Every sport bike rider could use a set of leathers in the closet. They’re required for track days and nothing protects better on a canyon ride. The choices are endless, ranging from several brands of pre-made suits to custom one-off suits based on your design and measurements. There are even 1 and 2 piece varieties, though 2 piece suits are less common. I chose what many consider the best off-the-rack 2 piece suit available, the 2010 Dainese Laguna Seca 2 piece. It happened to fit me pretty well, much better than my old Alpinestars suit, and I like 2 piece suits because I can easily remove the jacket when I stop to eat on a canyon ride. Now that I’ve worn it at a track day and on a few rides, it’s review time.
After four years with my trusty Shoei X-Eleven and the new Snell M2010 standard in full effect, I finally felt justified in buying a new helmet. It’s a big deal for me since I’m not the gear hoarder that some of my riding buddies are. I could have extended the life of my X-Eleven by just replacing the flattened cheek pads, but it’s a good idea to replace helmets every few years anyway and more importantly I wanted a helmet that was either Snell M2010* or ECE 22.05 compliant. Enter the Arai Profile.
Some of you new and aspiring sportbike riders will (and should) eventually make it out to the track for some track day action, and you’ll definitely need a good pair of boots to protect your lower extremities. Since I recently bought a set of Dainese Laguna Seca leathers, I decided to get a matching set of Dainese boots to go with them. I opted for the Axial Race New model which features the “in” design – they’re designed to go underneath the bottom of your leathers as opposed to tucking your leathers into the boot.
For those of you thinking you’ll eventually try a track day, a set of leathers is required and is nice to have for canyon rides anyway. It was time for me to find a new set after 4 1/2 years of beating up my old Alpinestars GPU 2 piece suit. It had been through 3 minor offs and performed admirably, but I wasn’t sure the right knee area could take another spill without tearing apart. The only thing I didn’t like about it was the fit – Alpinestars doesn’t seem to be built for relatively skinny guys like me. The jacket fit well enough but Beyonce couldn’t fill the butt on those pants. I swear it looked like I was carrying around a sack of potatoes back there. Enter Dainese.
If you’re new to motorcycle riding, picking out your riding gear is the most fun you’ll have apart from buying your first bike. The only problem is figuring out the who, what and where. I distinctly remember how clueless I felt when it came time for me to buy my first batch of gear. Hopefully I can shed some light on the subject for you and help point you in the right direction.
I notice a lot of new riders don’t wear gloves… and I cringe. If you think about everything your hands do for you and how different your life would be if they didn’t work right, it’s best to spend a little dough and protect them while you’re riding. I’m not quite the gear hoarder that some of my friends are so I can’t possibly review every glove out there, but I have used a few gloves the past few years that are still currently available: Joe Rocket GPX 2.0, Joe Rocket Speedmaster 7 and Icon TiMax (original). I thought I’d pass on some information about them in case you happened to be considering these particular gloves for purchase.
Look at the back of most full-face helmets sold in the U.S. today and you’re likely to see a SNELL logo sticker. It means the helmet meets or exceeds the Snell Memorial Foundation’s standards for motorcycle helmets. Here’s a snippet from their (terribly outdated) web site, www.smf.org:
In order to continuously monitor the quality of helmets being sold to the public, Snell purchases and tests samples of currently certified helmets from the marketplace. These helmets are tested only in Snell labs by Snell technicians. Should a currently certified helmet fail, the helmet manufacturer must take corrective action to Snell’s satisfaction.
In other words, if you make a helmet and want to have that Snell logo on the back so you can tell potential buyers that your helmet is Snell certified (and presumably safer than one that isn’t), your helmet has to pass Snell’s tests. In the American motorcycling community, seeing the Snell logo on the back of a helmet is generally accepted as a good thing.