The world of power sports is full of energetic entrepreneurs who are forever trying to find fixes for the problems that plague enthusiasts.
This year brought forth a few new items that I found useful and that help advance the causes of motorcycle safety and comfort.
All-day riders in Southern California can suffer from visor confusion. They need something dark to keep the glare down if they’re riding in the morning, but they need something clear to see through if they’re riding after sundown.
The solution has traditionally been to take two visors on every ride, stopping to swap them when the light changes.
A solution to this tedious task has come from Transitions, a company that makes prescription lenses for eyeglasses. The company has developed a photochromatic shield that darkens and lightens with changing conditions -- a one-shade-fits-all shield for all day riding.
The Transitions shield made its first appearance as standard equipment on the Bell DLX Qualifier helmet. The shield is also available for many Bell helmets as an aftermarket option. The shield is also available for the RF1200 and CWR-1 Shoei helmets.
I tried it, and found it was very effective at darkening in bright sun and lightening when the sun went down. Although it’s not available for every helmet - it isn’t yet for the Shoei or Arai models I use -- it’s a smart product. But it’s also spendy. The Shoei Transitions shields cost a bit over $150. The Bell Qualifier helmet, with the Transitions shield, costs about $229.
The marketplace is crowded with helmet communications systems, from entry-level, low-quality brands up to the top-end systems made by Cardo and Sena.
But over the last year I have found myself leaning toward the UCLEAR HBC 200 because ... it actually works. This midlevel system doesn’t do as many things as the more complicated Cardo and Sena, but it does them simply and well. The speakers don’t cramp my ears, the buttons are easy to manipulate with gloves on, and the sound quality is good.
The HBC systems start under $100 for the simple units and go up to $350 for the complicated dual-rider sets.
Stuffits produces a handful of "portable drying solutions” designed to take the stink out of the sport. There’s a helmet Stuffit, and a pair of shoe or boot stuffits, and a pair of glove stuffits. Each is essentially a helmet- (or shoe-, or glove-) shaped cloth sack filled with aromatic material. Stuff a Stuffit into your boots when you’re done riding, and the next time you put them on they don’t smell like last week’s socks.
The products are said to work as well for other sporting gear, from snowboard helmets to wrestling shoes. The helmet stuffits cost $19.95, the gloves $14.95 to $19.95, the boots $14.95 to $24.95.
Finally, as the weather gets colder, lots of riders go to heavier gloves, because their hands get numb. But they may be trying to warm up the wrong part.
Last winter and this fall I found myself getting good use out of a battery-electric-powered riding shirt. The Ansai Mobile Warming Longmen shirt carries a small battery that produces enough charge to heat this lightweight, long-sleeve shirt for several hours. It switches on and off easily, has multiple heat settings, and best of all works just like a regular shirt when it’s not being heated.
Click in on in the morning, off at midday and back on in the evening. And wear the same gloves all day long without having cold fingers.