With the 2014 riding season drawing to a close and the holidays approaching, now is the perfect time to take stock of your motorcycle gear and decide what needs to be replaced. Has your favorite riding jacket mysteriously shrunk, or have its seams or zippers blown out? Is your helmet showing its age, or has it been dropped or dinged one too many times? Ready for a new pair of gloves or a cutting-edge gadget?
If you’re anything like us, you’re notoriously hard to buy gifts for. To make things easier, we’ve assembled a bumper crop of road-tested gear that will make any motorcyclist smile. The prices of a few items are pretty steep, so you can always tell loved ones that a Visa gift card, or gift certificates for local dealerships or gear distributors like Aerostich and Twisted Throttle, can help put premium gear within reach.
AEROSTICH R-3 ONE-PIECE SUIT
Andy Goldfine and the Aerostich team have been making Roadcrafter suits since 1983. While the easy-on-and-off coverall design and combination of mil-spec Cordura and waterproof Gore-Tex materials have stayed pretty much the same, the suit has evolved over time. The third-generation Roadcrafter, dubbed the R-3 (we still just call it a ‘Stich), is unlined so it’s lighter and cooler on hot days, and its zippers are now fully waterproof. Details about the R-3’s vents, armor, ballistic panels, numerous pockets and other features are on Aerostich’s website and in its extensive catalog, along with sizes, colors, custom alterations and accessories (we recommend the Emergency Medical Information Pocket, $27). Handmade in Minnesota, the R-3 ($1,067) is a rugged, high-quality suit that’s the epitome of practical design. You’ll own it for years, and when the time comes, Aerostich offers cleaning, repair and refurbishment services.
AVON ROADRIDER TIRES
Need modern grip for your vintage bike? Fresh, durable rubber for your commuter or mid-sized machine? Avon’s Roadrider is a bias-ply tire that lays down a large contact patch for dependable grip at all lean angles, at speeds up to 149 mph. Jointless Variable Belt Density positions the steel wires in the center close together for high-speed stability and even wear, while those on the shoulders are spaced farther apart for optimal cornering grip. The tread’s interrupted center groove resists tracking, and interlocking 3-D points in the sipes limit tread flex and help the tires warm up quickly. Having tested these on his ’92 Yamaha Seca II, Clem tipped his beret to Avon. Front, rear and universal tires are available in a wide range of sizes, covering wheel diameters of 15 to 21 inches and widths of 1.85 to 4.50 inches. MSRP ranges from $115.99 to $214.99.
BMW TWO IN ONE GLOVES
// // bmwmotorcycles.com
Made for BMW Motorrad by German apparel manufacturer Held, Two In One Gloves are a novel solution to a classic problem: needing to switch gloves as riding conditions change. Two separate chambers—literally one glove on top of the other—serve different functions. The top PROOF chamber is a Gore-Tex-lined, breathable yet wind- and waterproof glove with an insulated lining. The bottom GRIP chamber is made of unlined, perforated, highly abrasion-resistant 0.7mm kangaroo leather for optimal grip and warm-weather comfort. These are premium, comfortable gloves with ample crash protection, Velcro wrist and gauntlet straps for secure fit, and color-coded tabs identifying each chamber. Although somewhat large and bulky, we have no complaints about fit, feel on the grips or waterproofness (they passed the bucket test). Available in sizes 6-6.5 to 12-12.5 for $209.
CORTECH GX SPORT 3 SUIT
Cortech (and sister brand Tour Master) offers versatile, feature-packed apparel that’s easy on the wallet and fits a wide range of riders. The GX Sport 3 textile jacket and pants are sold separately, but together they make for a stylish, lightweight sport or sport-touring suit. Both have a 600D Carbolex shell with 1680D ballistic panels, CE-approved armor and removable waterproof liners, and the jacket also has a zip-out insulated liner. Vents, pockets, adjustment straps and reflective material abound. The “performance cut” of both pieces, with pre-curved arms and accordion panels above the knees, is comfortable on and off the bike, and the suit works well in cool to hot conditions. The jacket is available in six colors ($224.99; men’s XS-4XL, tall M-3XL), while the pants come in black only ($179.99; men’s XS-4XL, short and tall M-3XL).
Is your motorcycle’s stock toolkit meager or nonexistent? CruzTOOLS makes specialized tools and toolkits for motorcyclists (and for musicians, if you happen to play guitar or bass) covering a wide range of applications, from specific brands such as Harley-Davidson and BMW to more universal kits. Two of our favorites are the DMX2 (left) and RoadTech M3 (right). Aimed at dual-sport/off-road riders, the 4.5-pound DMX2 ($139.95) packs essential tools into a durable, two-sided zippered pouch with an extra storage pocket (we added a siphon hose, tow strap and JB Weld), and it comes with a raincover and straps for mounting to an off-road-style front fender. The 3-pound RoadTech M3 ($89.95) is a compact, well-stocked tool roll for metric cruisers, sport tourers, etc. that we carry with us on road tests. Check out CruzTOOLS’ website for a complete catalog and detailed contents of each toolkit.
FIELDSHEER LADIES LENA 3.0 JACKET
Finding ladies’ motorcycle apparel that is stylish, fits the feminine shape well, and has the necessary protection can be a challenge. Fieldsheer, which celebrates its 35th anniversary this year, recently revamped its entire apparel lineup, and one of the best-looking items is the Lena 3.0 jacket. The 500D Maxtena-Pro shell has an hourglass cut, and it comes in tasteful solid colors (black, blue, silver or white) with black reflective piping that runs down the front and back of each sleeve. Inside are removable insulated and waterproof/breathable liners and CE-approved armor at the elbows, shoulders and back. The vented, adjustable, five-pocketed jacket has endeared itself to our female tester, whose only complaint is that a matching pair of pants is not available. The Lena 3.0 ($259.99) is available in XS-XL and S-XL plus sizes.
FIRSTGEAR KILIMANJARO JACKET
Not many people ride when it snows, but our intrepid Editor-in-Chief dodged snowflakes during the press launch for the liquid-cooled BMW R 1200 RT, and he was wearing the Firstgear Kilimanjaro jacket, named after the 19,341-foot mountain in Tanzania that’s topped with snow and ice year-round. In Firstgear’s lineup for over 15 years, the venerable Kilimanjaro has been extensively updated with a 400D Hypertex waterproof/breathable shell, 640D reinforced areas and D3O T5 Intelligent armor at the shoulders and elbows (it needs a D3O back protector too, rather than just a foam pad). It has a removable insulated liner, large waterproof pockets and an under-helmet rain hood stored in the collar, but venting is limited so it’s not ideal for hot summer days. The comfortable, durable, three-quarter length Kilimanjaro ($319.95) is ready for adventure, in DayGlo, silver or black (men’s S-4XL, tall L-2XL).
GARMIN ZUMO 590LM GPS
Do-it-all smartphones have all but replaced music players, point-n-shoot cameras and other gadgets, but for on-bike navigation there’s still no substitute for a purpose-built, weatherproof GPS with a glove-friendly touchscreen. Garmin’s latest is the zumo 590LM, with a larger screen (5 inches vs. 4.3) that’s easier to read in sunlight and has features not found on the 390LM, such as a dual-orientation display, removable battery, music/media control (including Pandora), live traffic and weather (via Smartphone Link app), round-trip routing, 3-D terrain and more. Like the 390LM, it’s Bluetooth compatible, comes with lifetime map updates, includes motorcycle and car mounts, and works with Garmin’s optional tire-pressure monitoring system and VIRB Action Camera. If you’re not a media junky, the 590LM ($799.99) might be overkill (and its many input jacks cannot be removed from the wiring harness), but its bigger, easier-to-read, more glove-friendly screen won us over.
JOE ROCKET LADIES ATOMIC JACKET & ALTER EGO PANTS
Another boon for female riders/passengers is Joe Rocket’s Ladies Atomic 4.0 jacket and Ladies Alter Ego 2.0 pants, which, despite their different names, are a matching set. Both have abrasion-resistant Rock Tex outer shells; the jacket is waterproof with a removable, full-sleeve insulated liner, while the pants have a removable rain liner. SureFit adjustments customize fit, CE-approved elbow/shoulder/knee armor and back/hip pads provide protection, and airflow is managed with the jacket’s Variable Flow vents and the pants’ wrap-around Free-Air mesh panel with zip-on cover. This outfit kept our female tester warm and dry during a weeklong tour in cool, wet Norway, and she loves the form-fitting shape, stylish design and height-adjustable pants hem. The Ladies Atomic 4.0 jacket ($159.99-$174.99, XS-2Diva) is available in five colors, and the Ladies Alter Ego 2.0 pants ($199.99-$214.99, XS-2XL) come in black only.
JOE ROCKET R1000X HELMET
The new R1000X, which is made for Joe Rocket by HJC, the largest helmet manufacturer in the world, has an aerodynamic polycarbonate composite shell, a dual-density EPS impact-absorbing liner and a removable, washable QwickDry interior. Weighing in at 3 pounds, 11 ounces (size medium), it’s a tad heavy, but comfort, noise reduction and ventilation are all satisfactory, especially for a lid that costs just $169.99. There’s no drop-down sun shield, but the hard-coated, anti-fog, UV-blocking face shield is easy to change (clear is standard, tinted shields optional), and it locks closed or in a slightly open position to allow in fresh air without flopping around. Available in multiple colors with two graphics treatments, Lithium (shown) and Blaster, the R1000X comes in sizes S-2XL and meets DOT and Snell M2010 standards.
KLIM LATITUDE SUIT
Popular among adventure/dual-sport riders, Klim gear is tough, well-made stuff. We’ve tested the Latitude for days on end, from hot, dusty trails in Oregon to cold, wet mountain roads in New England and Norway. We love the cut and feel of the suit—Klim calls it “high-mobility active fit patterning”—which allows freedom of movement without bunching or binding. An outer shell of 840D Cordura combines with a Gore-Tex Performance Shell membrane, D3O T5 Evo XT armor, numerous pockets, high-quality waterproof zippers, multiple vents and other field-tested features. Klim’s tagline is “Guaranteed to Keep You Dry,” and we agree—as long as you snug the collar’s elastic cinch strap to keep water from entering at the neck. The jacket ($479.99 -$519.99, men’s S-3XL) comes in black, gray or hi-viz yellow, and the pants ($399.99-$419.99, men’s 28-42, tall 30-42) come in black or gray.
KRIEGA R25 BACKPACK
U.K.-based Kriega makes rugged motorcycle backpacks and luggage, and its R25 backpack is a staff favorite. The Quadloc four-point harness distributes the load on the chest and hips to reduce neck and shoulder strain, and the unique quick-release buttons are the easiest we’ve ever used. Made of 420D ripstop nylon with a 1000D Cordura harness and base, the R25 ($189) has a 25-liter capacity with a large main compartment, interior zippered pocket and laptop sleeve, and one external zippered pocket (we wish it had more external pockets). We upgraded ours with a Kube pocket ($25) that attaches to the harness and is perfect for a camera or smartphone, and a 3L hydration reservoir with tube ($49), which fits inside the laptop sleeve. The optional Forcefield back protector insert ($69) is great, but it can’t be used simultaneously with the hydration reservoir.
MACNA GEO2 JACKET & JUMPER PANTS
Macna’s all-season, abrasion-resistant textile apparel has kept us dry and comfortable in a wide range of climatic conditions. Its Geo2 jacket has CE-approved elbow/shoulder armor, a foam back pad, removable waterproof and thermal liners, and a detachable collar/front panel with high-flow mesh underneath. Its Jumper pants have CE-approved knee armor, foam hip pads and a removable rain liner. Both have great attention to detail, with plenty of pockets, high-quality zippers and reflective material (optional Vision Vest is $45). But the jacket is bulky and the knee armor pockets open at the bottom, secured with a small piece of hook-and-loop—the top edge of our boots occasionally pried open the pockets and the armor fell out. The Geo2 jacket ($469.99-$519.99) is available in several colors in men’s S-6XL, and the black-only Jumper pants ($169.99) come in men’s S-3XL, short L-3XL.
OLYMPIA MOTO SPORTS AIRGLIDE SUIT
We first tested the Airglide jacket/pants combo back in 2005, and a set has been in our regular gear rotation ever since. Created by husband-and-wife team Kevin and Karilea Rhea, who are motorcycle enthusiasts with extensive backgrounds in apparel design, Olympia Moto Sports gear doesn’t skimp on quality, style or functionality. Updated regularly over the years, the Airglide is made of 500D Cordura with ballistic mesh panels, CE-approved elbow/shoulder/back/knee armor and EVA foam hip pads. Best in hot weather but ready for multiple seasons, the jacket and pants have removable waterproof, breathable liners, and the jacket has a removable insulated liner. Features include numerous pockets, Custom Fit detailing, 3M Scotchlite reflective piping, EZ hem pant legs, and an 8-inch jacket-to-pants zipper. Offered in several colors, the jacket ($289.99) is available in men’s S-4XL and women’s XS-3XL, and the pants ($229.99) are available in men’s 30-44 and women’s 4-18.
SCHUBERTH SR1 HELMET
Schuberth, which has been making motorcycle helmets for 70 years and typifies the term “German engineering,” weighs, measures and tests every helmet during each step of the production process. The top-of-the-line SR1 full-face helmet, which is handmade by a team of 35 highly skilled technicians, was developed in Schuberth’s own wind tunnel to minimize lift, buffeting and wind noise (only 88 dBA at 62 mph), and its Proactive Dynamic Ventilation System flows copious amounts of air. It has a strong but light fiber/carbon matrix shell (our XL weighs 3 pounds, 10 ounces), an impact-absorbing EPS liner, a super plush removable/washable/antibacterial Coolmax interior and an easy-change face shield with a Pinlock anti-fog insert. Sizing (XS-3XL) runs small and a tight neckroll can make it difficult to put the helmet on, so try before you buy. The SR1 ($899-$969) is DOT/ECE certified and comes in several colors.
SPOT GEN3 GPS MESSENGER
A friend of ours crashed his BMW on a remote highway and got trapped under his bike with an injured leg. Out of cellphone range, he waited overnight for more than 12 hours until someone found him. Situations like that are why we carry the SPOT Gen3 GPS messenger, which communicates with satellites to determine your location anywhere on the globe and send messages to family and friends via text or email. In an emergency, hitting the “SOS” button notifies the GEOS Rescue Coordination Center, initiating a rescue effort by local personnel. Sending customized “I’m OK” messages when riding in far-flung areas provides peace of mind to loved ones, and non-emergency “I need help” messages pinpoint your location. The rugged, weatherproof, pocket-sized Gen3 ($149.95; service plans start at $99.99/year) is easy to use, and we love the optional Google Maps tracking function.
STARKPOWER LITHIUM BATTERIES
In business since 2007, North Carolina-based StarkPower combines state-of-the-art lithium-ion cell chemistries with proprietary balancing and management systems. Its Ultra and UltraStart lithium-ion iron phosphate (LiFePO4) batteries, which have internal microprocessor-controlled cell balancers, are drop-in replacements for conventional lead-acid batteries, offering up to 80 percent less weight and three to five times longer life. They fit in battery boxes just like OEM batteries, so they don’t need spacing-filling foam like many smaller-than-stock lithium batteries. All batteries (prices start at $79) come with a free charger/maintainer, and UltraStart models have battery management systems with recovery features that protect the battery from overcharging/over-discharging. StarkPower’s 12-volt/600-amp JumpBox ($129) lithium-ion emergency battery is designed for jump-starting motorcycles, cars, etc. It also includes connectors for charging laptops, smartphones and many other portable devices, and comes in a zippered storage pouch.
SW-MOTECH BAGS-CONNECTION DRYBAG 80
As motorcycle touring addicts, we’re hooked on motorcycle luggage. Tailbags, tankbags, saddlebags, hard, soft—you name it, we cram it full and hit the road. German accessory manufacturer SW-Motech acquired luggage maker Bags-Connection, and the combined company offers a bewildering array of products to improve the look or functionality of your motorcycle. A new item we really like is the Drybag 80 ($95), a small but versatile waterproof drybag. Made of welded tarpaulin PVC, the 8-liter bag has a three-point tie-down system that can be mounted as a tankbag or tailbag, or it can be attached to a larger duffel or drybag, or to the lid of a pannier. It’s a great place to store electronics or other essentials that must be protected from water or dust, or it can carry a few basics on short trips.