Riding Gear Decisions This Year - Kawasaki Vulcan Forum : Vulcan Forums
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post #1 of 6 (permalink) Old 08-25-2016, 08:57 PM Thread Starter
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Riding Gear Decisions This Year

We've all read about it. We've seen the pictures. Some of us know or have seen someone who did it or has experienced it first-hand. Motorcycle crashes - the big (or little) one we all fear.

My personal nightmare is not the single-vehicle crackup or the multi-car-in-the-fog pileup, but the moron that turns left in front of me at an intersection. In this day and age of high-tech urban cruisers like the Vulcan S ABS we have the power-to-weight ratio afforded by our engines balanced by our antilock brake systems and we HOPE we've got the riding skills and situational awareness needed to use them and avoid being just another statistic.

My wife and I have a Vulcan S ABS and two other bikes - a Harley Ultra (road sofa) and a BMW K1600 (well-upholstered cruise missile). All three have antilock brakes, good balance and response for their respective classes - hell, the BMW even has traction control and an adaptive headlight. But I got to thinking back in March about our riding gear and made some changes, hopefully for the better.

I know, it isn't cool to ride with anything more than a minimalist skullcap in states that require helmets - ABATE members need not reply, I've heard the arguments and respect your views. These lids may/may not have DOT stickers on them. Especially riding a Harley. Yup, I have full-face lids that I used during rainy months here in NW Oregon (OK, that's about 7 months of the year).

The change this year was going to modular (flip-up) Nolan N-104s; they fit us well, protection is great, have a drop-down sunshield and include the pinlock visor insert for no-fog goodness. They can also be locked in the UP position and worn as a 3/4 helmet. The chin bar sits close to the shell in the open position for little-to-no additional 'helmet drag'. It also has cool, ratcheting chin strap that you can secure - and release- with gloved hands.

The N104s have one of the widest viewing areas of any modular or full-face unit and (for those of you that use BT intercoms) the liners are pre-sculpted with cavities for ear speakers and a boom microphone.

Whaaat? Don't all 'real' cruiser riders wear wife-beater T-shirts? Add ratty jeans (never shorts...we might be mistaken for the squiddly rice-rocket sport bikers) and work boots (OK...have to agree with that one - a nice hi-top boot IS great protection). Tennis shoes and flip-flops to the end of the line, please.

Top it off with leathers - at LEAST a road-worn leather vest obviously being held together with the stitching from all those patches that declare your club affiliation, constitutional rights, general insults or inappropriate references to females. OK, if it's cold add chaps and a jacket, but make sure your vest is big enough go on the OUTSIDE of the jacket so you can be a flying billboard. Oh, and make sure you have enough ride pins, etc. so in poor lighting you might be mistaken for a Disneyland addict or a Wal-Mart employee. Now we're talkin', bro!

The change for us was armored gear...mostly going to armored textile riding gear. This year our gear is either Joe Rocket Alter Ego (her) or Tourmaster Flex (me) gear. Both have good abrasion resistance, removable liners, reflective piping and panels, pockets with armor (more on that later) and - when it gets hot - zip off outer shells or panels to convert to mesh riding gear...while still retaining the armor. Look Ma, no rain gear...because it can also do that job.

Most textile (and some leather) riding gear comes equipped with armor or at least has armor pockets. Typical armor (if included) with your purchase is probably CE-rated Level 1. CE ratings can be Level 1 or 2, hard or soft armor with Level 2 affording better protection.
It may be tough finding good retrofit armor that goes in the riding gear pockets of the shoulders, elbows, back, hips and knees without doing some research and occasionally trimming to fit.

This year we are gradually transitioning to D3O armor panels. D3O panels are available from a number of manufacturers (Icon, Klim, etc.) thru your favorite distributor like Revzilla or Competition Accessories.

The really cool thing about D3O panels is they're available in CE Level 2 and are comfy, soft and pliable UNTIL they are hit hard...then they instantly stiffen up and afford great impact resistance. Called 'adaptive armor' by some in the industry it is the next big thing in protection. You have to see this stuff to believe it.

"No way, bro...I like to have the breeze thru my fingers and feel the freedom, except when I wear my fingerless gloves that look sooooo cool." Not.

All it takes is one tipover or low-speed getoff to make a believer out of you...or having a large bug do a Kamikaze into your knuckle at less than freeway speeds to change that attitude.
Minimum standard this year is a full-fingered leather glove; I have a pair of Apenstar Thinsulates for cooler/wetter times and a pair of waterproof deerskins...hot weather it's Toumaster Intake Air mesh gloves.

I know motorcycling is all about choices...modding your bike to reflect your particular take on what riding means to you - and that extends to riding gear as well. I'm not advocating you all run out and change your gear, just sharing what we decided to do this year to improve our chances if bad things happen.

Ride safe!

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2013 BMW K1600GTL
2016 Vulcan S ABS

Last edited by rangemaster728; 06-15-2017 at 03:37 PM.
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post #2 of 6 (permalink) Old 08-26-2016, 12:54 AM
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I'm with ya! I wear a modular HJC. My riding gear is a full Kevlar suit from Motoport with their best armor. It's mesh (not as cool as textile mesh but much better than no mesh at all) with zip in winter and rain liners. If I'm not wearing that, I wear an armored leather jacket and chaps (no armor there). Motorcycle boots either way. Gloves, too.

Being quite a bit overweight now, I look like the technicolor Michelin Man in my orange and blue suit.
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post #3 of 6 (permalink) Old 08-26-2016, 04:59 AM
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Hi Rangemaster

I'm with you one the ATGATT. I'm in hot and humid Treasure Coast Florida and mesh is a must and the modular helmet is fantastic for those times you are in stop and go. I also changed out the armor to the D30 and it really is flexible.
I do envy those folks riding with jeans, T shirt, ball cap, but not enough to join the club. I'm too old to take off time healing from road rash top to bottom or worse. Yeah it's hot but get moving along and it cools off plus you don't get sunburn! Sweaty yes, sunburn no ��

Thanks for the entertaining post RM. happy riding to you and your wife


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post #4 of 6 (permalink) Old 08-26-2016, 09:36 AM
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Worth noting that only a couple of modular helmets are actually able to be ridden in the 'up' position; even if they lock in the 'up' position. At least from a protection standpoint; some rely on the chinbar being down to be structurally sound. Worth checking the manual.

Oddly enough, I've never felt hot in a full face helmet. Even in triple digit heat. Maybe it's just me; but it's just never bothered me; so that's all I've ever worn. Except once. In Cozumel I had a 'well, why not' moment and rented a scooter from a vendor. Crappy Honda with a kick starter, missing turn signal; and he gave me a busted no-liner half helmet. A novelty helmet. I had absolutely no protection but; whatever. It was fun. Goofy, but fun. I couldn't believe how uncomfortable that helmet was. The wind was constantly trying to yank it off of my head (doesn't flow through the air like a full face) and I was getting hammered with so much wind noise I couldn't hear anything around me. Of course, that's my one and only experience with a half lid and it was a piece of junk. I see the 'novelty' helmets all the time. They might have a DOT sticker; but all you have to do to get your helmet DOT certified is fill out some paperwork 'promising' that they passed the test. Worst case? DOT randomly selects your lid for testing, it fails; and you release a new one that's slightly different. Customers who purchased the one that didn't actually pass the test are not notified. So they continue to ride with a helmet that's not actually offering protection. If it's super thin and sleek; then it's NOT offering protection. You need the liner, that's what does the job.

So for me, it's a full face helmet. I've found HJC lids fit my head the best. And I use armored mesh riding gear. My 'minimal' setup is gloves, mesh jacket, FF helmet, jeans and boots. Jeans don't offer a lot of protection; but it's all a balancing act. If I wanted to be as safe as I could be I'd get rid of the motorcycle. Full gear on a motorcycle is still more dangerous than driving my 5 star rated car with 15 airbags (there's even airbags for your knees and the sides of your head apparently), stability control, a crumple zone, four tires... etc. etc.

Leather does technically offer the most protection; but modern textiles are nearly as good. And they are a LOT more comfortable; so I prefer that.

From there I have overpants with vents that are great. Wear a pair of shorts under them and they're actually cooler to ride in than jeans. I also have a mesh armored pair of riding pants. I wear those over a pair of moisture wicking boxers. Chuckle all you want at how goofy that might be; but on a 500+ mile day that is one comfy way to ride!

Gear serves more of a purpose than just preventing certain types of injuries. Keeping debris, the sun, bugs, and other 'fatigue factors' off of you is important. I've long since lost who did it (maybe NHTSA?) but someone found that dehydration in motorcyclists was actually a leading cause of accidents. Riding in hot weather in a t-shirt dehydrates you even further. Keeping your skin covered and fluids in you keeps you focused. And, of course; the staggering statistics about just how many motorcycle accidents involve alcohol. A little under HALF of all motorcycle fatalities (not just accidents, fatalities) involve a BAC over the legal limit. There are some stats floating around out there that as many as 70% of all fatal motorcycle accidents, there's SOME alcohol present in the riders bloodstream; even if they weren't over the legal limit.

Lots to safety beyond gear. Keeping your equipment well maintained; knowing what you're doing, not being one of these guys who thinks he knows everything there is to know about motorcycles and actually takes the MSF course, etc. Can go a long way to making sure you get to keep riding that motorcycle for years to come; instead of being some other story for my mother-in-law to see on TV and freak out about and call my wife.

"8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us."

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post #5 of 6 (permalink) Old 08-26-2016, 10:04 AM Thread Starter
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Riding Gear Decisions This Year


I agree...selecting the gear is a balancing act as you say... I have a couple of HJC modulars and have also found they fit my head well.

I also do the moisture-wicking base layer trick you employ, and on really warm days use my convertible mesh as pants...just have external pockets for your wallet.

+1 on your comment regarding the functionality of the helmet locked in the UP position; the N-104 is rated DOT (ECE-2205 in Europe) and approved to be worn in either position. It's also a choice for police motor officers in many departments thanks to this feature.

In 2011 we rode from Milwaukee, WI to the Sturgis rally and then home to Oregon. Sturgis was a toasty 107 when we arrived and we decided to make the trip from the hotel to downtown (2 miles) without helmets (South Dakota has no helmet law).

Weird feeling...while it was cooler (a relative term) with just a dew-rag on my head I felt uneasy. Exposed. Continually thinking about Gary Busey (who never wears a helmet, and was odd even before he hit his head on a curb).

After watching the freak show that evening that is the Sturgis 'experience' both my wife and I agreed we'd never go without helmets again, regardless of local regulations, ambient temperature or fear of 'helmet hair'.....lol.

Ride safe!

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2016 Vulcan S ABS

Last edited by rangemaster728; 08-26-2016 at 10:10 AM.
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post #6 of 6 (permalink) Old 08-26-2016, 02:38 PM
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Shark Evoline 3 is the way to go if you want to ride with you chin bar open.
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