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Our Member Tested program puts the best gear in the hands of real riders who give real reviews. You'll hear the good, the bad and the ugly about all the gear they have tested. But when it is over, you will know you can buy the best piece of equipment that is durable enough for MOA members. All product reviews must come from an active member (at the time of submission) and should include photos of the product being installed or used in some way. Drop an email to wfleming [at] bmwmoa [dot] org with your idea for a review or your completed review. Thanks!

 

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BMW’s TFT Integrated GPS vs Garmin’s Navigator VI

Posted By Jared Vaughn #216233, Friday, November 15, 2019

The irony of being confused as to which GPS technology best suits my daily needs is not lost on me, even with my mindset being that of a functionally-focused engineer. The fact that there are so many different options available in the marketplace today for two-wheel-focused navigators is overwhelming, so much so that I have avoided the discussion until now.

The cost of the various commercially available options is enough to make one wonder whether the prospect of getting lost would be that bad after all. That’s why I jumped at the chance to compare the navigation system of the BMW TFT display integrated with a connected smartphone app against the tried and true Garmin Navigator VI unit so many riders have come to know and trust. When a fellow rider let me borrow his Garmin unit, this became my opportunity to “test drive” the renowned Nav VI unit against the “free” (trust me…it wasn’t free) system integrated into the TFT on my 2018 BMW R 1200 GSA without having to dish out a cool $995 for a new Nav VI unit.

Most of my review is focused on the integrated GPS solution that comes as part of the new BMW TFT screen/interface working in tandem with the BMW Connected app on the cellphone that you likely already spent $1,000 on. The reason for this is that most of the riders reading this magazine have likely seen or interacted with the BMW-influenced Garmin Navigator at some point or another, but many have yet to see or interact with the new TFT screen that is becoming the way forward on many of BMW’s newest two-wheeled offerings. My hope with this comparison was to determine whether or not the Garmin Navigator unit really still has a place in the market along with the new integrated TFT technology, or if they were simply two tools meant for different jobs with some overlapping functionality (think of using your crescent wrench as a hammer in a pinch—don’t lie, we’ve all done it).

In the end, I think I was able to make heads or tails preferences, but you will have to be the judge for yourself.

The New Kid on the Block

While most people are naturally averse to change, we are all familiar with the old saying, “The only thing that remains constant is change.” Such is the way especially with these new gadgets coming out at an ever-increasing speed, many of which we may not need as we already have something that fits that bill.

BMW took this fact and built on it with their new integrated TFT display. BMW looked at what most people already have and how they can leverage it to meet their two-wheeled navigation needs, which is where the roughly $1,000 smartphone comes in.

The foundation of the TFT-integrated GPS navigation system on new BMW motorcycles is built on the premise that your cell phone (running the BMW Motorrad Connected app) serves as the standard “sat nav” that determines the best route based on your input preferences and then simply uses the TFT screen on the bike as a visual interface (or an “HMI” for you tech types…Human Machine Interface).

To be honest, it’s kind of ingenious; why should one have to pay another $1,000 for a device that he or she already has and carries most everywhere? The best parts of the integration to the bike are the factory Wonder Wheel and Bluetooth audio allow a rider to manipulate the navigation on the fly by adjusting settings such as winding road preference, destinations, etc., all while receiving audible prompts via a Bluetooth headset when the next turn is coming up. You are probably wondering what is so novel about this, and you are right, nothing at all; however, this is one of the first integrations of such a system built directly into the bike rather than being purchased as an accessory such as the famous Garmin Navigator.

Overall, the functionality that the integrated TFT navigation provides is relatively basic with a few BMW touches added in here and there. The BMW Motorrad Connected app essentially allows you to do point-to-point navigation one destination at a time while also allowing you to manipulate the route preferences with details such as the frequency of winding or gravel roads (as most GS riders would prefer) along with the usual preferences such as avoiding tolls, highways, etc. Most of these preferences are accessible from both the app on the phone while stationary or via the bike TFT while on the road. As I mentioned, there is nothing mind blowing about what the system can do, but there is something to be said about simplicity (KISS). Simultaneous operation of the TFT navigation screen and the user’s phone (mounted in a cradle) allows for one to see the visual written instruction for navigation on the TFT, while seeing a visual 3D map representation on the user’s phone for indication of upcoming curves, turns, etc.

While I have by no means exhausted the functionality of the integrated/connected navigation functionality of the TFT navigation system alongside of your existing smart phone, this outline gives you a sense of the simplistic nature of the system. I would be remiss if I forgot to mention that I think this system has a long road ahead of it in terms of working out all of the small bugs; it really could integrate some more functionality, such as an on screen map to eliminate the need for a phone to be mounted in a cradle. One must be prepared to work through the development bugs along with BMW as time goes on. New software updates for the TFT display are produced often, and the BMW Motorrad Connected app has even been updated a few times, each time becoming a little more user-friendly and seamless to use.

To sum it up, I am a list person. Everything is easier to compare in a list, which is why I have outlined a few of the major pros and cons of the system as I have experienced it in my daily use of the integrated TFT navigation system:

BMW TFT with the BMW Connected app

  • Pros
    • Free, Free, Free! (Did I mention it is free?)
    • Integrated display (Less clutter)
    • Voice prompts through the bike (need Bluetooth headset to work as designed, which can be a challenge)
    • Quick on-the-fly destination changes
    • “Winding” road feature and other custom avoidances
  • Cons
    • Requires smartphone (yes, it needs to be fully charged) and the BMW Motorrad Connected app
    • Requires a little tech savviness to get everything to play well together
    • Not an in-depth technical navigator
    • TFT doesn’t display a live map (But your phone can simultaneously)
    • Cellular signal needed or pre-downloaded maps required when “off the grid” (not a big deal with today’s phone storage)

The Old Faithful

Now that I have briefly outlined the benefits and functionality of the new integrated TFT navigation system and BMW Motorrad Connected app, we can discuss the solution that many riders have come to know and trust: the widely accepted and wildly powerful BMW Navigator VI (Powered by Garmin). To be 100 percent honest, I really didn’t understand what all the hype was about when I read about the BMW Navigator VI online or when I saw it at the dealership. It is a small “sat nav” device that looks a lot like the other numerous devices on the market and is one of the most expensive options to boot. However, I couldn’t have been more wrong when I decided to judge this book by its unsuspecting cover, so to speak.

The first thing one notices about the BMW Navigator VI is not the sleek look, or the newly updated screen, but rather the significant “price of admission” to pick one up new from your local dealership. At roughly $1,000, this unit requires a significant investment that may be better spent by filling your tank on your bike quite a few times and just taking “The Long Way Round” for the sake of adventure (that is the point after all). However, it doesn’t take one long when flipping through the menus to realize that this device has been tailored to the needs of all types of BMW riders, from those completing cross-country road tours to the more adventurous souls conquering Backcountry Discovery Routes using GPX files they obtained from a friend. You name it, this GPS can likely do it.

Much like the integrated TFT system, the BMW Navigator VI is set up to be operated through the Wonder Wheel of the bike, assuming one has the navigation preparation package to provide the cradle and cabling required, but it can also be manipulated through the touch screen of the device (glove friendly). Using this link between the bike and the unit, the display is capable of providing the rider with the obvious navigational information associated with a stand-alone GPS, but also other information relevant to the bike’s performance such as trip details, engine parameters, tire pressures, etc. However, my focus was mostly on the navigational function and how it compared to the capability of the integrated solution.

The primary difference between the BMW Navigation VI and the TFT-integrated GPS navigation system is the ability to preplan a large trip with multiple waypoints and details worked out ahead of time. Ultimately, the functionality of the integrated TFT solution is limited to point-to-point navigation, which is great for the drive home or from point A to B and back. However, if one wants to hit multiple waypoints, you either need to load them in to the history of the connected smartphone app to pull them up through the TFT interface while riding or simply enter them when you get to each waypoint and have a moment to stop and make the changes (assuming you have cell signal or pre-downloaded the maps).

In contrast, the BMW Navigator VI allowed me to develop complex maps of where I wanted to go with all sorts of preferences and details built in, either from the interface of the device or through the tool some have come to love or hate known as Garmin Basecamp (not discussed here). This kind of functionality truly speaks to a large volume of BMW riders who either need the complex detail of a backwoods trail outlined ahead of time or for those folks traveling cross country who want to pre-plan their route. This outline of the BMW Navigator VI capabilities certainly does not do it justice, but the point here was to complete a high-level comparison to really determine if one of these two solutions fits better than the other for most users.

Of course, there are about 100 (give or take depending on who you ask) other amazing features that the BMW Navigator VI has, but you will just have to go purchase one yourself or borrow a friend’s to figure out what those are. That being said, the BMW Navigator VI does have a lot of the same features as the integrated TFT solution such as audio (assuming you pair a Bluetooth headset to it) and visual turn by turn instructions, as well as an onslaught of other useful information such as upcoming roads, etc.

Hands down, this solution can do everything the integrated TFT solution can without even breaking a sweat, but the question that remains to be answered is whether or not that functionality is something you truly need, which is what I am ultimately after. To follow suit with before, I came up with a short list of items that I found to be worthy of notice:

BMW Navigator VI

  • Pros
    • One of the most feature-rich GPS units on the market for motorcycle riders, specifically designed for BMW owners
    • Vivid display with multiple map preview options
    • Ease of pre-trip planning off the bike
    • In-depth technical navigator with loads of fun route generators for winding roads and off-road adventures
    • Voice prompts
    • Preloaded maps that do not require a cell signal to operate
    • Live traffic integration
  • Cons
    • Definitely not free! ($995-$1,000)
    • Requires additional navigation preparation package
    • Something else to carry and care for
    • A shiny object that looks expensive and attractive to thieves
    • Steep learning curve

My $0.02

Overall, I think BMW has done a great job with both options. At first, I was struggling to see a place for both of these solutions to coexist in the market without one driving the other to extinction, but I think BMW has differentiated them enough to maintain their usefulness while sharing some of the neat features they have developed specifically for motorcycle riders. While both units will get you from point A to B, how you want to complete that goal determines which solution may fit you best.

Given that most of my riding is point A to B, I can stomach preloading destinations into the history of the free BMW Motorrad Connected app on my phone ahead of a trip which allows me to easily select them later through the TFT using the Wonder Wheel as opposed to spending a cool $1,000 on the BMW Navigator VI. For me, the price tag is just a little too significant for the number of times I would use its full functionality, but that doesn’t mean that is the case for everyone.

As with opinions about motor oil, tire pressure, and paint colors, your mileage may vary. That being said, if the price was right, I would not hesitate to add the very power BMW Navigator VI to my bike to aid in my riding adventures.

Whatever your choice, you cannot make a bad decision with either of these two fantastic technologies.

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Café Racer Collection by SHAD

Posted By Jean Excell #112063, Monday, October 14, 2019

I am always looking for different options to carry my gear for moto camping and commuting on my 2018 R nineT Urban G/S, so when I was asked if I was interested in reviewing the SHAD Café Racer Luggage system for the R nineT, the gear geek in me was happy to give it a go.

The SHAD SR28 Rear Tail Bag has a capacity of 27 liters and includes a waterproof rain cover, a TSA Security Lock, three inner pockets for organization, and a shoulder strap to carry the bag off the bike. The outer material is a Synthetic Leather and 1000D Polyester.

The Tail Bag was a breeze to install using the SHAD Quick Mounting System. I opted to attach the four harness points to the screws under the seat, but you can also use the Velcro® strap version which simply wraps around the rear subframe. The Tail Bag then slips onto the straps using four Trimmer® aluminum ionized clips which provide a very secure mount.

The SHAD SR18 Tank Bag has a capacity of 8L and includes a tank base for easy access to the gas tank, a waterproof rain cover, and a lockable and glove-friendly zipper. I secured the bag tank base in place using quick clips that attach to the frame of the bike. The outer material is also the Synthetic Leather and 1000D Polyester. There is an inner mesh pocket for electronics and a large padded handle for transport off the bike. There is also an optional tablet holder that can be added on top.

The SHAD SR38 Saddle Bag has a capacity of 10L and attaches using the SR18 Saddle Bag Holder fitting kit, which attaches using three screws to the bottom side of the seat pan. This installation proved to be a bit more difficult, as the fitting kit bracket did not work with my Rizoma Rear Rack. The rack would have had to be removed to attach the fitting kit and since this would have involved removing the tail lights to get the rack back off, I opted to leave my rack on. The bag is only available for the right side, as the exhaust on the left side prevents having a matching set, but this would provide for an additional 10L of storage. The bag also locks to the frame and has a roll down top closure.

In order to give the system a full review, I used it for nearly a month of commuting, weekend day rides and trips to the grocery store. I have to say the system as a whole worked very well and provided ample storage for the trips that I took. I was most impressed with being able to put my helmet in the rear tail bag, as I like to be able to store my helmet on the bike, and with the locking tail bag this was quick and easy. Though the tail bag itself does not lock to the bike, at least the helmet is out of sight. I was also able to commute and keep my laptop and office gear secure in the tail bag.

Would these bags be able to accommodate a full weekend of moto camping gear including a tent, sleeping bag and Kermit chair? No, but that is not what they are intended for. I was lucky enough not to hit any rain, so I cannot attest to the performance of the rainproof covers, but they were made of quality materials that should stand up to the elements.

The styling of the bags in my option would be better matched to the R nineT Scrambler with its brown leather seat, but I did get many compliments on the overall appearance of the bags.

Overall, for the quality, functionality, style and price point of these bag, I give the system a thumbs up!

MSRP for the gear is $199.99 for the SR28 Rear Tail Bag, $99.99 for the SR18 Tank Bag, $126.99 for the SR38 Saddle Bag, and $117.99 for the SR18 Saddle Bag holder. For more information, visit your local dealer or SHADUSA.COM.

Tags:  Gear  Luggage  MemberTested  rninet 

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Trilobite Ace jacket

Posted By Justin Marquardt #219185, Saturday, August 31, 2019

When I first saw the Trilobite Ace jacket at the MOA Getaway at Fontana Dam this spring, I realized this wasn’t traditional cotton denim. Stiffer than denim, it was more like a technical, textile-based riding jacket. The cut and style of the Ace jacket are like a modern textile sport riding jacket as well, and it fit me like a glove, though just a little tight in the arms.

The jacket features a pair of zippered chest pockets as well as two zippered hand-warmer pockets. Inside the main zipper are interior pockets on each side with metal YKK zippers. These pockets are likely waterproof or at least very resistant, considering their placement, and during a ride through a light rain the contents of the pockets remained dry. The jacket's collar features a soft, microfiber lining and uses a single metal snap to close. I found the snap requires a deliberate action to release.

The long arms of the jacket feature zippered cuffs and a two-position adjustor that snaps for closure, allowing a rider to wear gloves inside or outside the sleeves. The jacket's branding is somewhat subdued, with only a small metal “Trilobite” text logo above the left chest pocket, while at the rear above the waist is a larger, embroidered version of the same text. Between the shoulder blades is a Trilobite graphic. The jacket's shell is made from a tough polyester fabric treated for water resistance. Additionally, there is a TriTex ® waterproof but breathable membrane for serious protection from the rain.

I found when reaching for the grips on my Yamaha R1, the extra sleeve is perfectly taken up by the riding position, and stretch panels behind the shoulders and on the hips make the reach comfortable.

A denim jacket isn’t usually what one reaches for when it is chilly or wet outside, but that is exactly where this jacket shines. One of my first rides with the jacket was on a cool morning ride on the Dragon. It turned out that I never got chilled. Between the polyester shell, liner and TriTex waterproof membrane, very little wind passed through the jacket to my torso and arms. Later that afternoon with the temps starting to climb, the jacket began to get a little stuffy. While not a summer jacket, I believe the temperature range of the Trilobite Ace jacket is suitable for mild weather, but on hotter days I’ll likely reach for a mesh jacket.

The jacket is constructed of a water resistant, polyester denim material with impact zones including the back, shoulders and elbows lined with Dupont Kevlar® aramid fibers. Trilobite includes their own brand of CE Level 2 armor in the shoulders and elbows, which are inserts consisting of three foam layers of differing density. While no back protector is included, a pocket for one is there. For visibility, the Ace jacket has a little secret that I didn’t notice until my riding partner told me he noticed the 3M reflective stitching along the upper back and arms. While not “blinding,” it is certainly better than nothing. This is something most denim riding jackets don’t offer.

A couple of interesting features of the jacket include what looks like a buttonhole with a strap beneath it on the right chest. After a little research, I found this is for holding your glasses. The idea is that a rider slips one temple arm of their glasses into the buttonhole and then the glasses are safely held against the chest under the strap. Additionally, the Ace jacket has a small LED flashlight tucked into a little rubber covered "garage" at the lower left front of the jacket. The small light is activated with a simple squeeze and is perfect for any situation where a little more light might be needed. The small light is attached to the jacket via a 20-inch auto-retracting tether so it can't be lost.

Overall, I would highly recommend this jacket not only for mild weather riding, but as a casual jacket when the armor is removed. MSRP of the Trilobite Ace jacket is $319 and is available in sizes S - XXL. For more information, visit motonation.com. Pros:

  • Good looking with good protection.
  • Water proof with liners
  • Quality construction with interesting features including glasses holder and flashlight
Cons:
  • Lack of venting can make the jacket warm on hot days
  • Runs one size small

Tags:  Gear  jacket  trilobite 

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RKA's 18-liter Starr II seat bag

Posted By Justin Marquardt #219185, Friday, August 2, 2019

Relatively low in cost, rear seat bags can be pretty handy for storing a lot of gear without the need of special mounting racks, and there are many different quality brands and styles to choose from. The main problem with them is often their mounting systems.

For example, the SW Motech bag uses friction clips to hold the straps. Other systems can be downright ridiculous, and most require looping various accessory straps around the rear of the bike and using clips or hooks to hold the bag in place. On some seat bags, the built-in strapping system is so lame you’ll need another solution - like ROK straps - to hold the bag on the bike.

RKA came up with an ingenious solution with something they call "The Pad," which eliminates all that bother, and does so with style. The Pad is a flat base with built-in straps and square D-rings at each corner. Center The Pad on the back of the seat, then connect the straps under the seat using the hook-and-loop straps to secure tightly. You may end up with some extra strap length at the rear if the seat tapers towards the back. I suppose you can cut it shorter if it really bothers you, but simply lay it flat on top of The Pad before mounting the Starr II bag. Next, slide the straps built into the bag through the D-rings on the outside corners of The Pad. Pull the straps tight and secure them on the sides of the seat bag using the hook-and-loop on the straps. The seat bag is now secure.

The RKA mounting system for the rear seat bag is simple, easy to use and has a low profile, without the use of any additional hooks, bungees or straps. It’s also very secure. It’s more secure than using auxiliary straps and much better than bungees. (You don’t really use bungee cords, do you?)

The Starr II seat bag is expandable and has two compartments. It measures about 12 inches long by eight inches wide by six inches tall, which yields approximately 9.5 liters capacity, but undoing the top zipper expands the upper compartment another five and a half inches upward for an additional 8.5 liters capacity, giving you 18 liters of storage space.

Under the lid is a separate, translucent pocket for papers or maps, along with loops for a pencil, penlight flashlight, tire pressure gauge, etc. There is also a plastic key ring holder, perfect if you have a fob. The Starr II bag also has a big rubbery carrying handle and a shoulder strap that connects to the two D-rings on either side of the carrying handle.

The Starr II bag is easy to remove. Simply unfasten the four hook-and-loop straps, grab the bag and carry it away. I am impressed with the Starr II seat bag and believe The Pad mounting system is a work of genius. There’s nothing I can really think of I’d change, except maybe adding a padded cushion for the shoulder strap.

The 600-Denier outer shell of the RKA Star II Seat Bag is offered in standard black with silver non-reflective piping. Bag stiffener material is 9.5mm foam "combined onto a 200-denier coated nylon for the inside lining." The bag is nearly waterproof (is any textile truly waterproof?), but waterproof vinyl covers are also available as an option.

All of the RKA bags come with a limited lifetime warranty which includes zipper replacement. There’s also a 30-day return policy for unused luggage. For more information, visit rka-luggage.com.

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Omega 600 upgrade for Airheads

Posted By Joseph Pallaria #33417, Friday, July 5, 2019

My 1977 R l00 S has run great for 40 years. Performance has improved from over 30 modifications I’ve made over its 30,000 original miles. Despite BMW's excellent track record for reliability, it has but one major weakness: the electrical system. The original system cranked out about 240 watts of power and often needed the engine churning at 4,000 rpm to keep both the electrics working and charging the battery at the same time. Unfortunately, that often left me with a choice of running the headlight and having freezing hands or running just the parking light and turning on the heated grips.

The Omega 600 ends the years of making that choice; it is essentially a complete charging system minus the battery. The system is a bolt-on modification and includes a rotor, stator, rectifier (diode board), solid diode mounting bolts, solid state voltage regulator, alternator, brushes and all the wiring. It's a fantastic upgrade because it resolves problems that come with running several electrical components at once and does so at just 2,000 rpm. The Omega 600 also represents a drastic improvement over the stock 240-watt unit by boosting electrical output to 600 watts! The state-of-art replacement parts are made of heavy duty, high-quality materials and encompass today's advanced technology in bulletproof electrical components.

The kit went in last spring and received its testing over the summer. The system presented exceptional reliability throughout the summer and once running, the Omega 600 seemed to also give the old bike new life. I'm not sure how to describe it, but it seemed to run smoother and respond quicker than before. The Beemer performed flawlessly over a 1,600-mile testing period and left me pleased with the upgrade as summer sadly faded into fall.

Besides keeping the battery charged at much lower rpm, there was more than enough electrical power to operate the headlight, heated grips and even an electric vest for my thin-skinned riding partner’s needing extra warmth!

The Omega 600 kit is not cheap at $595, but the high quality of the parts and proven functional excellence seems to justify the cost, and Rick Jones, the owner of Motorrad Elektrik, was helpful with installation tips along the way.

The kit comes with a threaded bolt that screws into the center of the alternator and releases the “pressed fit” of the old alternator, allowing it to easily be removed from the engine. Obviously, you’ll have to cut the three wires leading to the stator. Once the alternator is out of the machine with the stator and alternator cap removed, the cap is sent to Motorrad Elektrik where Rick solders the three stator wires of the new alternator to the cap. He then sends that along with the rest of the kit for the bolt-in modification. Rick recommends different modifications for different generations of Airheads, so be sure to contact him to find out what your specific Slash 5 or 6 may need. Regardless, it’s an excellent upgrade with high quality parts!

Running the Omega 600 turned out to be a straightforward project even with the advanced planning of getting the original cap soldered to the new stator. This is a great upgrade for 1977-95 airheads needing more electrical power to drive all the accessories and electrical goodies available today. This upgrade may even have me add driving lights before the next riding season!

(PS Don't forget to check out Airheaded, the MOA blog dedicated to air-cooled BMW motorcycles!)

Tags:  airhead  Airheaded  electrical  MemberTested  upgrade 

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Shoei GT-Air II: The next-generation sport-touring helmet

Posted By Julia LaPalme #202446, Thursday, May 30, 2019

Everyone has their favorite go-to helmet for commuting or long-distance riding, that helmet that fits like a glove and becomes a part of your riding routine. What we want from an everyday helmet is a light weight, comfortable fit, and good airflow while minimizing wind noise, all while protecting our precious noggins. Shoei claims to tick all those boxes with their new GT-Air II sport touring helmet, an updated version of the first GT Air released in 2013. After listening to feedback from riders over the years, Shoei aimed to improve an already well-loved helmet, from ventilation and aerodynamics to their drop-down tinted visor while also incorporating a streamlined integrated Sena communication system. I spent a couple weeks with this new helmet to test out all the features.

The first thing I noticed about the GT-Air II is how narrow the chin porthole is when pulling the helmet onto my head. This is designed to help minimize wind noise by reducing how much air can get into the helmet from the bottom. The helmet felt pretty snug at first, with the interior foam closely cupping my jawline. I half expected to get a headache from the close fit, but after 5 or 10 minutes, the helmet simply remained snug and comfortable. Fastening the new mini-ratchet chin strap was fairly easy, and the clip feels like it grips the metal ratchet strap firmly. Shoei has done extensive testing on their patented version of this convenient chin strap design, and their tests showed it is just as secure as a double D-ring chin strap in an accident. The major benefit of the ratchet style is how much faster I can get in and out of the helmet compared with a double D-ring style. My only gripe about Shoei’s ratchet strap is if you rest your helmet on your tank, you have to be careful about not scratching your tank paint with that metal ratchet piece, something to keep an eye out for. The other downside to a ratchet style strap is you can’t use it with an under-seat helmet lock.

During the presentation for the new GT-Air II, the folks from Shoei put a lot of emphasis on how much wind tunnel testing had been done, not just for aerodynamics, but also for ventilation. The GT-Air II has three intake vents and five exhaust vents, which was evident with the amount of airflow I could feel when riding at speeds above 40 mph. The top vent was easier to open and close with gloves on than the chin vent, but both provided ample airflow. With the vents closed, there was still a fair amount of ventilation; for better or worse, Shoei focused a lot of attention on drawing warm air away from the rider’s head. This is great in hot and steamy climates, but I wonder how it would feel in significantly colder weather. A balaclava may be necessary to trap in heat if that’s your goal.

As for aerodynamics, the GT-Air II does a great job directing wind over and around the helmet at high speeds. I tested this helmet while riding a naked cafe racer, as well as a fully faired sport bike. While the GT Air was getting the full force of wind speed and turbulence on surface roads and freeways aboard the cafe racer, there was very little upward pull from high-speed wind force, meaning my neck wasn't sore after a solid hour of riding. It also helps that the helmet feels very lightweight. Shoei’s aerodynamic styling, including an integrated spoiler at the back and beefed up visor seals, helps the GT-Air II transfer a minimal amount of wind noise.

One of the most convenient features of the GT-Air II (and its predecessor) is the drop-down tinted visor. Whether you embrace the full rebel X-Wing pilot aesthetic (nerd alert) or not, you can’t deny the convenience of not having to carry a separate visor to swap out for day or night riding, trying to fit a pair of sunglasses inside your helmet, or shelling out an extra $150 to $200 for a Transitions® lens. Once I became familiar with the placement of the lever, the tinted visor was easy enough to operate with my gloves on while riding. Shoei even increased the coverage of the drop down visor an extra 5mm, almost completely closing the light gap between the drop-down visor and the chin bar.

The absolute standout feature of the new GT-Air II is the ability to integrate with the SENA SRL2, which was designed specifically for this helmet and provides all the convenient features of an intercom system without a bulky unit clipped to the outside of the helmet. The SRL2 fits into a cutout in the GT-Air II's helmet shell, which keeps the helmet shape more streamlined. Aside from benefiting the aerodynamics, there are some arguments that the SRL2’s nearly seamless integration is safer in the event of an impact than a standard exterior clip-on communicator. Thankfully I have not personally tested that theory in a crash, but I certainly appreciate having less bulk on the outside of my helmet for the wind to grab at during freeway riding. The SRL2 only took about 10 minutes to install, and its 20S-based system is just as easy to use as any other late generation Sena.

The GT-Air II is available in a total of 18 different color and graphics options, including three different graphics, each with a variety of colors, and seven solid colors. The solid-colored design will set you back $599, while the graphics design goes for $699. The SENA SRL2 is an additional $299. With the communication system installed, you’re looking at close to a $1,000 helmet. It’s a pretty penny, but you’ll end up with a comfortable, light and quiet helmet with the convenience of an integrated communication system. And if you're a daily rider, that kind of investment can be a lifesaver.

Tags:  helmet  Shoei 

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ContiTrail Attack 3 tires

Posted By Mark Hearon #209373, Thursday, May 2, 2019

There’s no way I can completely describe the experience I’ve had testing the ContiTrail Attack 3 tire as I rode the most challenging, potentially dangerous and outright rewarding ride of my moto life thus far.

On the island of Crete, our test group dodged rockfall, Wile E. Coyote-style boulders, running water, standing water, silt and mud, and a few goats, while we endured virtually non-stop rainfall and fought high winds on narrow mountain switchbacks (many without guard rails). In short, the perfect environment to test a tire! Needless to say, the storms didn’t allow the Cretan roads to show at their best. I don’t want to spoil things before I get too far into it, but let’s just say I’m impressed.

Continental knows they scored big with their ContiRoad Attack 3 tire launched a couple of years ago. For me, it was such a compelling offering that after riding with a set for a few months and a subsequent review in the BMW Owners News, I’ve wanted nothing else on my R 1200 RS. It seems a lot of other folks felt similarly, and following their success, Continental naturally wanted to incorporate the best elements of their ContiRoad Attack 3 tire into successive generations of products.

The ContiTrail Attack 3 is a 90/10, road-biased tire with the heart and soul of the Road Attack 3. Positioned on the road side of their off-road/enduro line and aimed at the adventure rider whose ambitions lie squarely on tarmac, it’s the newest offering to be situated on the conservative side of the TKC 70 (and by extension the furthest thing from a TKC 80 imaginable).

Setting the ContiTrail Attack 3 apart from its predecessor, the new tire boasts two additional core technologies from Continental’s repertoire of awesomeness, “Performance Over Time” and “EasyHandling”—both of which I admittedly have difficulty qualifying as technological in nature. Rather than thinking of these as innovations, perhaps it may be slightly more accurate to describe them as key attributes.

Regardless, “Performance Over Time” is an attribute migrated from the ContiRoad Attack 3 that focuses on tire wear reduction. Through a combination of compounds, tire baking techniques and the general absence of siping on the center tread of the tire, overall wear is reduced, allowing for better mileage. Honestly, if you read the marketing material on the Continental website, they’ll tell you up front that this is a function of their “MultiGrip” technology. In my opinion, it’s just another way of saying your next Motourlaub (motorcycle vacation) can be as long as you want.

As for “EasyHandling,” this means the tire will continue to show its “Continental-ness” throughout the tire’s lifecycle. When I reviewed the ContiRoad Attack 3 tires some time back, I was struck by how progressive and linear the tire handled, especially while transitioning in and out of corners along twisty roads. This feeling of confidence is what allowed me to ride my R 1200 RS more like a sport bike and less like a touring bike.

Rounding out the technological suite of distinguishing factors of the ContiTrail Attack 3 tire are RainGrip, MultiGrip, ZeroDegree construction, and TractionSkin. For full details about these techno bits, hop on over to continental-tires.com/motorcycle and click the Technology tab.

So what about that inexplicable experience I mentioned? As promised, read on.

These tires were brand-new production models and not yet broken in. During the launch, I rode a brand new bike in a new environment full of the aforementioned hazards and obstacles, all of which usually offer a recipe for bad things to happen and enough acute pucker syndrome to produce a small fortune in diamonds. Not only did nothing bad happen, I was no richer at the end of the day—alas.

Wet roads couldn’t keep me from enjoying myself because Continental’s RainGrip technology kept me glued me to the pavement all day long. The new tire carcasses were no obstacle to riding normally from the get-go as TractionSkin made typical break-in procedures unnecessary. Changing road surfaces (even while at lean) couldn’t steal my school-boy grin because MultiGrip had my back through thick and thin.

Even when the tire gave something up to the muddy slop we occasionally had to ride, this road-focused tire gave me the impression it was meant for handling such conditions. Our test group motojournalists conquered hills on these tires with G 1250 GSs, Africa Twins, Multistradas, and even S 1000 XRs, bounding over things we probably shouldn’t have taken on without something short of a TKC 70.

Despite our German hosts insisting they requested the horrible weather to allow us to test the ContiTrail Attack 3s in less-than-ideal conditions, we all tacitly desired the sunny paradise these launch events aim to be. I think it’s fair to say nobody wants to see a product fail to impress because of factors that are out of everyone’s control. Still, at the end of the day, everyone was impressed with this tire.

After lunch on the last day of testing, a third of our group chose to return to our hotel due to the deteriorating conditions while the remainder decided to push on into the mountains for another photo opportunity in the snow. While I wanted to be a part of the second group, I was advised to return because my pace wouldn’t be on par with the others. I resisted at first, but ultimately relented. I had no desire to find myself in a foreign hospital.

Safe at the hotel, I was nevertheless dejected the riding day was over. Forget the weather, the road conditions, the damp nether regions and sopping wet helmet liner—I wanted more. And not only did I want more, I was confident the ContiTrail Attack 3 had it in the bag.

You can ride a bike considered among the best in the world. You can possess all the skills humanly possible, and you can have all the best tech to boot; however, if you can’t trust the connection between you and the ground, your adventure is dead on arrival.

Back at the hotel, our Continental hosts were delighted to hear I volunteered to ride again. While answering their questions about the ContiTrail Attack 3 tire, it became clear to me that this is where confidence can take you. This is what adventure consists of. This is what accomplishment feels like.

I’m excited and looking forward to mounting a set of ContiTrail Attack 3s on the new adventure bike sitting in my garage and remain hungry for more adventures.

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Crash tested: AltRider crash bars for the BMW R1200 GS/GSA

Posted By Adam Chandler #207579, Thursday, April 25, 2019

A few years ago, I did what many of you have done and forgot to fully deploy my kickstand as I fumbled to find my camera in the tank bag. I started to dismount and down the bike went, taking me with it. My BMW pannier was bent and would start letting water in until I sealed it with silicone; my BMW head guards were bent, but they did their job and the OEM crash bars were bent so much that repair would be pointless. Just another love mark for a bike that was not a garage queen. I started looking at the prices to replace these 3 broken items and found BMW parts sure are expensive! A cylinder head guard for $200, crash bars for $600 and a single pannier box was $650. Off to the aftermarket we go!

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I initially tried a brand out of Europe. One drop off-road without any luggage and the bars bent permanently. Much weaker than BMW's option, which suffered quite a bit of abuse before finally bending. I looked for more options and found AltRider. I'm lucky to ride off-road with a lot of people and have seen every crash bar take abuse. Most hold up just fine, but some disintegrate like paper.

AltRider's prices are high. I say that even as a convert. Then I remember that their products are built in the United States and everyone there rides and uses the products. If you check their YouTube channel, you'll know what I mean. Despite the high cost of AltRider products, you do get what you pay for.

The tubular construction of the AltRider crash bars is tig welding done by hand and the material twice as thick as most other bars out there. This adds a negligible amount of weight compared to the competition. Their bars utilize the frame mount points and the motor, including the included crossbar that replaces the upper engine bolt through the GS frame. They include all the bolts and thread locker you need and the job can easily be done with one person so long as you have a little bit of patience and a heat gun to break up the high strength thread locker BMW uses on their structural bolts.

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I knew the crash bars were strong. They survived 10 fairly hard off-road drops in the first 15,000 miles of use and didn't move an inch closer to my heads or deform at all. Their size, location and form make for great use when you need to stretch your legs on long rides, too.

Last year, I had a crash on pavement that totaled my bike simply because the slide into a guardrail bent my lower right foot peg mount, which is a part of the frame. As I slid about 45 feet at 30 miles per hour into the guardrail, I knew it was going to be a tow truck out of there. After the slide, I got up, dusted myself off, picked up the bike and it started. The crash bars were seriously scraped up, but they didn't move. The formerly round tubes were flat on the outside, but still whole without any holes in the construction. They stayed in place like the crash never happened. How did a 600-pound bike slide sideways for 45 feet and this was all the damage? Had the peg mount not been bent to the point of breaking, I'd still be riding my Triple Black GSA today.

R1200GS Rosie, March 2019 Completion

I grabbed another GS a month later and the first thing I ordered was the AltRider crash bars and skid plate combo. Knowing how resilient they are, I'll be a customer for life and try to avoid guard rails going forward. I did want to make an honorable mention that I ride with a few friends who stick with their stock GSA crash bars but add an AltRider reinforcement bar, which bolts directly to that upper engine bolt location and makes the OEM crash bars a lot more resistant to bending. It's a low-cost way to get a lot of life out of the OEM crash bars and I've seen it in action myself holding up to some serious falls off road.

No riders were harmed in the making of this review.

More info on AltRider's website; prices for water-cooled GS crash bars as of this posting are $506.97 (if you have their skid plate on your bike already) or $546.97 (if you don't). The crash bars are available in various colors for BMW, Ducati, Honda, Husqvarna, Suzuki, Triumph and Yamaha motorcycles. BMW models covered are the F 650/700/750/800/850 GS, R 1200/1250 GS/GSA S 1000 XR and K 1600 GT/GTL.

Pros: great strength, hand welded, made in USA
Cons: expensive

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KLIM Artemis Suit

Posted By Colleen Sepulveda #108960, Friday, March 15, 2019

I owned two KLIM outfits before purchasing the KLIM Artemis suit and have found the evolution of the product amazing, with effective modifications made to the suit based on customer feedback.

In addition to my daily rides, I make many long-distance treks across the country, and my gear has to handle temperature extremes and precipitation challenges with grace and efficiency. Additionally, because what I wear is also part of my work presentation, it has to look professional and stylish as well. The KLIM Artemis fits the bill nicely.

The Artemis is a two-piece suit, cut specifically for the female form. Because the gear isn’t heavy or bulky, it’s easy to forget that I’m wearing state-of-the-art protective gear. While riding, I can reach forward comfortably with adequate room in the shoulders, and the leg bend allows me to sit in any position on the bike that fits my needs. The gear works equally well on track training days as it does while riding to get coffee.

My original Artemis suit was in the gray and red color combination, but when the airlines lost my luggage, I had to replace the suit. My replacement gear is in the tan and high-visibility color which is my absolute favorite. Many people compliment me on the suit color and the fit.

The fit is crucial in protective gear. Adjustments for the jacket are located in the collar, upper and lower elbow area (to keep the armor in place), wrist, waist, hip opening, and lower hemline. The pants can be adjusted for comfort in the waist, below the knee (armor placement retention) and at the hem. The amount of variation in straps and closures allows a correct fit to your body to provide both comfort and effective protection.

I have ridden about 15,000 miles in the suit. My first long ride was from Santa Cruz, California, to Des Moines, Iowa, last summer for the MOA National Rally. The suit was comfortable right out of the box without any true break-in period. During that ride, I found and operated the vent zippers easily while riding, which made the hot temperatures almost comfortable to endure. The vents really made me love the suit even more, simply because there are extra vents in extremely effective places!

The pants have the same vents as previous KLIM suits. There is a long vertical vent at the front of the thigh and a corresponding long vent to the rear of the thigh. This allows a robust airflow through the rider’s upper leg area. The jacket is where the new vents are. First, the standard chest vent runs vertically near the jacket zipper. There is also a bicep vent on each arm. A new set of vents was added to the chest area a horizontally from under the armpit to the jacket zipper, effectively cooling the lower rib area. KLIM added another vent in the forearm area. When the forearm and the bicep vents are both open, the airflow from wrist to shoulder is divine. Don’t mistake the forearm zipper for a pocket because you’ll be missing out on the benefits of that additional opening. There is a set of exhaust vents to allow air to pass through and out the back of the jacket.

If you like pockets, this suit is for you. The pants have very deep and usable waterproof pockets on both thighs between the air vents. The jacket has two hand-warmer pockets with a flap, a bicep pocket on the right arm, an emergency info pocket on the left forearm, and a large pocket on the back of the jacket below the waist. Inside pockets on the jacket include two large pockets below the waist and a chest pocket with a cord slot for audio devices and earbuds. All jacket pockets are waterproof.

The suit colors are bold and very visible to other roadway users in the daylight, especially the tan and high-vis combination. For low-light riding situations, retro-reflective accents are located near the collarbone on the front and rear of the jacket along with side reflectors on the shoulders and tricep area. The pants have reflective accents on each thigh and calf area.

I found the suit to be waterproof even during very heavy downpours that lasted hours. As long as my clothing wasn’t exposed and wicking water in, I stayed dry within the suit. Thirty miles of moderate snowfall on the way to Calgary didn’t compromise the protection of the Gore-Tex, either. While riding from Mexico to Calgary over the Labor Day weekend, the Artemis handled 110-degree heat as well as it did during a long and memorable, early morning ride over the Canadian Rockies with temperatures between 23 and 29 degrees. The suit doesn’t have an insulated liner so layering my riding clothes provided all of the temperature adjustments that I needed. The Artemis jacket and pants also zip together to provide full coverage in the event of an unexpected get-off.

I’m very pleased with the performance of the KLIM Artemis suit. It is functional, adaptable, protective, stylish and comfortable, and the designers talk to real riders to implement effective tweaks to enhance our riding experience.

If I could change anything, I would add a bit more room in the crotch area for swinging a leg over the bike. I would also tweak the forearm vent so it would remain open and catch moving air even more effectively. If the sleeve moves, the opening sometimes closes a bit and blocks air from entering the vent. When it is operating efficiently, the angels sing!

If you are in the market for a new women’s riding suit, the Klim Artemis suit is well-worth your consideration, no matter what type of riding conditions you may face.

The KLIM Artemis women’s jacket retails for $699.99, while the women’s pants retail for $549.99. For more information, visit klim.com.

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REV’IT! Stratos GTX touring gloves

Posted By Admins, Wednesday, January 16, 2019

The REV’IT! Stratos GTX glove is a three-season, gauntlet-style touring glove designed to shed water and battle cold weather.

The gloves feature goat skin palms with goat skin and 330D Cordura construction incorporating SEESOFT knuckle protectors and EVA foam offering protection on the heel of the palm, fingers and thumb. A Thinsulate G fleece liner adds warmth while a Gore-Tex liner provides waterproofing and breathability. The gloves do not offer touch screen sensitivity but do feature a visor/nose wipe on the sides of both the right and left index fingers.

The most unique feature of the Stratos GTX glove is its closure mechanism enabling the rider to cinch the glove tight with one hand. To close the glove, a rider pulls the cuff flap to the outside to pull a thin nylon strap to snug the glove and then pulls the cuff flap the opposite direction to secure the cuff down with Velcro.

MSRP for the REV’IT! Stratos GTX gloves is $159.99, and they are available in sizes from small to 4XL.

Attendees at recent MOA Getaways in Tomah, Wisconsin, and Kerrville, Texas, were given an opportunity to test a pair of the Stratos GTX gloves. Members Almir Besic and Gavin Harrison share their thoughts below.

Almir says...

Overall, I liked the gloves. They were little too warm for the 50-60 degree day we had, so I had to remove them early morning. I would have preferred a size smaller than the size XL I tested.

The gloves felt very soft and comfortable and were nicely ergonomically shaped. The precurved fingers made it easier to grip the handlebar, and they were easy to get on and off. The gloves feature a rather unique closing system, but I liked it after using it couple of times.

The Stratos gloves seem to be very well made, with nice seams and nothing to bother me by creating rubbing points on the inside. The protection seemed to be adequate and comparable to other gloves I’ve seen or tried on before.

Gavin says...

I’ve had only a day to review these gloves so far, but there are several things that stand out to me in the initial wash.

A hybrid leather and textile design renders a glove that is still sleek while being protective in likely impact points. The stitching is smooth and doesn’t create pressure points at the fingers though Euro sizing indicates that you might want to start up one size if you possess thick fingers. The leather allows for good feel and sensation, and though you won’t be picking a dime off the counter with them, adjusting my Sena COMM system and manipulating jacket zippers was easy. The gloves also afford fair weather protection while still allowing good penetration of warmth to your frosty digits from grip heaters (it was pretty chilly the first morning of testing). As a test, I held the glove to allow wind into the cuff until my fingers were cold. Then, I activated the heated grips which yielded toasty fingers in about a minute using Oxford grip heaters.

The most interesting piece for me is what I’ve come to expect from REV’IT: innovation. When you put on the glove, you pull the cuff away to open it and fit it over your jacket, this then activates two cinch points that automatically tighten the glove around your wrist. Then you fold back over the cuff and your jacket and you’re ready to ride. There is a release strap built into the system, both are easily intuitive. The closest analogy for this is a couple of pairs of my Teva sandals where activating the main buckle cinches everything.

I wasn’t able to test them for water resistance today (thankfully) but given the proven capabilities of GORE-TEX, I imagine this won’t be an issue.

I would consider these to be two and a half season gloves here in Texas, as I wouldn’t want to wear them much past 60 degrees F. With my testing so far, I can see a pair of these to go with my REV’IT jacket if I can ever get it back from my son!

Tags:  gloves  MemberTested  REV'IT 

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