Motorcycles have been a part of Rock and Roll from the origins of the musical genre’. Maybe it’s the rebel mystique of both, maybe it’s the volume they share, or maybe it’s just that motorcycles are fun and rock stars are all about having fun. Whatever it is, one thing is for sure…when you put motorcycles together with the rock star mentality, there is potential for mishap. Here is a brief timeline of rock stars that have found their way to the pavement. Being the positive people that we are here at AAB, all of the rockers on our list survived their crash.
Bob Dylan (Crashed 1966)This is one of the more intriguing rock star motorcycle crashes. After his 1966 crash near his home at Woodstock, NY, Dylan underwent a bit of a musical transformation. Some say the near-death experience inspired the change, others suspect a staged publicity ploy, and others say Dylan just needed a rest. He is shown below on his Triumph.
Steven Tyler (Crashed 1981)The Aerosmith front-man hit a tree and suffered a serious foot injury. Full recovery from the incident took over a year, but maybe he found “love in an elevator” during this time since he couldn’t take any stairs. Tyler loves motorcycles so much that he started his own company. He can be seen below on one of his own Red Wing motorcycles.
Billy Idol (Crashed 1990)The Punk Rock star sustained a severe leg injury when he failed to stop at an intersection. He was hit by a car and nearly lost his leg. That famous lip was surly curled in pain (not just rebellion) after the accident.
Mark Knopfler (Crashed 2003)The Dire Straits lead singer was in dire straits himself after a run-in with a Fiat. He suffered a broken shoulder and ribs in the accident. While not exactly displaying motorcycles, Knopfler’s 5th solo album cover shows his love for things on two-wheels.
Gilby Clarke (Crashed 2010)The former Guns N’ Roses guitarist had his leg broken in several places when he was cut off by another motorist. To add insult to injury, the crash was a hit and run. Clarke is shown below recovering from his injuries.
So there you have it – a short timeline of Rock and Roll crashes. Again, while most were seriously injured, we did not lose any rockers in these incidents. In fact, reports are that all continued riding after the wounds healed, and they all lived to rock another day!
I have always thought “Held” is the perfect name for motorcycling gloves. No, it’s not a marketing ploy – Held is the surname of the founder of the premium glove company.
The Held Slide Comp Gloves are actually designed for supermoto racing. World Champion Bernd Hiemer had a hand (pun intended) in their development.
Fewer and fewer motorcycle apparel companies are including CE approved back armor as standard equipment in their armored jackets. Even premium suppliers like Alpinestars and Dainese most often include only a foam pad in the pocket out back. This is a pet peeve of mine. If you lay down good cash for a top-tier jacket, I think you should get premium armor in all critical areas.
So what to do if your jacket doesn’t have CE spine armor? You have some choices. You can settle for the compromised protection of the included foam pad, you can purchase the company’s optional CE armor that is specific to your jacket (and often ONLY your jacket), or you can get a stand alone back protector that can be worn with any jacket.
If you choose the third option, you can get the best protection available for your spine. Back protection that straps directly to the rider’s body, and is independent from the jacket, offers several benefits. It most often features a longer protective profile which spans virtually the full spine. Another benefit is that it does not shift out of position like protection fitted into a jacket’s pocket can.
The REV'IT! Gravity Back Protector is constructed of microcellular PU foam, 3D mesh and EVA foam. It protects the distance from waste to neck (which no insert can do). It has a Velcro fastening waistband, double waist adjustment, and adjustable shoulder straps. Because proper fit is crucial, the Gravity comes in three sizes. The small fits people up to 5'8", the medium fits riders 5'9" to 6', and the large is for anyone over 6'.
The protector has effective ventilation with an airflow panel and several air channels. This is vital since back armor typically is the biggest hot-spot in any jacket.
The Gravity armor meets CE level 2 specifications, which is the highest certification level in the European standard. This is a big benefit to having back armor with an independent fitment design.
With this supreme level of protection, you also get versatility. The REV'IT! Gravity Back Protector can be used in dirt, dual-sport, street, and track applications. At a retail price of $200, the Gravity is not cheap. However, when you consider it will work with every jacket you have (and even under your MX jersey), that price doesn’t look too bad.
It should now be clear that even if you are not a racer, independent spine protection is a really good idea.
If you have been around dual-sport motorcycles for a while, you have undoubtedly heard of or used Avon Gripster tires. I don’t know of a tire that has been around longer. This would never happen in the sport-bike world where tire technology and design change at light speed. However, in the dual-sport world, things progress at a more leisurely pace. Think, for example, how long the Kawasaki KLR 650 remained completely unchanged.
Speaking of the KLR, I would venture a guess that more Gripsters have been mounted on this bike than any other over the years. There is a reason for this. The KLR is a street-oriented dual-sport – the Gripster is a street-oriented DS tire.
The Avon Gripster is best described as an 80-20 tire. That is 80% on road and 20% off. If you are looking for an aggressive street legal knobby, look elsewhere. If you ride in a lot of mud and sand, the Gripster will be an exercise in frustration. However, if you use your dual-sport for a lot of street riding, with a few fire roads mixed in – the Gripster may make you a very happy camper.
Avon Gripsters are built around a 3-ply nylon carcass. The tread pattern is a very recognizable arrow pattern that tends to self-clean fairly well.
If you ride a big dual-sport that spends the majority of its miles on the tarmac, the Avon Gripsters are worth a try. Retail prices run from $127.44 - $160.05, but you can find them much cheaper online.
I find jackets that combine mesh and/or textile in the body with leather in the critical contact areas to be a good apparel option. Basically, you get the versatility and cost benefits of textile in the torso area, where venting and storage features are important. In the arms and shoulders, you have leather and armor.
The Icon Arc Jacket is a good example of this hybrid apparel category. The Arc is a relaxed cut jacket that fits extremely comfortably. It includes CE certified armor in the arms, elbows, and shoulders. The back pad is not CE approved.
Venting comes in the form of perforations in the vertical stripes on the chest, as well as the area behind the Icon logo on the chest. Speaking of the Icon logos, they are a unique recessed rubber design. I like the look and feel of this jacket.
My only qualm with the Arc jacket is the placement of the armor, or more accurately, how it is affixed. The shoulder armor is a bit cumbersome and awkward when putting the jacket on.
No jacket is perfect, but there is really very little to complain about with the Arc. It is a functional, solid jacket. It comes in six color combinations and sizes XS through 4XL. The Arc will set you back about $300.
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