the ends of the pant legs, "not the usual snaps/hooks" that are found on cheaper pants. This process keeps the water and cold from entering the bottom of the pants and the riders legs.

Finally waterproofing is delivered by Rev'it Hydratex liner systems which while not Gore-Tex, also cost hundreds less and still work great. Both the thermal liner and the waterproof liner can be moved in and out independent of each other making this truly a versatile, classic, well fitting and quality outfit.





6. Go Pro Hero Cameras

Over the past two years Go Pro has exploded onto the market and now with it's series of cameras you can shoot, record, film, and edit both your best ride, or any kind of activity you want to keep forever. From it's slickly edited site featuring cliff jumpers to motor cross jumps and even surfers these cameras deliver incredible quality, speed, and can even be used underwater. 

With a vast collection of mounts, accessories, and peripherals your ride to work, or on the twists can be viewed in HD quality on any number of devices. There are 3 models to choose from, but all of them have really changed the way we ride, film, and even protect ourselves. 

The Hero 3 Black Edition even comes with a remote, so now you can film even when your hands are full. 




7.  Spidi Leather JK Jacket and Products

From the first time I touched and put on one of these jackets I fell in love with them. Not only are they made super well but the cut, design and value is outstanding. But the leather….well, the leather won me over like no other jacket I have ever touched since. 

The JK jacket is made of a beautiful sheep hide that is almost too soft to be believed. Inside you will find a removable thermal liner. Spidi jackets also come with armor in the elbows and shoulders. 

With an average price of about 500 dollars there is nothing else out there that I have found to come close to it's richness, fit, and quality. Spidi is Italian and therefore their jackets are usually very fitted and are perfect for long torso's, lean bodies, and people with "longer" arm lengths. 

The "JK" also takes a back protector which fits nicely into it's slot in the back of the jacket. 

Simply, rich, clean and luxurious the Spidi line is beautiful no matter which jacket you pick! One of my favorite choices for price/value/quality !






For incredibly well designed, comfortable, waterproof technical adventure based clothing and gear Klim is my favorite hands down. From the Badlands, "aka Bad-Ass" jacket with it's top of the line GORE-TEX 3 layer pro shell to awesome, well thought out features like D3o Level 2 armor for it's back protector, adjustable armor pockets, integrated kidney belt and whopping 8 vents integrated into it's design and all of this at the best price versus quality/construction.. The Badlands jacket and pants are the "Ferrari" of Adventure and Touring products for 2013/2014. 


More tapered with a longer, leaner cut and fit The Latitude features the same great features that the Badlands does, but in a slightly lighter, thinner package. The D3o T5 exceeds level 1 rated armor and the GORE-TEX is 2 layer, but don't be fooled... this jacket and pant combo are perfect for those riders who are more narrow and leaner in build but who still want total waterproofing along with 840 Denier Cordura for great abrasion resistance. 

The Latitude also offers jacket to pant integration by allowing the rider to zip both pieces together. Ventilation is no problem with a total of 5 vents for both intake and exhaust openings. 



Lastly new to the lineup this year is the Overland Jacket and Pant. The Overland Jacket is the perfect solution for dual-sport riding gear. Still flaunting D3o armor, 4 vents, GORE-TEX, and 840 Denier Cordura this combination is both practical and very affordable. With the option of upgrading your armor later this is my personal favorite for most riders. 



9. Schuberth C3 Helmet

I never in a million years thought that I would EVER say that a MODULAR helmet would be on a list of my favorite things, let alone something I would ever believe in, recommend, or buy. Like a lot of people I had always thought these helmets were for "older" riders on Goldwing's who were too lazy to take their helmet on and off when getting gas. With their GIGANTIC profiles and weight I was NEVER going to like them or wear one.

All of that changed the day I was introduced to the C3 by Schuberth. Until just recently this helmet was the worlds lightest and quietest modular helmet out there. NOTHING else compared. Hugely popular in Europe this helmet had been worn for years. And while today the C3Pro has surpassed it the C3 still for me is the best all around modular helmet available. 



Schuberth is known world wide for it's incredible attention to detail and high quality products and customer satisfaction. All of which becomes clear when you look closer and see the C3's features such as it's Anti-Roll-Off System (A.R.O.S.) This safety feature is in every SCHUBERTH motorcycle helmet. It ensures that provided the chinstrap is closed and correctly adjusted: 


  • the helmet cannot pivot off the head from behind
  • the risk of contact between the chin section of the helmet and the chin or neck of the rider is minimised due to the small angle of tilt
  • the consequences of the helmet coming into contact with the chest as the result of an accident are reduced
Schuberth also offers it's own Mobility Program for crashed helmets. Schuberth customers in U.S.A. and Canada who have purchased a new Schuberth helmet as the first owner from an authorized Schuberth dealer and registered it can take part in this program. The offer is good within one year of an accident (during the first 3 years of helmet ownership). This program allows a rider to purchase a new helmet at 1/3rd of retail price. * conditions apply


Lastly it's metal locking chin bar uses the same technology and design as what is used inside car doors. ECE 2205 and FMVSS No. 218 safety certified along with DOT making it safe for use in the U.S and Europe.

But it's the level of build, the interior "silence" , the insanely easy shield removal design, drop down sun visor, and price that makes it my favorite. Compared to Shoei's Neotec which retails for even more.. the C3 is the best modular helmet I have ever seen and I would buy one today. 


And last but not least.. Number 10. 

Well, it was a hard call between the Revi't SLR gloves, the Rev'it Phantom GORE-TEX gloves, and a few more products.... but in the end I had to go with the Sena SMH10 with Universal Access Intercom System. 



So as most of you know I own the SMH-10 by Sena and have used it for about the past 3 years now. I absolutely LOVE it and I stand behind my proclamation that it really is THE BEST INTERCOM SYSTEM out there for riders. 

From it's great design, to the ease of use for riders "even with gloves on", to the simplicity of the Toggle Dial I have never once had any issues with my own unit. I have used it with a passenger and also with fellow riders and it's always been a dream. 

Installation is easy and if you need help Sena has great YouTube videos online to follow. 



One of the other great things about them is that they are located in San Jose, California so if you do need technical help or need to service your device, they are not in China or some far away place. 

From the clarity of the sound, to the ease of updating firmware, to just how intuitive the whole device is.. I totally love the SMH-10. And now with it's Universal Intercom capability.. you can chat with almost anyone anywhere. Cross branding is the game changer and the new Sena has it! 

You can not loose with this or any of the other great Sena products so check them all out today!























Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Roland Sands, Ronin Jacket Review


One of the most popular jackets that I have ever seen at our store is the Ronin Jacket by Roland Sands. This leather jacket has a unmistakeable design that makes it retro, classic, and fashionable all in one. It's one of many from Roland Sands who is from Long Beach California, and who started the whole RSD line in 2005.

His background is mixed with bike builds, designing, and chopper influences that seem to all been mixed together in these beautiful jackets and gear. Just one look this jacket and you'll fall in love with the leather, the treatment of the leather, and it's cut and design. The Ronin is clean, simple, classic and has a tough edge to it. 

And more recently other color combinations, designs, and mixed colors of leather used together were added to the Ronin line making it even better. For those of you who have been searching for a beautiful BROWN leather jacket the Ronin even comes in a beautiful "tobacco" that is rich and tasteful. 

What I do like about the Ronin is it doesn't just stop at being a beautiful jacket. It also offers the choice of wearing it with or without armor. There are pockets in the jacket that will perfectly hold shoulder, elbow and back armor. The armor is sold separately, but fit's into the jacket great and is not invasive to the rider. It still keeps it's vintage/retro looks even with all the armor in place and after it's on the rider no matter what kind of bike you might be on. 

Clearly this is a jacket that is more fashion based than practical, but it still is constructed for safety in mind.

The Ronin is pretty much a fair weather riding jacket and is not meant to be worn in the rain or in the extremes of hot or cold. The jacket does not offer any kind of liner, and is also very limited in terms of ventilation. There is some perforation in the body and sleeves but it's minimal. 

If you are looking for a hot, sexy, jacket that you can wear to work, the bar, the movies etc.. it's great.

But if your looking for a jacket that you can wear all year long in all kinds of temperatures the Ronin is not it. You are going to have to wear a base layer if it's cold.. and sweat if it's hot. 

There are plenty of people who do not want practical. They want to look bad-ass and well, that's cool. But for me I feel like if I'm going to spend $600 dollars on a leather jacket, it sure as hell better come with some protection in it. The Ronin does not. Sure, you can spend another $100 dollars and get it, but in my opinion there are plenty of other jackets out there that do come with armor, that look great, and sell for much less. 

From a construction and quality standpoint the Ronin has been problem free in terms of issues of faulty hardware or seams. The construction appears to be very good, solid, and without any weak points. If you do have any problems another great feature of these jackets is that they come with a 5 year warranty. Not the average one year that most manufacturers offer. 

Lastly the RSD line offers much more than just the Ronin jacket. There are other jackets that are equally beautiful and also a ladies line. Add to this gloves, tee's, hoodies, caps, wallets and more. 

I've posted a few of my other favorite jackets here online but for sure the Ronin is the winner when it comes to popularity at the store. Make sure you check out these here too!











Monday, April 22, 2013

The Top 10 mistakes riders make with their gear

So, while of course I'm just one guy with one opinion I can speak to this topic as someone who has worked in the motorcycle apparel business for fourteen years. I've pretty much seen and heard it all from, "Do I really need all this" to "I don't crash".  

I've seen the women who are 5'1" and well, let's just say who are "larger" to the guys who are in total denial that they are no longer a 32" waist and will argue with me to death that "these must run really small". Grin


And actually, it's been a good thing and very enlightening to also be on the end of things when a product is really crappy, or let's say "fails" all of the manufacturers promises. I get to hear first hand from new riders to the most picky of people just what it is they want, and what they demand in gear.


From people who are almost impossible to fit, to those who have to match their helmet color EXACTLY to the color of their bike.. ha, I think I've met you all.


So this of course brings us to my list of the Top 10 mistakes that most riders, both new and experienced make regarding their gear and how to not make the same ones the next time you need a piece for your kit.


1. Under estimating the need for armor

Week after week I hear the same ole things over and over again. People desperately living in denial over just how hurt if not killed you can be by riding without any protection on. They have a ton of excuses. It's too expensive, it's too much for what they do, they don't ride that fast, it's just a scooter, I've been riding for years and I've never needed it, and the list goes on and on. 

Even when I tell them that I have been hit twice by a car and once by a truck all of which were hear in San Francisco and all of them taking place because the other guy was running a red light.. they still just don't want to hear what I'm saying or just refuse to believe that it could happen to them.

There are a few ways to drive this point home but none of them really work until they come in with their arm in a cast, or on crutches and hang their head in front of me and say, "You know Brian, I should have listened to you, if I had been wearing armor I would have probably never gotten as hurt as this".

People! Listen to me. I DON'T want to be right.. 
I want you to be saved. It doesn't matter what you ride, how often, how fast, or how experienced you are. It's not a question of what if... but when. You WILL need it one day. 

No matter what you ride, you should ALWAYS have a jacket with both arms covered by something other than just foam over the elbows, shoulders, and back. Your knees, hands, and ankles are not to be forgotten or stalled on until you get some extra time and cash. Buy it now and don't regret it later. 

Oh, and one more thing. It IS possible to put armor in all of your gear and or to buy it with it and still be comfortable. You don't have to hate it, or feel like your carrying a "framework" around you. With all of  the different types of armor out there today you DO NOT have to suffer being uncomfortable in it. 

Some of the most popular ones are TPro, D3O, and SAS Tech. Check them out today!


2. Buying the wrong size/model of helmet 

A while back here in my blog I did a whole article on "How to buy the perfect helmet" where I covered all of the most important things to know before you plunk down cash for that new lid. 

If you have not read it, you can check it out here: http://mylifeatscuderiawest.blogspot.com/2011/06/all-about-helmets.html

But for now here's a few of the most common mistakes people make when it comes to choosing a helmet.

a) Know which shell shape is best for your head. This is the core of finding the right fit. If you have a round head shape, a long oval will never work.


b) Wear it for 15 minutes BEFORE you buy it. Pressure points don't always show up within the first 3 minutes of wearing a helmet. Keep it on in the store and make sure it feels good over the long haul.





c) Figure the cost of owning it over 5 years, because that's how long you can keep it. ALL helmets should be thrown out after five years NOT because we want you to continue to spend more and more money but because the "soul" of the helmet, the EPS foam liner dries out and will not be able to absorb an impact if it's dry and brittle.


d) Buy it "snug" because it will only stretch out more over time. A new helmet is never "super comfortable". It is suppose to be able to make you look like a chipmunk. Yes, there is a difference between "really snug" and "painful". Remember when you buy your helmet, the day you leave with it, this will be the tightest it will ever get. 


e) Weight does matter. Polycarbonate helmets are always heavier than Carbon Fiber. That's why they are priced as such. If you ride long trips, have a neck or back issue, save yourself from being really fatigued after one hundred miles and buy a light lid.



3. Skipping buying proper riding boots


This is one of the "biggies" for me. All the time I see people come in to the shop and they are wearing tennis shoes, construction boots, hiking boots, or any other kind of footwear you can imagine. Sometimes, they are new riders who have just plunked down a lot of money for their first jacket, helmet, and gloves. Now, waiting for their next paycheck or playing a game of roulette they have chosen to just "wait on" protecting themselves from a broken foot, ankle, leg or more. 


Again people, no matter what you ride.... you NEED to save your feet and or legs. Buy something with ankle support and exterior armor and a boot that will limit the amount of lateral turning you'll be able to do while in it and you'll be happy you did later when you need it. 


This is one of the most common injuries for new riders. A broken ankle or leg with steel rods in your body or the loss of bone or toes is never going to be fun, so prevent it and just buy some good footwear. 


Again, you can read up on this on my blog here at: http://mylifeatscuderiawest.blogspot.com/2012/06/motorcycle-boots-riding-comfort.html




4. Wearing jeans is ok


I honestly don't know anyone who rides who hasn't at some point or another worn jeans while on their bike. This includes me. Jeans are just so easy, so much a part of what we wear everyday that it makes sense at some point we would do this. 


When it comes to normal jeans these will often fail within a couple of seconds (usually a lot less) with exposure to road. - they are designed to provide friction and therefore grip like tires. That means it's like running your jeans against a power sander. Imagine putting the palm of your hand against there - the skin and flesh will disappear and you'll be down to bone in around a second or two.



Even if the denim material does survive two seconds, it's unlikely the stitching will last under the stress and that may be the method by which you get gravel rash - i.e. when the stitching fails and you end up with a whole side of the jeans falling away.

In tests Kevlar motorcycle jeans can withstand the friction caused by nearly a minute of being dragged along the tarmac at speed. Therefore I'm a much bigger fan of these, plus there are options out there for you to buy them and still be able to put armor into pockets that the jeans come with to upgrade them even further. 










5. Omitting a back protector from your jacket

For the longest time when I first started riding I didn't use a back protector in any of my jackets. Then little by little I started to notice other riders coming into the store and out on the street who pointed out to me the importance of this single piece of armor.

Like a lot of riders I had always realized the importance of taking care of the front and the sides of my body, but for I overlooked the importance of protecting my back which supported and held the rest of me up. 

When you consider that your spine runs from the back of your neck all the way down to your tailbone and that without it you would be paralyzed you can quickly see the importance of protecting it. Whether the rider is hit from behind or high sides keeping that tower of bones in line is crucial. Just anyone who has ever had surgery or dealt with daily pain from an injury to their back.

Most jackets today have either a or sewn into the back of the jacket or two pieces of Velcro to which a back protector can be hung. There's a whole variety of back protectors ranging from very rigid to TPro armor which is soft and pliable. 

Like with all the other armor it's not so much a question of whether or not you are a safe rider it's about the other guy not seeing you and slamming into you from behind or you having to slam on your brakes and flying over your handlebars. And lastly remember all of these things can happen on a scooter the same way that it can on a motorcycle so no excuses.


6. Automatically choosing leather over textile because you "heard" it was the safest


It used to be that years ago people always thought that leather was the end-all be-all in terms of safety and durability when it came to motorcycle riding gear. Today however things have changed. Years ago when writers took to the roads we were usually covered in leather that ranged from 1 to 2 mm in thickness. It is traditional to have a leather motorcycle jacket, leather gloves, and in most cases leather over pants or chaps. 

This skin was tried and tested over and over to be the best material to land in and how it performed in the slide. Now, don't get me wrong, there's nothing like a sexy leather “preferably Italian” leather jacket which looks great on. However, today we have all kinds of new materials and fabrics which in some cases are actually better than leather when it comes to durability, weight, and most certainly waterproofing.  

With the introduction of things like “Superfabric”, “D-stone”, and Kevlar today's rider can wear gear that is much lighter than ever before and still stay safe both in terms of abrasion resistance and impact protection. Superfabric for instance is five times stronger than leather and yet it is one third of its thickness. This special type of fabric is usually found reinforcing crash prone areas like elbows and shoulders on jackets. 

There are even gloves that use stingray skin, kangaroo leather, and titanium all of which are so thin it's hard to believe that they are actually stronger than traditional cowhide.

So the hardest part of this challenge is to change your brain around the old-school thinking that leather is best and open your mind to the newest and technologies and fabrics for today's rider. But if you still find yourself wanting to wear leather just keep in mind there is no such thing as waterproof leather and its price point will always be higher than textiles. Leather jackets also usually do not offer the same kind of ventilation that a textile jacket can therefore making them less versatile.  

In my opinion I think the best answer to this debate is to consider where you live, the kind of writing you do, and whether or not you'll be writing year-long. These types of questions will help you decide which is best for you in the end. 













7. Understanding Waterproofing


Since this topic can get a little complicated I'm going to try to keep my discussion of it to three major points. Most people think waterproofing never works. And in many cases their right. What I have found over the years of working with motorcycle clothing is that there is basically two types of standardized treatments to keep the rider dry, and one that allows breath ability while doing so.

In the past when most companies produced clothing that was coated or treated on the outside of the jacket with a chemical or material that sealed water out. They would use a sprayed-on application similar to silicone or a liquefied vinyl and apply it to the outside of the jacket. This would work great for while but in the end this outer coating would usually fade away. Then you would have to reapply it again by using products like Scotchguard, or Nick wax. We found ourselves doing this every two or three years and slowly by slowly the longevity that this outer spray would hold became shorter and shorter.

The other major problem with this type of application when it comes to waterproofing was that there was absolutely no way that the material would still offer the rider breath ability allowing you to stay cool and dry. Once it started raining you found yourself feeling as though you were in a plastic bag. While the outside of your jacket stayed dry, you melted inside of it. So it is safe to say that there's really no way to treat the outside of the jacket and make it fully waterproof without essentially sealing it.

Today, we see a slightly different approach. One that is much more practical and makes more sense for those of us who ride in a variety of climates. You can find many jackets that are designed with multiple layers. These jackets usually have a waterproof membrane inside of the jacket, and a thermal liner. In a really well-designed jacket or pant each one of these layers is removable separately. This allows the rider to have a jacket which he or she can adapt to whatever temperature you might be riding in.

There are varying degrees of breath ability that all of these membranes have. Some of the most common ones are Hydra-tex, Agua-tex, and D-dry but there are many more all offering different amounts of air flow. Also keep in mind that no matter what type of jacket you buy the zippers are always going to be problematic. This is the area of most jackets and pants were water finds its way in and eventually leaks onto you. Rubberized zippers and pockets like those found in scuba suits, usually do the best job of keeping you dry.

Your final option will usually come down to buying something with Gore-Tex. There's a lot to be said for Gore-Tex and why it costs so much. Most people don't realize that there are many different types of Gore-Tex made in a variety of thicknesses. Once you do your research you will see that Gore-tex's magic comes from extremely small holes in the fabric which allows air to pass out but prevents water from coming in. 

For the longest time I refused to spend the money and over and over I ended up wet or boiled in a bag. But today after years of trying to find a cheap way around this problem, I have finally surrendered to Gore. Sure it costs more money, but when you're riding for two hours in a downpour it only takes a second to see why this stuff is really worth the price.

Is this always the best choice for every rider? No. Again, you have to gauge the kind of riding you do, the climates that you pass through, your budget, and just how comfortable you need to be. In the end you will decide if a “shell”, or a jacket with either an exterior treatment or membrane design will be best for you.



8. Buying gloves too small or wearing "shorties" because they are just easier to put on



One of the biggest mistakes I see week after week at the store are people who come in to buy gloves and don't realize the basics or what to look for. So let me see if this helps. Gloves are just like motorcycle boots... they stretch in width but never in length. 

You never wear gloves with your hands and fingers extended straight out. When you take your hand and wrap it around the grip on your bike your fingers actually press farther into the length of each finger right up against the seam. So make sure that when you buy a pair of gloves you try them out on a grip and leave a little extra room at the end so that when your hand is in a “C” position you won't be pressing into the seams on the end of the glove.

Depending on what the glove is made out of this will also play a role in terms of how much stretch can take place. In other words if you have a textile glove for the winter months or for the rainy season these gloves never stretch out. They are designed and usually made out of material that doesn't change over time so when you buy these gloves make sure that you buy them to fit right out of the gate.  

Conversely, leather gloves will stretch and it all depends on where the glove is tight on your hand when you buy it. Just remember to leave a little bit of room at the end of your fingers so that you don't find yourself blowing out the seams after two or three months.

Lastly keep in mind that if you're going to buy a pair of gloves with armor on them these have to feel comfortable from day one. Every glove will break in but if you feel any kind of irritation or pain from the armor on the glove when you first try on it's only going to get worse while you wait for it to break it. Don't do it, move on to another one.  

One of the other styles of gloves that many people choose are called “Shorty” gloves. These are gloves that do not have a gauntlet and stop right at your wrist. These are very popular for people who have either a jacket with a very wide cuff, people who ride cruisers, or for people who just want to be able to throw their gloves on and go. While I understand how easy these are, I never suggest these especially to new riders. 

The reason why I never suggest these is because in the event that you go down and your jacket is pulled up towards your elbow, the space between your wrist and the end of your jacket will be left exposed. This is a great way to end up with road rash or breaking your wrist. You have 27 bones in your hand and wrist and trust me if you've ever broken your wrist you know it's a long process and a real pain in the butt to deal with while you're healing. It can often times require surgery and a long recovery. 

I always say consider what you do for work and your job and or life. Can you afford to take 8 to 12 weeks off from your job/life because you have broken your wrist or arm?

If you absolutely have to wear the Shorty style of glove then I would recommend finding one with a three-quarter sized gauntlet. Just make sure you have something around your wrist bone whether it's soft padded armor or hard. This way you can minimize the chances of at least breaking your wrist.



9. Wearing "half-helmets" because they are cute and retro


Denial and image obsession are two really powerful things. 

I will never understand why someone would put their own safety at risk just so that they can look "Italian-ish". Here in San Francisco there are so many people who ride scooters that it's become a whole community of people who share the same love for these cute little rides. You can even join a scooter club and don't be surprised at how many people wear these there.

Even worse, are the people who come in to take their children or loved one and insist on putting one of these helmets on their heads because they "don't ride very often" and they don't want to spend "a lot of money" on a full face helmet. Really? 

This is about the stupidest thing I think I have ever seen when it comes to people buying motorcycle gear. Upholding an image or choosing to save 20 dollars over loosing half of your face? 

Looking like your back to the 60's is cool sure, but destroying your face, your jaw, and all of your teeth definitely is not. Not to mention that these Shorty helmets are really cold and offer no protection for your eyes. A few of these come with the option of a three-point snap on shield. This is a pretty universal design so most helmets that have snaps right above your eyebrows can take these, however especially around here in San Francisco few people ever use it.

There are a few helmets out there that are at least made of fiberglass versus plastic, and yet at the end of the day no matter what it's made out of any area that is open will be exposed to injury. I have never liked these helmets and would never wear one on a highway and even cringe when I see someone in one on a city street. Mine stays on my shelf at home more or less as a toy to look at and remember the "old" days in. 

The argument that some people make about feeling claustrophobic in a full face helmet usually comes down to wearing the wrong helmet shape in the first place for their head  or they are just not sincerely comfortable or committed to riding. There are other solutions other than exposing the bottom half of your face to the pavement that can still keep you comfortable and happy inside of your helmet.  

So I would recommend you think twice before “looking cute” and consider a full face helmet no matter what you are riding, or how often you do so. Just my opinion.









10.  A White helmet is the safest color to buy so you can be better seen


Today we have people on cell phones, texting, and more or less doing ten things at once and not paying attention to any one of them fully. My philosophy has always been the following: 

Assume that they don't see you, and if they do.. 
they don't care. 

It's YOUR job as the rider to make sure you are seen and to position yourself whenever possible so that an accident can be avoided. If this means honking your horn, placing your bike OUT of the blind spots etc.. then we just do it.

To solely rely on a color of a helmet and to assume that it will be noticed more than another with the exception maybe of "High Vis" colors.. is for days that are long gone. Things have changed and now with color GPS screens, iPhones, and a million other distractions most drivers don't even pay attention to the road or the cars around them let alone the color of a small little "ball" moving from lane to lane in front or behind them.

Like my friend Bob says "They can't hit what they don't see".. grin. Meaning maybe going "stealth" is a good thing..ha. But seriously the difference between a silver helmet and a white one.. in my opinion is zero when it comes to which one will a driver see first. There are however work round's.

If you like black, I say buy it. You can still put stickers and reflective surfaces on your bike, jacket and helmet to bump up the visibility. The old stand by The "Halo" works great and will not ruin your new helmet after you decide to take it off. Plus it gives you a full 360 degree band of light for your added safety.


At the end of the day color is not going to save you. Quality gear, good fabrics, safe and effective armor, and skillful riding will or at least give you the best chances. 


So there you have it. The top 10 things that I repeatedly tell riders and try to teach them about their gear. Hopefully, this will help you all in the future the next time you need to buy something for you and your bike riding experiences. Take care and be safe out there.


Until next time,


Brian