While Thursday’s report was lots of motorcycles and a little gear, tonight’s report is going to be all gear – and some racing.
It was a big helmet day – Shoei, Schuberth, Arai and Snell all made presentations. Only Shoei and Schuberth had new helmets to debut, though.
Shoei USA Marketing Coordinator Matthias Beier presented their race-focused X-Fourteen. This is a pure racing helmet, designed specifically for the race track, and was developed using both a wind tunnel and feedback from superstar racers such as Marc Marquez and Bradley Smith.
The aggressive aerodynamic profile includes some neat racer-specific features, like the flaps on the back of the helmet that are interchangeable to fine-tune drag and stability characteristics for specific track and weather conditions. The X-Fourteen also features a trick 3D Max-Dry comfort liner that allows each rider to customize the fit and affords the ability to shift the angle of the head inside the helmet by up to four degrees to improve the upper field of vision when riding in extreme tucked positions.
In addition to those features, the X-Fourteen also has a new face shield design, CWR-F, which has tear-off posts and Pinlock posts built right in. The six air intakes and six exhaust vents ensure proper ventilation, and a new lower vent directs air through the chin bar to the help cool the cheek pads with fresh air. Pricing for the X-Fourteen hasn’t been announced yet.
Ed Becker of the Snell Memorial Foundation gave a short talk at lunch time discussing a paper released at this year’s IRCOBI Conference in September; the paper is titled “Motorcycle Helmet Impact Response at Various Levels of Severity for Different Standard Certifications.” I haven’t had a chance to digest the paper yet – and you can expect an article about it when I do – but Becker summarized the paper’s findings by stating that Snell-certified helmets continue to offer better head protection than DOT-only helmets and that the Snell folks found no reason to add low velocity impact testing to any currently existing testing standard for helmets.
Schuberth opened their presentation by reminding us that the M1 open-face helmet is still around and doing quite well, sales-wise. This was only a teaser, though, as the gem of the presentation was the new E1 adventure helmet. The E1, priced at $829 for solid colors and $899 for graphic versions, is based on the C3 and features an adjustable peak and updated venting along with the more angular, elongated and aggressive look of traditional adventure-style helmets. Quality is standard Schuberth, which is to say impressive and exactly what we’ve come to expect from Schuberth. Look for new options for Schuberth helmets and possibly a redesigned website some time in November.
Arai rounded out the helmet-centered presentations, not with the debut of a new model, but with a reinforcement of the lunchtime Snell presentation and a discussion of Arai’s commitment to dealing with the reality of crashing in the world we live – and ride – in. Arai’s presenter spoke about their helmets being rounder, smoother and stronger so they deal better with the skipping, sliding, grinding and bouncing that happens in a typical motorcycle crash.
If you drive a car, chances are you’d be protected by an airbag in case of a frontal collision. Airbag technology has been slow to reach the motorcycling world, but in the last 15 years, Helite (distributed through MaxMoto, which also distributes Remus exhaust systems) has been developing its personal airbag technology, and in the last seven years, their airbag vest has come to fruition.
The vest operates with a simple mechanical trigger that, when activated (by a lanyard attached to the rider and the motorcycle being disconnected from the rider), shoots a compressed spring into a carbon dioxide canister, which then inflates the vest in a matter of milliseconds. There are no batteries to worry about, and no intricate and expensive resetting process. The trigger mechanism is reset with an Allen wrench, and new CO2 cartridges cost $25.
Here’s a three-minute video showing how the Helite vest works. Knut Wagner is the man doing the talking, and the guy wearing the vest is, of course, The Stig.
Rounding out the gear presentations was Bull-It Jeans, a brand owned by Covec Limited from the UK. Covec fabric is claimed not to degrade over time like aramids (i.e. Kevlar), and if that is true, then Bull-It is probably making the longest-lasting riding jeans around. Their presenter claimed his product is as good as or better than leather and showed off not only jeans that fit adults and children, but an armored hoodie that outperforms most leather jackets by being able to withstand six seconds of hard abrasion.
Jessica Prokup of Twisted Throttle took the stage for one of the day’s more entertaining presentations. She was touting SW-Motech’s new Trax Adventure panniers, which feature one-piece robot-welded 1.5mm aluminum cases that are both dustproof and waterproof thanks to welded seams and gaskets between the lids and cases.
As Prokup went through each feature of the panniers, including available accessories such as camp tables and inner soft bags, she was gradually building a campsite. Sure, there are tie-down points on the lids that can handle full-size carabiners and 1” web straps, but don’t forget that these cases passed their five-minute test, submerged for that long under a full meter of water! SW-Motech redesigned the lock cylinders so that the new double-sided key can be used more easily and resists jamming more effectively. A set of two side cases, a top case and the requisite mounting hardware will cost about $1,900.
Unfortunately, BMW Motorrad did not make its scheduled 2 pm presentation, so I don’t have any BMW motorcycle or apparel news to bring you. Maybe next time!
One of the highlights of the presentation schedule was an interview panel featuring four of the five MotoAmerica class champions from their inaugural (2015) season. The champs in attendance were Cameron Beaubier (Superbike), Jake Gagne (Superstock 1000), J.D. Beach (Supersport), and Joe Roberts (Superstock 600). All four young men spoke eloquently on the art of racing motorcycles, and they’re sure to have more championships in their futures.
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