I recently visited an Air Force base doing research for an upcoming AAB article. Draped over virtually every parked motorcycle was a reflective vest. I later learned that a high visibility vest is required apparel for anyone riding on a military base.
I figured it was time for me to take a look at military spec reflective vests. This is not just a comparison for our friends on military bases. As invisible as motorcycles have become to many motorists, military spec vests are becoming more popular for the civilian rider.
Here is a rundown of some of the high visibility vests on the market. All meet military specifications.
Icon Mil-Spec Mesh Vest - $55This mesh vest is available in yellow or orange. It has a removable ID holder, several storage pockets, and reflective tape front and rear. It comes in regular and super-size.
Fieldsheer On Base Vest - $59This military spec vest is constructed of an Oxford outer shell with a 2-way YKK® front zipper closure. It features a removable ID holder, 2 front hand pockets and 1 chest pocket. One great feature is that the vest folds into a rear pocket for compact storage. It comes in two sizes S-L and XL-3XL.
Vega Safety Vest - $45The Vega vest comes in safety orange or yellow. It has 2" wide reflective striping on front and back, and elastic side drawstrings for adjustable fitment. There is one zippered front pocket and a Velcro attached ID holder. It comes in two sizes S-L and XL-3XL.
Teknic Kicker Vest - $59The outer shell of this vest is 600D Cordura. It has a rolled “collarless” neck and large arm openings. In addition to the standard ID holder, the vest has a chest key pocket and a large rear cargo pocket. This vest comes in three sizes S-M, L-XL, and 2XL.
Scorpion Vision Vest - $89This vest is constructed of 420-denier windproof and reinforced EXO-ballistic nylon. A unique feature is this vest’s internal pocket for an optional hydration pack or back pad. Like several of the other vests, the Vision comes in two adjustable sizes.
Joe Rocket Military Spec Vest - $55This is the only vest with a non-removable ID holder. It is constructed of a poly/mesh shell. It has a pocket for an optional C.E. back protector which is available from Rocket for $80. It comes in three sizes and is possibly the most adjustable jacket in the list. Ladies take note – Joe Rocket offers a women’s version of this vest at the same price.
My first street helmet in the 80s was a used Bell Star that was made in the 70s. Okay, at the time, I was too young to know that buying a used, old helmet was a bad idea. However, in that time period, the Bell Star was the helmet to have, and I couldn’t afford a new one. After all, if Evil Knievel wore a Bell helmet, I needed one, too. My helmet was a big, heavy, burgundy colored lid…and I loved it.
After the mid 80s, Bell helmets lost their luster, and much of their positive reputation. Japanese and Italian helmet manufacturers were moving to forefront and Bell was on the way out. It was a dark time for the Bell brand. In fact, most riders under the age of 35 are probably unaware of the storied history of the company.
So can Bell come back as a premium helmet maker? The company has reintroduced the Bell Star after three years of research and development. That is a good sign. For the company to have inserted a poorly designed Star back into the market would have been a big mistake.
Is the Bell Star a good helmet? The short answer is ‘yes’. The new Star is a DOT and Snell M2010 certified helmet, constructed of a Kevlar/carbon fiber/fiberglass composite shell. The shell is light and aerodynamically designed. Buffeting and helmet lift have been drastically reduced.
Air-flow is a strong point in the new Bell Star. What the company calls Velocity Flow Ventilation works very well. The top vents open extremely wide and the air flow is amazing. The entire ventilation system, including brow, chin, and exit vents, seems very well-designed.
Shield adjustment and removal is an easy affair on the new Star. It is a tool free design (as every modern helmet should be), and is also well-designed.
If there is a knock on the new Bell Star, it may be strange sizing. Riders report that sizing is not comparable to other manufacturers. What this means is that your first Bell purchase should be preceded by some careful fitting at a retailer.
The Bell Star is available in sizes XS through 2XL. The overall look of the helmet is attractive, and a full range of solid and creative graphics are available. Retail price is up there with other premium helmets. Solids run about $550 and graphics up to about $650.
I say, “Welcome back Bell Star!”
The American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) has announced that the big names in AMA racing will gather at the Red Rock Resort in Las Vegas November 19-21.
The weekend will begin on Friday with the 2010 induction ceremony for the AMA Hall of Fame. Inductees will include individuals who have excelled in motorcycle business, history, design and engineering, in addition to those who have made lasting contributions to road riding, off-road riding and all areas of motorcycle racing.
A highlight of the weekend will be the 2010 AMA Concours d'Elegance on Saturday. The event will include an amazing array of original and restored classic motorcycles.
The weekend will also include the Geico Powersports AMA Endurocross National Championship Series. It’s only appropriate that a weekend celebrating AMA racing should include some racing! The weekend will conclude with AMA Racing Championship Banquet on Sunday afternoon.
Ticket prices run from $89 to $160 depending on the events chosen. However, spectator admission to the AMA Concours d'Elegance will be free. The AMA suggests early purchase of tickets as the 2009 banquet was a sellout.
If you can’t attend AMA Legends & Champions Weekend, there will be a report on the event here at All About Bikes.
If you ride your motorcycle farther than the supermarket, you have probably experienced some degree of wrist fatigue, finger numbness, and even forearm cramping. If you are a distance rider, you are painfully aware of these conditions. It has always been easy to shake the fatigue from the left hand – it is not in perpetual demand. However, the right hand always has a job to do.
Tires, brakes, chains, bearings…there are many components that require lifting or removing a wheel to service. That being said, getting those wheels off the ground can be a real pain. Over the years, I have used jacks, cinder blocks, and even ropes tied over a tree branch. It wasn’t until I started using wheel stands that I realized how primitive (and often dangerous) my earlier methods were.
Black Widow Motorcycle Stands are solid and affordable. Like other wheel stands, the Black Widow stands use leverage to lift the bike’s wheel off the ground for easy maintenance. They are also great for winter storage and motorcycle display purposes. One person can easily fit the stand and lift the bike.
The stands feature 1-1/4” steel tubing, black powder coating, and four 3” wheels. Although these are universal stands, they come in different configurations to fit different applications. Probably the best thing about the Black Widow stands are that they are offered in front and rear wheel configurations. Here is the kicker, you can purchase both front and rear stands in a set that is cheaper than many premium rear stands alone. A single Black Widow stand is around $60 + shipping, and a pair will run about $110 + shipping.
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