New life?

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Well, I’ve got a new “smartphone”, the new motorola Droid. I’m hoping that it, along with the WP app I found, will get me back to posting more. But, even as I’m typing this I can see how not having a desktop sized keyboard can make things difficult. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see…

I’ll be attaching two droid photos. One of the busa I drove 16 hours to pick up for a friend and marine who’s serving in iraq. The other is a photo from a stop near the top of Mt. Greylock on a stellar late fall ride.

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Review: Rev’It! Zip Pants

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Rating: 8/10

Opinion: Does exactly what it is aimed to do. Nothing but the basics: keeps you dry, fits like motorcycle gear should fit, offers abrasion resistance and knee armor, and with decent styling.

Approx Miles Used: 3,000

MSRP: $159.99, Comes in Short and Long sizes.

So, you ask, such a high rating for the baseline model of this manufacturer? Well my rating is based on what this type of pant is intended for: everyday riding. I would not want to take these to the track or through the dessert, but for a base riding pant these function really well. One of only a few pants offered in long or short sizes, the Zip pants have a slim cut to them. Whereas most pants would fit me in a L, I had to go up to XL to accommodate the extra weight I’ve been toting around lately. This is a good thing though. Once on the bike, they feel comfortable and secure, making me confident that the CE rated knee armor will stay in place and do it’s job in a get off. They also include an 8″ zipper to connect to a jacket, which happens to match perfectly with the Olympia GT air jacket, and I suspect it will work with most of the Olympia line of jackets with the short zipper option.

Waterproof? The REV’IT!  Hydralining® membrane does a great job on those not so dry commutes to work. I’ve ridden in only a few rain storms with these pants, but they’ve always kept me dry. With no real venting to speak of, the pants did alright in most temps up to about 85 degrees. Around that temperature things would get a bit uncomfortable. With enough layers, I wore these into the low teens and was ok with them. They’re hardly a winter pant though, but they’re good down to about 40 with just jeans underneath. As with most things written on comfort in temps, these experiences may vary greatly on an individual basis depending on your ability to handle the hot and cold.

Fit? Well, like I mentioned in the beginning, these pants fit slim. I wear about a 36 pant, with a 34 inseam, and the XL Long size Zip pants fit great. Initially, I picked up the XL, but once on the bike the knee armor was just way too high up on my leg. No real adjustments in the armor made me exchange for the longer size. Everywhere else, the slim pant really inspired confidence in it’s ability to stay put. I can’t tell you many times I’ve tried on textile gear and thought, damn this is way too loose. One item some might not like though is the leg zipper. Most overpants come with a full length leg zipper to make it easy to get in/out of. Frankly, I never really found it a big deal to slip off my boots to get these pants off. However, if you despise the occasionally one leg balancing you might want to think twice using these as commuter pants.

You sold them?! Yes, in my infinite wisdom I sold these on the ADV boards. My reasoning being that soon the hot, humid New England weather would roll back in and I would be miserable in this all black oven. Well, weeks of cold and wet weather have me regretting getting rid of these pants. I’m coming to find that the simplicity and practicality of the Zip pants is hard to find at a reasonable price. The trade off for ventilation seems to always come with the sacrifice of a simple waterproof solution. The huge variety in the type of riding I do make it virtually impossible for any one piece of clothing to it all. Even the textile jacket I’ve come to enjoy so much uses liners.

Bottom Line These are a quality pant that will keep you dry, connect to your jacket, and don’t look ridiculous. I purchased these on discount, and I’d buy them again in a second for the $140 I originally paid for them. At $160, it’d take me a few extra seconds, but I’d still buy them. Rev’It!’s products keep impressing me with their quality and functionality, and these zip pants definitely deliver.

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If you don’t have it yet, look into Comprehensive Insurance coverage

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First, I’d  like to say that I’ve been an insurance agent for a little over a year now, and it always shocks me after a theft or break in of a vehicle when people tell me they have liability only on their vehicle.  Then, on the other end of the spectrum, folks will say ” I’m not sure what I have, but I’ve got Full Coverage,’ not even knowing what that means. Many people pay in the neighborhood of a thousand dollars or more for their auto or motorcycle coverage, so it’s a wonder that folks know so little about something they spend so much on.

What I would really like to get across is the relative inexpense of carrying Comprehensive coverage, or “comp”, and the benefits it provides. Now, just so everyone knows what we’re talking about, lets define Comprehensive coverage:

Comprehensive insurance provides protection for a car, motorcycle. or other vehicle  in the event of damage by something other than a collision with another vehicle or object. For example, it would cover events like theft, fire, broken glass, and more.

Now that we know what it’s for, let me make my case as to why you should consider having it on your policy. Many people often lump Comp coverage in with collision coverage, which is often much more expensive and makes the insurance seem very expensive. What many people don’t realize is that most often you DON”T need to have both comp AND collision. Sure having “Full coverage” (or in other words a policy with Liability, COMP AND COLLISION) is nice to say, but if you’re looking for a cheap policy and were thinking about going with liability only, here is why you should consider comp coverage.

On it’s own, comp coverage is often very inexpensive. Don’t believe me? Take a look at your insurance policy declarations and the breakdown of cost per coverage, or call your agent to ask how much the comp on your vehicle costs. Better yet, I’ll use myself as an example. On my motorcycle, I have a $250 deductible, and I pay only $85/yr for comprehensive insurance (It will be even less in the near future). Assuming someone steals my bike today, without the comp insurance I would be out $2,500 or so. However, subtracting my $250 deductible from the $,2500 the insurance company would give me for the bike, I would have to have the policy for over 26 years before I would have paid more for the comp coverage than that cost of the bike! Now I doubt I’ll have this bike for 20+ years, but lets say I plan to have it for 5 more, but it gets stolen in four. Now it’s only worth $2,000, my deductible is still $250, and my rate  for the coverage has flatlined at $85. Paying the $250 deductible and the $340 over the four years for coverage, I would still net $1410  of the $2k I get for the loss! On my Cage the value is even greater; For the less than $1,000 I would pay for the coverage and my deductible for7 years, and I’m covered for a value of almost $10,000!

If your car or motorcycle are older and your record is fairly clean, you’re likely to have even lower rates for comp, even with a low deductible. My point is, it doesn’t hurt to consider! Ask your agent or check online to see what the difference is to add comp to your policy, and if you already have it see how inexpensive it can be to go to the next lowest deductible! Jodie went from a $250 deductible to a $100 deductible for $6 more per year!! Save yourself some grief, make sure you’re covered!

Is it spring yet!?!?

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2008 Comes to a Close

Well 2008 was a big year for us. I feel like this year really gave me a lot of perspective on life, and how I want to live it. I bought the Bandit, which has been nothing but fun and brought us on many a memorable trips. I’ve learned a lot about motorcycles and riding, and I hope next year I will learn twice as much and see twice as much too!

Today I went on my last ride of the year. About 30 degrees and quite gusty, but a beautiful sunny day. I’m participating in a challenge to ride at least 20 miles each week through the winter, and so far so good. Heated grips and gloves have made this possible in these cold temps, and I hope to stick it out for the duration of the winter.The shot above is actually from last week, same temp, much worse road conditions.

We hope everyone had a good year, despite all the financial turmoil, and we wish everyone a happy, healthy, and exciting 2009!

Enjoy the ride!

Here’s a link to some of my favorite photos of 2008

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Review: Alpinestars Ridge Waterproof Boots

Click for more views of the boots.

Rating:8/10

Opinion:Solid construction, good waterproofing, easy to put on, a bit bulky

Approx Miles Used: 9,000

MSRP: $129.95, I paid $58.00 on ebay for a display pair(luck of the draw, I wear size 13’s)

In an attempt to clean up the review format, I’m going to make use of a ROAM acronym for the reviews like we have been for the ride reports.

After a LOT of riding with these in almost every condition, from 25F up to 95F and from full sun to monsoon rain, these boots have proved themselves well. As with all my gear thus far, no crash tests(Thank God). The “waterproof” in the name is spot on, one of the few pieces of motorcycle apparel that I’ve had which have held up through multiple days in downpours. The boots have consistently kept my feet dry through long rides in heavy rains. They are warm with regular socks down to about the 40’s, and I’ve gone down to about 25F with a couple pairs of thick socks. They can get hot in the summer, but they’re waterproof, so you can’t really expect much in the way of ventilation. If your out in the summer, plan on bringing something to change in if you’re walking around a lot or your feet will sweat a ton.

The boots go on and off pretty easily, with a huge strip of Velcro going up either ankle. There’s also a zipper between the lower part of the Velcro, but I almost never open it. The boots run a tad large, so take advantage of the half sizes. I normally wear a 13, and these 13s are loose enough where I could fit a very thick knit wool sock over a ski sock in the boot. However, the big Velcro closures do allow me to get these pretty tight. The Velcro has held up great, and I don’t imagine it will be an issue for a long time.

I’ve worn these boots for long tours of almost 400 miles, wearing them on and off the bike for the full day, and they were fine throughout. They are stiff, which is good for protection, but not to the point where I would need to bring a change for short off the bike walks. Now, if you’re headed to a state park to do some hiking after a long ride, I’d definitely consider bringing another pair of shoes along. In my case, the only real reason I’d have to bring a change though is for aesthetics, especially in warmer weather when big black boots don’t exactly go with mesh shorts…. (No, I don’t ride in shorts)

My only real gripe with these is their bulk, and possibly lack of protection. The toes are big and stiff like the rest of the boot, which took some getting used to, but in the end the bulk kind of fades away. They have held up well and the only real wear signs are scuffs, nothing more.

I would most definitely buy these again for a street/touring boot. I will probably look for a more protective boot for the track, but as an all around sport touring boot, this is a fantastic deal. Rock on Alpinestars.

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REVIEW: Tour Master Intake Air 2 Mesh Jacket

RATING 6/10 – More photos of the jacket HERE

Summary: Review comes after approximately 2 months of daily use.  Jacket cost – $152. Questionable mesh construction and odd fitments made me unsure of the value of wearing this gear. Good armor in shoulder and elbow though.

This season I started the bulk of my riding at the end of April, when I bought the Bandit. I was wearing a heavy black leather jacket, which like many avid bikers quickly realize, can become unbearable as the temps start to rise. That was the case with me, and I began looking for a mesh jacket for warmer temps. Initially, I wanted more of a 3 season jacket, something with at least spring to fall versatility, and the Intake Air 2 was touted to fit that bill. It has a 2 liner system, one for air/rain and one for cooler temps, that are supposed to allow you to use this jacket for most of the year. Here’s my experience with this system and the jacket.

After months of wearing the jacket I came to a clear realization. It’s VERY hard to have an all season jacket that serves as good protection. Not to knock Tour Master for their efforts though, as I consider this a good option for those very hot days, but the system doesn’t work for me. I’ve come to accept the fact that in the heat of summer, I have to sacrifice some protection to be able to stay comfortable enough to ride(short of spending $900 on MotoPort gear). That being said, I feel this jacket and system give up more protection than the comfort is worth. Here are my main gripes:

The 3 part jacket/liner system with Main outer shell, air/rain liner, and thermal liner is tough to size for. I eventually realized that the jacket I had was too big for me, but all indicators and charts pointed to the size I ordered. Like many of you know, motorcycle gear should be form fitting to provide the best protection in the event of an off. The problem with the Intake Air 2 is that if you plan on using the liner system, it’s next to impossible to fit into one of the sizes. This is because with the three liners in, the jacket is pretty bulky, and will feel like one size, but with only the shell on you lose a lot of the mass and the jacket then becomes very loose. Yes, there are adjustments, so it’s very likely that you can get one to fit you right- just make sure you try one on in all configurations to be sure the fit is good for you.

So you ask, if I can probably get one to fit, why wouldn’t I want this decent looking jacket with good armor and lots of adjustment that I can wear through a range of temps? Well what did it for me leads back to my argument for giving up protection. For me, my riding season isn’t simply when temps are over 70. In fact, I’d say while that portion is important, I probably only did half my riding this year in those temps. So the fact that I’d often be in cooler weather led me away from this jacket, because to me it sacrifices TOO MUCH protection for comfort in hot temps.

Why do I feel it lacks sufficient protection you ask ( damn you’re inquisitive)? I mean, after all, it has CE approved armor in the shoulders and elbows and heavier cordura in the biggest impact areas. Well that’s all good and well for the initial impact, but for the most part, I don’t imagine that I’ll be looking for protection when my accident simply involves an impact. In fact if that happens God help me. Like most motorcycle riders I hope that my gear will help me out if I decide to surf down some asphalt for a while face first and belly up.  Here’s where I feel the Intake Air 2 really falls short – The mesh construction and material.

Check out the wide holes in the mesh design. Sure, on those 95 degree days I was thanking Tour Master left and right for the readily available breeze coming through this jacket, but I could never get out of my mind how this would hold up if I was to make an unplanned exit off the bike at speed. Think of all the variations in the road and how these holes might catch against them when moving across the surface. Now apply your body weight to that. Not too sure either, huh? While I agree that most mesh isn’t as good as textile or leather in a crash, I’ve seen other companies’ mesh designs and almost every other one seemed more effective. OF course I have no research to back this up, cause God forbid someone looked at anything else in the motorcycle industry besides how many of us get killed VS how many wear helmets, but those are my thoughts.

Almost everything else I liked; the hard armor, the durable shoulders and elbows, the reflective piping, the adjustments. But I couldn’t get over the mesh. And being that this is supposed to be a jacket you use for the main part of your riding with the liners, I didn’t want this to be what I was throwing on each ride. However, PLEASE don’t go without a mesh jacket because you don’t think its not good enough. It will always be better than just you’re bare skin, and the armor could save you from a much worse injury.

Wow, that turned long, very quickly. Here’s the wrap up (which I imagine most people will skip to) If you’ve used this jacket, please let me know your take.

Pros:
OK Price – between $135-$155
CE pre curved armor in elbows and shoulders
Flows LOTS of air
Rain/wind and thermal liner included
Adjustments on arms and waist

Cons:
(Inconsolable Gripe) Wide weave mesh construction doesn’t seem like it would hold up at all in an off
Mesh not very durable (began to fray at some points within the 2 months use)
Sizing hard to get correct; great degree of variance due to liners
Velcro on waist and wrist has small contact patch

Coming up soon – More reviews! (Yay snow.. )

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Weather taking a turn..

nov15weatherWell after a week of collecting stuff for troops, organzing, and shipping care packages, dentists vists, and hospital stays, I haven’t taken a ride in almost two weeks…

Add to that the fact the sun is going down before 5PM, and my riding time has been knocked way down. Here comes another good note-> snow…

Le Sigh…

This morning I came home and looked over at the bike’s shed and thought, hell, what’s 10 minutes. So I fired it up, after a bit of coaxing, and let the bike warm up. Hearing the bike run and having the sun shining got me going. Again I thought, what’s another 10 minutes as I threw on my gear. I took the bike for a quick spin around town, adrenaline pumping so I barely felt the frigid air on my legs (only in jeans). The Bandit was a bit finicky at first, but after a few minutes it felt just fine. Filled it up in hopes of making cold starting easier, and put it away again. (More dental work today)

So after that cool ride I’ve come to a few realizations:

1) My winter MotoBoss gloves are teh suck. I need heated gloves if I want to keep riding, or keep my fingers.

2) The threat of precipitation takes on a whole new meaning to a rider when temps fall.

3) If I don’t ride every day, I’m going to need to make it a point to warm up the bike anyway. The long interval since the last start seemed to make it pretty difficult to fire up.

4) With almost no room in my shed, I have no clue how I’m going to do all the work I planned to do during the cold season.

5) I still can’t afford heated gear.

COMING UP: Reviews of the gear we used this season! First on the plate.. The Tourmaster Intake Air Series 2 Jacket.

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