Keep Your Riding Gear in Shape - Especially Your Helmet

The helmet is the most important piece of riding gear. It’s designed to last between five and seven years, before the outer shell gets too brittle and the expanded polystyrene (EPS) liner loses its ability to absorb impacts. Here’s how to keep your motorcycle helmet in top condition and make it last as long as possible.

If it’s been dropped or knocked, it may be cracked. If the exterior is scuffed, check the EPS behind it hasn’t collapsed. There’s not point working on a helmet that’s too badly damaged to wear.

Soak any dried-on filth or flies with wet kitchen paper-towels, then wash with a soft, clean sponge. Don’t use any solvent-based cleaner or degreasers. Dish-washing liquid is fine as long as you rinse it off well to remove any detergent.

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Rating: 2.80/5 (5 votes cast)

The Kriega Urban Messenger Bag - Fashion and Functionality

The Kriega Urban Messenger bag combines fashion with functionality. It’s easy to put on and take off, even when fully kitted up. It looks great on the motorcycle, is hard wearing and also has a completely waterproof main compartment, meaning I don’t have to worry about my stuff getting drenched if I get caught in a storm.

The shoulder strap is easy to adjust and is very comfortable, and can be worn on either shoulder depending on the preference of the rider. There is also a detachable waist strap that will stop the bag from flapping around behind you at speed, however I hardly ever use it as the weight of my notebook keeps the bag in place very well.

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Rating: 5.00/5 (1 vote cast)

The Pirelli Diablo Rosso III - Leading Edge of Tire Technology

Pushing a motorcycle to its limits, or even its perceived limits, depends on the confidence you have in the machine, and to perhaps an even greater extent, the tires. Most sporting road riders will choose the ‘stickest’ tires they can get, whether their riding ability is good enough to actually use that ‘stickiness’ or not. ‘Confidence is everything’ they say, and that’s pretty much spot on.

If confidence plays such a big part in a rider’s tire choice, it usually comes in part due to the ‘name’ the tire brand has. Pirelli has been in the tire game for over 100 years, and really, brand names in tire technology do not get much bigger than Pirelli. I can go back to when I started riding big bikes, when the Pirelli Phantom, especially the Silver Dot Phantom was the tire to have. The Italian company has produced pretty good sporting road tires since then, and the Diablo Rosso III I have tested is probably one of the best sports road tires I have ever used.

Rosso means red in Italian, and as the national motor racing color for Italy is the color red, then it matches the ability of the Pirelli Diablo Rosso III. It’s not a race tire though, it was never designed to be. Like the original Rosso from about 17 years ago the Diablo Rosso II, the Diablo Rosso III is primarily a supersport road tire, capable of doing a track day. In the hands of a professional racer it’s probably capable of much more than that.

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Rating: 3.67/5 (3 votes cast)

ECU Firmware and Remapping

The ECU is the motorcycle’s brain and it controls all of its electronics functions, so remapping it allows us to access this brain and turn off and on various functions. Modern motorcycles are rammed full of emissions equipment and using special software we can download the ECU’s memory, alter it, and then reload it back into the motorcycle.

On something like a modern Suzuki or Kawasaki we can turn off emission equipment, remove any speed or performance restrictions and even unlock software such as traction control or launch control that it as loaded in the ECU, but the manufacturer has disabled its use on that specific model.

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Rating: 2.20/5 (5 votes cast)

Aluminum Skid-Plate for Adventure Bike

Most stock plastic skid plates slide over logs and deflect tiny rocks as needed – until I needed mine to deflect a small jagged boulder on top of a hill in Hua Hin. As my front tire rolled over a nasty stone and stood it end on end, the rock crashed through the plastic skid plate, tearing it in half, smashing into my oil pan, almost puncturing it, and breaking my O2 sensor. Not a good way to start a weekend adventure riding.

A chink in the belly armor on an adventure bike can be detrimental. Hepco-Becker’s skid plate for the Triumph Tiger 800 is attached with four rubber mounts and two solid bolts. The four very beefy impact-isolating dampers included are a massive improvement over the weak stock rubber mounts. The stock mounts are designed to shear upon impact in a sacrificial seppuku to protect the oil pan but do so far too easily.

To my knowledge, only one other manufacturer supplies new rubber mounts, but at a 68% premium over the Hepco-Becker skid plate’s cost, and theirs is not even welded.

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Rating: 2.40/5 (5 votes cast)

Variable Valve Timing on Sportbikes

With Suzuki all set to launch their new GSX-R1000, a lot is being made of the fact that it uses variable valve technology taken from the firm’s MotoGP bike. While this is the first variable valve technology hs been seen on a 1000cc sportsbike, the technology itself is far from new. In fact, technically the ability to alter the valve’s opening times dates back to steam engines! But today we will simply concentrate on motorcycles…

The first motorcycle to have variable valve technology was the Honda CB400, which used a version of the firm’s car-derived Vtec system. While this motorcycle failed to make it on the global market, the same technology first came to most riders’ attention with the launch of the Honda VFR800 Vtec.

Plagued by an overly abrupt transition from two to four-valves, the Honda Vtec system wasn’t well received and despite the fact that Honda soldiered on with it, other manufacturers decided to hold off. Then, in 2010, Kawasaki unveiled its own take on variable valve timing when the 1400GTR gained a far more sophisticated form of the technology.

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Rating: 3.00/5 (3 votes cast)

The Tire Profile - What you need to Know

The profile of a motorcycle tire is another typical prominent feature for a motorcycle tire. With the round profile, once you counter steer the motorcycle into a corner, it will stay leaned over in the corner till either you lean more or pull it out of the lean.

Once the motorcycle is leaned over in the corner, it is the rear tire that actually steers the motorcycle. The smaller the radius of the profile, the faster the tire will respond in corners. The wider the profile the more stable it is in straight up riding and slower it is to respond in corners. It will be good to remember that usually motorcycle tires need a 200 to 250 kilometer break in period as they expand by some 6 to 8 percent both due to the heating cycles and usage under inflation.

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Rating: 3.33/5 (6 votes cast)

The Tire Tread Explained

The simplest explanation for tire tread will be that they’re the ‘grooves’ in the tire that not just make it look good bit also perform the vital function of draining away water from under the contact patch. The larger tread of ‘knobby’ tires allows the knobs to dig into the soft ground and provide grip where the smoother tread pattern would not grip.

Talking of tread patterns, few know that tires have sea and land within. These are the technical names of tread features. The grooves are the ‘sea’ while the raised rubber surrounding them is the ‘land’. These land and sea patterns are usually unique to each tire model and most tire manufacturers favor a certain family of patterns compared to others.

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Rating: 3.25/5 (4 votes cast)

Soft Luggage for Motorcycles

Even if you don’t believe in magic, you have to admit soft luggage is sort of magical. It can help turn the least likely motorcycle into a touring bike, and do it for a fraction of what it cost to buy a purpose-built motorcycle. When you get home, you take it off and presto! You get your old motorcycle back in minutes. That’s way better than pulling a rabbit out of a hat. To keep the trick from going wrong, though, here are some tips to consider when choosing soft luggage.

Some general considerations first. Just as you do when you shop for riding gear, try any piece of soft luggage on your motorcycle before you buy. It doesn’t take long to find out that the term ‘universal’ sometimes means ‘doesn’t really fit anything well.’ Some luggage just isn’t compatible with some motorcycles, like those with high pipes that can melt saddlebags, or plastic tanks that rule out magnetic tank bags.

Especially with tank bags, mount the bag and then sit on the motorcycle to make sure the bag doesn’t crowd you, obscure the instruments or interfere with the handlebar when the front wheel is at full lock. Do the same with saddlebags that might interfere with your feet on the pegs.

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Twin-Shock Rear Suspension - Good or Bad?

Some people apparently see two-shock rear suspension as old fashion and less effective. There was a time when the rear suspension of every motorcycle had a pair of shock absorbers attached to either side of the rear swingarm.

Yes, even those that were raced on tracks or those that jumped the humps during motocross. There still are quite a few motorcycles with just such a set-up but now they belong mainly to the eco-commuter or cruiser class. Nothing wrong with it as the twin-shock set-up is pretty effective considering the costs involved and the performance of the machine vis-a-vis the amount of desired suspension travel and control.

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Rating: 3.50/5 (6 votes cast)


Do you like MotoGP racing? Which team do you like?

  •  Yamaha
  •  Honda
  •  Ducati
  •  Apriiia
  •  Suzuki
  •  KTM
  •  No Specific Team
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