Monday, February 16, 2009

Youth Motorcycles Banned?

Once again, American motorcyclists are threatened by the (one hopes) unintended consequences of a law. A few months ago, Congress passed the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008 (CPSIA).  According to section 101(a) of the CPSIA, all youth products containing lead must have less than 600 parts per million (ppm) by weight.  OK, how can we have a problem with making childrens' everyday toys safer?  As happens many times, a law as enacted seems fine, but the trouble begins when the governmental entity responsible for putting the law into play writes the rules and regulations...kinda like the health care loophole we've been dealing with for years.  In this case,  the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has interpreted the CPSIA to apply to various components of youth motorcycles and ATVs, including the engine, brakes, suspension, battery and other mechanical parts.  While it seems the lead levels in these parts are above the minimum threshold, I've never heard of kids  injesting parts off their motorcycles, and I bet you haven't either.  The only motorcyle-related objects my son (pic below) ever injested  were a lot of hot dogs at the local MX track. The CPSC's threated implementation of the act threatens to end youth off-highway vehicle riding entirely.  My local "big 4" dealer has already halted sales of youth OHVs and associated parts and accessories.  You can help by contacting your Federal representatives and senators; the AMA makes it super-easy -- go here and fill in your name and state and in about 30 seconds emails to your Fed officials will be on the way.

A few more laps, then I'm stopping for a nice peanut butter 'n' brake shoe sandwhich!

Monday, February 09, 2009

Motorhead Coffee

Motorcyclists and coffee go together like  rama lama lama ke ding a de dinga a dong.  Motorhead Coffee is the perfect kickstart for that 0-dark-thirty ride departure.  It's custom roasted for motorcyclists by a longtime motorcyclist/adventure-rider in Indiana named Jamie ("Shep" on ).  Motorhead currently roasts 12 varieties running the gamut from fairly good-natured to major slap-in-the-face.  I tried a pound each of Motorhead's "Face Plant" and certified-organic "Trail's End" beans.  Face Plant is a delicious, bold medium-to-dark roast that makes an excellent morning brew.  Trial's End is  milder (but still gutsier and more complex than anything you'll find in a donut shop) with a faint chocolate taste that would be good anytime, including with dinner or a gut-busting desert.  The price of $10/lb. is reasonable and $2 from each pound sold is donated to ADVrider to help maintain the website.  The beans (or grounds if requested) will arrive in special lined sacks with Motorhead's logo.  Mine also arrived with metal clips for the bags, and a plastic measuring scoop.  Order yours here and get your motor runnin'!

Sunday, February 08, 2009

First USA Honda Dealer Closes

Pacific northwest motorcycle newsource is reporting that University Honda in Seattle, the first Honda motorcycle dealership in the USA, has closed its doors, another reported victim of economic hard-times. Read more about it here and here.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

RoadRunner's PA Dutch Tour DVD

RoadRUNNER magazine's "Pennsylvania Dutch Country Tour 2008" DVD is a professionally-done, slick little piece of Hi-Def fun that left me wanting more. It's also a bit of torture as it's the dead of Winter and I've only been on two wheels for commuter duty lately. The camera and an animated map documents Publisher Christa Neuhauser, her son Florian Neuhauser and Senior Editor Chris Myers on a 4-day loop around the southeastern PA "Dutch" or "Amish Country" (if you're not familiar with the Amish, Google will reveal all). The viewer is along for the ride as they swoop and twist thru vast farmlands and visit interesting, delicious(!) and downright quirky destinations. Even though I live nearby and ride in the PA Amish Country all the time, I still discovered a few new things in this DVD, which will undoubtedly lead me to search out some new territory and places on future rides; that alone is well worth the $19.95 price of admission. I only wish the DVD ran longer. Click on the preview below; then order your DVD here.

Images and video courtesy of RoadRUNNER, used by permission.

Friday, February 06, 2009

SouthWestMoto Tires is History

One of the very best and most popular motorcycle tire vendors, SouthWestMoto Tires, is no more.  Blaine, the owner of SWM, sold the business and retired, reportedly to do a lot more riding.  SWM sold exclusively online from its Tucson location, and was famous for cheap prices, free shipping on 2 or more, and extremely quick delivery.   I've used SWM 4 or 5 times and couldn't have been happier.  Blaine was able to deliver a special OEM-coded front BT-021 for my ZR-7S within 48 hours, and he didn't even stock it.  SWM has been absorbed into OnAnyMoto , also in Tucson.  Early reports on OAM's service are encouraging (check this thread on ADVRider for example); the new owner is apparently aware of the high expectations.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Americade Registration Begins Today!

Registration for Americade, the world's largest (and my favorite) motorcycle touring rally begins today.  The rally will be held June 1 - 6 and while the rally is HQ'd in and near the village of Lake George, the entire Adirondack Mountains are your playground. Great routes abound in every direction from Lake George For more info and/or to register, click here.  I've attended 7 of the last 10 Americade rallies and haven't yet run out of fun things to do or great twisty, scenic roads to ride.  From slabbin' to swooping the sweepers on Route 9 along the lake to serious peg-scratchin' thru the mountain gaps in Vermont, there's something to suit every type of rider and machine.  

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Aerostich revamps Windstopper Jersey

Aerostich has announced changes to its popular Gore-Tex Windstopper Jersey.  I have two of the original Jerseys and  find them to be indispensable component of my riding kit as a lightweight, versatile mid-layer garment that provides a lot of warmth without adding bulk.  Worn over a polypro or silk base layer and under my Roadcrafter or Darien jacket, the Windstopper Jersey will help keep me warm down to about 40F.  Adding an insulating layer (usually fleece) over the Windstopper has kept my core temp proper down as low as I dare ride, including my record low ride of 62 miles at 9F.   Folds up small enough to have along (or remove and stow) in case the weather changes. Changes with the new version include a nice zippered pocket on the upper left arm,  a hidden self-storage pocket, and a larger cut to facilitate easier on/off (I do find the neck on the original version on the tight side).  Wanna pretend you're Capt. Kirk? Get the tan jersey.

  • Comfort, style and keeps the breeze out.
  • Handy zippered left arm storage pocket.
  • Light padding at elbows.
  • Hidden, self-storing pocket.
  • Great as a layering piece or alone.
  • No stupid graphics. Anywhere.

Monday, February 02, 2009

Pinlock Anti-Fog Visor Review

I'll cut to the chase: Pinlock works!  Over the past 2 winters, I've chronicled my search for a solution to motorcycle helmet visor fogging that is effective, simple, and long-lasting, while contributing as little vision distortion as possible.  My search is over; Pinlock scores on all criteria!  The "smear-on" anti-fogs I tried were effective to varying degrees, but many were fussy to use, most didn't last very long (particularly with rain or inner-shield condensation in the mix), and all caused unacceptable visual distortion.  The "barrier" methods I tried (Respro Foggy mask and Arai's breath mask) were effective and caused zero distortion, but proved very fussy to use with eyeglasses and each tried to rip the flesh off my nose and forehead when removing my helmet.  Many folks seem very happy with the Respro, so it may just be my particular head shape/helmet fit, neither of which I plan to change.  
Though Pinlock is very popular in Europe, we Yanks seem to be Pinlock-deprived for some reason (perhaps liability-related). After searching in vain at local dealers and many Internet sellers, all of whom were alleged US Pinlock retailers (Pinlock won't sell direct), and European retailers who refused to sell to the USA, I managed to score one for my Arai Profile from Rusty at Motorcyclecloseouts.  The Pinlock  system comprises two parts: a Pinlock-prepped visor (meaning it has 2 pins installed) and the Pinlock insert.  Pinlock allegedly sells the pins in a DIY kit, but you likely won't find one for sale in the States.  Many helmets come standard with Pinlock-prepped shields in Europe. The insert is made of a moisture-absorbing plastic and has a silicone beaded-seal on its perimeter.  In addition to clear, the insert comes in the usual array of visor colors. Installation is simple:  butt the notch on one side of the insert against one of the visor pins, flex the visor carefully, and butt the other side against the other pin, and relax the visor (see detail below left).  The silicone bead forms an instant seal against the visor.  The insert can be removed and replaced at will for cleaning for changing weather or light conditions.  I installed a clear insert and probably will remove it only for cleaning as I've never found much use for colored visors.
I initially experienced some interference between the top center of the Pinlock's bead and my Profile's eyeport gasket.  After some consult with Arai, I shipped the helmet and Pinlock to it's awesome service center, where a tech made some magic adjustments to the helmet that worked wonders.  I had the lid back the next day and all worked well.  During the past couple of months, I've used the Pinlock in myriad conditions: fog, rain, a little sleet, one small hailstorm, and low temps ranging from the high 40s F down to the mid-teens.  During all that, the Pinlock insert has been 100% fog-free, even with the visor locked-down to the max, and even while stopped in traffic.   Is it perfect?  No. In the dark, the Pinlock causes a very slight degree of "back reflection" from headlights and streetlights, but no forward-vision distortion.  And while the Pinlock insert has been 100% fog-free, the periphery of the visor not covered by the insert fogs up, resulting in some loss of peripheral vision, though the range of loss is minimal and the trade-off is well worth the safety of fog-free vision in the larger degree.  The range of loss is larger in Arai helmets due to Arai's eyebrow vents (please get rid of these useless vents Mr. Arai).  This last observation is also being addressed by Pinlock, which is releasing a new version of the insert, the "Max Vision", which covers nearly the entire visor and sits in a recess in the visor instead of using mount pins.  I understand that the Arai version with be sans eyebrow vents.
I'm now riding fog-free in the nasty stuff for the first time ever.  No more fumbling to crack the visor open with heavy winter gloves while coming to a stop on my commutes, no more rain-intrusion from a less than locked-down visor, and better vision ups the odds against brain-dead cagers and kamikaze deer.  Every helmet sold should be Pinlock-equipped; all mine will be.

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Deal of the Day: TCX X-Five (Oxtar Matrix) Boots

The Oxtar Matrix was a favorite of sport-tourers.  Due to a trademark issue, the boots have been reborn as the TCX X-Five.  The protective, breathable, waterproof Goretex-y goodness is now on sale at NewEnough for $215.99.  Great price; awesome boots. Check 'em out here.

As a service to my fellow motorcyclists, I sometimes post information on sales and closeouts on quality motorcycle gear. I get this information via subscriptions to email notices and newsfeeds of some of my favorite vendors, and I also stumble across this information during my daily travels on various online forums, etc. Unless otherwise noted, I haven't used or tested this gear; I am simply giving a "hey, lookee here!" on what appears to me to be a good deal on quality stuff from a good vendor. Be an informed consumer and research before buying.