A Few of Our Favorite Things…
It’s that time of year again! To assist you in the search for that perfect gift, three of us on the Rider staff each assembled a few of our favorite things to review for this special Holiday Gift Guide. Every one is a much better gift for your favorite rider than a leopard-print Snuggie, electric twirling spaghetti fork or Duck Dynasty Willie Chia Pet (yes, they actually have those). Happy holidays from Rider magazine!
AGV Sport Xena Vented Jacket
Looking for an affordable warm-weather jacket that can easily cross over into the “shoulder” spring and fall seasons? The ladies’ Xena Vented jacket ($109) by AGV Sport is worth a look. Large-pore mesh in the arms, chest and back keeps you cool, and when things get chilly or wet, a waterproof Reissa liner zips in quickly and easily. CE-approved armor in the shoulders and elbows (the included foam back protector can be upgraded) and 600-denier nylon construction provide protection and peace of mind.
The Xena features two external handwarmer pockets and one internal smartphone pocket, and an 8-inch zipper connects it to pants. Accordion expansion panels run from armpit to hip on each side, so the Xena will move and stretch with you for a comfortable fit both on and off the bike. I wore it on a 4-day, 2,000-mile ride in temperatures ranging from near freezing to 100 degrees, dry desert to damp coastline, and was impressed by its versatility. The Xena is available in White/Black, Black/White, Black/Purple and Black/Flo Yellow in sizes XS-XL. Consider ordering a size smaller than you normally might, as the Xena tends to run a bit large.
Black Brand Brazilian Waxed Leather Jacket
OK, let’s not beat around the bush: this is one hot jacket, and it makes no apologies for it. The cheekily named Brazilian Waxed jacket ($591) from Black Brand howls with style and attitude. From its soft, supple sheep leather construction to its removeable metal accents and embroidery, the Brazilian Waxed will turn heads both on and off the bike.
The fit is distinctly feminine, with a tailored waist (dual stretchy leather straps snap into one of three positions for a custom fit), zippered expansion panels at the hips and zippered cuffs with adjustable straps. A pink satin inner liner has pockets for optional D3O CE-approved armor for the elbows, shoulders and back. The flexibility and slender shape of the D3O, along with the liner’s design, mean that even with the armor in place, the jacket fits as though there was no armor at all. Two zippered handwarmer pockets and one zippered internal pocket have enough space for the essentials. Best of all, Black Brand has partnered with Homes for Our Troops, so a purchase benefits injured veterans. The Brazilian Waxed is available in black, in sizes XS-2XL.
Chase-Harper 4800 SJ2 Tail Trunk Duffel
Nothing beats a duffel for easy packing and carrying, plenty of storage and easy on-bike access. The 46-liter 4800 SJ2 Tail Trunk from Chase Harper ($141.50) gives you all that and more, with well-thought out details and multiple attachment options.
A large, zippered U-shaped opening allows top access to the main compartment, which is lined with red nylon to help you see the contents. The bag is constructed with a 3⁄8-inch foam inner shell that holds its shape even when empty. Zippered pockets on the top and sides, and mesh pockets inside the top lid hold smaller items, and bungee webbing allows you to stuff items like a jacket or rain gear on top.
One of my favorite features is the inner dry bag—one end of the duffel zips open for access to a separate inner bag, perfect for holding wet items you want to keep away from the rest of your gear. Four adjustable hooked bungees allow for flexible mounting, or tuck them into the bag’s bottom and use the eight tie-down loops with your own straps. The Tail Trunk is made in the U.S.A. and carries a lifetime warranty.
Forcefield Base Layers
If you’re still wearing cotton T-shirts and jeans under your riding gear, it’s time to save those for the post-ride dinner and graduate to base layers. Forcefield’s Base Layers (for men and women) are made of high-tech BeCool fabric, which is three times more diffuse than cotton, meaning it allows air to circulate freely on your skin, pulling hot, moist air away and letting in cooler, dry air. Seamless and flat seam construction is comfortable even under armored riding apparel, and a next-to-skin tailored fit won’t bunch up. In fact, the thin extra layer between your gear and your skin prevents mesh jackets from itching and riding pants from chafing.
I wear the Base Layers on nearly every long-distance or multi-day ride, and with an antibacterial treatment built-in, I can even do longer camping trips without washing them. Once it’s time for a freshening up, they are machine washable. The Forcefield Base Layers are available in male- and female-specific fits. The men’s shirts ($79 short sleeve; $89 long sleeve) and pants ($69) are available in sizes XS-2XL. The women’s shirts ($89, long sleeve only) and pants ($69) are available in sizes XS-XL.
iXS Namib Evo Pants
iXS has become one of my favorite brands, thanks to its reasonably priced, high-quality apparel—that also fits well! I wore the Namib Evo pants on my very first Rider test (the 2016 Zero DSR), and as I rode from mid-afternoon heat to post-sunset chill, the Namib Evos kept me comfortable.
The Namib Evos ($169) are made from 500-denier Airguard fabric, with CE-approved armor in the knees and hips. The knee armor is adjustable and can be easily removed via zippers on the outside of the shell. Large Airmesh panels in the crotch area and behind the knees allow breathability and airflow, and when the temperatures really heat up, zippered vents over each knee can be snapped open to scoop air onto your skin. A full-circumference zipper allows the pants to be attached to iXS jackets, and there is one zippered waist pocket. A zip-in waterproof liner is available separately; however, since the Namib Evos are designed to be worn inside your boots, water can still reach your feet in an extended downpour. They are available in men’s sizes S-4XL and women’s sizes DS-D2XL. They run small, so consider ordering a size up from normal.
Sidi Deep Rain Boots
The new breed of adventure-touring machines calls for a new breed of boot. Combining the best features of its touring and off-road boots, Sidi’s Deep Rain boots ($295) offer the protection you need when piloting a luggage-laden adventure bike off-road, and the comfort you expect for long days in the saddle.
The Deep Rains feature a breathable waterproof membrane that keeps your feet dry during water crossings and rainy days, smooth heat-resistant panels on the inside of the calf that won’t catch on anything while standing on the pegs, and replaceable cam lock buckles with memory retention straps for easy on/off. A rigid heel, large reflective panels at the heels and a nylon insole (rather than a dangerous steel shank) round out the safety features. A bonded non-slip lug sole gives you a secure grip on the pegs and the ground.
Deep Rain boots are available in European sizes 39 (men’s size 6) to 50 (size 15). Like many Sidi boots, the toe box is on the narrow side, but the upshot is that the boot itself is not bulky and offers great feel.
Tourmaster Transition Series 4 Jacket
It’s not easy to make a jacket that works all year long, whether you’re riding in warm summer temps or the damp and chill of winter. The secret behind the all-season functionality of the fourth and latest version of the versatile Tour Master Transition jacket ($269.99) is the quantity of venting in the 600-denier Carbolex outer shell. Zippered pipeline pinch vents that hold themselves open are on either side of the chest, and another pair of long vents run from the shoulders to the elbows. And there are two zippered exhaust vents in the back, so if you open everything up the sturdy three-quarter-length jacket stays fairly cool in summer. Close them all up and the waterproof, breathable Rainguard barrier is said to keep you dry (Santa, please bring us some rain!), more so when you don the Aqua Barrier hood hidden in the soft, microfiber-lined collar.
The Transition 4 also comes with a removable triple-density back protector and removable CE-approved armor in the shoulders and elbows. With the full-sleeved thermal liner removed, it’s easy to trim the fit with the adjustable waist belts and take-up straps in the biceps and forearms. Pockets abound, including a pair of waterproof cargo pockets. The Tour Master Transition Series 4 jacket comes in several color combos, and in men’s and women’s sizes to fit just about anybody, including men’s 5XL, Tall and women’s Plus sizes.
Dunlop D404 Tires
Good ol’ bias-ply construction and a tread compound blended for a nice balance of mileage and grip give the D404s a smooth, confidence-inspiring ride, and the offset center groove on the front tire helps maintain straight-line stability. And if you’re cruel enough to ride that older bike in the rain, the tread pattern does a good job of slicing through water. They’re generally available for well under $200 a pair, too.
Lucas Oil Products
You’ve probably heard of Lucas Oil because of its numerous vehicle sponsorships and racing event promotions, and you might even use some of its high-performance engine oils and gear lubricants in your bike. But did you know that Lucas makes a wide variety of specialty products for cars and motorcycles? We recently received a shipload of stuff from Lucas to try, including its Safeguard Ethanol Fuel Conditioner with Stabilizers. Lucas says it prevents rust and corrosion associated with the use of ethanol fuels, stabilizes fuel and prevents varnish and gum formation in ethanol and gasoline. Lucas Upper Cylinder Lubricant and Injector Cleaner works in both carbureted and fuel-injected engines and treats your bike’s fuel system with a blend of super slick oils and additives with a high detergent action that allows the engine to operate at maximum efficiency. It also cleans and lubricates carburetors and injectors and helps fuel to burn more thoroughly for increased power and less fuel consumption. The Slick Mist Detailing Kit (about $20) combines three Lucas Fast & Easy products with a microfiber towel: Interior Detailer, Tire & Trim Shine and Speed Wax.
Yuasa Automatic Battery Chargers and Maintainers
If you ride your motorcycle often enough year ’round and have installed a good-quality sealed AGM battery, chances are you don’t need to perform any battery maintenance other than cleaning the terminals and cable ends on occasion. On the other hand, if it sits for a week or more between rides, using a battery maintenance charger will help keep your battery topped-up and ready to go, and prevent deep discharging and damaging sulfation.
Both of Yuasa’s two new chargers—an easy-to-use 3-amp model ($79.95) and a 2-amp model ($109.95) that can charge multiple batteries at the same time—feature an OEM approved five-stage charging algorithm that saves time and energy. While the chargers are optimized for newer AGM style batteries, they are still compatible with conventional flooded batteries. Both also have a sulfation recovery mode and defective battery detection and come with 6-foot quick-connect cables and both ring-terminal and alligator clip pigtails.
The 2-amp Automatic Battery Charger & Maintainer has two independent charging stations to allow for simultaneously hooking up multiple batteries, and works with both 6- and 12-volt batteries so can I swap it back and forth between the ancient bikes and the merely old ones.
Spidi Warrior Tex Jacket
As motorcyclists, we like to match our gear with our bikes. Black leather on cruisers, rally-style jackets on adventure tourers and so on. With racy graphics and tough-looking external armor on the shoulders, Spidi’s Warrior Tex Jacket ($299.90) is ideal for modern sportbikes like Ducati’s 959 Panigale or Yamaha’s FZ-10, and our Black/Fluorescent Yellow test jacket looks great on the Zero SR electric bike (it’s also available in Red/White/Black and Black/White). But the Warrior Tex offers much more than style. The Tenax polyamide outer shell is abrasion resistant and there are removable CE Level 1 Forcetech protectors inside the elbows and shoulders (in addition to the external armor), but you must buy one of Spidi’s optional back protectors (starting at $69.90) or bring your own. The lightweight, sport-cut jacket has a slim fit, is lined with athletic mesh and has four pockets (two inside, two outside) and a removable thermal liner, but ventilation is limited to two small intake vents at the shoulders and two exhaust vents at the lower back. Available in sizes S-XXXL.
Alpinestars Supertouring Gore-Tex Boots
Handmade high in the misty mountains of northern Italy by tiny elves who subsist on espresso and pixie dust, Alpinestars boots are imbued with magic. Almost. They’re really made in a modern factory in Croatia, but they’re still pretty special. Made with a premium full-grain leather upper and a breathable, waterproof Gore-Tex lining, Supertouring boots are made for the long haul. They’re comfortable on and off the bike, with instep and Achilles flex panels, a flexible yet grippy rubber sole, soft padding around the ankles and shift area, and a removable anatomic insole. Their CE-certified safety features include toe box, ankle and heel protectors, a shin plate and a shift pad. The wide, gusseted opening makes it easy to get feet in and out, and the upper section secures with hook-and-loop. There’s a unique ratcheting buckle closure around the Achilles for added security, though loosening the buckle to remove the boots requires dexterity. I’ve torture tested these boots for thousands of miles in heat, cold and rain and they’ve earned a top grade. Available in European sizes 37-48 (U.S. sizes 4-12.5) for $399.95.
Fly Conquest Helmet
Embarking on a 3-day, 2,500-mile tour test fraught with heat, wind, bugs and rain in a helmet you’ve never worn before could be a recipe for disaster, or at the very least a serious headache. But that’s exactly what I did when tagging the four corners of California on the 2016 Yamaha FJR1300ES, and the Fly Conquest Helmet proved to be a faithful traveling companion. At just $249.95 in matte black or $259.95 for the Retro graphic in multiple colors, the full-face Conquest fits within most budgets, is multiple-16-hour-days comfortable and packs in premium features. Light in weight (3 pounds, 9.2 ounces for Medium) thanks to a shell made of Advanced Composite Spectra (said to be 40-percent stronger than Kevlar), it’s well-ventilated and has a dual-density EPS liner, a drop-down sunshield, a removable, washable comfort lining and a quick-change, anti-fog, anti-scratch, locking face shield. It did everything I wanted and nothing that I didn’t. DOT and ECE approved, it’s available in XS-XXL (XS-XL in pink).
Highway 21 Hook Gloves
Like boots, leather gloves should feel soft and broken-in from day one. Highway 21’s Hook Gloves are made of goat leather, which makes them softer and more flexible than most cow leather gloves. Goatskin also has a characteristic pebble grain, giving the gloves a nice outer texture that ages well. Available only in classic black, the Hook gloves feature pre-curved fingers, reinforced knuckle protectors and a dual-density memory foam pad at the heel of the palm. They have a medium-length open gauntlet similar to work gloves, with hook-and-loop straps at the wrist to secure them onto your hands. Available in sizes S-3XL, the XL’s fit my hands perfectly and accommodate my long fingers without tightness or pressure at the tips. They look great on cruisers and classics, and, at $59.95, they’re a steal.
National Cycle V-Stream Windscreen
Nelson-Rigg CL-2015 Tank Bag with CL-GPS Journey Mate
Not all tank bags are created equal. Some, like Nelson-Rigg’s CL-2015 Tank Bag with CL-GPS Journey Mate, stand out for their clever design and versatility. The CL-2015 Tank Bag’s large main compartment, which holds 13.42 liters and expands to 18.22 liters, has two interior pockets, two side pockets and a clear map pocket on top. Made of ballistic nylon, a stiff front panel helps the bag maintain its shape even when empty. Magnets sewn into the tank bag allow the CL-GPS Journey Mate to be easily attached on top. The CL-GPS has dedicated compartments for a GPS, mobile phone and MP3 player. With clear, touch-friendly covers, the large GPS compartment (6.5 x 4.5 x 1.5 inches) has a stiff hook-and-loop back panel that allows it to lay flat or be propped up at an easier-to-see angle, and the phone pocket holds my iPhone 6S perfectly without having to remove its protective case. The CL-2015 has a side charging port, carry handle, reflective piping and a rain cover, and is compatible with Nelson-Rigg’s optional hydration bladders ($14.95-$19.95). It’s priced at $109.95 with strap mounts or $119.95 with magnetic mounts. The CL-GPS costs $49.95. Both come with a lifetime warranty.