Monday, July 21, 2008

Firstgear Glove Review

On Sunday night, I picked up a pair of Firstgear Mesh-Tex 2.0 gloves from a friend. I've been looking for a pair of shorty gloves to replace my Harley-Davidson leather pair. The HD gloves are nice, high quality leather with a very good liner, but they aren't well suited to a sportbike due to the thick padding on the palm that makes it annoying to have any weight on your hands for any length of time. Another reason I've been looking for a new pair of gloves is the Harley ones have no armor or padding on the outside of the hand, leaving only a thin layer of leather to protect my knuckles in a fall.

The Firstgear gloves have not only a carbon fiber knuckle guard but they also have double layered leather on the palms over areas most likely to suffer abrasion from sudden contact with concrete. The leather used over the fingers and palm is thick but very soft to the touch. It's more like suede than the drum dyed leather of my Joe Rocket gauntlets. The back of the glove is a mesh material, but, between the liner of the glove and the knuckle guard, it doesn't do much in the way of letting air across the back of your hand. Fortunately, the vents on the fingers are quite effective at forcing air through the glove.

Today was my first chance to wear them on the bike. I was impressed with how well I could feel the controls in spite of the thickness of the palms. As I said earlier, I was happy to have the finger vents to cool my hands some on the ride home. It hit 100 degrees on the roads. The thick gloves could use better ventilation, but it's all a trade off for the added protection of the carbon fiber. Speaking of the armor brings me to my only complaints so far. One, the armor sits a little too far back on one of my knuckles putting a little bit of pressure on the finger, but not enough to be obnoxious. Two, I wish the seams were stitched differently. I've been spoiled by the gauntlets that have all the seams on the outside of the fingers. The Firstgear gloves have normal ones which leave a ridge of leather along the inside of your grip, rubbing uncomfortably.

All in all, though, my initial take on them is quite favorable.

On a different note, one more reason to wear full gear. This morning, as I rode in, the car in front of me hit a cardboard box in the roadway. The box got kicked up by the rear tire and smacked right into my arm at the front end of the elbow armor and then into my knee. As it wasn't all that heavy it didn't have much of an effect on me and I really didn't even feel it hit. However, I have a feeling that without my jacket on I could have had a little bit of trouble with it.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Smooth looking bike.

Saw a Honda Pacific Coast while riding home yesterday. I've heard it described as ahead of it's time in design. After actually seeing one on the road, I have to agree and add that if you like spaceships this is the bike for you. (Picture from Wikipedia:
Now I want to test ride one...

Monday, July 14, 2008

Finger on the trigger.

Something I've noticed about my riding style has changed in recent weeks. I've gotten a little horn-happy. I've used my horn as many times in the past seven days as in the first six months of riding. I don't think it's that there are more drivers who need to be alerted to my presence, I think it's that I notice more drivers who might need a reminder.

This is part riding. As you get more experience and build more muscle memory, your brain can process more of what's going on around you. Now, does this mean I should be using my horn more? No, but it does mean that I'm more aware of possible avenues of trouble. It means I have the time to both react and draw attention to myself, rather than just react.

This is also why we practice, read articles and books on technique, and critique our own riding. The earlier we can catch problems or mistakes, the earlier we can commit good motorcycling practices to our memory and improve our riding just that little bit more.

I guess my point to this whole rambling post is this:
Never assume you can't get better and learn more, and never assume that you don't need to learn more.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Cortech Mod Jeans review

Both Philip and I have been using Joe Rocket Alter Ego overpants for hot weather riding. They're OK, but I normally wear them over my jeans and that can get a bit warm in 90 degree heat. So I decided to try and order something a bit better for hot weather. I thought about getting some all-mesh pants, but then I ran across a set of Cortech Mod Jeans on New Enough and thought I'd give them a try.

They manage to look like a pair of designer jeans, but my impression is that they're at least as crashworthy as wearing the Alter Ego pants without jeans under them. (The Alter Egos have some heavy fabric parts, but they're mostly polyester like a windbreaker.) These have some rather nice CE approved knee pads, and there's a patch of leather across the butt to ward off road rash there, too. Overall, they do cool off my legs better than overpants over jeans.

There are a few complaints I have about them. One, they're either stonewashed, or acid washed, or something-washed to give a distressed look, and it's clear this took a bit of the material's lifespan out of it. They show a bit of fraying at some seams. When you're spending nearly $100 on your jeans, I don't like to see this. Two, the extra layers mean they absorb more sweat and take a bit more drying time.

Overall, I'll give Cortech credit for coming out with a set of pants that are good at two things. One, they're a fairly safe solution for hot weather riding. Two, they're motorcycle gear that looks like normal street (or should that be sidewalk?) clothes. This seems to be a common problem with motorcycle gear - a lot of it has a "costume-like" look that I think may discourage riders from putting on safety gear. A lot of motorcycle gear either looks like the sort of thing track put on to be human sponsor billboards, or like something out of a 1950s biker movie. There isn't very much motorcycle gear that looks like normal, everyday clothing, other than that old fashioned biker jackets have become fashion articles on their own.

Of course, some of this is understandable given motorcycle gear's specialized use. After all, normal clothes shoppers are not going to be interested in a jacket that's designed to not keep the wearer warm. And if you put on a head to toe leather suit before jumping in your car to go to a night on the town, you've probably got a very... interesting sort of destination in mind.

It is nice to have choices in real motorcycle gear that doesn't look weird off the motorcycle. But even when there isn't an option that looks normal, it's better to have funny looking clothes than funny looking skin.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Just becuase it doesn't need to be registered...

Doesn't mean it shouldn't be ridden properly.

Yesterday, on my ride home from work, I saw a rider with a slightly different interpretation of traffic laws. A man on a tiny red scooter, I'm guessing under 50cc, wearing a bicycle helmet. I suppose I should be happy it was some kind of helmet, but that's not what bothered me about his grasp of proper conduct.

The story here: I was at a light waiting to turn left. When the light turned yellow, rather than rush through, I decided to wait for the next green arrow. As I decided all of this, I watched a little red scooter coming the opposite way down the street. Since he was a decent distance away from the light as it changed I assumed he would be stopping opposite me and I'd get a chance to see what the guy was riding. To my surprise, after the light turned red well before he got to the stop line, he continued on through the intersection, without even looking or slowing down. All of this as cars started turning from the other street.

I can understand the mistake of treating a scooter like a bicycle if you don't have to register it. So I get the bike helmet, but I can't advise it. I definitely can't advise completely disregarding traffic laws, which are there to keep all of us safe and that do apply to all forms of vehicular transit.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Rather amusing photo on Killboy...

This one was just so funny I had to share it here. Killboy takes a lot of photos at Deal's Gap, a popular road for motorcyclists. Imagine this: You and your significant other had some time off and decided to take your Harley out for a run down the twisty roads on the Dragon. But, as usual, a group of guys and girls brought their race bikes for an all-out blast down the curves, and Killboy caught a shot of one of these racers just flying past the Harley.

Well, it's probably not quite what you imagined happening.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Dubious Legality

So as I was driving home from grabbing a sandwich from the Publix deli this evening, I was admiring the two Gixxers in the lane next to me. They had followed me out of the parking lot and looked to be pretty competent at low speeds and hadn't been doing anything stupid as they cruised to the light with me.

As I admired, one of the riders explained to the other that he needed to practice holding his license plate so that traffic cameras couldn't get a picture of it. Then they learned back a bit and flipped the plates down onto the wheel guard. Yes, the plates were on hinges.

Now, I'm no expert, but I'm pretty sure there can be no good or legal reason for that particular mod.