The assignment was simple: Pick your top five motorcycle goodies, no matter how big or small. But when you consider the limitless possibilities, the task suddenly gets difficult: Which moto obsessions should you feed? There can be so many. Nevertheless, our staff of contributors rose to the occasion with some interesting picks to consider this holiday season.
1. Ben Spies Finishes Top Five In 2010 Rookie MotoGP Season
There is nothing I like better than watching a fast American in MotoGP. 2009's most promising American rider is rookie Ben Spies (born in Tennessee), fresh from his 2009 World Superbike Championship. His success this season will dictate his graduation to a factory race team and ultimately a chance at the 2011 MotoGP title. A top five 2010 season finish would be one of the most entertaining Christmas gifts for me this year. MSRP: Priceless.
2. Ducati Hypermotard 796
Ducati's newest entry-level bike looks the part of its bigger brother (the Hypermotard 1100) but is much more reasonably priced. The major differences include a smaller engine, more generic suspension, and a few different color schemes. So I hear, the fun factor is right up there with its' older brother. MSRP: $9,995.
3. AFX FX-37 DS Supermoto Helmet
Think of this helmet as a DOT-approved motocross helmet with a face shield that looks equally cool while raising hell on your supermoto or dual sport bike. It streets at around $100 making it a mighty fine holiday bargain. MSRP: $114.95.
4. Corazzo Coffee Jacket
The only thing I hate worse than scooting on a cold blistery morning is scooting without my favorite hot beverage of choice, coffee. This insulated coffee holder has a strap attached so you can hang your hot java of choice from the bag hook found on most modern (and some vintage) scooters. With the coffee jacket, warm sips of heaven are available at every stoplight. MSRP: $14.99.
5. Alpinestars SPX Gloves
The Vols' black and orange uniforms in the win over USC this Halloween really have got me liking that color scheme. These ¾ length gloves have flexibility without sacrificing durability in cool orange and black colors. They're made from a combination of full grain leather and air mesh and feature carbon fiber knuckle protectors. At around 100 bucks the SPX gloves don't break the break as far as quality motorcycle gloves go. MSRP: $99.95.
1: No-Mar Classic Tire Changer And MoJo Lever
This tire changer costs about $600 but can be had for less at race events, International Motorcycle Shows, etc. I can and do change skinny tube-type tires myself, wrestling them around on the garage floor atop an old tire. And I usually get Remy at Cycle One or Ralph at Somethin Extra to change my fat, modern, tubeless tires. But it sure would be nice to be able to change tires whenever I want and not scratch up the rims. Besides cost, the only issue with owning a tire machine is finding a place to put it, as they are designed to be bolted to the floor. Most folks (including me) don't have that much floor to give up for a tool that gets used infrequently, so for the space-impaired No-Mar offers an optional mount that attaches to a vehicle trailer hitch receiver. The No-Mar machine comes with No-Mar's own mounting/demounting bar, but the MoJo Lever ($99 from Preston Drake, home.comcast.net/~prestondrake/mojoweb.htm) is the choice of many tire changers, and as long as we're wishing….
2: New Air Compressor
I have a small, ¾ horse air compressor in the shop that works adequately for inflating tires and blowing dust and drilling swarf from my workbench into my eyes. I got it 15 years ago at a garage sale from my mother-in-law's taxidermist neighbor. I'm sure it worked fine for inflating pheasants as well, but it's time for an upgrade, as it leaks pump oil all over the floor and it takes forever to fill its small tank. Something that would run air tools would be nice as well. I have been hanging around Home Depot's tool department, looking longingly at the Husky 3.2 Running HP 60 Gallon Cast Iron Air Compressor for $399, but so far my wife hasn't noticed. This baby should run anything I'd ever connect to it, and its vertical tank would actually save me some valuable floor space.
3: Arai Profile Helmet (XXXL)
I am cranially endowed. Grampa was a melon-head too. I thought all helmets, even in porn-size XXXL, were tight and painful until I slipped into a black Arai Signet in that size at the since-crisped BMW/Kawasaki shop on Lovell Road around 1992. Since then I have had three Signets, all XXXLs. The Signet is now gone from Arai's catalog, but the long-oval head shape (think Alien) lives on in the Profile. The manufacture date embossed in the chin strap of my current Signet says 2002, but I haven't found a Profile to try on yet, even at the IMS. At $530, it's not a cheap helmet, and the porn size comes in just black, white, silver, and black frost, which seems an unfortunate name for a motorcycle helmet color. I've tried other helmets allegedly designed for the cranially endowed, but nothing fits me like an Arai. The Arai fit, finish, and new smell are bonuses.
4: Penske (or other) Rear Shock
The first-generation Yamaha FZ1 is a great bike, but it was sprung for a 90-pound rider. I changed the springs on mine to match my weight, somewhere north of 90, but after 22,000 miles the rear shock is feeling a little bouncy, and it was a cheap part when it was new. There are other, massively expensive options for this bike (cough, Ohlins), but for "only" $625 Traxxion Dynamics can set me up with a Penske Sport shock that's better than I'll ever need. It comes with a new spring matched for my weight and riding style, and is blingy in a non-blingy way. She's been a good bike and deserves some shiny new underpinnings. "But honey, this way I won't need a whole new bike."
5: Bead Blaster (contingent on #2)
If I had the new air compressor, I'd next need a bead blaster to tax it. Like magic, I could remove rust from steel and crust from alloy, and paint from anything. I don't always like the finish a bead blaster gives aluminum cases, but anything painted can be cleaned and prepped in no time with a powerful media blaster. I could experiment with walnut hulls, plastic media, soda, ahh the pleasant daydreams… One drawback of media blasting is all the dust it generates, no matter how tight the door seal. And while we're talking doors, if we're wishing here, I'd want a blast cabinet large enough to accommodate a bare motorcycle frame, and a separate outbuilding to keep the grit and dust away from delicate finishes and oily motor internals. Eastwood sells some top-of-the-line blast cabinets, and it looks like $2,500 would buy one in the size I'd want. Maybe I should ask Santa for a lottery ticket.
1. Tourmaster Glove Liners
Black silk glove liners are the answer to keeping your hands from freezing stiff and still being able to squeeze the clutch lever. They're thin as a spider's web, and underneath a winter glove will help keep your hands warm, dry, and flexible. From Tourmaster, or locally from Destination Motorcycles (19234 Hwy 11E). $9.99. Size small men's please, Santa.
2. Gore-Tex Waterproof Gloves
Biker Rags (10609 Kingston Pike) has GORE-TEX gloves that are guaranteed to be waterproof. They're soft, flexible, and long and wide enough to fit over the end of your jacket comfortably. MSRP: $84.95. While you're in Biker Rags, Santa, pick up another pair of boots just like the last ones you brought me. Classic Harness style, $99. I can't find another pair I like better. Ladies size 9.5 please.
3. 6th Gear Spirit Jacket
The leather jacket I like best is the 6th Gear Spirit jacket at Ultimate Motorsports (10612 Kingston Pike). It's soft, fits me well, has lace up sides for fit adjustment, and the leather is thick enough to keep me warm. The collar is nice, too: small and lies flat so it doesn't catch on the front of my helmet. MSRP: $199.
4. Cargo Basics Bags
I found the neatest bags at Cycle Gear (266 N. Peters Rd.). The tail and tank bags by Cargo Basics have lots of zippered compartments, and they both have handles so they can be carried easily to your tent or motel room. The tail bag expands to hold a full-face helmet. The tank bag has a map pocket right on top, and a zipper to expand the room inside to fit your stuff. MSRP: $59.99 each.
5. First Gear Monarch Jacket
First Gear makes a women's jacket that actually fits yours truly in their Technical Performance Gear line, the Monarch, and it has too many features to list here. Go see Pete at Destination Motorcycles. He would be delighted to explain the high-tech d30 armor with the intelligent shock absorption capability. The outer jacket fits comfortably, even with the good-looking-all-by-itself inner liner and the base layer worn underneath. The base layer is like a pair of long underwear, but very thin, priced separately at $39.99 for the short sleeve version, $44.99 for LS, and $49.99 for the pants. The winter base layer is $69.99 each. The jacket, which includes the water-resistant liner, comes in green/blue, black/silver, and sand/brown. I like the green one, size large. $469.95. Did I mention the Kevlar shoulder and elbow protection? The waterproofed zippers? The optional L.E.D. light that fits on the back?
1. Titanium Pro Light Wrenches
When you're on a long dirt-bike ride, and you have to carry everything that you possibly can in a fanny pack, you appreciate every ounce you don't have to lift every time you stand up on the pegs. Sure, this is a lot of money for wrenches, but when you get to the end of a long grueling trail ride and your legs are too tired to get your raw derrière off the seat, you'll be happy you spent the extra pesos on the titanium tools. MSRP: $111.
2. Arai XD3 Dual Sport Helmet
Arai was the first helmet manufacturer to make a helmet specifically designed to work equally well on road and off. I don't have this model, but I know people who use this as their only helmet. It's that good, or so they tell me. The slide-up face shield and removable visor give you lots of versatility, and the chin guard is moved out to give you some extra air on the trail. Arai's aren't cheap, but you get what you pay for. Available locally at Dual Sport Touring (2887 W. Lamar Alexander Pkwy., Friendsville, www.dualsporttouring.com). MSRP: $569.
3. Okie Shade
All of us have been there: You're riding into the setting sun that's low on the horizon, and those golden rays are burning your corneas like you're staring into an eclipse. This simple strip of tint does wonders, plus it looks a lot better than a piece of electrical tape. MSRP: $19.
4. Klim Revolt Dual Sport Pants
When you're on a long dual-sport ride, blue jeans just don't hack it, and regular dirt bike pants don't have vents or pockets to carry stuff. Klim (pronounced "Climb") makes gear that's holds up extremely well, plus looks great. The closable vents allow you to stay warm when the start of the ride is cool, and to cool off when the temperature gets up later in the day. Perfect for spring and fall rides. Available at Tellico Mountain Outfitters (106-A Scott St., Tellico Plains, www.tellicomoto.com). MSRP: $89.99.
5. SPOT Satellite Messenger
The SPOT Satellite Messenger is an emergency GPS device that works sort of like those emergency buzzers that old people can push when they've fallen and can't get up. No matter where you are on the globe, if you have a roadside emergency you can hit the button and emergency responders will be called, and most importantly, directed to the exact location of you and your wadded up machine. It works where cell phones don't. Another feature, that is much more fun, is that you can purchase a service that allows your non-riding buddies and family to track your progress across the country on the computer. You can even set it up to update your Facebook page so you can rub your adventures in the face of your friends. Pretty cool gizmo that may actually save your hide someday. MSRP: $99 plus $99 year service fee.
1. Ducati Desmosedici
With all the newer bikes out, it can be tough to decide on just one, but I've had the chance to ride just about all the '09s and for me, the Desmo fits the best. With GP engineering and all the best go-fast parts on it, the Desmo weighs in at roughly 380 dry and claims to have roughly 200 hp. For a street steed, this is one bad mother. Then add all the Brembo brakes, Ohlins suspension, and a set of $18,000 wheels, then put it all under carbon fiber bodywork, and you have an incredible bike for special times. Ducati initially made only 1,500, but the demand was so high that production continued for the masses. When they were first unveiled in '06 at the GP in California the price tag was $85K but with some searching you can find them as low as $60K in the box. Santa, if you are reading this, please send one this way.
2. Toy Hauler
For those of you who can't get enough of the track, this is a must-have for all your weekends away. Man camp can easily be set up trackside for a very comfortable day or two of after-hours lounging. With all the amenities of the couch at home, most trailers still maintain the same configuration: bedroom, restroom, kitchen/seating area, and a storage bay with a ramp on the back big enough to hold two bikes minimum. Prices can vary depending on the quality and size, but a good starting price is about $10,000 for something really basic. It can get expensive quickly, so it just depends on how much you are willing to spend. Don't forget, you need to pull this mobile living room around, too, so add a good truck for towing into your costs. Much more can be uncovered through Toy Hauler Magazine.
3. Good Gear
Not all gear is created equal. While many mix and match manufacturers, I have found that sticking with the same company can give you better insight on sizing and quality. While there is definitely no shortage finding something a bit more tailor-made out there, I think many of my best suits have come from Alpinestars, right off the rack. Off the rack might not work for everyone, but they do fit most riders out there. Many of us can find something that works well from mixing and matching jackets and pants to get the right fit, right down to finding that body glove fit of a sweet one-piece suit. A-Star has a complete line up for every type of rider and his or her needs.
4. Back to School
I'm sure you have been told this before, but you are never too old to learn more, or to relearn all the stuff you thought you knew. In the last five years, many advanced riding schools have cropped up at various tracks across the nation. This was really in response to the increased demand of riders wanting a better education on all they are enjoying. Make no mistake about it, not all schools are created equal, and the education is only as good as you want it to be, meaning you can only learn as much as you will allow yourself to. In fact, many qualified riders typically head back to the classroom every five or so years, just to brush up on the sport. Remember the key to a good education is being able to communicate and interact with the instructors, so when looking for a good school to go to, find one you are comfortable with. Depending on location, there are many good schools out there. Two to look at would be Kevin's school at Barber Motorsports: schwantzschool.com, or the infamous Keith Code School in California: superbikeschool.com
A helmet is one of the single most important pieces of gear for any speed junkie, let alone anyone who jumps on a bike and heads down the road. This is the last line of defense between you and what your egg is going to get cracked into if an issue should arise. I won't fool you either, brand is as important as fit and not all helmets are created equal. The primary focus for any helmet purchase is fit, above all. A helmet needs to fit snugly and securely on the head, and shouldn't have much wriggle room. After finding the correct helmet to match the shape of your head, your helmet should fit tightly so there is little movement either up/down or side to side. This might sound like an easy search to complete but in fact can be one of the hardest things to finish off your protective gear collection with. Never mind cool graphics, or new and exciting accessories, your helmet should be fit for comfort first and foremost. There's no need for Bluetooth connections, internal speakers, funky mohawks or anything else that is used to make their helmet stick out in the crowd of sales. Stick with a proven maker, and find the best fit possible for your head. After that, hope you never need to test it.
J. BRAD HARDIN
1. A Vintage RS250 Suzuki Dirtbike
Or, an old IT250 Yamaha. I've got Yamalube in my blood, but was raised on 'Zukes.
2. A Sorted-Out RZ350
Kept as close to stock as possible. Ditch the stock pipes/anchors, add Boyesen reeds and Spec II chambers, steering dampener, sticky tires, an assortment of sprockets. Open season for squids on the Dragon.
3. 12 Volt Heated Riding Gear: Vest, Gloves And Socks
A heated vest maintains our core temperature, which allows better circulation throughout our hand and feet- avoiding or postponing stage 1 hyperthermia.
4. An Edelweiss Tour
Escorted by someone as capable as Richard H. My choice of tour dates, as prescribed.
5. The Week Off Before/During/After The Next Barber Vintage Rally
Hopefully with something to ride round the track a few times. Preferably a the XBRR Buell, or just the stock 2008 1125R- better yet, the 1125RR.
(Surely we can giterduun for a measly, well spent $10K. Over the course of a year, wholelottanuthin.)