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The Why Behind Arai Helmets

The Why Behind Arai Helmets
Akihito Arai pictured at the Arai factory in Japan.

In 1914, a doctor practicing near the Brooklands racetrack in England first correlated the relationship between motorcycle accidents and serious head injuries. Dr. Eric Gardner went on to invent the first purpose-built motorcycle helmet. It wasn’t until two decades later, when a head injury resulting from a motorcycle accident took the life of Thomas Lawrence, better known as Lawrence of Arabia, that the first serious studies were conducted into the efficacy of motorcycle helmets in reducing the severity of head injuries. Hugh Cairns, Lawrence’s attending doctor and a leading neurosurgeon, used his findings and influence to ensure that helmets would become obligatory equipment for British Army Signal Corps riders going forward.

Early helmets were mostly constructed from cork, leather, and sometimes wood, and remained so until post-war developments in synthetic materials lead innovators such as Hirotake Arai to develop an entirely new design. Arai, a keen motorcyclist, had retooled his family hat business to produce safety helmets for construction workers. Applying the same manufacturing techniques, he began making and selling the first Japanese motorcycle helmets in 1952. They were made from a fiberglass resin outer shell lined initially with cork, and later, expanded polystyrene (EPS).

Seven decades on, motorcycle helmets, along with a multitude of international standards, have evolved exponentially, as has our understanding of science. Nonetheless, the infinite number of variables existing in a real-world crash ensure that even the most sophisticated models used to gauge a helmet’s ability to absorb an impact will remain controversial. While tests aimed at appraising shell penetration, peripheral vision, and the strength of chin straps lend themselves more readily to laboratory observation, governing bodies are forced to compromise in the face of producing practical, repeatable tests that accurately simulate impact absorption.

The Why Behind Arai Helmets
An Arai factory engineer utilizing an ‘anvil test’ rig on a helmet shell.

An effective helmet design aims to minimize the energy reaching the wearer in a crash, and since much of the testing involves dropping helmets from a given height onto an anvil, passing the resulting standards can be as simple as thickening the EPS layer in all the right places. Arai argues that the resulting helmet would no longer possess the overall strength and durability afforded by a sphere and ignores the role a helmet plays in redirecting and absorbing energy. In the same way a stone can be made to skim across a pond, a round, smooth helmet will glance off a surface, redirecting energy away from the wearer.

Arai’s design philosophy first accepts that practical limitations on a helmet’s size and weight restrict the volume of protective EPS foam it can contain. Inevitably, helmets can’t prevent all head injuries. But, with the understanding that safeguarding a rider’s head goes far beyond meeting the demands of governing bodies, Arai applies the “glancing off” philosophy to design helmets that reduce the effect of impacts on riders’ heads. Given that most impacts are likely to occur at an oblique angle because motorcyclists are moving at speed, Arai’s design aims to maximize the ability of a helmet to redirect energy by glancing off an object. The design is a function of shape, shell strength, and deformation characteristics that absorb energy along with EPS.

The Why Behind Arai Helmets

Arai collects crashed helmets for analysis and data collection, and uses the information to continually refine their helmet design.

Arai has developed and refined its approach through decades of evaluation and experimentation. Its helmets are round and smooth, and any protruding vents or airfoils are designed to detach on impact. The shell itself must be strong and flexible, but it must not deform too quickly or it will dig in rather than glance off. Arai uses multiple laminated layers combining glass and composite fiber to produce a very strong but lightweight material, and areas of potential weakness at the helmet’s edge and eyeport are reinforced with an additional belt of “super fiber.” Arai says its shells can withstand much higher abrasion than what is mandated by standards tests, and in doing so, can retain its energy absorption properties for a second or third impact.

The Why Behind Arai Helmets
Every Arai helmet is still made and inspected by hand at the family-owned factory in Japan

While glancing off can redirect energy from the impact, a high-velocity crash may also require a helmet to absorb and distribute impact energy. Arai’s proprietary one-piece, multi-density EPS liner is made up of different sections of varying densities corresponding to the adjacent shell surface. This helps maintain the helmet’s spherical form and enhances its ability to glance off. In the case of a crash involving a slide along the ground and into an object, such as a curb or barrier, Arai’s helmets are designed to deflect the initial impacts with the ground with minimal shell deformation, saving its absorption properties for the rapid deceleration caused by impacting the object.

While glancing off can redirect energy from the impact, a high-velocity crash may also require a helmet to absorb and distribute impact energy. Arai’s proprietary one-piece, multi-density EPS liner is made up of different sections of varying densities corresponding to the adjacent shell surface. This helps maintain the helmet’s spherical form and enhances its ability to glance off. In the case of a crash involving a slide along the ground and into an object, such as a curb or barrier, Arai’s helmets are designed to deflect the initial impacts with the ground with minimal shell deformation, saving its absorption properties for the rapid deceleration caused by impacting the object.

The Why Behind Arai Helmets
Each helmet shell undergoes a series of quality control checks before continuing through the production process.

Many other helmet manufacturers and philosophies exist, and riders must make their own conclusions in the knowledge that certification requirements mandated by bodies such as the DOT and ECE only guarantee a minimum standard. Every Arai helmet is still made and inspected by hand at the family-owned factory in Japan; the only automated process is the laser cutting of the eyeports. Over its history Arai has built an enviable reputation for quality and attention to detail. As the saying goes, it is expensive for a reason.

For more information on Arai helmets, visit araiamericas.com.

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HJC RPHA 90S Modular Helmet | Gear Review

HJC RPHA 90S Modular Helmet Review

We can’t get enough of modular helmets here at Rider. The protection of a full-face helmet combined with the convenience of a flip-up chinbar is really hard to beat. Add in the premium features of a helmet like HJC’s RPHA 90S, and you cover all the bases: safety, comfort, aerodynamics, ventilation, versatility, and ease of use.

Based in Korea, HJC is the world’s largest helmet manufacturer. RPHA, which stands for Revolutionary Performance Helmet Advanced and is pronounced “arfa,” is HJC’s premium line of full-face and modular helmets. The 90S shell is made of HJC’s proprietary, lightweight Premium Integrated Matrix (P.I.M.) Plus that blends carbon and carbon-glass into a hybrid fabric. My medium-sized 90S weighs 3 pounds, 11 ounces, which is comparable to other premium modular helmets we’ve tested.

The interior is 3D-engineered to reduce noise, and combined with the aerodynamic shell, neck roll, and chin curtain, the helmet does a good job of dulling wind noise. The 90S has a plush, removable comfort liner, recessed ear pockets, and channels to accommodate glasses. The anti-scratch faceshield is Pinlock-ready (an anti-fog insert comes in the box), and a sliding lever on the lower left edge of the helmet deploys or retracts the drop-down sunshield. Vents on the chinbar, crown, and rear of the helmet are easy to open or close with gloved hands. Airflow through the helmet is decent but could be better (though that would increase wind noise; I wear earplugs most of the time, so it’s a trade-off I’d be happy to make). Sold separately are Sena-made Smart HJC 20B and 10B Bluetooth communication systems that integrate into a port inside the rear of the helmet.

HJC RPHA 90S Modular Helmet Review 2021 Honda Gold Wing Tour DCT
HJC RPHA 90S on a 2021 Honda Gold Wing Tour (Photo by Kevin Wing)

I’ve been wearing the RPHA 90S for about a month on bikes ranging from a Triumph Speed Triple naked sportbike to the Honda Gold Wing. There is no EPS padding built into the chinbar, but it does latch closed with metal pins and locks securely. The chinbar’s release tab and the center locking mechanism for the faceshield are both easy to find and use on the fly, though with the faceshield cracked open the mechanism ends up in my line of sight. Otherwise, vision is very good through the large eyeport. I appreciate the plush liner for the chinstrap, which secures with a traditional D-ring. The 90S was comfortable, quiet, and user-friendly during 12-hour days in the saddle with highs in the triple digits. Can’t ask for much more than that.

The HJC RPHA 90S is available in sizes XS-2XL. Pricing ranges from $459.99-$469.99 for solids to $499.99 for graphics (shown).

For more information: See your dealer or visit hjchelmets.us

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Fly Racing Flux Air Mesh Jacket | Gear Review

Fly Racing Flux Air Mesh Jacket
Photo by Kevin Wing

As the saying goes, if you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen. But much of North America has felt like living in an oven lately. If, like me, you prefer to ride with the protection of an armored jacket regardless of how high the mercury rises, Fly Racing has a summer solution that will help you beat the heat.

The Flux Air Mesh is a lightweight riding jacket with a crew-style collar. Huge mesh panels on the chest, sleeves, and back allow plenty of cooling air to flow through to the wearer. High-abrasion textile sections provide additional safety at the elbows and across the shoulders, and behind these are pockets that hold removable CE Level 1 armor. An additional pocket at the back secures a foam back pad, but we recommend upgrading to Fly Racing’s Barricade CE Level 2 back protector ($39.95).

Fly Racing Flux Air Mesh Jacket | Gear Review
Fly Racing Flux Air Mesh Jacket in Black/White/Grey

Reflective panels across the shoulders enhance nighttime visibility. Adjusters at the cuffs, forearms, and waist enable an optimal fit and help ensure body armor remains in the correct position. A slightly tapered fit makes for a stylish cut, and a drop tail accommodates a more aggressive riding position while adding a measure of safety for the lower back. The jacket is fitted with a durable YKK main zipper with a lanyard for ease of use with gloved hands, and two external zippered pockets combine with phone and wallet pockets inside to provide plenty of practical storage for your valuables.

During recent test rides on a Triumph Speed Triple 1200 RS, temperatures hovered in the 90s. Thanks to the generous airflow and light weight of the Flux Air Mesh, I all but forgot that I was wearing an armored jacket. Wind passed through the entire chest and arm sections, and even with the optional CE Level 2 back protector fitted, any sweat was wicked away quickly. I was also impressed with the fit, which provided room for comfort but was snug enough to keep the armor in place and prevent any annoying flapping on the highway.

Fly Racing Flux Air Mesh Jacket | Gear Review
Fly Racing Flux Air Mesh Jacket | Gear Review
Fly Racing Flux Air Mesh Jacket | Gear Review
Black / Hi-Viz

During the heat of the summer riding season, the Flux Air Mesh Jacket is a great option to ride safely and in comfort. And at $119.95, you can’t beat the price. It’s available in men’s sizes S-3XL in four colorways: Black/White/Grey, Black, Camouflage, and Black/Hi-Viz. It’s also available in women’s sizes S-3XL in White/Grey and Black.

For more information: See your dealer or visit flyracing.com

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Black Widow Motorcycle Carrier | Gear Review

Black Widow Motorcycle Carrier review

Our default mode here at Rider is to ride motorcycles, but every now and then we have no choice but to haul them. Whether we’re dropping off a motorcycle at Jett Tuning for repairs or dyno testing, or schlepping a dirtbike to a riding area, we need a way to carry it. A pickup truck with a ramp and some tie-downs is the easiest method, but I own a Toyota 4Runner SUV with no bed.

Since my 4Runner has a hitch receiver, I ordered Black Widow’s hitch-mount motorcycle carrier, which is compatible with Class III or IV 2-inch receivers. Black Widow offers a range of carriers — singles and doubles for dirtbikes, ones that fold up out of the way, and both standard and heavy-duty versions. I opted for the Heavy Duty Motorcycle Carrier with Aluminum Track, which has a maximum capacity of 600 pounds and retails for $369.99 with free shipping.

The carrier itself weighs 100 pounds, and since my 4Runner has a maximum tongue weight of 500 pounds, I’m limited to carrying motorcycles that weigh 400 pounds or less. I tested the carrier with a 2021 Honda CRF450RL dual-sport, which has a curb weight of 286 pounds. Depending on your vehicle, you may need heavier springs, airbags, or other suspension modifications to accommodate the full weight of the carrier and your motorcycle. Black Widow says its carriers are not recommended for use with hitch adapters or extensions.

Black Widow Motorcycle Carrier review

The carrier arrived in a long, heavy cardboard box, and it included all of the hardware and instructions for easy assembly. Picking up the 100-pound carrier and sliding it into the hitch receiver requires some care, as does removing it and carrying it into my garage, where it’s stored leaned up against the wall when not in use. To secure the carrier to the vehicle, Black Widow provides an anti-tilt bracket that can be used with either a hitch pin or pinch bolt (both are provided).

Most of the carrier is made of steel, but the track (8 x 78 ¾ inches) is made of aluminum. The motorcycle is loaded by pushing it up a steel ramp (72 x 7 ½ inches) and rolling it along the track until the front wheel is secured in the adjustable wheel chock. Depending on the height of your hitch receiver, the track may be high, so it’s helpful to have a spotter while loading. The carrier has crossbars with eye bolts for securing tie-downs to four corners, and during transport, the ramp secures to the crossbars with a pair of wingnuts.

The nearly 400-pound weight of the carrier and CRF450RL caused the rear of the 4Runner to sag somewhat. The added weight was noticeable, so I drove more cautiously, but the bike and carrier remained secure on steep hills and over uneven terrain.

For more information, visit blackwidowpro.com.

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Wolfman Peak Tail Bag WP | Gear Review

Wolfman Peak Tail Bag WP motorcycle luggage review
The Wolfman Peak Tail Bag WP is a 6.5L waterproof, rack-mounted motorcycle tail bag with an 840D nylon exterior and RF-welded seams. MSRP is $169.99. (Story and photos by Moshe K. Levy, aka Moto Mouth Moshe)

Wolfman’s Peak Tail Bag WP provides a compact but versatile storage space on any motorcycle with a dedicated luggage rack. Its black wedge-shaped exterior is constructed of 840D nylon TPU (thermoplastic polyurethane) laminate with radio frequency-welded seams. The “WP” in the name refers to Welded Product, though the Peak is also waterproof. It has a reflective yellow Wolfman logo accent on the narrow side, and a matching yellow bungee on top.

RELATED: Wolfman Dual-Sport Luggage | Gear Review

Beefy YKK water-repellant zippers with oversized plastic pulls allow access to the matching bright yellow interior, which features an integrated zippered mesh pocket on the top lid’s underside. Total capacity is 6.5 liters, which is plenty of room for food, hand tools, and basic rain gear. Overall, the Peak measures 10 inches long by 6 inches high, and its width narrows from 8 inches in front to 5 inches at the rear. Four robust straps allow for mounting to the motorcycle’s rack (it’s not designed to be mounted directly to a rear fender), and the bag features a non-skid base attached by hook-and-loop to the Peak’s bottom, which keeps it from shifting during riding.

Wolfman Peak Tail Bag WP motorcycle luggage review
A bright yellow interior makes it easy to find small items.

Over a 5-month testing regimen, I exposed the Peak to a variety of weather conditions including extended winter rides below freezing and prolonged spring downpours. It proved to be very durable, and especially impervious to mud and road grime, which easily wiped clean off of the exterior’s nylon material with soap and water. The Peak’s water-repellant nylon exterior and welded seams kept the interior bone dry even after hours in torrential rain. Aesthetically, the Peak retains its shape whether full or empty thanks to its plastic-reinforced shell, which is an added bonus.  

Ultimately, Wolfman’s Peak WP Tail Bag impressed with its combination of useful practicality and rugged construction, in a size that’s just right for day trips. Its MSRP is $169.99 and it’s made in the USA.

For more information, visit wolfmanluggage.com.

Check out more product reviews and articles on Moshe K. Levy (aka Moto Mouth Moshe) on his website and YouTube channel.

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Dunlop D404 Tires | Gear Review

Gear Lab | Dunlop D404 Tires
The Author’s 2006 Triumph T100 Bonneville, fitted with D404’s. Photo by Clement Salvadori

I’ve worn out a lot of tires in the last 66 years of riding, and I have no real memory or record of what I used when and on what bike. I am sure I had a lot of Dunlops, as they have been around a long time. Back in the late 1880s, John Boyd Dunlop made the first practical pneumatic tire for bicycles, which were a lot more comfortable to ride than bikes with solid rubber tires. In 1901, he started the Dunlop Rubber Company, which now belongs to Sumitomo Rubber Industries. 

Dunlop describes these D404s as fitting “standard” motorcycles, and they don’t get much more standard than my 2006 Triumph T100 Bonneville. I call these tires universal-use, reasonably good at everything, from wet pavement to dirt roads. My Bonnie is pretty much an all-around, local-use machine, happy with doing errands or a 200-mile day. Around here we do have all sorts of roads, from smooth asphalt to pothole specials, and lots of good dirt roads, from Gillis Canyon to Cypress Mountain. 

I find the tread to be pleasingly chunky, and Dunlop says the design enhances wet grip and water evacuation. Since we are in a drought here in our part of California, I can’t attest to those functions. The off-set center groove is intended to improve straight-line stability, and I can’t fault that, as on some deserted back roads I just might exceed the speed limit. 

The carcass is a bias-ply design, which means that the fiber belts, or plies, go from side to side at an angle, hence a bias. About half the tire is made of rubber, both natural and synthetic, and the rest is mainly the fabric body plies that go between those wire bead bundles that keep the tire properly attached to the wheel. Dunlop says this compound will give excellent mileage; you are reading this report after a mere 800 miles, and I’ll let you know when I will need a new rear tire. 

Speaking of which, the official Triumph size for my ’06 rear wheel is 130/80-17, with that 80 being the aspect ratio. And just what is the aspect ratio? The height of the sidewall expressed as a percentage of the width of the tire. The closest the D404 comes is a 130/90-17, which means the tire will be a smidge taller. 

New tires are on, new inner tubes are in. Picked up the bike late in the afternoon, and after a relatively calm 40-mile break-in, went home and had a glass of wine. In the morning, I checked that the tires were at proper pressures, and then went with a friend to do a run over Rossi’s Driveway, as we call the eight miles of Route 229 going from Route 58 to Creston. Guilty fun, with just one car on the road, quickly dispatched. 

MSRP on these tires are $118.81 front, $132.01 rear, but if you shop around, you will pay less. 

For more information: visit dunlopmotorcycletires.com

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Scorpion EXO-R1 Air Carbon Helmet | Gear Review

Scorpion EXO-R1 Air Carbon Helmet review

Carbon fiber helmets have been around for a long time, and they offer a great combination of lightness and strength, as well as the high-tech look of the carbon fiber weave. We’ve seen (and tested) more of them in recent years because improvements in manufacturing have made it possible to produce high-quality lids at a lower price. Premium carbon fiber helmets used to cost upwards of $1,000, but now you can buy them for about half as much.

Scorpion’s EXO-R1 Air Carbon helmet is a perfect example. Its resin-infused TCT-U 3K carbon fiber shell composite weave is said to provide aircraft-grade impact dispersion. Compared to the standard EXO-R1 Air we tested last year, the Carbon version is 3.5 ounces lighter (49 ounces for size medium) and has the same aerodynamic shell that’s designed to reduce drag and improve balance. The Carbon feels really light in my hands and all but disappears when it’s on my head.

Scorpion EXO-R1 Air Carbon Helmet review

Between the carbon shell and the comfort interior is a multi-layer EPS liner designed to absorb impact energy and it has built-in channels to allow air to flow around the head. Scorpion’s Ram-Air intake system sucks air in, which then moves through the helmet and returns to the atmosphere by way of a four-port exhaust spoiler. With a race helmet level of ventilation the EXO-R1 Air Carbon can be a tad noisy, but that’s what earplugs are for. The clear MaxVision Pinlock-ready face shield has an anti-scratch coating and blocks 95% of UV-A and UV-B radiation. A dark smoke shield, a Pinlock anti-fog insert and a helmet bag come in the box. Shield changes are a breeze, and the shield closes securely with a center lock.

Scorpion EXO-R1 Air Carbon Helmet review

In terms of comfort, the intermediate oval Carbon was initially pretty snug, but after a full day’s ride the removable/washable KwikWick III antimicrobial interior molded to my Charlie Brown head. Scorpion’s Airfit inflation adjustment system provides a custom fit for the 3D-contoured Kwikfit cheek pads, which also have an emergency release. Other features include speaker pockets, a breath deflector, a chin curtain and titanium D-rings on the chin strap.

If you’re looking for a lightweight, feature-packed, stylish, and functional full-face helmet, the EXO-R1 Air Carbon is a solid choice. DOT/ECE certified and backed by a 5-year warranty, it’s available in sizes XS-3XL in Gloss Black or Matte Black for $549.95.

For more information: See your dealer or visit scorpionusa.com

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Vance and Hines Upsweep Slip-On Exhaust | Gear Review

Vance and Hines Upsweep Slip-On Exhaust Honda Rebel 1100 review
We tested the Vance & Hines Upsweep Slip-On Exhaust on the 2021 Honda Rebel 1100.

Motorcycles appeal to the inner child, and I believe nurturing that part of our psyche is best done in the garage, bolting parts onto our bikes, especially when they make cool vroom vroom noises. As much as we enjoyed riding the 2021 Honda Rebel 1100, we knew it could be better. So we called up Vance & Hines and ordered its Upsweep Slip-On exhaust.

Right out of the box, the level of quality on the V&H pipe is evident, from the matte black ceramic finish and classic Eliminator style end-cap to the laser-engraved riveted badging. Although it says “competition only,” that’s just part of V&H branding. The Upsweep Slip-On is street-legal and 50-state compliant.

Vance and Hines Upsweep Slip-On Exhaust Honda Rebel 1100 review
Eliminator-style end-cap

Since this is a cat-back slip-on — that is, only the part of the exhaust that’s aft of the catalytic converter is replaced — installation is straightforward. All you need are a few basic tools: 12mm combination wrench, 10mm and 12mm sockets, a driver, and 4mm and 6mm hex wrenches. Just loosen the clamp, remove the mounting bolt and remove the stock muffler and gasket. Installing the new pipe is basically the same thing in reverse, with the addition of a heat shield.

Whereas the Rebel 1100’s stock muffler dog-legs up to a fat silencer that runs parallel to the ground and obscures much of the rear wheel, as its name implies, the Upsweep Slip-On points upward, with a 4.5-inch rise. The muffler is shorter than stock and has an attractive tapered-cone shape, increasing both style and cornering clearance. And it shaves 5.5 pounds off the bike.

Vance and Hines Upsweep Slip-On Exhaust Honda Rebel 1100 review

In back-to-back testing on Jett Tuning’s dyno, the V&H exhaust yielded an additional 3.2 horsepower and 2.3 lb-ft of torque near redline at 7,500 rpm. Low-rpm is where it matters most on a cruiser, and below 4,000 rpm the V&H exhaust added as much as 2.4 horsepower and 4.3 lb-ft of torque. In the midrange, differences were negligible. Given that this is a straightforward bolt-on exhaust that doesn’t run afoul of the guv’mint, modest gains are acceptable.

Where the V&H slip-on really stands out is the deeper, more resonant sound it produces. The stock exhaust is pretty ho-hum, but the Upsweep Slip-On emits a robust bellow that’s music to my ears and brings the Rebel 1100’s parallel-twin alive. Twist the grip, smile, repeat. The V&H pipe is louder than stock but isn’t obnoxious and meets SAE J2825 sound standards, though wearing earplugs on the freeway is a good idea.

Cool looks, less weight, added performance, and great sound, all for just $499.99.

For more information: See your dealer or visit vanceandhines.com

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Highway 21 Winchester Jacket | Gear Review

Highway 21 Winchester Jacket Indian super chief limited
The Highway 21 Winchester Jacket, Hook Gloves, Blockhouse Jeans, and Journeyman Boots on the 2022 Indian Super Chief Limited. (Photo by Jordan Pay)

During the 20th century, a succession of field jackets — the M-43, M-51, and M-65, each named for the year it was first issued — were worn by thousands of American soldiers. The functional jackets, typically made of cotton canvas or other durable material and featuring four front cargo pockets, were essential gear on the battlefields of World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, and other conflicts.

2022 Indian Super Chief Limited | First Ride Review

Highway 21 Winchester Jacket
Highway 21 Winchester Jacket in Green (front)

The classic, practical field jacket serves as the inspiration for Highway 21’s Winchester jacket, which is made of a rugged polyester and nylon weave with gusseted shoulders. It has four front cargo pockets — two on the chest and two at the waist — with snap closures. Behind the two lower cargo pockets are handwarmer pockets with YKK zipper closures. And inside the left side of the jacket is a concealed carry pocket with a single-snap closure, a heavy-duty lining, and an elastic holster. A placket with four snaps covers the main two-way YKK zipper, and snaps on the collar keep it from flapping in the wind while riding. There are also snap closures and fit adjusters at the cuff and lower hem. The black polyester lining has pockets for CE armor at the shoulders and elbows and a foam back protector. For extra protection, you can upgrade to a CE Level 1 ($24.95) or CE Level 2 ($39.95) back protector.

Highway 21 Winchester Jacket
Highway 21 Winchester Jacket in Green (back)

The Winchester is a lightweight jacket with a utilitarian design that isn’t baggy like many field jackets. Since it doesn’t block wind, it’s best suited for mild to warm temperatures, and fussy vents aren’t necessary. On cold days you’ll need to layer up, and on wet days you’ll need a rain suit. With or without the armor it works well as a casual jacket that can be worn around town.

The Highway 21 Winchester jacket is a no-nonsense, stylish riding jacket that looks good on and off the bike. It retails for a very affordable $149.95, and is available in green (shown) or black in sizes S-4XL.

For more information: See your dealer or visit highway21.com

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Nelson-Rigg Sahara Dry Duffle Bag | Gear Review

Nelson-Rigg Sahara Dry Duffle Bag motorcycle review

As Egon Spengler famously warned in Ghostbusters, “Don’t cross the streams … It would be bad … Try to imagine all life as you know it stopping instantaneously and every molecule in your body exploding at the speed of light.” No, I wasn’t building a proton pack in my garage, but I did need to ride our KTM 890 Adventure R to the Indian FTR S press launch in Phoenix. There I was on an off-road-ready adventure bike, wearing a helmet without a dirt-bike peak, a cruiser-style leather jacket, riding jeans, and high-top riding shoes.

Every Gore-Tex-clad, Instagram-famous ADV rider who passed me going down the road probably laughed so hard that Starbucks French Roast spewed out of their nose. Clearly I had violated rules of proper sartorial etiquette and must be banished.


Nelson-Rigg Sahara Dry Duffle Bag motorcycle review KTM 890 Adventure R

I needed to get the hell out of the house and put some serious miles on the KTM, and I wasn’t about to wear one set of gear on the bike and carry another for the press launch. I’m not (that) vain. But I did need a place to stash my slinky black cocktail dress, laptop and other necessities for a two-night stay.

Standard equipment on the KTM is a luggage rack with burly passenger hand-holds and tie-down points — the ideal perch for Nelson-Rigg’s Sahara Dry Duffle Bag. Part of the Rigg Gear Adventure line of luggage, the Sahara is made of heavy-duty, waterproof 24-ounce tarpaulin PVC with heat-welded seams. Internal stiffeners help the bag keep its shape regardless of what’s inside, and a roll-top keeps the elements out. The bag has a 39.33-liter capacity and measures 20” L x 10” W x 12” H. A pair of adjustable compression straps further secure the outside of the bag, and it has a removable carry handle and reflective accents.

Four durable webbing straps with loops on each end attach to adjustable buckles (two on the front and two on the back) to secure the bag to the bike. The straps don’t stretch, so they required additional tightening as the bike’s vibration introduced a bit of slack. Being the paranoid sort that I am, no matter what bag I put on the back of a motorcycle, for extra security I always double up with a pair of Rok Straps since their built-in bungees maintain constant tension.

Although I didn’t encounter any rain or ectoplasmic slime on my journey, I dealt with some desert dust storms and nary a particle got into my gear. Overall, this is a solid piece of kit that will be part of my ADV arsenal for years to come. It’s available in Black or Yellow/Black for $114.95.

For more information: See your dealer or visit nelsonrigg.com

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