Part 1: Guide to Purchasing a Good Helmet
Have you just started to take motorcycling so seriously that you want to learn something cool about it? You can find everything you need to know in this article about motorcycle gears, helmets, boots, and jackets.
Good gears: What’s the need?
From head to toe! Let’s start with the helmets
Dietmar Otte is a Safety Engineer from Hannover Medical School, who has published his study on motorcycle impacts. His study showed that over 45% of the impacts affect the face area, usually the area that is not covered (mostly from the open face helmets or the ¾ ones). I insist on you using the full face helmet, I really do! The full face helmet not only offers you a complete protection but also keeps your vision clear while getting rid of bugs or the wind blowing to your face.
Helmets normally have a five-year lifetime and after that, the glue used to keep the layers of shock absorption material will begin to degrade and fall off. That material is not just a normal Styrofoam as it look like, but a precisely adjusted densities Styrofoam.
The helmets are designed to impair itself after the accident just like the crumple part of a car. The meaning of this is to let the material absorb the kinetic energy of the impact in place of your head, and then let the shock be dispersed. The material will take a lot of damage after a crash so keep in mind that there will be some cases in which you have a crash, the helmet does not show any kind of external damages whatsoever; however the invisible risk and weakness are there waiting for you.
You always need to buy your new helmets from a reliable seller and take good care of it (never let it fall to the ground,…) to ensure the protective capability of your helmets. If you are thinking about buying a dirt helmet, you should know that dirt helmets should go together with goggles; however they are only meant for a soft impact, not for real road one. The dirt helmets will protect your face alright, but the protruded chin area will actively increase the torsional forces you may get when crashed. That would be too much stress you put on your neck, not to mention it would be annoyingly noisy and unstable with highway speeds. You need to make sure what kind of riding you will have, then you can choose the perfect helmets (or just buy 1 of each and use it whenever you need to).
If you are living in America then you will need a DOT-authorized sticker on the back of your helmet to wear it legally when riding on the road. The DOT- authorized sticker is just a minimal legal recognized though. You can choose a higher quality helmet with two additional certifications on it and it will, of course, offer better protective capability (it will also cost you a few extra bucks). Remember that they are just voluntary! The European Union’s legal standard is “ECE 22.05” and there is also a “Snell” standard for a few helmet manufacturers from the USA. The Snell standard ones should not be worn in my opinion if you have a smaller or bigger head than average. The reason is that Snell manufacturers did not take this head ratio and weights into consideration, therefore the shock absorption in the helmet will not be enough to handle all the impact energy.
But don’t worry whether you have to spend a lot of money on the best helmet! Icon Airmada is an example: we love the brand, we love the top tier ventilation they can offer, we love the ECE 22.05 European standard and we love its price at just 180 bucks.
Airmada uses a plastic hull just like many other economical helmets. With higher price the helmet will be made of further expensive materials for the hull such as Kevlar, carbon fiber weave or fiberglass but keep in mind, these materials only make the helmets lighter, not stronger. Mostly when you pay for a more expensive helmet, it means you will not have more protective capability but fancy colors, better ventilation and better brand name.
Every single person has a different head size and shape so you have to look for the right helmet that fits your head perfectly. The size and shape vary a lot from brand to brand and from model to model. Basically you just need to visit a big store and try every helmet you can grab. A good helmet will fit your head evenly in all angles and give you no pressure points. You need to hold your chin and try to rotate while restraining it with your head because the helmet is not supposed to rotate like that. The helmet should not be too loose to rotate and too tight to stop the ventilation.
The Inline Triple “Cross plane concept”
Now back to the triple cylinders, it is believed that the new engine can serve a number of purposes depending on the street bikes’ owners. Just imagine the epic moment when a normal and small street bike can move nip and tuck along with the monstrous BMW F800GS and the beasty Triumph Tiger. This new Inline concept could also be applied to the Street fighter market as well and it may turn out to be an extremely good idea. The price and the specs for this concept have not been revealed, so we have all the right to dream about a lightweight and powerful engine that can compete with the sport ones and come with a fair price. The options are wide open and Yamaha themselves are quite hyped up about this investment.
Both the YZF-M1 MotoGP and the YZF-R1 super engine have been tested with the cross plane concept and the result was rewarding for the Yamaha’s engineers. With the traditionally impressive linear power delivery and sounding exhaust system, we have a lot to look forward to with this new concept. Kunihiko Miwa, Yamaha’s Senior Executive Motorcycle Business Operations, has described the cross plane engine as the engine that can give the riders the perfect torque they want every time they need.
Sadly this is everything we got on the cross plane concept that Yamaha had to offer up until now; however the future is ahead and with all the technology advances we have at the moment, what we desire will not be just a fantasy.
Electronic Suspension Offering to New Models
Yamaha has introduced their new models: the FJR1300 sport touring series coming along with a new electronic suspension. It comes with a new limited edition Raider SCL from the Star cruiser line, and a new version of the 50cc Zuma (the so-called Zuma 50FX). This new change only applies for a few versions, which means the Tuning Fork brand’s R1 Superbike and R6 Supersport series will be left untouched.
The FJR1300ES will be one of a few models receiving the electronic suspension advantage. The electronic suspension system regulates damping in the fork and helps to preload the setting at the rear impact. Yamaha offers a total of four preload settings to regulate the system: ‘One Up’, ‘Two Up’, ‘One Up with Luggage’ and ‘Two Up with Luggage’. There are also three more sub presets offered as ‘Soft’, ‘Standard’ and ‘Hard’ for each of the preload settings. In addition to that, users can adjust the damping system even more with three stiffer rates and three softer rates from the based setting. Electronic suspension adjustment is set to function on a handlebar-mounted switch, together with its setting being displayed on right rear LCD display.
Along with the basic FJR1300, the electronic suspension model bundle includes a 1,000$ premium at the price of 16,890$. The bundles are redesigned from the 2013 released to also contain the new overhaul of the 1298cc Inline Four, the traction control, the adjustable engine maps and most importantly, the chassis updates. The FJR base model will have some changes as the Candy Red color will take the place of the Stone Gray.
Some color adjustments will be made on the much-favored FZ-09 series. The Liquid Graphite and Rapid Red options that we have already known will be accompanied by the new Blazing Orange one. The positive responses for the FZ-09 model design have encouraged Yamaha to add this new color option.
YZF-R6 & YZF-R1
The Zuma 125 has also been updated for the New Year, which is now offering a new and more efficient fuel economy, a better rear brake and an enhanced electronic suspension system. It also comes with bigger storage and more spacious ergonomics, making it even more convenient. Under its new look, the Zuma 125 is made with an enduring steel frame base, big aggressive tires with strong aluminum wheels. The front of it is rugged and equipped with rear suspension, protective deflectors and improved fork tube so that the off-road features of the Zuma 125 can be highlighted, along with its normal daily commuting.
The Zuma 125 is powered by a compact, 125cc, four-stroke and four-valve engine which includes a ceramic composite cylinder liner and an electronic fuel injection that can boost the bike’s performance and its economical aspect to the top. A strong frame, strong engine and powerful suspension advantage together give the Zuma 125 the capability to operate easily on various terrains while providing plenty of amusement. The Zuma has an estimated 103 mpg on average and it also carries a 1.7-gallon fuel tank to ensure that you can ride for a long period before having to refuel it.
Everything is Smooth with Lubrication
When cleaning your chains, you have to avoid using some harsh or combustible solvents (gasoline?) as it can damage the O rings or cause fire. I would recommend using the cleaner specialized for chain cleaning rather than other normal ones. You can use a rag and a small brush, however I think a handy cleaning tool can help you get the job done much easier. Chain lubes have a large variety from brands to types so every biker has their own favorite, but usually the waxy kind of lubes tends to be more effective and stick better than other oily lubes. Normally the kind of lubes that is heavier tends to last longer; however it also tends to create a mess around the chain and the wheel rim. It could take a while and a lot of tryouts until you can find the best lubes for your bike.
You should oil your chain while its temperature is still high and usually after a ride is the perfect time to do it. Remember that you must not oil it while the engine is still on! It is always easier to do the maintenance job if your bike has a center stand. Lift the bike up, rest it on the center stand and then set the transmission to neutral so that you can grant the access to the rear wheel which is now able to be rotated by hand. If you don’t have the center stand, you could oil a part of the chain first, then move your bike forward a bit and then oil the next section. You will want to distribute the lubricant on the chain evenly and thoroughly. The spraying can lubes usually come with a tiny straw-like component which helps you oil your chain more accurately.
Part 3: Guide to Complete your Safety Gear
Let’s put on some gloves!
There is absolutely nothing like a completed, head to toe riding suit that offers you satisfaction and protection from both accidents and exterior elements. But then the reason why I put it down here is because the suit usually costs a fortune (that’s a bit exaggerating, but you know what I mean).
My suggestion for low budget suit is a pair of pants and jacket that can zip together. This is actually quite nice because it allows you to be flexible on choosing your outfit so you can show off your t-shirt if you want to. A whole piece suits generally offers more flexibility in movement but then your outfit option will be limited. The armor advice is the same as the above mentioned gears (prioritizing to protect vital organs, ensuring the rider control capability, etc.).
As mentioned before, riding gear’s armor plate can protect riders from impact by absorbing the kinetic energy that ought to transfer to your limbs, joints and your body in general.
You can always upgrade your armor plate by ordering a new and better armor plate to replace the old one. Before doing this you need to check to see whether the item you want to upgrade has removable features or not. Just like all other riding gears, it usually has a special size and shape depending on the brand and model. Therefore you should always carefully check out all the recommended specs. Most riders replace their back armor with an armor plate having straps as it helps cover almost everything.
Sunlight and gale are also some of the elements that you want to protect your body from, however wearing a pair of sunglasses inside a helmet while running at high speed can be tricky. Goggles or sunglasses that are designed specifically for motorcycle are what you need. Remember to use the visor if possible because gale and speed can bring dust, bugs or unknown particles to your face, which can be very dangerous on the highway. Also notice that wearing tinted visor at night will only bring you more troubles than benefits.
Part 2: Guide to Must-Have Items: Jacket, Pants and Boots
Jackets: It’s not just about looking cool!
Comparing with the head already having protective layers such as a skull and hair, your fragile body has to protect a ton of important organs. That is why you need the jacket to cover it up. The need for motorcycle specialized jacket is real, for both your own safety and convenience. The normal leather jackets or some ‘fashion’ suits are not suitable for handling either the charging gale or hard collision
Motorcycle jackets are divided into two types: leather jacket and textile jacket. Yes you read it right, textile jacket! There are textile materials that are as strong as leather and capable of handling windblast and abrasion. Some even have water resistant feature that can keep you dry from bad weather. Leather has its durable characteristic and usually fits more tightly to your body. Leather also offers you a look that everyone has in their mind when you mention a biker. But then again, textile jackets usually are more of an economic choice.
But whatever your choice is, leather jacket and textile jackets are alike. They both offer you a lot of features that you cannot find anywhere else.
So before making a decision on purchasing this particular jacket, there are two things you need to carefully take into consideration:
Firstly you should consider the type of motorcycle you will ride and then buy the jacket that can fit your riding position. For example sport bikes require you to hunch over; therefore your jacket will need some additional joints to allow you to feel comfortable riding.
Secondly you need to consider the kind of weather you are most likely riding in. Your jacket could be made from mesh so that it will offer a lot of ventilation and perfect for warm weather. Zips are also good and jackets which have a lot of them can easily adjust the ventilation without bothering much whether it will be warm or chill outside.
Few jackets offer zippers near the bottom that allow you to connect it to a pair of pants to form a riding suit. This idea actually works as it prevents the exterior elements as well as keeping the suit in one piece during the crash. Their only downfall is that the pants and jacket need to be matched (size, brand, model,…) for the idea to work.
What is your plan for pants?
If you want to combine your riding pants with your jacket, please make sure to try them out for the compatibility first. I give you a good hint: try to look for identical names as they usually need to be matched to be able to work.