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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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Wunderbar! Straight talk about a meaningful upgrade for the R 1200 RS (2014+)

Posted By Mark Hearon #209373, Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Over the last couple years, I’ve wondered how many folks bought (or considered buying) the R 1200 RS and either didn’t, or worse yet – did and have never gone far afield with it due to concerns over long-distance comfort. If you’ve sat on the bike, then you know it’s no R 1200 RT. Neither is it an S 1000 RR. In its stock form, the bike sits in the Goldilocks zone of comfort for me. That being said, Wunderlich has created a solution that seems poised to remove any lingering doubts about the R 1200 RS becoming the sporty touring bike of your dreams.

After a 2,500-mile motorcycle camping trip in the Rockies last year with the stock steering yoke installed, I was convinced I already had the perfect bike. When I undertook this review project, I honestly thought I would be raising awareness about a product for those who prioritize comfort more than I. The funny thing is, I didn’t realize what I was missing until I installed this thing on my bike!

My wife, who recently purchased a G 310 GS as her first motorcycle, has been kind enough to let me perform an informal analysis of her bike’s ergonomics against mine with the Wunderlich straight bar conversion kit installed. Folks, I have to say, my R 1200 RS feels like a GS now. Considering my bike is classified as a sport bike on BMW’s website, I feel like I’m cheating and I love it.

A 600-mile trip up to the Ouachita National Forest for some camping in early May further confirmed what a couple of weeks of commuting and backroad blasting had already begun to reveal: adequate as the bike is from the showroom, this straight bar makes a huge difference on the ergonomic front.

From a functional/performance perspective, I noticed a little less front-end feel while taking the Talimena Scenic Byway at a spirited pace. I attribute this to being more upright in the saddle. In the twisties, if I needed a little more lean angle, the increased width of the bar made course corrections ridiculously easy, even with full panniers and a 35-liter dry bag on the pillion. Score one for leverage!

In the city, I’ve found the R 1200 RS maneuvers far more easily in tight spaces with the Wunderlich bar installed. A common complaint with the stock R 1200 RS is that it’s difficult to ride in urban settings. Although I’ve never felt this to be a shortcoming of the bike, I’ve nevertheless noticed I’m moving about with greater ease now than before.

When it comes to the bar kit’s components, fit and finish wise, the texture and color of the bar is virtually identical to that of the stock yoke. Nobody will be able to tell a difference – unless you decide to use the mounting hardware provided with the Wunderlich bar kit.

The stock bolts for my bike are silver-colored, whereas the bolts provided by Wunderlich are black, which is a bit of a miss if you ask me. Thankfully, you don’t have to use them if you don’t want to.

The etched Wunderlich logo is small, unobtrusive, and positioned out of view. If you’re like me and don’t like logos all over your machine, you’ll consider that a plus. Also, Wunderlich added hash marks that guide the user when selecting different levels of adjustability for the bar. Given the bar represents an ergonomic upgrade to begin with, guiding users to a more bespoke fit is a thoughtful touch that I appreciated greatly.

Installation of the bar requires more than a little patience. The instructions assume you know more than you might, and although I was ultimately successful, I still found the exercise a bit tedious due to vague illustrations and a lack of written steps. For what Wunderlich charges for this kit, I’m more than a little disappointed a list of required tools to perform the job wasn’t provided. There’s nothing quite so enjoyable as getting to a critical moment in the installation process and realizing you have to go to the hardware store to buy a missing tool.

For your convenience, you’ll need the following:

  • T 8 bit
  • T 20 bit
  • T 30 bit
  • T 45 bit
  • 13mm socket
  • Ratchet(s) for the above
  • Needle-nosed pliers (to help unplug electrical connections inside the handlebar switches)

A meaningful functional upgrade, the Wunderlich Handlebar Conversion for the R 1200 RS isn’t leaving my bike any time soon. Never one to shy away from a pun, it’s definitely wunderbar!

If you’re not brimming with confidence, have a low tolerance for faffery, or simply aren’t eager to install the kit yourself, consider giving your local dealer a little business. Otherwise, the installation process should (excluding hardware store runs) only take 60-90 minutes.

Details:

  • Handlebar Conversion R1200 RS: $546.95
  • Pros: Fit and finish | Ergo-tastic
  • Cons: Cost | Installation Instructions | Cost
  • Rating: 4/5
  • Website: wunderlichamerica.com

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Wunderlich Windscreen for K 1600 GTL

Posted By Jerry McGaha #182493, Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Wind protection on a touring motorcycle can make or break a nice ride. I believe there are two key conditions by which to consider your equipment in this area: solo and two-up riding.

My yardstick for measuring wind comfort is based on the late 1970s and early ‘80s Windjammer fairings. Granted, they were big, not so pretty and expensive, but they offered unparalleled comfort behind the screen. You could smoke a cigar or drink a cup of coffee at 60 miles per hour in the calm bubble they provided.

The K 1600 GTL is a little disappointing in the wind protection department when compared those Windjammers. Granted, the bike shines in so many different ways outside of wind protection it is easy to forgive these shortcomings.

Back to the two prime use cases, riding as a single rider and riding with a passenger. In my case my passenger just happens to be my wife of 33 years, and it’s kind of important to make the ride comfortable for her.

The K16 has an electrically adjustable windshield. In the lowest position, it lowers all the way down to the cowl and secures the GPS. It can then be raised about six inches to the topmost position. When I am riding alone, I will raise the windscreen to about one or two inches below my line of sight. This position effectively pushes the air up and over my helmet, provides nice bug protection, and gives a very nice view of the road.

When riding two up, I will raise the windscreen to between 60 and 80 percent of maximum height to provide improved wind protection for my wife sitting in the big Beemer’s stadium rear seat. In this position, I am looking through the windscreen at about the screen’s mid-point. Fully raised, the stock windscreen buffeted so badly that neither of us were very happy.

During the MOA Getaway at Fontana, North Carolina, in April, I got a chance to check out the Wunderlich model 35380-101-ANB Touring windscreen, the tinted and vented Wunderlich windscreen for my bike. A clear version is available and both tinted and clear are available with or without the vent. I installed the new windscreen in the Fontana Resort parking lot with a single T25 Torx in about 10 minutes. I think it took longer to remove the bubble wrap than the actual installation.

The first thing you notice is the improved looks for the bike. Wow! The tinted screen really brings out the black trim on the bike and matches my black Wunderlich protection bars beautifully! Huge improvement in the looks department, and the fit and finish of the polycarbonate material seems excellent.

I’ve been running the new Wunderlich screen for about two weeks now both with and without my passenger. I can say without a doubt, the single rider wind protection is far superior to the OEM screen. The Wunderlich is significantly wider at the mid-point, and this manifests in much less wind on the shoulders and upper body for the rider. Setting the height at my normal one to two inches over the sight line gives me a much improved overall experience than the OEM screen.

For my passenger, the story is a little different. Raising the screen to between half and three-quarters height like normal provided no significant improvement over the OEM model. Buffeting is still terrible at the full height level and after playing with several set points from single rider low to full up position, I could find no sweet spot. In this two-up position, I am looking through the windscreen and found the tinting to be a nice gradient level. Not too dark and not too light, which actually surprised me as I thought it might hinder my visibility.

Lastly, the included vent. All the notes above were with the vent in the closed position. On a particularly warm April day, I opened the vent and found the air flow to be very nice! Much better than I anticipated. The April air was cool, and the flow through the vent was controllable and pleasant. Overall a nice touch for this screen design and I think worth the extra bucks.

All in all, the Wunderlich screen is beautiful addition for this bike. Single rider protection is a marked improvement. Two-up riding is not significantly better, but for sure no worse either. Unfortunately, a little internet research tells me this particular screen has been discontinued by Wunderlich in favor of an improved design to prevent a whistling from the vent. In my experience this screen has had no problems regarding whistling. There is a height adjustment point that causes excessive wobble of the radio antenna, but with a little up or down adjustment, this issue goes away.

Website: wunderlichamerica.com

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Sargent World Sport Adventure Touring Seat for R 1200 GS Adventure (2013+)

Posted By Jerry Maye #207700, Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Just before writing this review of the Sargent World Sport Adventure Touring seat for my R 1200 GS Adventure, I completed a 7,000-mile, 30-day trip to Canada and Mexico before returning to my home in Louisiana. All of my miles were on the OEM seat, and I occasionally rode more than 500 miles in a day.

At the MOA Getaway in Tomah, Wisconsin, last fall I was able to demo this Sargent seat. During my ride on that Saturday, I put 148 miles on the seat, which included about 40 miles off-road. Because it rained most of the day, our ride took us onto slick, wet concrete, wet gravel, clay, and some hard-packed dirt and sand.

Installing the seat was easy, and at six feet, five inches tall, I only tested the high seat position. Because the Sargent seat is wider and almost an inch longer than the stock seat, I had to remove the passenger seat to be able to lock the Sargent into place. Once this was done, it was simple to press down on the rear of the Sargent seat and then replace the OEM passenger seat. Done in two minutes.

I measured the Sargent World Sport Adventure Touring seat to be 1.3 inches wider at the front and 3.7 inches wider in the back compared to the stock seat. I found this extra width to be wonderful, and it gave me more confidence when gripping the seat with my knees when standing and offered more support when sitting.

I found the firmness of the Sargent seat to be about the same as the stock seat. Perhaps because the Sargent seat is wider, it offered a more comfortable feeling than the stock seat, which tends to get hard on my tail bone after 100 or so miles. After my ride, I found that I wasn't as fatigued with the Sargent seat.

I don't think the Sargent seat needed breaking in. The gel used in the Sargent seemed to reduce vibration, specifically when riding long distances on highways, and I believe that my tail bone didn't feel any pressure or needed rest.

I moved around on the seat by shifting my weight forward and backward and by standing on the pegs and found the Sargent to be about as comfortable as sitting at the dinner table. Additionally, I found that when I was standing, it was much easier to grip the tank with my knees, which made me feel more relaxed.

During my ride, I could feel the stock rear seat on my lower back-side butt area since the Sargent seat sits lower and the passenger seat seemed to overlap the front a tad. Looking at images where Sargent fronts are used with stock rears and comparing them to Sargent-only combinations, there's no doubt that when using a Sargent rear seat there's minimal overlap, which I believe would create a better feel when your weight is shifted back in the saddle.

On the down side, I found the seat to be a little wobbly until I adjusted the rubber mounts on the bottom to reduce the distance from the bottom of the seat to the frame tube. I don’t believe you’re supposed to do this, but I found that if you don't, then the seat has a weird feeling. These rubber mounts are supposed to be used screwed in all the way (to adjust for the low seat configuration) or taken all the way off to accommodate the high seat configuration. I think Sargent may have to look at this a little more closely, or I'm not doing something right.

Overall, I found the Sargent World Sport Adventure Touring seat to be fantastic. I was so impressed with it that after returning home from the MOA Getaway, I went ahead and bought a Sargent 2013.5+ World Sport Adventure Touring Seat (heated, of course) with Carbon FX inserts.

After ordering the seat, it arrived three weeks later. When ordering, I found that all Sargent seats are hand-made, and the sales person I spoke with also gave me a $65 discount that I didn't know existed. In my book, that’s excellent service. Website: SARGENTCYCLE.COM

Tags:  seat 

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Sena’s new Momentum helmet

Posted By Jerry Aldini #214426, Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Since I started riding I’ve been an Arai guy. Though it took several years to scrape together enough green to buy my first, I’ve never looked back. Over the years I’ve tried other brands, but I always come back to Arai, with its perfect fit for my head and long haul comfort.

Then I paired my favorite Arai with a Sena SMH10 Bluetooth headset. Initially, I was only interested in streaming some of my favorite tunes to make the miles tick off a little quicker. Once exposed to the functionality of Sena products, I was hooked on the full connectivity: music, phone, GPS and intercom. When the chance came to try a new Sena Momentum helmet with integrated Sena Bluetooth headset, I couldn’t resist.

Sena’s Momentum helmets are offered in three varieties: the Momentum, Momentum Lite and the new Momentum INC with Intelligent Noise Cancelling technology. The difference between the two base models is four Bluetooth connections for the Lite compared to eight for the standard Momentum. The Momentum INC offers the ability to block ambient and repetitive noise with electronic noise canceling technology.

The Momentum helmet weighs in at just under four pounds. The liner is removable and washable. Included with the helmet are a soft cloth helmet bag, user’s manual and a USB cord for charging or downloading the latest firmware. Sena also includes an inflatable ring to hold the helmet when not in use.

Before connecting my devices I took it out for a quick spin to evaluate the fit, comfort and noise levels. I found the opening of the helmet rather small and initially painful during my first attempts at inserting my sizeable melon. I believe this helps reduce wind noise during riding, and if that is the case, I’ll accept the tighter fit. In fairness, after several rides, I’ve learned how to insert and extract my head without discomfort.

The Sena’s interior is plush with thick, removable and comfortably soft cheek pads. With an integrated mic, speakers and electronics, I still found plenty of room between the helmet and the face, as well as around my ears.

The Sena Momentum helmet has a rounder shape than Arai’s traditional long oval. When wearing the Sena, I can feel pressure along my forehead. I’m convinced that after it’s broken in, the Sena will conform to my egg-shaped noggin just fine!

On the road, the Sena didn’t disappoint. Although not as quiet as I had hoped, it’s still quieter than most helmets I have tried. It still requires the use of ear plugs, but I have yet to find a helmet that doesn’t. The Momentum helmet is quite stable in the wind, without annoying hums or whistles, which would be a deal breaker in my book. Ample venting on the front and rear effectively move air across your head on warm days.

All that aside, the real reason you want Sena’s new Momentum helmet is for the integrated Bluetooth functionality. I easily paired the helmet with my phone and almost instantly had music streaming on my ride. With Sena’s Advanced Noise Control, I found phone functionality and clarity of the microphone to be flawless without any struggle to hear or need to yell even when wearing earplugs. The microphone and speakers seem to be perfectly positioned for the best sound quality—probably the single most important feature of a helmet built with an integrated headset.

I found the controls for the helmet large and more intuitive than my older Sena unit. While it does take a little time to learn the sequence of short and long presses to cycle through and learn all the helmet’s functionality, I can’t complain about this out of the box. It simply requires some repetition and use to make it all work smoothly.

In use, the Sena unit easily pairs with up to seven other Sena users to allow for crystal clear, high-definition intercom conversations. Using the Sena smartphone app, users can customize the functionality, including volume levels, voice control, multitasking and volume overlays to suit your preferences. Additionally, the Sena Momentum can integrate voice input from your GPS and receive FM radio broadcasts with ten station presets. The Bluetooth communication features are everything I have come to expect from a top shelf communication company like Sena.

Overall, I found the Sena Momentum helmet to be a bargain given the level of electronics and the apparent quality of the helmet. The sound quality is far superior to my current add-on unit, and I would consider laying down the money for that feature alone. Although I had to adapt the Arai to accept a Sena Bluetooth unit, it fits me perfectly, and I’m not willing to give it up just yet. I’d encourage anyone to test fit Sena’s Momentum helmet. If it hits you in the right places, you will be buying a solid helmet with excellent Bluetooth capability right out of the box.

Though I didn’t crash test the Sena helmet, it is DOT and ECE compliant and comes with a five-year warranty on the helmet and a two-year warranty on the electronics. The Momentum helmet retails for $449. The Lite is slightly less at $399. Sena’s helmets are available from an extensive network of dealers throughout the United States or online at buysena.com.

Tags:  bluetooth  helmet  sena 

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Rukka Apollo Gore-Tex X-Trafit Gloves

Posted By John Rector #132206, Sunday, June 3, 2018

While attending the MOA Getaway in Tomah, Wisconsin, last fall I had the opportunity to try out a pair Rukka Apollo Gore-Tex X-Trafit gloves. The three-season gloves were good-looking, had a semi-short cuff and were unvented. The term X-Trafit refers to Rukka’s method of keeping the liner inside the glove when you remove your hand.

The weather during the Getaway weekend was beautiful and sunny, with temperatures starting out in the upper 30’s and warming up to the mid 50s during the afternoon. I thought these gloves would be perfect for the weather we had that weekend.

The first thing I noticed about these gloves was the quality. All seams were finely and seemingly carefully stitched, and the leather was of excellent quality and weight with no observable blemishes whatsoever on any of the sections. The leather had a very substantial feel to it and told you these were clearly quality gloves.

The fit with a large was very good, although I normally wear a size XL, so this particular glove was a little short in the fingers and a bit tight across the back of the hand for me. Nevertheless, I wore them most of the day on Saturday, switching them back and forth with my trusty BMW summer vented leather gloves to compare the dexterity, quality, fit, warmth and comfort. On that particular Saturday, since my BMW gloves were vented, these Rukka gloves were considerably warmer and more comfortable than mine.

The Rukka Apollo Gore-Tex X-Trafit gloves have some very nice features that I wish I had on my gloves. For instance, in addition to the customary hard knuckle protection for your largest knuckles, they also have hard protection for the next set of knuckles for your third, fourth and fifth fingers. There is a flexible and expandable piece of material just above the wrist that provides some additional comfort and movement, and the thumb finger has a very handy raised visor wipe. I especially liked the hard protection for the meaty part of your palm on the underside of the glove. My BMW gloves have only a slightly thicker piece of leather at this location. In the event of a fall, I believe the Rukka gloves would provide much more protection for my hands.

The hook and loop strap at the wrist was large enough to securely tighten the gloves across my wrist. Since the cuff was a little longer than a summer short-cuff glove, I was able to cinch up the jacket and glove to keep cold air from blowing up my sleeve. So what are my impressions of the Rukka Apollo Gore-Tex X-Trafit gloves? Well, after putting them to the test for a full day in cool weather, even though they were a size smaller than I would prefer, I was sufficiently impressed that I decided to buy a pair for myself, only this time in a size XL.

The Rukka Apollo Gore-Tex X-Trafit gloves carry an MSRP of $199.

Tags:  getaway  gloves  rukka 

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Continental ContiRoadAttack 3 Sport Touring tires

Posted By Mark Hearon #209373, Saturday, February 10, 2018

In the last year, I've changed. I must confess I've become a Teutonophile. When exactly this happened I can't say. However, I'm pretty sure it happened sometime after I bought an R 1200 RS. Now, everything I care about in this world is German or on its way to becoming so (Italian wife gets a free pass!). Naturally, when the opportunity to test a German tire brand presented itself, I said, "Yes!" quicker than a Texas boy would jump at a chance for free chicken fried steak. The following represents a 1,500-mile, real-world, first-impressions review of the Continental ContiRoadAttack 3 tires. Before I do that, though, some housekeeping.

If we drink the Kool-Aid, this tire will do it all. It'll out-perform every competitor. You'll ride harder than that dudette who drags her knee on your local twisties, farther than Ewan and Charlie, and faster than a caffeinated squirrel mounted on an S 1000 RR. This tire's so great, even ostriches will take note (please watch Continental's demo video for these tires to get the joke). All this, with (virtually) no break-in, can be yours if you, too, buy this tire. Unsurprisingly (and perhaps thankfully), the truth-from my point of view-is a little more sedate. Let's be real: a sport touring tire is by its very nature a compromise. I still have difficulty defining just what the term "sport touring" means. The ContiRoadAttack 3 tires might have made that task a little easier, but not by living up to the superlative-laced marketing material we're likely to read from OEMs and motojournalists. These are my initial impressions.

Prior to mounting the ContiRoadAttack 3 tires to my R 1200 RS, I rode with the OE tire, Michelin's Pilot Road 4. It took mere moments with the Continental shoes to realize that the ContiRoadAttack 3 tires (comparatively) transmit quite a bit of feel to the rider. For the highway ride home, you might say I was "shaken up" a bit. I didn't know how to think of this at first because I'd never known anything other than the sure-footed, somewhat muted experience offered by the Michelins.

I now attribute much of that stirring experience to over-inflation. At 138 pounds fully fed, I don't normally run the recommended maximum cold tire pressures (36F/42R) and typically opt for something a little less bloated (34F/40R). Backing off the tire pressures did the trick. While the harshness was abated, the increased road feel remained.

I quickly became aware of how much I value this increased road feel compared to the PR4. With Dynamic ESA working to smooth out my ride constantly, I didn't realize how much of the sport experience I was missing while riding my local twisties. As Bill Wiegand will attest, having seen a video of me railing a corner (at perfectly legal speeds) with these tires, they do indeed inspire a degree of confidence.

Fully recognizing not everyone enjoys the sweeper-loving attributes of an R 1200 RS, I nevertheless must convey what a difference-maker these tires have been for my bike. Until the ContiRoadAttack 3 tires got slipped on, terms like "neutral" and "planted" didn't carry much meaning for me. The tires' press release mentions something about ensuring "…reliable stability at high speed and only a low kickback thanks to a 0° steel-belt construction." Yeah, I have no idea what that means. However, if I'm to believe that has anything to do with the experience I've had thus far, I might be willing to buy it. Whether traveling at 60 mph on the highway or 130 mph on an abandoned backroad, the tires feel the same.

With the increased stability the ContiRoadAttack 3 tires appear to provide, my corner entry speeds have increased. Not just because of the aforementioned road feel, but because the tip-in is easier for me to judge. I no longer feel like I have to scrub off as much speed to determine just what my tires are doing and how that'll influence my corner transit. Additionally, getting on the throttle earlier (and harder) is something I've found myself doing more frequently as I simply have had little reason to doubt the tire's ability to carry me through.

If you've made it this far in the review, first of all, thank you. Secondly, you should know I don't commute like the first two sections make it sound like I typically ride. Commuting duties are a different beast altogether. So, how do the ContiRoadAttack 3 tires stack up here? In two words, just fine. The two qualities mentioned above were specifically chosen because they've enhanced my understanding of my bike holistically. Further, they've made every part of my normal riding schema more enjoyable.

As far as performance in various weather conditions, north Texas is experiencing a warmer-than-average late summer (we don't have fall here). That means mysterious things like sky water (precipitation) and mouth steam (cold weather) aren't particularly prevalent. Basically, I've been riding mostly in the mid-low 50s Fahrenheit like a spoiled kid. That doesn't mean it's been all fun and games, though.

I purposefully waited for a Canadian front to pass through so that I could test cold-weather traction. I bargained for something between 38 and 42 Fahrenheit. Instead, Mother Nature served up a 24-degree morning…with a bit of frost. Game on!

Traction seems to not be an issue on cold pavement. The increased feel (I keep going back to that, don't I?) would indicate a tendency to foreshadow any squirrelly happenings with greater transparency. I felt no such tendency with these tires-score.

What about tread life on the tires' centers? Presently, the sporty characteristics of the ContiRoadAttack 3 tires have enabled me to spend a lot more time getting rid of my chicken strips than I ever expected to. What center tread wear I have noticed has been minimal. At 1,500 miles, the tire profile does not appear to be squaring off.

The questions that remain are those that a long trip and more time will answer. I'll report back on the touring credentials of these ostensibly sport-biased tires once a little more riding has taken place. Until then, ride safe!

  • Pros: Enhanced feel compared to another leading ST tire, quick turn-in/lively handling, emphasizes the "Sport" in sport touring
  • Cons: Questionable longevity (more research needed), questionable touring credentials (more research needed)

Tags:  continental  tires 

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Colorado Chaps - Made in the U.S.A.

Posted By Gray Buckley #27846, Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Colorado Chaps is one of the best companies you never heard of! When you need custom fit, hand cut chaps suitable for motorcyclists, hunters, construction workers, horseback riders, snowblower operators and anyone else who enjoys working or playing hard while staying clean and dry, then check out ColoradoChaps.com.

You won’t see much advertising in the usual places, but you will see owner/operator Lorna Reed at motorcycle rallies and small town festivals in western Colorado. She first made chaps in 2002 for a few equestrian friends who frequent Colorado's remote forests. Eventually the customers convinced her to spread the joy to motorcyclists.

I met Lorna at the Top o’ the Rockies Rally in Paonia, Colorado. Looking first hand at the variety of fabrics, colors and styles, and then holding a few samples in my hands, made me a customer. After wearing the product for several summers and winters, I became a believer! During several Rocky Mountain blizzards I wore them while driving a snowblower. They stop the wind, fit comfortably over Bermuda shorts or jeans, and are comfortable on the warmest days.

My Colorado Chaps arm gauntlets live in my side bags, ready for any sudden drop in temperature. They are easier to store and to put on than digging around for the extra jacket. You will be surprised how much protection they provide while covering just the forearms behind a pair of gauntlet gloves. Your hand signals will be a LOT MORE VISIBLE to drivers behind and ahead of you. If you are the delicate sort, you may need a fleece-lined pair.

Neither these chaps nor the gauntlets are cookie cutter products. They are assembled in Mesa County, Colorado, near the Colorado River.

Decision Making

When you decide to get a pair of these chaps you will need specific information, and to make some decisions. How long is your inseam? Do you want leather, water-resistant nylon or breathable cotton canvas? What kind and color of nylon do you prefer: Ballistic, 1000D Cordura, Basofil, Kevlar? Do you need knee armor? (It’s the real stuff.) Get fleece lining if you are going to ride in 35 degrees or less. Do you want mesh backs for hot days? Do you ride at night? If so, consider reflectorized striping. What color stripes do you want? What is the circumference of your thigh at the most ample point? There are more choices if you want a classy pair. Once you are wearing the chaps you may forget the flap-covered pockets on the front of each leg because they fit so well. They come standard. The chaps come with a belted stuff sack that fastens to your rear pack or to your handle bars.

“Not for me,” you say?

You may prefer to wear over-pants, the kind that cover your knives, tools, cell phones and everything else you hook to your belt, and to cover your front port hole even when you really have to go. You may prefer to remove your boots to get out of the over-pants. There is no need to remove footgear to exit Colorado Chaps. Your flexible parts stay flexible and your belt gear says accessible and you never have to remove your boots. Every pair of chaps is custom fit, hand cut, and built for you in the USA.

If you don’t like any exterior bulk above your knee and you don’t wear a belt, then consider the half-chaps, especially if you need shin and knee protection. Colorado Chaps guarantees a custom fit on a durable garment that you will enjoy for a long time. You will not find this quality in a factory made, off the rack wearable from overseas.

Lastly, when it comes time to order another pair, or possibly a gift or two (half-chaps, gauntlets?), you can get your questions answered and any problems resolved directly from the person who supervises the production of every order. Send your email with questions or just pick up the phone. I like this gear! Happy Trails!

Contact: info@coloradochaps.com, call 970-464-5803, or write to Colorado Chaps, 3553 G Road Palisade, CO 81526.

Gray Buckley (MOA #27846) lives in Lakewood, Colorado, and rides a 2015 R1200RT. After service as a Maryland State Trooper and as an agent of the Colorado Bureau of Investigation, he retired to ride full time. He is allergic to gravel, asphalt, cement, lead and sharp pointed and/or cutting instruments.

 

Tags:  ATGATT  chaps  Gear  MemberTested 

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BMW Driving Academy Maisach

Posted By Frank Campbell #43430, Tuesday, March 7, 2017

The Bavarian factory has built a solid tradition in performance vehicles. True to the proverb "power is nothing without control," the company has vigorously promoted training for both the car and motorcycle enthusiast. This trend now gone global, is very evident within Germany and of course, the company’s home in Bavaria. The venue in Maisach, some 20 miles due West of Munich is now officially called the BMW Driver Academy.

Training was until recently at the Munich Airport, and presumably for lack of space was moved to the old Fürstenfeldbruck air base just south of Maisach.

The former Fliegerhorst Fürstenfeldbruck air base (Fursty for short) was once an important field for both the Luftwaffe and the US Air force. It has been decommissioned for over a decade, and the closest thing to flying machines you will see here are BMW cars and motorcycles used by the BMW Driving Academy. The runway is now inactive, but the base reportedly hosts training for ground personnel. Instead of the roar of jet engines, all you will hear now are screeching tires of BMW sedans on the skid pads and the golf cart whine of eco-friendly i3 coupes unobtrusively whizzing by.

The training facility occupies some 320 acres on the east side of the former air base. The website in German and English can be accessed at bmw-drivingexperience.com. The site contains ample details regarding the facility and scope of training. The cost on a BMW-supplied motorcycle is 240 Euro, and 200 Euro on your own bike. This is a no-brainer for me. A simple tip-over can cost well in excess of the 40 Euro difference (replacing a broken clutch or brake lever may cost around 200 Euro).

The motorcycles are fully insured for damage, so in the event of a mishap you will not be held liable unless you engage in reckless behavior. Personal medical coverage is the responsibility of the rider, which for EU residents is generally provided by the state. Risk-averse American riders should consult with their insurance plans in the US. At the moment, training is only offered in German (the English option box is greyed out on the application). Presumably at a later time this will change to accommodate non-German-speaking riders. However, if you have a reasonable command of German, you should definitely consider attending a training session. The instructors are very helpful and for the most part speak better English than most of us will ever speak German.


An R 1200 GS similar to the one the author used for his session in Maisach, though obviously this photo was not taken at the air base. Photo courtesy of BMW Motorrad.

My letter of acceptance reiterated that the training would be conducted "ausschließlich auf Deutsch" (exclusively in German). Considering the increasing trend by corporate BMW to use English lingo, I reckoned some latitude would be allowed.

On my appointed date I showed up half an hour late for class, as I could not find the entrance to the tightly padlocked air base anywhere. As I was about to give up, I spotted a rather subdued sign pointing to the BMW Driver Academy. The first session of the day was spent in general orientation, basic motorcycle control and emergency maneuvers. The class included some 20 students divided into two groups presumably on the basis of experience. By virtue of age rather than skills, I was put in the "experienced" group.

Following the classroom session, we walked out onto the parking area where our assigned mounts awaited us. My R 1200 GS with some 1000 kilometers on the odometer was otherwise showroom-new. The bike was equipped with mag wheels and shod with dual sport Anakee tires. Other equipment included full electronic regalia as well as cruise control. The driver seat was placed in the lowest position, which allowed my 29-inch inseam-challenged legs to reach the ground comfortably.

The motor fired up readily and settled into the familiar flat twin rumble, although more muted than its predecessors. The hydraulic clutch is feather light, which made it easy to follow the instructor’s commands to use two fingers for control. The bike seemed narrower than the previous oil-cooled models, and with a more centralized mass, felt quite light. The oil-bath clutch revealed its nature by the typical clunk and lurch felt when shifting from neutral into first, similar to the F-series. Pulling the clutch in and waiting a minute or so reduced this tendency only slightly. After riding it a while, I opted for shutting down and starting the engine in first gear, which eliminated the problem.

The exercises during our first session were based on the notion that if you cannot control the bike at slow speeds, you certainly will not be able to do so at higher speeds. The instructor had us weaving around cones, doing ever-tighter circles and figure-eight turns in first gear with the engine at idle (about 1050 RPM), controlling the speed with the clutch. The exercises felt easy due to the motorcycle's superb handling characteristics. There was no noticeable driveline lash, which certainly helped in this respect. I would have been hard put to do duplicate these maneuvers on my old R 1100 GS, which sat forlornly in the parking lot.

As the morning proceeded, the instructors increased the complexity of the exercises and had us add speed. The motorcycle maintained its unflappable composure throughout it all. I witnessed no tip-overs during the training, but I cannot guarantee there weren’t any.

During the noon break, we enjoyed the full buffet lunch included in the cost of the course. In the afternoon session the instructors added more complex exercises at greater speeds. The motorcycle had plenty of power, yet proved docile, which made it a joy to ride. For the more spirited rider, it might become a willing wheelie-machine.

I found the training the Riding Academy very worthwhile. It gave me an unequalled opportunity to put the motorcycle through its paces, all in a controlled and safe environment. For the potential buyer of a new GS, the time spent at the Academy will provide him/her a solid basis to decide whether or not to invest in such a machine.

 

Frank Campbell is a retired physician residing in FL. He has ridden almost every BMW model dating back to the R 26. He has done solo and group adventure tours throughout the Americas, Europe, North Africa, Turkey, the Middle East and Asia. Although his preferred motorcycles have always been of the GS type, presently he favors more sedate "cappuccino style" tours on mostly well surfaced roads.

Tags:  R1200GS  Skills  Training 

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Corbin Dual Canyon seat for the R 1200 RS - and much more

Posted By James P. Smith, Ph.D. (#12333), Wednesday, February 8, 2017

After completing my Ph.D. dissertation, I wanted to escape academia with a little saved money. I had a used BMW R 80 ST in the garage that begged to return to the Alps, where I had contracted Alpinitis. Alpinitis is a disease you get when you ride the Alpine passes in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, France and Italy. I did this six times and the addiction was, by 1987, incurable. I rode the ST across the United States, shipped it to Europe and rode around there for three months. Never once, even after riding for hours on end, did I notice any discomfort sitting on that bike. I didn't even notice it had a Corbin seat. Granted, it was someone else's Corbin seat that may have fit them better than me, but I loved riding that bike.


Jim with his beloved R 80 ST.

I loved it so much that after leaving the ST in Europe and coming home to work I decided I had to have an ST to ride here. I answered an ad in the BMW Owner's News for an almost-new ST with less than 3,000 miles on it in Reston, Virginia. I flew there from California, bought it and rode back across the U.S. via the Great Canadian Highway. I had to stop often because my seat was sore and my shoulders and arms ached. I realized this ST was exactly the same model as the one I rode in Europe – except it didn't have a Corbin seat!

A year later I flew to Munich to pick up my ST. I rode it from Germany to England to join the AMA Tour of the UK, including a visit to the Isle of Man. What a difference! It felt so good to ride the bike in Europe with a Corbin seat, the same model bike that back home with a stock seat gave me aches and pains.

In June 2015, I contacted Corbin to inquire when they would have a seat and Smuggler setup for my new R 1200 RS motorcycle. The Corbin rep who returned my email, Sergio, thanked me for my interest, but informed me that they didn’t have any such product for the R 1200 RS. He offered a free seat in exchange for letting them use my bike as their test bed. Another employee, Joni, scheduled the work and warned me Corbin would need the bike for about six weeks. We scheduled the drop off for just after the New Year because I wouldn't miss riding in the winter. I explained that I wanted a Smuggler trunk that fits behind the Corbin seat, because unless you have side cases for this motorcycle there is no place to carry anything. Joni had to check with Mike Corbin, the owner. She got back to me the next day and let me know they could make the Smuggler, but it would require them keeping the bike an additional three weeks.

My wife and I trailered the bike down to Hollister and met Freddie, who helped me unload it and explained that any accessories would be locked away and that the bike would not be ridden at any time.

Many weeks later, I came back with my daughter to pick up the bike and met Julio, who manages all custom repairs and factory tours. Julio gave me what they had already made, including the Corbin seat with Smuggler trunk, a Dual Canyon seat with a back rest for riding two-up, both sporting electric heat at the flick of a switch. They wanted me to try out the standard seat they made for pictures and advertising, then return for a custom seat to be made to go with my Smuggler trunk. My daughter and I were treated to an hour-long tour of Corbin's immense factory; it covers a large city block and includes the Wizards café, where you can have breakfast or lunch while you wait for your motorcycle.

Corbin uses a Contoured Comfort Cell foam which feels firm compared to the cushy-feeling stock seat that, over time, compacts and eventually loses its resiliency. This causes the rider to feel the seat is too hard, which is really the result of the foam being too soft to start with. Corbin’s closed-cell foam is made up of a series of small bubbles which hold air pockets that keep the saddle resilient indefinitely. This enables them to vary the density to suit the personal shape of the customer's seat. As a result, Corbin's seats are able to provide an average of seven pounds of foam density compared with three to four pounds on stock seats. In addition, Corbin's foam will take the shape of the rider and keep it that way after about 1,500 to 2,000 miles, providing better weight dispersal and a custom fit.


Corbin's closed-cell foam.

Corbin uses fibertech as a base pan material. It is stronger than plastic, won’t rust like metal and offers design flexibility for a precise fit to the motorcycle. With good base pan strength, the seat will always support you in the right places.


Every seat Corbin makes starts with a mold.

The seat I got was Corbin's black leather with blue stitching and a blue welt that matches the Lupin blue of the R 1200 RS, and is exactly what I would have chosen even though while touring the factory, I noticed Corbin offers many leathers in a riot of colors such as Bright Red, Navy Blue, Chocolate Brown, Indian tan, Oaknut. They also offer a menagerie of textured leathers such as Alligator, Snake, Ostrich, and Stingray, and in a variety of colors as well. You can also get your seat covered with textured vinyl in Yellow, Ninja Red, Burgundy, Teal, Lavender, Harley Blue and many more vibrant colors.


Corbin sports a dizzying array of seat covering options, including smooth and textured leathers and vinyls.


Pouring foam into a mold.

Leather is best for a motorcycle because it breathes, keeps you cool where you contact the seat, and will conform with the foam shape as it breaks in to give you a personalized fit.

During the two months I waited for my bike, I saw many pictures of it in motorcycle magazines and on Corbin's website. I had agreed to allow Corbin to have my RS a little longer to show it at the Quail Motorcycle gathering at Pebble Beach, in Carmel, California, but I was getting anxious to ride again.

While many bikers ride in to Corbin's factory in Hollister and wait on a first come, first served basis for their bike to be fitted with a custom seat, I couldn't wait to start riding again. I picked it up with the products already made for pictures and advertising and trailered it away to return after I had tried out Corbin's seat and Smuggler trunk.


Jim tests out his new Corbin seat, shown here with the Smuggle trunk in place.

Packing only my sunglasses, water, aqua vest, sun hat, notebook and pen in the Smuggler trunk, I was off riding up highway 49 out of Nevada City, across the South Fork of the Yuba river to my first stop at Downieville. I didn't want to get off my bike but Chris, my riding companion, was hungry. He skipped breakfast, so we had an early lunch of delicious soft tacos and iced tea at La Cocina De Oro.

We headed northeast on 49 past Sierra City to a waterfall that Chris found just off the highway before Bassetts, where we turned north on Gold Lake Road. I noticed that my position on the Corbin seat had me sitting a little more upright, which took the weight off my arms and eliminated the tiredness I felt riding the same distance on the stock seat. There was no extra wind turbulence as I was able to raise the windscreen on the RS. I was definitely having more fun with this new equipment.


Chris, left, and the author.

After riding around on it for several months with my daughter Jamie exclaimed, “I love it.” Also, my granddaughter who traveled with me to Hollister while Corbin made a custom single seat for me with a Smuggler trunk said the Dual Canyon seat was the best, especially because it was electric and kept us both toasty warm. When riding solo I prefer the Corbin single seat with Smuggler trunk as it holds just enough for day rides and avoids putting on panniers – perfect for traveling light. The Corbin single seat can also be electric and ordered separate to go with the stock passenger seat.


A good look at the solo seat with the Smuggler trunk in place.


The other finished product - Corbin's Dual Canyon seat and passenger backrest on the water-cooled R 1200 RS.

Tags:  accessories  Corbin  R1200RS  seat 

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Roam the planet ... carry stuff ... in the Tool Tube

Posted By Ron Davis (#111820), Tuesday, January 31, 2017

I’m one of those guys who believes you can never carry too much stuff, so nothing bugs me more than seeing empty spaces on my bike that could be stuffed with gear. On my F 700 GS, I just couldn’t ignore the gaping cavity between my right pannier and rear of my bike. There are custom-made boxes and bags designed to hold goodies in spaces like these, but a cost/benefit analysis, colored by the shabby pink state of my checkbook, had me searching for a more economical solution. That was when I ran across the Tool Tube.

tooltube mega tube
Tool Tubes can be ordered in three sizes with accessories such as tool rolls, fuel or water bottles, and lock sets. All come with an assortment of mounting hardware. Pictured is the “MegaLock Moto Kit.”

Storage tubes similar to the Tool Tube are sold by most of the main moto accessory vendors, and indeed, they can also be found in many other kinds of markets. A true crossover hit, I have a hunch screw-top storage tubes like these were originally intended for holding welding rods, but it didn’t take riders long to see their potential for stowing gear like tools, fuel, and water in small spaces. I have also seen them mounted as standard equipment on heavy machinery to hold manuals. What makes the Tool Tube versions different is the variety of sizes, the clever accessories, and the mounting options.

I probably could have gone with the original Tool Tube, which is about a foot deep and four inches wide. I knew one of these would easily fit inside my pannier rack, but since I wanted to make the most of the space, I decided to order the “Mega Tube” which is an inch wider, hoping I could make it work. Like all the canisters from Tool Tube, the Mega is offered in a variety of kits and packages. For instance, some kits come with Primus fuel bottles, while others include a tool roll and/or locking mechanisms, though you can also go ala carte and choose any options you want. I ordered the “MegaLock Moto Kit” ($34) which comes with a clever steel cable and padlock system for securing the top. I still have my eye on the “NanoTube,” however, which has an inside diameter of about two inches and looks to be perfect for maps, a decent flashlight, or documents, and like all the Tooltubes, it is offered in a locking kit.

tooltube rearview
The Tool Tube provides a solid, secure option for a bit more storage wherever there’s some open space.

Where and how a rider mounts a Tool Tube is only limited by his or her imagination. All models come with assorted stainless, rubber-sleeved clamps and/or zip ties and bolts with nylock nuts. I love the problem-solving process of making a farkle like this work where I want it, and in my case I fabricated some aluminum brackets to anchor the Mega Tube to my pannier rack in a rock-solid position well up and away from the running gear. The Tool Tube site also offers all kinds of mounting hardware and locks to suit, but one of the best features of the website is a huge gallery of photos showing how all kinds of riders have mounted Tool Tubes on all kinds of bikes.

Tool Tubes are constructed of injection-molded polypropylene with integral mounting brackets featuring molded bolt holes. A neoprene gasket seals contents from water or dust.

Though my son calls me “cheap,” I prefer to think of myself as “thrifty,” and with prices ranging from only $16 for the standard Tool Tube to $66 for the MegaLock Tool Roll Kit, these storage solutions are my kind of bargain. Ordering was slick and quick through PayPal, and delivery was very prompt. For more information, visit TheToolTube.com.

tooltubeside
Integral brackets, mounting clamps, nuts and bolts are provided with Tool Tubes, but a little fabrication may be needed to install one on your bike. Use of one of the included zip ties is recommended for bikes that will be seeing off-road use for added security. /

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