Category Archives: Motorcycle Gear

The Story Of A Motorcyclist’s Valued Treasure—The Wallet

There was just no getting around it any longer. The wallet I’ve had for 21 years was close to expiring. It’s sad. I noticed the subtle hints of distress about a year ago when the stitching began to come apart, loose threads sprouting out like little errant, frayed black hairs. Then, a few months ago I noticed that the main crease was wearing extremely thin and the first hint of a tear was barely visible. I was in denial, pretending I could nurse it through several more seasons of motorcycle trips by being a little more careful with it, being a little more gentle with the daily ritual of sliding it into and pulling it out of my back pocket and in and out of various riding jackets. But, as these things go, once the rip took purchase it escalated with a vengeance.

Related: Motorcycle Watches For The Professional

As my trusted wallet began its rapid decline over the past few months I began to think of everywhere it’s been with me. It dawned on me that wallet had been along on every single motorcycle outing and every overseas trip I’d taken in the last 21 years. It had been there on every one of my trips up the Pacific Coast to attend the World Superbike and MotoGP races at Laguna Seca (as a matter of fact it’s older than some of the riders currently piloting factory machines on the grid). It has been tucked into the pockets of various riding jackets on myriad motorcycle trips, from arid deserts to cold mountain summits, endured sweltering heat to frigid cold. It has been through the rugged Baviaanskloof of South Africa and submerged in a stream crossing crash in the foothills of California. It crested the Great Atlas Mountains of Morocco with me as well as experienced the sublime serpentine roads of Tuscany. It was with me one night in the Pyrenees when I was caught in a torrential and frightening lightning storm that left it saturated with so much Spanish rain that all the ink-written items tucked away in its folds were turned to unintelligible rivulets of blue ink.

That wallet had been taken out and opened over the years at an endless string of gas stations to retrieve a credit card to refuel a multitude of motorcycles. It accompanied me to every domestic and international press launch I’ve attended during my motorcycle journalism career. That wallet was opened in a hospital in Italy to retrieve my Blue Shield card when I shattered my collarbone and broke five ribs after tucking the front end of a Ducati 999 at speed on the Imola circuit. And, it was my steady and loyal, nonjudgmental partner in crime whenever I had to show an officer of the law my license when caught exceeding the speed limit. It had been there, through it all, without complaint, without demands.

Perhaps that walk down memory lane will help assuage any notions of me being too sentimental over a fold of leather. If it were possible to extract them, there are enough experiences imbedded in its grain to produce a fairly interesting novel. All this sentimentality is born out of a simple reality in life; when something doesn’t cause you any anguish it’s all too easy to take it for granted—until it’s too late. Most guys reading this will no doubt consider their own wallets and the fact that these things are our dutiful companions through thick and thin. They are the things that go with us, often at speed, into our two-wheeled adventures. They are the rectangular forms we reach out and feel for when riding—through layers of leather or denim or textile—to ensure we have not left them behind at a gas station or restaurant. They share status with ignition keys and helmets as one of our most important and essential possessions.

The sojourn with my wallet started in 1991. I stumbled onto it in a fine men’s store while shopping with my girlfriend. It was so wonderfully uncomplicated; a single, thin fold of fine leather with a place for a license and three credit cards. Perfect. My interest instantly waned when I saw the dangling little white price tag read $50. I couldn’t justify spending that for a wallet. However, my girlfriend—a very sophisticated and fashionable woman—said that a wallet was a very important accessory for a man. She proffered that most males sport very little in the way of jewelry or ornamentation (this was long before tattoos were accepted into social norms) and therefore a wallet, like a watch, becomes an important symbol of status for a man. In other words, when you present your wallet it reflects something of who you are. Her words struck me as genuine and true, so I paid the then princely sum of 50 dollars and transferred all the contents of my old battered wallet into the new one. It’s true. Having a nice wallet does make you feel a little classier. Twenty-one years. I wonder what that is in wallet years? Fifty dollars. That works out to about $2.38 per.

Over the ensuing years I watched the wallet transition through various stages. The board-like stiffness fresh from the store quickly vanished. The leather gradually softened with the natural oils from my hands in the daily ritual of sliding it into and drawing it out of a plethora of pockets. It took on the natural curve of my hip and became a comfortable, almost invisible companion. Over time the leather was aged to exquisite smoothness.

Now, sadly, my dear wallet was finally giving up the ghost. The tear down the fold could be ignored no more. The only thing holding the two halves together was the silk liner with the brand name Bree vaguely visible in a black-on-black design. And so it was, that on a recent press launch to Madrid I finally decided it was time to replace her. I perused the small avenues off the main drags in search of a small shop that just might have a wallet that spoke to me. Finally, after a half day of milling about, I entered a quaint leather shop and saw it; a thin, simple, single fold-over wallet with a license area and slits for five credit cards. It was made of beautiful, soft black Spanish leather. It was on sale for 28 euros ($37).

On the return trip from Madrid I used my new wallet to obtain my boarding pass—its first official duty. I sincerely hope this wallet gets to enjoy the kind of wonderful experiences the old one did. I got to thinking about my old one, which was tucked away in my gear bag in the holds of the jet, and decided I couldn’t bring myself to throw it away. Wherever the cow is that gave up some of their flesh to provide the makings of my old wallet can rest peacefully knowing that its sacrifice was put to good use. Since that wallet has served as a kind of trophy for so many of my various adventures in life, it deserves to be on display. Therefore, I have decided to frame it.


WP Pro Components Suspension Brings Championship-Winning Tech To The Masses

WP Suspension has new fork and shock options for off-road riders looking for a competitive edge. WP Pro Components will be available starting mid-May 2019 and the first wave of products include three fork setups and two shocks.

The WP Xact Pro 7548 and WP Xplor Pro 7548 forks are equipped with Cone Valve technology derived from the factory racing division, providing superior damping characteristics for any type of terrain. They also offer more stroke and top-spec material construction aimed to greatly improve bottoming resistance.

There’s also the WP Xact Pro 7448 Air Fork, which also comes with Cone Valve technology along with the AER spring system. The Xact Air Fork provides a 2.2-pound weight savings. The Air Fork system pairs the Cone Valve damping leg with the AER spring leg and provides nearly unlimited configuration setups.

For the back end, there are the new Xact Pro 8950 shock and Xplor Pro 8950 shock. Each of these shocks comes with the WP-developed Supertrax system, which allows adjustment to high- and low-speed rebound damping via a TXN adjuster. WP promises this technology provides improved bottoming resistance, more reliable traction, and a smoother ride overall. There’s also a gear-driven preload adjuster made to allow for easy adjustment to your bike’s sag.

Pricing has yet to be announced for these new components, and when they are released later this month, they’ll be available through any WP Suspension authorized center.


Arai Ram-X Open-Face Helmet First Look

Arai has announced an innovative new open-face helmet in the Ram-X. It’s made to be ultra light, highly protective, and comfortable, becoming the most sophisticated open-face helmet from Arai to date.

The Japanese brand took cues from some of its top-of-the-line helmets to devise the Ram-X. Its ventilation diffusers are borrowed from the Corsair-X, providing heightened airflow through the intake vents and channels. Arai changed the aero stabilizer design to optimize stabilizing performance on the new lid.

The shell of the Ram-X is based on the construction of the Quantum-X and Signet-X. It’s made from a PB-cLc2 material (which stands for peripherally belted complex laminate construction square). It’s a technique that was created in-house by Arai and which makes use of a number of different impact-resistant materials.

The shell also makes use of the newly designed Z-Compound resin, which provides better adhesion between layers while allowing engineers to use less resin than before. That results in a lighter-weight lid that is both DOT and Snell approved. There’s no specific weight number listed by Arai however.

There are four shell sizes used to construct the XS–XXL size run for the Ram-X, improving the accuracy of the fit. Arai has given the Ram-X an intermediate oval shape in an effort to make the helmet comfortable for a wide range of riders.

Each shell size comes with its own multi-density EPS liner and comfort padding.

Riders can choose to ride with the Pro Shade System up and utilize the shade as a peak, or ride with it down to reduce the amount of light entering the helmet. A newly developed VAS-Z shield system provides a lower pivot point which allowed engineers to create a smoother design in the temple area. All of these elements were also designed with aerodynamic efficiency in mind, with the aim of creating a helmet that cuts through air as best as possible.

The shield is Pinlock ready also. There are a number of color options available, and the Ram-X starts at $679.95.


Best Motorcycle Mechanic Shop Apparel

Dickies has been a go-to name for work wear for generations. The company’s garments are tough, cheap, and available almost everywhere. Dickies’ new Moto Collection adds abrasion-resistant cloth to familiar designs. It’s not the kind of stuff we’d trust to save our hide on a real off, but it’s perfect for wearing in the garage or on a quick rip around the block after cleaning out your carbs for the 1,000th time. The Eisenhower jacket’s contoured arms and gusseted shoulders are comfortable enough in a riding position, but an attractive price is the real winner.

Shop pants typically fit like they’ve been imported from 1950, with high waists and baggy legs. The Moto chinos can be had in a variety of fits, and because they’re made from the same tough textile as the Eisenhower jacket, they’ll stand up to years of crawling around on the concrete while you clean chains and change oil. Dickies threw in a contoured waist to keep the things comfortable on a bike too.

A good pair of boots is as at home in the garage as it is in the office. Red Wing has been making its Iron Rangers for over 100 years. Like the Dickies threads, the boots are made to take a beating, but they’re comfortable enough for daily wear. The Vibram sole stays stuck even on wet concrete, and a thick leather upper will last for years with proper care.

The CDC is pretty clear about dermal absorption. For many workers, toxic substances enter the bloodstream through the skin, not the lungs. Disposable shop gloves are our go-to for keeping the nasty stuff off our hands and out of our bodies, but the cheap, thin parts-store variety are about as durable as a paper towel. These 14-mil bruisers walk the fine line between being tough enough to resist tearing and thin enough to maintain dexterity. At $20 a box, they’re more expensive than the kind you’ll find at the dentist, but you’ll use fewer per project, reducing waste while you’re at it.


Motorcycle Watches For The Professional

Wristwatches, like motorcycles, are specialized instruments. You don’t take a Supercross bike on a cross-country freeway haul, or chase lap records on a saddle-bagged cruiser. Similarly, you wouldn’t wear an oversize tool watch to a wedding or funeral. Or to the office. There you want something versatile on your wrist—dressy enough for a professional environment, but also suitable for raising hell during the morning commute. While some of us are lucky enough to have careers riding or wrenching (see page 60), most are pulling a 9-to-5, which means sitting at a desk, staring out at the parking lot, and waiting until quitting time to get back on the bike. These watches work as well at the office as they do on the open road, and are stylish to boot. They’ll make watching the clock a little more tolerable.

Savvy Associate:

Timex Marlin

Price: $199

The original 1960s Marlin brought super-sharp, American-designed watches to the masses. Now Timex is reissuing that mid-century icon with a classic manual movement, the company’s first mechanical watch since 1982, and smart new color combinations. It has the retro looks to impress Don Draper and the durability to take an Easy Rider beating. It also happens to be shockingly affordable. Consider this an instant (and easy) upgrade.

Creative Director:

Nomos Glashütte Tetra

Price: $2,320

Complicated square watches have been synonymous with speed since Steve McQueen wore one while filming Le Mans. NOMOS Glashütte brings a motorcyclist’s approach to the shape, downsizing and paring back frivolous functions to their utilitarian core. Each example is handmade in Germany, with a stout manual-wind movement tucked inside an extra-slender case. Perfect for the enthusiast with small wrists looking to make a big statement.

I.T. Guy:

Montblanc Summit 2

Price: $995

In terms of outright functionality, smartwatches are tough to beat. The rub? Most look like lozenges, give off an AV club vibe, or both. The Summit 2 offers all the rider-friendly tech you want—Bluetooth syncing, voice activation, GPS and navigation—in a traditional steel case, with a rotating crown and handsome calfskin strap. Plus, it’s packing the powerful new Snapdragon processor and latest version of Google Wear OS. Think Swiss charm by way of Silicon Valley.

The Promotion:

Baume & Mercier Classima

Price: $990

Baume & Mercier has nearly two centuries of watchmaking heritage and deep ties to motorcycling. (The brand once did a Burt Munro tribute sports watch, plus special editions for the new Indian Scout and Chief.) Powered by a hassle-free quartz movement, the Classima adds a professional aesthetic to the pedigree, offering all the classic hallmarks of a dress watch: sleek Roman numerals, a tidy date window at the 3 o’clock position, and a handsome dark-colored dial.

The Executive:

Jaeger-lecoultre Reverso

Price: $6,200

Conservative but not stuffy, fashionable but not flashy, precise as a surgeon and reliable as a sunset—the Reverso is an ideal investment timepiece. And its namesake feature is ideal for riders: The entire watch head can swivel 360 degrees, so the metal case’s back faces outward, shielding the dial from debris and road grime. Nothing says “I’m the boss” like a watch that can drop visor when it’s time to get down to business.


Pirelli Angel GT II Sport-Touring Tire First Look

Pirelli announced the next generation of its sport-touring line of motorcycle tires with the new Angel GT II. A refined compound, new tread pattern, and revised carcass promise unparalleled performance for a wide range of riders. Considering how good the original Angel GT performed (it’s been a part of Pirelli’s motorcycle tire lineup for more than six years), its successor has some serious shoes to fill.

Sport-touring is a demanding segment for tires. A set needs to be capable of handling sporty rides, so be nimble with reliable grip throughout. But they also need to have longevity, and the ability to perform when the weather turns. Pirelli promises it all with the Angel GT II.

That’s owing to a variable cord end count carcass and high-silica compound. Combined with a new tread pattern which owes its roots to the intermediate race tires used in World Superbike, the Angel GT II aims to deliver confidence and competence in spades.

Pirelli highlights the new Angel GT II’s strength in straight-line stability and durability along with smooth transitions from side to side. That goes for both dry and wet conditions too. The Angel GT II is also touted as being ideal for riders on machines with sophisticated electronics, things like traction control or cornering ABS, where grip can be affected by changes beyond throttle control or road conditions.

The Angel GT II is recommended for a diverse range of segments as a result, in Pirelli’s estimation. That includes large, luxury touring and adventure riders as well as urban-focused or more casual, weekend riders.

The size range backs up that assertion, with a large selection of sizes for an expansive array of machines. Below is the complete run as of the announcement.

120/60ZR-17 M/C TL (55W)
120/70ZR-17 M/C TL (58W)
120/70ZR-17 M/C TL (58W) (A)
110/70R-17 M/C TL 54H
120/70R-19 M/C TL 60V

140/70R-17 M/C TL 66H
150/70ZR-17 M/C TL (69W)
160/60ZR-17 M/C TL (69W)
170/60R-17 M/C TL 72V
170/60ZR-17 M/C TL (72W)
180/55ZR-17 M/C TL (73W)
180/55ZR-17 M/C TL (73W) (A)
190/50ZR-17 M/C TL (73W)
190/50ZR-17 M/C TL (73W) (A)
190/55ZR-17 M/C TL (75W)
190/55ZR-17 M/C TL (75W) (A)


Product: 2019 Merlin Victory jacket

Lightweight and protective motorcycle jacket now available.

Link International, the Australian distributor of Merlin, has announced the release of its 2019 Leisure range, including the Victory leather motorcycle jacket.

With many years of motorcycle apparel manufacturing experience, Merlin has focused on combining the latest production technology and componentry with authentic heritage styling.

Whether you’re enjoying a Sunday morning tootle or your riding is hardcore, Merlin will keep you comfortable and well protected while providing class and style.

merlin victory jacket

Image: Supplied.

2019 Merlin Victory jacket key features:
– Halley Stevensons 10oz Super Dry water-repellent cotton outer.
– Dupont Kevlar 220g reinforced impact areas (shoulders, elbows and back).
– SW Level 2 armour pre-fitted to shoulder and elbows (removable).
– Back pocket prepared for optional CE back armour.
– Silver micro snaps plus silver YKK central zipper.
– YKK zippers used throughout.
– Stunning tartan lining throughout the jacket inside.
– Two lower pockets with side entry hand warmers.

Available in sizes small through to 3X-large, the Merlin Victory jacket is priced at RRP $329.95. For more information, visit


Best Tools To Steal A Motorcycle

Want to be a real scumbag? Go steal a motorcycle. You’ll instantly rank with the thousands of other miserable twits in this country who went after someone else’s pride and joy for a quick buck.

But really, don’t. More than 45,000 people came out for a ride only to find their bike gone last year. Same for the year before that, and the year before that. It’s the stuff of nightmares for a rider who has put their hard-earned money and time into a motorcycle. Safety measures such as chain locks, disc-brake alarms, locked covers, steering locks, or tracking devices are good, but aren’t 100 percent foolproof because these depraved goons are coming for your precious metal with some serious tools. But if you know what’s in their kit, you’ll be better prepared to protect your ride.

Heavy-duty bolt cutters are definitely on that list. They’re quiet and can be effective on cable locks and thick chain. If the thief is even less discreet, you can bet there’ll be a battery-powered angle grinder in the mix too. What you lose in subtlety, you gain in speed and cutting power—in a Motorcyclist test, the toughest chain available lasted scarcely more than three minutes against a grinder. Canned air, or more specifically, the difluoroethane inside those cans, can be effective too, freezing locks and allowing a thief to bust through them with a hammer. For the clever and mechanically adept, a screwdriver, wire cutters, and a little wire are enough to make off with your machine. For other theft rings, a van is more their style because thieves can get the bike out of sight quick.

Knowledge is power. Look at your machine with a thief’s perspective and put a few protective measures in place, then you can rest assured your bike will stay right where you left it.


Shoei Releases GT-Air II Sport-Touring Helmet

Shoei released the latest version of it sport-touring helmet, the GT-Air II to motojournalists and industry professionals at Shoei’s agency headquarters in Costa Mesa, California. After a quick lunch, and mingling with our fellow guests, Matthias Beier, Shoei’s marketing coordinator, explained all the new features of the heavily updated helmet.

The engineers at Shoei put a lot of attention to reducing wind noise in the new GT-Air II. The outer shell has been redesigned to be more aerodynamic, including a chin spoiler, and beefed-up beading around the visibility port to improve the seal with the visor. There are three intake and five exhaust vents, providing more airflow in and out of the helmet to increase rider comfort. The internal drop-down sun visor goes 5mm lower than before, increasing the visibility for the rider while reducing sun glare.

One of the coolest features of the GT-Air II is its ability to fully integrate with the Sena SRL2 communication system. The helmet has specific cutouts and channels within the shell to accommodate the SRL2 components while keeping a streamline shape, which improves aerodynamics and increases safety for potential impact zones in a crash. Shoei has also added its patented stainless steel mini ratchet chinstrap for quick on and off functionality, which has been tested and proven in-house to be just as safe as a double D-ring.

The GT-Air II is offered in seven solid colors for $599, and 11 graphic designs for $699, and should be available for purchase beginning next week. With all these new features (and more) of the Shoei GT-Air II, we can’t wait to get one out in the wild and test it ourselves. We will report back with our own review to let you know how well this redesign performs. Stay tuned!


Pirelli Diablo Supercorsa TD Trackday Compound Now Available

Pirelli announced a new trackday-specific-compound Diablo Supercorsa tire, now available from authorized trackside vendors. This tire is DOT approved and will be available in seven sizes. Here’s the full size run as of the announcement:

  • 110/70-17
  • 120/70-17
  • 140/70-17
  • 160/60-17
  • 180/55-17
  • 180/60-17
  • 200/55-17

The new rubber will feature a “TD” tire sticker, giving them an unmistakable look in the paddock.

“We’re proud to offer this Diablo Supercorsa special compound for trackday use as it’s designed to keep up with the performance and technology of today’s sportbikes,” said Oscar Solis, roadrace manager, Pirelli in a company press release. “The solution is incredibly versatile, giving riders the ability to cover both street and racetrack in a DOT-legal package. It provides riders the opportunity to competitively log laps at their local trackday and hop on the street to ride a scenic canyon route back home.”

Jake Zemke, former AMA Pro Superbike racer, adds ““I’m so excited for the new Pirelli Diablo Supercorsa compound for trackdays. I started on this project with Pirelli last year to help bring a further DOT tire to the market that is stable, safe, and with extremely high grip levels for the track. It offers amazing grip and stability in a DOT-legal package. Whether on the street or racetrack, this new Pirelli Supercorsa special compound for trackday use is the new standard for a high-performance do-it-all tire.”

RELATED: Pirelli Releases Diablo Superbike Slick Tires For Small-Displacement Motorcycles

The new compound is now available in the US and Canada. If you’re at Chuckwalla or MSR-Houston March 29–31, you’ll have a chance to pick up a set. The tires will be at Carolina Motorsports Park April 12–14 and COTA during Aprilia Racer Days April 16 as well.