Member Tested: Real Reviews From Real Riders
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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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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!

chandler_bars04

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.

chandler_bars02

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

chandler_bars01

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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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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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