Archive for the ‘Motorcycle Gear’ Category

Big Pantha Helmet Lock Makes Security Simple

Monday, September 25th, 2017
Big Pantha helmet lock

Here’s the lock with the cable looped through my helmet and the handlebars. The locking carabiner dangles in between.

Having some way to secure your helmet to your bike when you park somewhere is essential. Sure, I know a lot of people leave their helmets with the bike, unsecured, and even I do that at times, but there are other times when I just don’t feel that trusting.

Years ago it seemed most bikes came with helmet locks as part of the bike. I know my 1980 Honda CB750 Custom has one. But then there’s my 1999 Kawasaki Concours: it has one but it is located such that it is essentially useless. Whose idea was that? No matter, I have long had a third-party helmet lock that has worked great.

I have not had a helmet lock for my 2006 Suzuki V-Strom 650. So when I was contacted by Big Pantha asking if I would be interested in testing and reviewing their helmet lock I jumped at the opportunity.

This device is really simplicity itself. It is rubber-coated cable with a loop at one end and attached to a locking carabiner at the other end. You run the cable through your helmet and around something on the bike and then connect the two ends with the carabiner. There is a combination lock element and once you have closed the carabiner you move the dials to secure it. When you’re ready to go you set the dials back to your combination and disconnect. As compact as it is, Big Pantha says the cable can be unwound to stretch as much as six feet.

As a former technical writer creating user guides I am a strong believer in the concept of reading the instructions. Nevertheless, this seemed so simple that I started fooling with it without doing so. I was immediately confounded by the difficulty I had trying to reset the combination. That is, to change the default combination to something of my own choosing. Doh! Read the instructions.

The lever to open the carabiner is obvious. What is not so obvious is a second lever on the inside that you need to depress in order to reset the combination. Press that and voila!

The biggest difference between the Big Pantha lock and the one I have on the Kawi is that the one on the Kawi is seriously connected to the bike and moving it to another bike would be quite a pain. The Big Pantha lock is not connected to the bike at all, and it is quite small, so it is very easy to just slip it in your pocket and use it on any bike you want at any time. Or you could use it to lock anything else you might need to secure.

Now, as with the lock on the Kawi, the weak link in the system would appear to be the cable. Make no mistake, someone with a pair of bolt cutters could chop through either of these cables in an instant. But how many people do you see walking around carrying bolt cutters? I’ve used the lock on the Kawi for close to 10 years and have never had the slightest problem. Let’s face it, a dedicated thief can defeat just about any protective device. These devices are more about preventing someone who just happens to walk by and take a fancy to your helmet from taking it home with him.

And unless you have one of those really expensive helmets, it’s likely that no one is going to want your helmet anyway. Who wants to wear someone else’s sweaty helmet? But it’s still comforting at times to have it secured to your bike rather than just sitting there.

So OK, here’s the deal. Big Pantha sent me this lock as part of a partnership arrangement whereby I get a small payment for each lock sold to people coming to purchase via my site here. That’s not a big deal for me because I would have been happy to do a review just for receiving the lock. But it does matter to you if you’re interested because if you do click through on this link you will get the lock for 15% off the regular price. What you will need to do is, when making your purchase, enter the code “KENP797U” in the appropriate field. (That’s a clarification from what I previously told you–now that Big Pantha clarified it to me.)

If this is something you would find useful, by all means, click away!

Biker Quote for Today

I’m a free spirit. Either admire me or ride with me, but never try to cage me.

Very Pleased With Our New Sena Communicators

Thursday, June 8th, 2017
Sena helmet-to-helmet communicators

Our new communicators are a huge improvement over what we had been using.

Sometimes you just need to spend the money, and afterward you’ll be glad you did.

For some years Judy and I have been using these early vintage UClear bluetooth helmet to helmet communicators but they have not been wonderful.

They were good in the beginning but technology had moved on and they were not doing so well now. On our snow-interrupted ride a month ago Judy could hardly hear what I said and while I could hear her, at any time she wasn’t speaking I was listening to loud static. Plus, we had always had a hard time getting them synced and in communication with each other. On that particular trip we probably used them less than half the time for all these reasons.

Back at home afterward I started looking around to see what was on the market today. Then I headed down to Fay Myers Motorcycle World to look at both communicators and helmets. It was my good fortune to hook up with Eddy at Fay Myers because Eddy spent a lot of time with me and was exceedingly knowledgeable.

I walked out with a pair of Sena SMH10 communicators.

Setting them up in the helmets was a pain but not a big deal. Then we had to figure out how to work them and it took some trial and error. We took a quick spin and found they worked much better than what we had been accustomed to.

The real test came last week when we were out on our four-day ride with Willie and Jungle and friends. The verdict: They’re great!

First off, the speakers are smaller so they’re much more comfortable than the old ones. They have greater volume potential so if we couldn’t hear well we could turn up the volume. They had no static, though we did have issues with wind noise across the microphones.

Most importantly, linking them and initiating communication is dead simple, and it works. On our old communicators we would follow the directions again and again and finally, at one point or another, they would work. Sometimes we’d just give up and go ride without them. These work quickly and easily every time.

You can call us satisfied customers.

Biker Quote for Today

Who needs a time machine when one twist of my wrist will leave you in the past!

Examiner Resurrection: When Do You Put On The Rain Gear?

Monday, May 1st, 2017

motorcycle on top of Bald Mountain Pass.

I don’t know about other parts of the country, but in Colorado, Utah, and Idaho–where we are now–rain is a passing phenomenon. Wait 10 minutes and it will be gone. That makes it a tricky thing to decide whether you need to stop and put on rain gear when you’re out on a motorcycle ride.

Stop and gear up too eagerly and you will often find that you didn’t need to bother. Wait too long and you’ll be drenched before you get your gear on.

You tend to develop an approach that you find serves you well much of the time. For instance, I look at the traffic going the other direction. Are the cars dripping wet, with windshield wipers going? Suit up now. Are they dry? No problem.

What does the sky look like in direction you’re headed, and which way are the clouds moving? On Saturday, heading from Vernal to Duchesne, in Utah, I would have bet money we were in for it. Might as well just stop now and be done with it. But cars–and bikers–coming the other direction were dry so we pressed on. We ended up reaching Duchesne perfectly dry. And I’ve already described the situation we ran into as we continued west out of Duchesne.

Yesterday was one of those days when you just don’t want to stop but you know that if you continue you’ll be pushing your luck. It was the end of the day and we were nearing Soda Springs, ID, where we needed to stop and make a call. There was rain all around us but a pathway seemed to magically appear in front of us looking like we just might make it. I was lagging behind so when I came over a rise to see brake lights on I knew it was time.

It wasn’t that I could see the line of demarcation where the pavement was wet and where it was dry, although I could. It wasn’t that I could see that line moving in my direction, although I could. It was the hail that smacked me in the face before the first raindrop hit that convinced me it was time to suit up. And the line of wet hit me long before I had my rubber pants on; then, before I was finished pulling on the rubber mittens I could see the sky clearing ahead.

We mounted up and rode on into town, about 1 mile, and stopped and took it all off again.

That’s rain in this part of the country.

Biker Quote for Today

Some call it adventure; I call it my way of life.

Creeping Gear Envy

Thursday, April 13th, 2017
motorcycle jacket ad

This is the ad that caught my eye.

There is very little I desire that I don’t have. I’m a past master at the idea that happiness is wanting what you have, not what you don’t have. Plus, at this point in my life, if there is something I really want I generally go buy it. But generally, there isn’t much I want so there is very little I buy.

This is frustrating for my wife because she likes to get me things for Christmas and my birthday, so when some rare thing comes along that I want, she gets annoyed when I just go buy it rather than wait for one of those two occasions so she can buy it for me.

Which brings us to here. I’ve gotten a little envious in the last few years when I see guys who have riding jackets that are waterproof and for whom rain is unimportant. As long as I’ve been riding and up until this very moment, when it starts to rain I have had to assess whether I thought it was going to rain enough that I ought to stop and put on my rain suit. A waterproof jacket is appealing.

Of course, I have a jacket with a waterproof liner, but that’s altogether different. Either you still have to stop to zip that liner in or else you have to have been wearing it all along, and those things get hot and sweaty in hot weather. A ventilated jacket that stays cool when desired, stays warm when desired, and sheds water is a very different animal.

So it caught my eye recently when I saw an ad in Rider magazine for the Tourmaster Transition Series 4 jacket. First off, it looks good, plus it has a lot of nice features. And it’s waterproof. Then going way beyond that, it is listed for only $270. OK, I’m interested.

I checked the local bike shops and found that both Performance Cycle and Fay Myers carry Tourmaster so I hopped on the Honda and cruised on down. I wanted to see this thing for real and try it on. Maybe come home with a new jacket, or at least come home and tell Judy if she wants to buy me an early birthday gift I know what that gift might be.

No dice. In both cases, the shops had a great many jackets but each had only one Tourmaster and it was not the one I’m interested in.

I looked at the jackets they do have. And they have some very nice waterproof (which basically means Gore-Tex) jackets. And they will only set you back, oh, $500 to $900. OK.

I do like to shop locally. I like to patronize the businesses in my area. But if they don’t carry the product I want I don’t have a lot of choice. I hate ordering something online, receiving it, and then finding it is not something I want to keep and having to package and return it. But I guess maybe I’ll start that ball rolling. Hopefully I won’t want to return it.

Biker Quote for Today

Teach your child the love of motorcycles and they will never have money for drugs.

Free Motorcycle Classes

Monday, March 6th, 2017
CMA class

Basic Motorcycle Maintenance is one of three free classes offered through Colorado Motorcycle Adventures.

It has been impressive to observe as Colorado Motorcycle Adventures has grown and branched out. Scott Lee first contacted me in late 2013 looking to put some ads on the Passes & Canyons site in order to get the word out that he was open for business. Of course I was happy to oblige and told him that if he’d like to take me on one of his rides I’d be happy to do a blog post about his business, as well.

After that one year Scott did not renew his ads. It seems he had plenty of business going so who needs to pay to get the word out. The word was out.

And I keep hearing more about Scott and the company. Expansion to a second location. Sponsoring a ride for injured vets to help them readjust to civilian life. And now he’s offering some free classes. (Thanks once again to Alan for tipping me off to this.)

Basic Motorcycle Maintenance, I assume, is pretty much what it says it is. This is on March 23 at the CMA location at 3458 Walnut Street in Denver.

Wolfman Luggage and Packing Class obviously is in conjunction with the Wolfman luggage people. This will address “different types of luggage systems as well as how to pack most efficiently for short weekend trips, week long trips, and around the world adventures that can take up to a year.” Wolfman is on May 4.

The Rever Class is “a free app and state of the art website route programming tool that connects you and a global community of motorcycle riders.” And hey, this one includes free beer! This one is on April 6.

You need to sign up for these. Each of these links I’ve given you has links to do so.

I know I’m particularly interested in the Rever class, but you just might see me at one or both of the others as well. And a tip of the hat to Scott for doing so well in this business.

Biker Quote for Today

Ride a motorcycle and let the wind blow away all the sad moments.

Riding In The Cold With A Balaclava

Monday, January 16th, 2017
Wearing a balaclava

I’m only scowling because I was focused on trying to get the Kawi in the picture over my shoulder and that’s how I look when I’m focused on something.

It must be several years ago that my wife gave me a balaclava to wear when riding in cold weather. Trouble is, I stuffed it in one of the pockets in the Concours fairing and have forgotten about it every time since then that I might have worn it. Until very recently.

OK, so first, what is a balaclava? Well, you can see it in the photo there, it’s a tight-fitting hood made of very thin but warm material. The best may be made of silk, but other materials are fine. Of course, it has to be thin in order to fit under your helmet.

I was heading out to the Last Brass Monkey Run on December 31 and it was very cold, so I decided to try the balaclava. I put it on in the house before zipping up my jacket. That meant the bottom of it was securely layered under the jacket collar. The result was that not only did it keep my face warm, it also stopped the breeze from blowing down through the collar and chilling my neck, in front and in back.

The fit was snug. As I slid the helmet on I was at first not even sure it would go on, but it did and was not uncomfortably tight.

Out on the bike the extra warmth was very noticeable. My chin, my throat, and my nose could tell the difference. And it surprised me that I also noticed on the back of my neck. I hadn’t thought about that. It was good.

Then when I was heading home I learned some more. I walked out of the Grizzly Rose and geared up at the bike. What I didn’t think about was making an effort to make sure the bottom of the balaclava was securely tucked into the jacket. In fact it was out a bit in the rear.

I noticed that right away when I started riding. I felt the breeze going down the back of my jacket. OK. Be sure to tuck the thing in.

So all in all, it was good. I definitely recommend it. The one thing that surprised me about this particular balaclava was that it was not as snug as I expected. I’m not sure if these are supposed to be one size fits all or if there are sizes, but a smaller one would have done me well. Being somewhat loose it shifted a bit as I put my helmet on and didn’t stay up over my mouth and nose the way I expected.

But you can bet I’ll be wearing it again the next time I’m out riding on a really cold day.

Biker Quote for today

Biker hair don’t care.

Unplanned Visits To Boulder Motorcycle Shops

Thursday, August 18th, 2016
Putting a new tire on the Honda.

Putting a new tire on the Honda.

For the first time since I don’t know when, I have six good tires on my three bikes. I went up to Boulder on Wednesday where I was meeting Ron Coleman, of Western Dual Sport Motorcycle Adventures, so he could put a new rear tire on my CB750 Custom. Get together at 9 and I should be home again by noon.

Wrong.

First off, Ron forgot. I was late but he was later, so at 9:30 I called him. Got voicemail and left a message. No big deal for me, it was a beautiful morning and I was sitting in the shade outside a coffee shop drinking a mocha and reading a book. I called again at 10 and this time he answered.

“Hey, where are you?”

“Oh my god! I forgot. I’m leaving now.”

So it was another half hour plus before he made it there from Lafayette. Again, no big deal for me.

We then headed over to Jeff’s, where Ron’s tire-changing machine lives. The wheel came off quickly and the tire came off with no problems and then it was time to put the new tire on. And it was on, though not inflated, when it occurred to me that we had forgotten the new valve stem.

There’s something you need to understand about valve stems on old Hondas, at least the CB750s. They’re almost completely inaccessible. Checking your air pressure is really hard and getting a pump head on is even worse. So we were planning to put on a valve with a 90-degree bend that would be easy to get to. We had put a new valve in on the front tire last fall but now it was time for the rear. And we had forgotten it before the tire was back on the rim.

No problem. Just shove the rubber out of the way and insert the valve. Then pull it through.

Did I say the valves are almost impossible to reach? Ron managed to grab this thing with some pliers but couldn’t get much leverage. And after a lot of trying and a lot of effort . . . it broke off. Now we had to go buy a new one.

Off we went to Mike’s Motorcycle, which was cool because I had never been there. I always like seeing a new shop. But the only 90-degree valve stem they had was the wrong size. So we figured just stop at a car tire place; they always have valve stems. Well, this one did but not anything we could use. Push on.

So we ended up at the Boulder store of G-Force Power Sports. I knew there was a G-Force in Denver but didn’t know they had a shop in Boulder, too. And they had what we wanted. Normally a valve stem costs about $2. For a 90-degree one, however, $10. I bought two just to ensure we didn’t need to make a return trip.

Back at Jeff’s, we took the tire off so as to get the valve stem in as easily as possible, and all went well. And then it all went back together easily and quickly. And presto, I had a new rear tire.

Of course, then between lunch and shooting the bull we ate up some more time. It wasn’t much after 4 by the time I got home. Nothing like spending your entire day getting a new tire. I enjoyed every minute of it.

Biker Quote for Today

We’ll stay up all night working on a bike to just go thrash on it tomorrow.

I Don’t Need No Stinkin’ Tread

Monday, August 15th, 2016

Some people simply won’t start out on a motorcycle trip without new tires. I know Willie and Jungle are like that. And then there are people like me who look at the tire and think, “Well, this trip will be about 1,500 miles and I’m sure I have that much left on this tire. And if not, I’ll get a new one along the way.”

Bald Kawi Tire

 Hey, the cords weren't showing through yet.

That was the case on this recent OFMC trip. Literally. I had that conversation with myself and then every day at the end of the ride I inspected my front tire to answer one question: Is there enough rubber on it for tomorrow’s ride?

It’s not enough to only ask that question before you start out. I learned that a few years ago when I went down to Arizona Bike Week. I looked at my tires and concluded I had plenty of rubber to get there and get home, but by the time I got there it was evident I had been wrong. As soon as I got to Scottsdale I headed to a local dealership and got new tires.

The tires I was riding on on the Kawi this trip were not a pair. I had gotten two new tires out in Ohio a few years ago when I went out for Vintage Motorcycle Days, but barely 1,200 miles later my rear got ruined by a puncture. I was able to get to Eagle where Jungle set me up with a used rear tire he had taken off his Concours before they went on a trip sometime earlier. And that one was good enough that I only had to replace it finally last year. But now my Ohio front tire was wearing thin.

Each day I checked it, and each day I concluded it would be fine tomorrow. Until the last day, when the disappearance of the rubber was more pronounced than it had been the other days. Hmmmm. I figured it was still good for 250 miles. And it was.

So I was over to Mountain Thunder on Friday to have Joel put a new one on for me.

“Wouldn’t you agree I could have gotten another couple thousand miles out of this tire?” I asked him jokingly.

“I think you should have replaced it a couple thousand miles sooner,” he replied, not joking.

Joel’s probably right. And I probably won’t change my ways.

Biker Quote for Today

Motorcyclist: A person willing to take a container of flammable liquid, place it on top of a hot moving engine, and then put the whole lot between their legs.

Examiner Resurrection: Where Bikes Go To Die–Denver’s Motorcycle Graveyard

Thursday, May 5th, 2016
Steele's Cycles

Steele's Cycles is the Denver motorcycle graveyard.

Steele’s is certainly still there. I’ve found a few things I needed for my 1980 Honda there. This early 2009 post is definitely still relevant.

Like elephants, motorcycles have their common burial grounds where they go to die. Unlike elephants, parts off these dead bikes come back to keep their compatriots alive.

In Denver, the motorcycle graveyard is located just west off Santa Fe Blvd. at Union. It is called Steele’s Cycles. The address is 2025 W. Union Ave.

Steele’s sells a bit of everything. Their showroom holds about 80 bikes of all sorts, from cruisers to dirt bikes with a good share of sport bikes. Accessories and other parts are stored inside as well, and then there is the outside.

Outside you’ll find the carcasses of hundreds of motorcycles of all makes and models. If you’re looking for a frame, or a fork, or a crankcase for a particular model you can probably find it here. Just be prepared to spend some time finding it. Bikes are grouped by make but it may not be easy to recognize your model with half its parts gone.

Steele’s bills itself at “Colorado’s oldest and largest new and used motorcycle parts source. They also perform service and they sell new parts as well as used ones.

Long-time Steele’s employee Bob Burkler observes that while the bad economy is hurting everyone, salvage is “probably a pretty good business to be in right now. Someone who might have just gone to a dealer for a new part might come here now to get that part for less.” He also notes that the demand for small bikes is up a lot. Steele’s sells used bikes of all sorts but does not have much in the way of scooters.

Burkler also says that Steele’s is a good place for anyone with an older bike. Dealerships will tell you right out that they do not want to do service on older bikes, but that is what Steele’s specializes in.

So. Looking for a headlight for that 1980 Honda CB? Need a front fender for that 1987 Virago? How about an entire motor kit for a 2002 Suzuki GSXR 600? Steele’s may very well have just what you need.

Hours are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Friday; 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday. Call 303-781-5339.

Performance Cycle Goes Big

Monday, April 11th, 2016
The new Performance Cycle store.

Performance Cycle's new digs.

As did many thousands of other motorcyclists–apparently–I received a card inviting me to the grand opening at the new location for Performance Cycle on Saturday. New location: 7375 S. Fulton, in Centennial. I figured I wanted to see the place, so I went.

trying on helmets

Just an eye-catching scene I noticed.

The card had promised a schwag bag for the first 100 in the doors and while that wasn’t a big motivator I did think it might be cool if I got one and it had some cool stuff in it. Ha! Doors opened at 9 a.m. and I walked in around 9:45. By that time there must have been more than 100 people waiting in line to make their purchases. The place was packed, and that’s saying something because it is huge.

I don’t know if this is the biggest motorcycle shop in Denver but if it isn’t it has got to be one of the biggest. Completely new building with about anything you could want. Including a lounge with complimentary beverages and an air hockey table so you can while away the time while your bike is being worked on. A section for helmets that is bigger than some shops I’ve been in. A storage area for tires that looked like it must have a couple thousand tires on hand. And of course, pretty much any motorcycle gear or apparel you could possibly be looking for.

And apparently there were a lot of people looking for gear. I was just there for a look-see but most people seemed to be there as shoppers. I would not want to stand in line that long to buy but I guess the today-only 20 percent discount coupons they were handing out made a persuasive argument to a lot of people.

Will I shop here? Yeah, it’s in my part of town and I figure they will probably have anything I’m looking for. I might want to do some price comparisons, though. We’ll see.

And one other point in their favor: they’re open on Mondays.

Inside Performance Cycle's new space.

The place is huge.

Biker Quote for Today

Note to self: Never ride a motorcycle in stilettos and a miniskirt. — Maggie Grace