MotoQuest is well-known for its guided tours, but did you know it also maintains rental fleets in Long Beach, San Francisco, Portland and Anchorage? Each location is a perfect starting point for an adventure, and while you could just pick up your bike and head out, the MotoQuest staff is ready to provide a thorough route consultation to be sure you make the most of your ride. Bikes include models like the Suzuki V-Strom 650 and BMW R 1200 GS, and locking side cases are included. Contact MotoQuest for details and a rate quote.
The UltraGard line of motorcycle covers from Big Bike Parts now includes a new Essentials cover, created specifically to fit GL1500 and GL1800 Honda Gold Wings and the Can-Am Spyder RT, RT-S and RT Limited. These half-covers feature a SoftTek windshield liner, an elastic hem, rustproof tie-down grommets, bungee tie-down cords and antenna wear pads. They’re polyurethane-coated for weatherability, come with a handy drawstring storage pouch and carry a 3-year warranty. Best of all, UltraGard Essential covers are priced at just $36.95.
Carry your stuff securely on and off the bike with this new Biker Bag from Slatin Moto Gear. Measuring about 6 inches wide by 11 ½ inches tall and made of military-grade cotton canvas with multiple zippered pockets, this bag sits at the hip and secures to the thigh, making it an ideal solution for carrying items you want quick and easy access to, like your phone, wallet, keys, etc., without bulking up your jacket pockets. Perfect for hiking and camping too. MSRP on the Biker Bag is $39.99, but we’ve seen it go on sale for $29.99.
At first glance,Schuberth’s new C4 Pro seems indistinguishable from its predecessor, the C4 (read the review here), but on closer inspection several tweaks are revealed that improve comfort and fitment and address a few grumbles from C4 owners.
The C4 Pro uses the same aerodynamic, wind tunnel-tested, proprietary Direct Fiber Processing shell as the C4 — an endless spool of fiberglass is robotically cut and blown into a mold, where resin is added and the whole lot is compressed into a high-strength shell. It also shares the C4’s large visor with Pinlock anti-fog insert pre-installed, integrated drop-down sun shield and SC1 communication system compatibility. Up top is a large vent, which now includes an inner screen to prevent bugs from getting sucked into the helmet. The chinbar opens easily and latches with a reassuring snap, but when doing so the spring-loaded vent just below the visor often pops open or closed unintentionally. Fit and finish overall is excellent, as expected from a premium brand like Schuberth.
Improvements over the C4 include a rework of the ultra-plush, removable/washable CoolMax inner liner, reducing pressure points (as we noted in our review), making the glasses groove more pronounced and lengthening the ratcheting chin strap padding so that it overlaps for more comfort. The C4 Pro, like the C4, is pre-wired with speakers and a microphone for the SC1 communication system, but the Pro gets new thinner speakers set into deeper cutouts and revised compartments for the battery and SC1 control unit that reduce wind noise and improve connectivity. The control unit itself still has small, aerodynamic buttons that can be difficult to use with gloves on. Lastly, the Pro’s neckroll was thickened, also reducing wind noise but making it a bit harder to pull on and off.
Overall the C4 Pro is a well-built helmet that prioritizes a quiet ride and, of course, safety. Fans of the C3 Pro will enjoy the changes and might be happier with fit compared to the C4; in fact, Schuberth claims the C4 Pro is the quietest, most comfortable helmet it’s ever built. Weighing in at 3 pounds, 15 ounces with the SC1 installed, my size small is both quiet and comfortable, so mission accomplished. The C4 Pro is available in five solid ($699) and nine graphic ($799) color options, in sizes XS-3XL spread over two shell sizes.
National Cycle now offers its VStream windscreens for the popular Honda Africa Twin. VStream screens’ patented “V” shape and advanced dimensional contouring reduce wind noise, create less turbulence and offer superior strength compared to the stock windscreen. The VStream is available in three heights, Sport (17 ¼ in. tall, dark tint, $149.95), Sport/Tour (20 ¼ in. tall, light tint, $159.95) and Touring (23 in. tall, clear, $174.95), to suit any riding style, and they all utilize the bike’s existing hardware for easy installation.
Make yourself more visible to drivers behind you with the innovative inView wireless helmet brake light and turn signal from Third Eye Design ($249.95). The inView attaches via ultra-strong hook-and-loop to the back of your helmet and integrates via a wireless controller that taps into your bike’s taillight and turn signals. Then it simply replicates what your bike does, adding an additional, higher light that helps ensure drivers notice your brake light and turn signals, reducing the chance of a rear-end collision.
It started innocently enough. At 507 pounds ready to ride, Honda’s CRF1000L Africa Twin is the lightweight among the liter-class ADV machines, and given my short legs and lukewarm off-road riding skills I had little desire to make it any heavier. What goes down must come up in order to carry on, and much beyond 550 pounds or so there’s little chance I’m picking it up by myself.
But before riding off into the sunset, every proper ADV machine should have a centerstand and heated grips, right? Both are Honda accessories and were easily installed. Hard saddlebag mounts were next — Honda’s bags are good-looking and convenient since they drop and lock right onto the bike’s built-in mounts, but aren’t quite sturdy enough for the adventures I have in mind. Wanting to mount either soft waterproof saddlebags to save weight or locking aluminum panniers for riding behind enemy lines, a good option is theHepco & Becker Fixed Side Carrier ($281.18), distributed in the U.S. by Moto Machines. This adds just 10 pounds and carries my Hepco & Becker Alu-Case Xplorer 30-Liter Panniers ($821) quite securely, providing some tipover protection as well as storage. The bag/carrier combination on the bike is about an inch wider than the handlebars, and asymmetrical since neither the carrier nor right bag wraps around the muffler, but the offset is only two inches (which can be symmetrized by mounting a 40-liter Xplorer on the left).
Now, I swear I was going to stop there, but the Moto Machines website sucked me in and before I could tame the mouse it had clicked on Hepco & Becker Handlebar Protection bars(2.75 pounds, $163.33) and its Tank Guard (8 pounds, $301.68) for the Africa Twin. I like the style and wind protection of the stock plastic hand guards on the AT — the sturdy steel Protection bars beef them up like an exoskeleton and install in about 10 minutes. And Tank Guard is kind of a misnomer — it protects far more than just the tank by mounting the tubular-steel bars solidly to the bike’s frame at top and bottom and wrapping around the front and sides of the AT’s fairing. Should make a good grab point as well.
When I was installing the Tank Guard, I noticed just how exposed and vulnerable the Africa Twin’s radiators are to flying rocks and such, and that the thin plastic grates Honda has installed over them aren’t much better than soft cheese. That led me to Black Dog Cycle Works (BDCW), which offers a pair of well-made aluminum Radiator Guards ($95) that bolt on over the stock ones and don’t impede airflow. Turns out BDCW has lots of nice stuff for the AT, including tubular-steel Lower Engine Bars(6.5 pounds, $285); lightweight aluminum Connector Rods (1.75 pounds, $160) that link its Engine Bars to the Hepco & Becker Tank Guard; an aluminum Rear Rack(3 pounds, $149) extension; and large aluminum Traction Footpegs ($229). All of this stuff somehow found its way onto my bike in about 2.5 hours, helped by good instructions, well thought-out design and an underpaid second pair of hands.
But what really blew me away was BDCW’s Ultimate Skid Plate (11.5 pounds, $349). Not only because it covers so much more of the bike’s tender underbits with tough 3/16-inch-thick aluminum than the stock 3-pound unit, but because its clever design takes less than 10 minutes to install, and it comes off for oil changes and such with just two bolts. The smooth bottom lets the Skid Plate slide over obstacles, and it’s contoured to the frame for maximum ground clearance.
Oh boy, I was on a roll now. More wind protection: National Cycle’s VStream Sport/Tour Windscreen($159.95) is about 3 inches taller and wider than stock, and quiets wind noise down quite a bit. Protection for that expensive LED headlight: Touratech’s Quick-Release Clear Headlight Guard ($139.95) is like a pair of safety goggles, straps on and can be removed in seconds. It doesn’t seem to affect the headlight beam either. More aggressive DP559 and DP121 Brake Pads from DP Brakes, a Nelson-Rigg Adventure Tank Bag ($101.95) and Sahara Duffel ($112.95), and I was nearly finished except for suitable rubber. We gave Michelin’s new Anakee Adventure Tires (MSRP front $202.95, rear $287.95) a thorough review in the June 2019 issue, and found them to be an exceptional choice for 80/20 ADV work. In addition to greater grip off-road than the Africa Twin’s stock tires, the Anakee Adventures sacrifice very little wet or dry on-road performance, and don’t make any noise riding in a straight line, just a mild hum in faster bends.
All told I ended up adding about 50 pounds to my 2018 Africa Twin (not including the Xplorer bags), but now it’s ready for almost any adventure, and some of that weight should pay for itself the first time it takes a dirt nap….
Touring bootsare often plainer and simpler than sport versions, yet these Joe Rocket Ballistic Touring Boots defy that trend with lots of extra features. Drop a yardstick into the shaft and you will see the front comes up 13 inches to protect that tender shinbone. At night reflective panels at the top alert motorists to your presence, and these tall boots are very easy to get your feet into and out of, with a zipper running part way up the inside of each boot covered with hook-and-loop panels. I do wish that the pull-tabs on the SBS zippers were bigger, to ease the pulling up.
Should you suffer the embarrassment of parting with your motorcycle while at speed, these Ballistics provide good protection from the top to the toe, with double stitching in critical areas. There is injection molded toe armor at the front of the boots, as well as those very sporty-looking replaceable toe sliders should you lean over way more than I do.
Constructed of synthetic leather, Joe Rocket says the Ballistic Touring boots are water resistant, and though California’s serious rainy season was over by the time I got this pair to evaluate, I did run through a few brief showers and they seem to be quite “showerproof.” I’d still carry a pair of nylon rain covers if I were headed out on a long trip.
The ankle sections are well-articulated so walking is relatively easy, though I might not want to wear them on a lengthy hike. I believe we all know that there is a break-in period; the longer you wear them, the more comfortable they become. Both toe sections have little protectors so that shifting gears will not mar the well-polished surface, even on your old Brit bike. The full-length, one-piece soles are said to be non-slip, and traction while walking over rough ground was good.
Best of all, the Ballistic Touring boots are relatively lightweight — my size 12 pair weighs in at 3.5 pounds. They’re available in black or white/black in men’s sizes 7-13 for a very reasonable $110.
Adding electrical accessories to your bike is an age-old custom for street and touring riders. Heated grips, fog lights, USB charging ports, GPS systems, sound systems, gear-position indicators and auxiliary brake lights all add to our comfort, enjoyment and safety out on the road. All of these devices need power, however, and it’s important that any electrical connections you make are done properly and that your bike’s charging system is up to the task.
Before you ask anything more of your motorcycle’s electrical system (it’s already supporting a headlight and taillight, fuel pump, gauges, an ignition system, and the occasional turn signal, brake light and horn) you’ll want to verify the health of your battery. A good place to start is by checking the resting voltage with a multimeter. Despite being a “12-volt” battery, it should actually show closer to 12.6 volts when fully charged, with 12.0 volts correlating to an unhealthy 50-percent state of charge.
Modern absorbed glass mat (AGM) and gel batteries have a lifespan of about four to seven years, so you would be wise to swap it for a fresh one if it’s getting on in years. If there’s any corrosion on the terminals, remove the battery and scrub the lugs with a wire brush and a one-to-one solution of baking soda and water. It’s important to keep those terminals nice and clean to reduce resistance to current flow.
Next, you’ll want to make sure your bike’s charging system is doing its job by checking the voltage at the battery with the bike running at about 3,000 rpm. You should see 14.4 volts or more. Verifying that your charging system has enough surplus wattage is a good idea if you intend to run especially thirsty accessories like head-to-toe heated apparel, but alternator output can be an elusive or nonexistent spec in the owner’s manual. Thankfully, most modern charging systems have plenty of strength to support your bike’s vitals plus another 100 or so watts’ worth of accessories.
If your new farkle is a factory part, it’s possible that the manufacturer has already provided an electrical plug to power it. Check your fuse-box lid for an “aux” circuit and reference your owner’s manual for the plug location. (Hint: It’s often under the seat or behind the dash.)
Without a factory connection, the easiest way to power your new gadget is to tap right into the battery. While this may be convenient, bolting up to the lugs poses two major problems. For starters, there’s only room for a few ring terminals before those battery bolts run out of thread, so if you’re aiming to add more than one or two accessories you may not have room. Second, there’s the very real possibility of draining every available volt out of the electrolyte if you were to say, leave your heated grips on accidently after parking the bike for the night. You think you’ll never forget to turn ’em off, but when you eventually, inevitably do, your battery is going to be as useless as a brick when you come back to the bike.
A better alternative is to use switched power, so current only flows when the key is on. Tapping into the headlight or taillight wiring will work for low-draw items like a cellphone or GPS charger, but if you ask too much of an existing circuit you’re liable to blow a fuse.
So why not run dedicated, switched, fused circuits for accessories? The best way to do that is with a relay and a fused distribution block, both of which can be sourced at your local autoparts store or purchased as a single, integrated unit from companies like Twisted Throttle, Aerostich, Centech and others. With a relayed setup your accessories will only pull power when the key is on, and using a distribution block allows you to easily add or remove accessories, consolidate wiring and keep your battery top tidy.
However you decide to pull power, it’s critical that the new component be fused to protect both the accessory and your bike’s wiring. Push too much current through an unfused connection and things may melt or even catch fire. Good grounding is another key consideration for any electrical component. You can connect to the main chassis ground, tap into the wiring harness or connect directly to the battery’s negative terminal.
Speaking of the negative terminal, disconnecting it is the first thing you should do when working on your bike’s electrics and the last thing you should reconnect when you’re done. With the negative terminal unplugged there’s no risk of a sparks show if a live wire touches the frame or your wrench slips while fiddling with the positive terminal.
Finally, it’s important to ensure that any electrical connections you make are secure and well insulated. Shield bullet and spade connectors with rubber boots or plastic covers, and use heat-shrink tubing for any soldered joints. Don’t be tempted by electrical tape — the adhesive often fails after just a short time, exposing wiring and making a sticky mess.
Electrical accessories can keep you warm when the weather is miserable, provide a soundtrack for your journey, make you more visible on the road and improve your riding experience in numerous other ways. Outfitting your motorcycle with the latest farkles is a time-honored tradition, and if you follow these tips and precautions you’ll be powered up in no time.
Klock Werks has created a Flare Air Management Kit for the 2015-2019 Indian Scout and 2016-2019 Scout Sixty. The kit includes a 21.5-inch-tall Flare Windshield that creates an improved pocket of air and utilizes “hips” on either side to create downforce, increasing stability. Additionally, the kit includes new Flare Wings that divert air from underneath the windshield to eliminate side buffeting and swirl, and they adjust up to 30 degrees. The kit retails for $374.95, or the wings can be purchased separately for $169.95.