Chaps aren’t de rigueur, but a helmet, yes

Q: In looking at your riding clothing on the Harley-Davidson Fat Bob segment, I wondered if you had ever written anything on protective clothing recommendations.

It appeared you were wearing some sort of chaps over your jeans. Can you suggest a reference or provide a column on must-haves for protective clothing for riding? It can get pretty warm here in the summer, so tips on lighter weight/cooler riding equipment would be a plus. I was also hoping you might suggest any New Age materials.

-- Bernie Urbanik, Plano, Texas

A: . You have great timing. I hope my protective-gear story will run at some point in August, but as a preview, the Motorcycle Safety Foundation must-haves include: A DOT-approved helmet, long-sleeved jacket, pants, gloves, over-the-ankle boots and eye protection.

In terms of New Age materials, here’s what I’m coming up with based on a quick scan of my notes: Cool Leather is a type of leather that’s been tanned with a product that reflects UV rays, so it’s cooler than regular leather. You might also want to look into jeans reinforced with knitted (not woven) Kevlar, like the ones made by Draggin’ Jeans. In terms of textiles, the thing to look for is a minimum of 500-denier Cordura nylon that’s reinforced on the underside with leather on likely impact points; i.e., under the elbow and shoulder armor.

Q: You referred to the engine in Moto Guzzi’s Norge as being “transverse.” My understanding is that the orientation of the engine is based on the crankshaft, not the cylinders. If that’s the case, the Norge’s engine is longitudinal, like a Corvette, whereas a Harley’s engine would be mounted transversely, like a Camry. Is the standard different for motorcycles?

-- Chris Smith, Redmond, Wash.

A: I reached out to Moto Guzzi for this one. Hope you’re ready for a thorough response.

According to my source at Moto Guzzi Technical Services, “The Guzzi engine is a 90-degree ‘L’ twin, actually, because the cylinders are oriented at 90 degrees, instead of a typical V twin that has a smaller angle ( 60-degree, 77-degree, etc.). It is called ‘transverse’ because the engine is mounted with the crankshaft oriented front to back instead of left to right. Because of this you cannot run a chain or belt drive directly to the rear wheel like in most motorcycles. This is why you have a separate gearbox that bolts to the engine and transfers the power to the rear wheel via the drive shaft. This is how it is done on the Moto Guzzi and a BMW.

“So, according to the car world, a transverse engine (crankshaft running left to right) would be like a Camry, and a traditionally mounted engine (crank front to back) would be like a Chevy truck. It wasn’t until the Japanese car era did we really start to see front-wheel-drive (transverse engines) become mainstream.

“In the motorcycle world, it is the opposite of the car world. Traditionally, motorcycles have engines mounted with a crankshaft left to right so that a chain or belt can be attached directly to the engine and then to the back wheel sprocket. The atypical bikes (BMW, Guzzi) have the engines mounted with crank running north to south, which would be called ‘traditional’ if you were referring to cars. This may be why the engine is called “transverse” in the Guzzi owner’s manual, as it is not conventional to the motorcycle world.”