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Sunday, August 9, 2015

Seriously...when do you buy/replace gear?

It's a rainy and sad Sunday morning.   I've got Miles Davis on in the background, his Kind of Blue is fitting my mood.

It's been an uneventful week, which I suppose as a scooter commuter is the type of week you want to have.  No close calls, no idiotic drivers (well, none that caused a problem for me at least).  Sadly no travel either do to a wet and very busy weekend.

So what to write about?  I considered writing about the weather - which has been hot, muggy and wet most of the week - and how to safely ride in it.  I've considered how the cooler weather will soon be here, how my "winter" jacket has served me well and since I'm now working only till 6 or 7 PM most nights, how my Freeze Out jacket, gloves and my current mesh jacket should work well for me most of the year.  In fact, for only a few months out of the year the mesh jacket suites me fine.

Average Tampa temperatures 
High °FLow °FHigh °CLow °C
The Jacket from Xmas - 2011

My blood has not thinned out that much when I would consider anything to be cold.  Of course your body adjusts to the climate your in.  We've had some cold snaps that reminded me of early winters back home.

My "winter" jacket is your traditional motorcycle jacket.  It was made by Vulcan and it has served me very, very well.  It's been through a couple of "incidents."  Neither of which were technically my fault, but as a realist - I could have done things better, been a better rider.  Experience helps you grow.  Unlike a helmet, which I know should be replaced when ever it's been involved in a accident, I'm not sure about the jacket.

It's been beat up sure, scratched up in a couple of places but the seams are still holding up nicely.  It's a little snug now, much more so then what I remember it but the man is growing older.  It's four years old now.

The jacket was given to me as a gift, I still would have preferred, and still prefer something in a bright neon or orange.  But beggars can not be choosers and I love that my parents bought me a good jacket.  I added some reflective tape to it and later still added a neon yellow safety vest to it.  It still works...but honestly I'm a bit worried about the armour and how that holds up over time.

Gloves are easy to know when to replace.  Frankly I used to buy a pair of riding gloves from my local Wal-mart, but after wearing through the fingers on a few of them I bit the bullet and paid for a pair of Fox gloves.  It's been a world of difference and I'm going to buy a pair of gauntlet gloves for the winter.  I just need to go get a pair.  Color don't matter, just be windproof and waterproof.

I know I'm cheap, but the older I get the more safety matters to me.  I'm okay paying a bit more for something that may be the difference between a broken hand and a bruised hand.

Then their is my helmet.   I have mixed emotions about it.  When I bought it, I thought it was fine, but here we are some two years later and I'm not happy with it at all.

It's an HJC.  The little plastic tab broke off that opens and closes the top vents, it's been open ever since, not that it matters.  The face shield had a tendency to come out of its' grooves, meaning I've had to pull over and fix it at times.  The plastic seems cheap and I've often had to resnap the padding back into place.  I'm cheap like I said and it was a closeout.

I do have a few other helmets.  Sue has one for her noggin and we bought a second full face helmet for me at that time but it never felt quite right when I wore it, hence I bought the HJC and was happy with it for a short time.  A silver half helmet I've not worn in forever rounds out the equipment.

I've fallen in love with the modular helmets - wearing glasses it would be so much easier - and frankly if I go that route, I might as well pay for the phone/GPS and radio option.  One of the things I love about riding is the quiet, NOT having the radio or GPS or people calling.  Still though, if I'm serious about wanting to go on day trips to the Atlantic or put in 150 mile + days on a more regular basis, having that equipment built in only makes sense.  It's just a shame that Nolan is so damned pricy.  So do we put that off?  Or the jacket for now?

No matter what I do, I'm looking at getting my money's worth out of this equipment.  Good gear can be the difference between "Ouchie" and "We are here to celebrate the life of..."   I'll take the ouchie in the pocketbook before the "celebration of life" any day of the week.

So gentle readers; when do you buy gear?  What would you recommend?  I'm listening.


Trobairitz said...

When I first started riding I seemed to update my gear quite a bit always increasing in quality. Now that I have Rev'it jackets (3-season and mesh) and Rev'it pants I rarely upgrade. My jacket was really worn at over 5 years old and I updated it this summer. Haven't worn it yet though.

I now wear a Shoei helmet and have no intentions to upgrade until it hits the 5-6 year mark when they recommend you replace it as the oils in your hair can break down the lining.

SonjaM said...

Robert, never be cheap with the choice of a helmet. I myself have a modular helmet from Nolan, as well as the 3/4 helmet N44 with the modular option, imho the best helmet on the market.

You might not need to change the jacket but if you've had an accident, better change the protectors and the impact usually render them useless for next time...

Happy shopping!

Canajun said...

I pretty much replace gear when it wears out - or I see something I really, really prefer to replace it. Helmets are another story. I have a shelf full of them - 3/4, full face, modular. Those I replace every 4-5 years. Probably my least favourite is the modular. I thought I'd love it (I wear glasses as well) but I find it heavy and lacking in peripheral vision compared to my full face and 3/4, so I rarely wear it.

Octoberstudios said...

I agree with Trobairtz, replace your helmet every 5 or so years. I love the full-face modular helmets and have worn nothing else. A German study was done on impact locations to the head during a crash. The vast majority of them where to the face and jaw. A lot of people think of protecting the head and brain in their choice of helmets, but its your face and future dental and jaw work that one should worry about (in addition to your meat calculator).

I have a Corrazo Men's 5.0 jacket. Really love it, but after five years the velcro on the sleeves and neck is wearing out. In colder weather I have a heavy leather jacker that's amazing against the cold, but lacks armor and reflective tape. Something I need to address in the future.

I'm considering Kevlar jeans for long trips, but given their cost they're not practical on my daily commutes. Carrying a change of clothes would be cumbersome given the equipment and items I normally carry on under my seat and in my topcase. Not sure how stylish Kevlar jeans are, but I wouldn't want to wear a pair all day, everyday.

I stress good boots over gloves. Ankle protecting is important, put a good boot with reliable treads are more important to me. Road conditions vary. I prefer something that won't slip on gravel, painted lines, metal plates, and wet pavement.

Dar said...

Well I am a gear geek. I have tried two brands of helmet HJC and the upgraded to Shoei which I love. It fits my head shape and that may be where your problem is a great helmet doesn't have to be expensive, it has to fit perfectly. As for the rest of it, if I had mu pick of dream texrile gear it would be Klim, but at $700 in change for the jacket and $700 for pants its not happening. I went from a very entry level gear and was very unhappy because their so called waterproofness was a complete sham and I got less than 6 months out of it. My next round of jacket & pants was Tourmaster, it was pretty good for for 3 years then the waterproofing wore out, I will admit I beat it to death with all the riding I do.

I bought a FirstGear Kilimanjaro jacket and love it, it has D30 armor, waterproof, quilted liners, crazy good venting with pit zips etc. wish it had a bit more reflectivity. Overall very happy with it. This jacket was my compromise over the klim, it had the same D30 armor. For summer an Alpinestars mesh jacket that I adore. I have AVG kevlar jeans and they are fabulous. As for gloves I am still searching for the perfect pair that are waterproof and even though I am not a racer would like palm sliders purely because they help disperse impact and save your hand more.

Boots well I have had 4 pairs in 4 years. The first pair where cheapies and I toasted them in less than 6 months, the next pair were Triumph, but they had a flaw & fell apart and then when I returned them for warranty work I found out they didn't make them, we are at the year and a half mark in my journey at this point. Triumph gave me my money back and the dealer recommended TCX T-Lily Goretex touring boots these boots rocked! They are comfortable, breathable, waterproof and had a great sole, again I wore the heck out of them. I would definitely recommend the mens TCX boots, I've put many miles on mine and there is still a lot of life in them. Recently I just purchased my holy grail glass slipper princess boot Frey Daytona Lady Pilot GTX. One of my main reasons for purchasing was that I needed height or I'd have to modify the suspension. These boots are premium handmade boots, goretex and are the whole bag of chips. These boots are amazing! They are handmade in Germany and are worth every penny. When I look at the quality they are going to last me a long time, excellent protection with ankle/shin protection. They were $415 CDN. In the Us you can purchase them from Revzilla, However if you want a good touring boot with goretex for a little less money look at TCX (also at Revzilla). I did a blog review on the Daytonas. I guess what I have learned is if you pay a little more it is going to last longer, you get upgrade features such as better armor and ventillation, boots if you are truly looking for waterproof make sure it is Goretex, it is the only thing that really is. Helmet go by fit and comfort,

Unknown said...

Helmet should be your #1 priority. Get one that fits both your head and your budget. Don't get caught up in the argument that a less expensive helmet won't protect you as well. If it's DOT rated, go with it. More expensive may give you better paint/fit and finish/plushness, but only you can decide if it's worth it.

I've had several Shoei helmets, Arai, Nolan, and many others. My current helmet is also the least expensive one I've ever bought: a Bilt Evolution Modular from Cycle Gear. You can usually get it on sale for around $120. They also have a techno version with built in Bluetooth and communication, usually on sale for $250. They are very well built, in my opinion. Cycle gear also has a good return/exchange policy on their helmets, and a 5 year warranty, I believe.

Whatever helmet you get, make sure it fits for long rides in the saddle.

Good luck!