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Thread: balaclava - no, not that Greek desert!

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    Question balaclava - no, not that Greek desert!

    Does anyone have any experience with those "head wraps" called balaclavas? The two brands I seem to see the most are "buffwear" and "sliks" or something like that. I'm just looking for something to keep my head and neck warm in winter riding. Please share your experiences and comments. It seems like these things would make a significant difference, but I've never worn one.

    thanks,

    Carl

  2. #2
    Slowpoke & Proud of It! BRADFORDBENN's Avatar
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    I have polypropelene no name ones. It works really well and I am really happy with it. I keep one in the saddlebag year round. It is amazing how much heat they keep in.

    The thing that you want to look at:

    Where are the seams?
    Is it machine washable? Trust me you are going to want to wash it.

    I think I paid about $10 for mine.

    Good luck.
    -=Brad

    It isn't what you ride, it is if you ride

  3. #3
    Back in the Saddle mcmxcivrs's Avatar
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    I've got one I wear when it gets really chilly out. It is actually made for snowmobile riding. If you have such a thing as a snowmobile shop around, you could try there. Up here that is nearly as big a sport as motorcycling, so its easy to find a good selection of cold weather apparel. My heavy gloves are snowmobile gear also.
    Ed Miller, Calgary, AB
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    I can't wait to retire and have a fixed income. The one I have now is always broke.

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    Focused kbasa's Avatar
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    I've got one like Brad has. I think I bought it at an outdoor store.

    I've also got one that has a neoprene face mask, but it's a pain in a$$ to get under the helmet.

    His points about seams are spot on. They'll drive you crazy after a while if they're in the wrong spots.

    I also like polypropolene glove liners. I keep those in my 'stich pocket year round. They'll help keep your fingers noticeably warmer for about $5.
    Dave Swider
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    Some bikes. Some with motors, some without.

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    Dave / All,

    did you get these at a snowmobile shop, or a motorcycle shop? Not much snowmobile activity here in SW Virginia. but I'm sure I can find one mail order, though there's the problem of not checking it out beforehand.

    C

  6. #6
    Focused kbasa's Avatar
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    Outdoor store, if I recall correctly.

    REI usually has a couple kinds.
    Dave Swider
    Marin County, CA

    Some bikes. Some with motors, some without.

  7. #7
    looking for a coal mine knary's Avatar
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    I gave up on balaclavas and their ilk. The seams always pressed in the wrong places and it made the helmet feel like it just didn't fit right. For the past four years I've been using an aerostich wind triangle and like it Very much.

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    Slowpoke & Proud of It! BRADFORDBENN's Avatar
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    I got mine from a sporting goods store, in the hunting section. Wally World (Wal Mart) even has them now.
    -=Brad

    It isn't what you ride, it is if you ride

  9. #9
    Registered User 96073's Avatar
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    they are all good

    i have polypro ones that have just a cutout for your face and most recently have been using the buffwear one as i got it for clearance at REI. i like it as it can be worn several different ways. most of the time i pull it over my head below the chin, the pull it back up over my eyes, then put on the helmet as it pushes it down to just over my nose. the rest i tuck into my jacket collar. perfect solution to a cold neck and helps keep the air you breath a tad warmer. only pain is i ride into the district and have to pass security, so all the stuff has to come off. i am actually cosidering a flip-up helmet just to ease the identification process.

    repoe3

  10. #10
    Registered User 106427's Avatar
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    I bought two this year. A cheap one (around eight bucks) at my dealer that works well if you turn it inside out so the seam doesn't irritate and leave a funny looking line on the center of your face when you take it off. The other I purchased at an outdoor specialty store that is made from silk. I think I paid around 12 bucks. Both work as adveritised, but the silk one is more comfortable, breaths better and does keep out the cold.

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    Balaclava

    I have a Buff wear which I bought at Daytona Octoberfest. It is one of those purchases that, later in the day, one looks at and thinks 'I paid $16 for this?' However, it is very versatile ~ my AGV has always felt slightly less than snug ~ worn as a skullcap the little tube of fabric makes it a perfect fit. With the Schuberth I have worn it on chilly mornings as a balaclava with excellent results. The difference between an enjoyable ride and misery are often the cheapest.

  12. 11-23-2003, 06:32 PM

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    I always get the names mixed up but I've used these for decades. I used to use cotton in the old days. Good for the summer but old technology. In the winter, there used to be an add on to the bottom of the helmet, I don't know if it was a "neck warmer" or what. Worked well but a pain to put on. Then I switched to my 'issue' polypropelene. Thick and warm, it did the job down to the 20's but the really cold air (on an R1100SBX with low fairing or Sportster with no fairing) was still able to penetrate somewhat. Its thickness made it uncomfortable for long trips and limited my ability to turn my head. I then started using my 'issue' nomex; didn't really do much but I felt really cool riding around in my assault gloves and balacava. I bought the sliks and some other thin polypro liners and was using them all the time during the summer. They are just a high tech version of silk, which is about as good as it gets in natural material. Finally, I know they are expensive, but I took the plunge and bought the BMW stuff. The summer one is about the same as anything else that is on the market as far as performance is concerned. The winter one however, is a completely different story. The engineers really did their homework on this one. The head portion is a thin material with nice flat stitches to allow good helmet fit while the lower face and neck area is made with Goretex Windstopper. This lower portion is also larger than just about anything else out there so it tucks very deep into the clothing and blocks out all the wind. Since it is thin, it doesn't interfere with head movements and allows jackets to be snapped without the 'choking' of my old heavy weight polypro. Look for fit under the helmet you will be wearing. You can take your chances on the Campmor stuff, which is fine for normal activities, but the stitches and seams won't be as flat (normally) as the BMW and (hopefully) bike specific stuff. Look for a big, deep cut neck area that will tuck, otherwise you will be cursed with that one area at the base of the neck allowing in freezing cold air. Finally, look for that neck area to be made from Windstopper or something similar if possible to block the wind without turning you into somebody with a ready-made C-Collar (you know, the kind they put on you when you break your neck so you can't turn your head). Maybe somebody besides BMW makes this now but in the meantime, my BMW balacava is the one I grab everytime it gets cold. (Besides, I have to get my money's worth out of it!) Hope this has been helpful.

  14. #13
    dlearl476
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    I use a thin polypro "NorthFace" one. The seams run from the temple and arch down behind the ear and have never been an issue under my Arai. Combined with a neoprene chin guard (Masque, IIRC. At any ski shop) it's good to about 25?.

  15. #14
    El Dookey loves to ride. 99007's Avatar
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    How much is a lot?

    Danny Leo said the BMW balaclava was expensive. How much is expensive?
    Don't winterize; Rounderize!
    www.yearroundriders.com

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    Capitol BMW in Raleigh has them on the rack for $35.70. I'm guessing everybody else will be around that. I bought mine in St. Louis on a cross country trip.

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