Put some awesome on your head: The 8 Best Motorcycle Helmets for 2014

A motorcycle helmet not only keeps you safe but it can make the ride (not to mention your look) all the more awesome! Let’s take a look at what some of the top companies are offering new for this year!  – by Adam Louis.

Icon Airmada

The intimidating shell is home to industry leading intake and exhaust to help you keep a cool head on your hot ride. The moisture-wicking interior makes for a breathable, comfortable and safe space while a breath deflector keeps your line of sight clear as day (or night).

 

shoei_rf1200_motorcycle_helmetShoei RF-1200

This sleek and stylish slice of perfect protection offers superior aerodynamics, wind noise reduction while still allowing the rider to hear “informative sounds,” and a state-of-the-art ventilation system that combines cool conditions and silence. Combine that with a fits-like-a-glove interior, and it’s everything a rider asks from a high-end helmet and more. Shoei Solid RF-1200 Sports Bike Racing Motorcycle Helmet – get latest prices from Amazon

Bell Arrow

Simple, inexpensive and a hit with bikers everywhere, the Bell Arrow may be low in price, but it’s high in quality. Its lightweight shell, no-hassle anti-scratch shield and adjustable ventilation system helps keep the elements out and the comfort in. Starts at about $60. Bell Arrow Turbine Helmet on Amazon

Arai Signet-Q

Arai’s done it again, taking it’s gold standard RX-Q and creating a long-oval shape for a wider range of riders. The Signet-Q is every bit the perfect protection its younger brother is. It offers an advanced all-over ventilation system, peel-away temple pads for extra comfort and customization and spring supports to keep the helmet on and at the perfect amount of pressure. Starts at about $550.

Scorpion EXO-500

Scorpion is on the rise with the EXO-500. This top-notch helmet creates a sleek profile and features a retractable sun visor, perfectly engineered polycarbonate shell and element-fighting KwickWIck 2 liner (for warm or cool weather). Starts at about $210. Scorpion Bio-Metal EXO-500 on Amazon.

speed and strength ss700Speed and Strength SS700

The Speed and Strength SS700 boasts the perfect price tag for beginning riders while offering high-end quality. The aerodynamic, tough outer shell hosts a fully removable moisture-wicking liner, excellent air flow and a fog resistant, wide visor for optimum field of vision. Starts at about $90. Speed & Strength SS700 on Amazon

AGV K3AGV K3

AGV proves just because a helmet’s low in price doesn’t mean quality is sacrificed. This tough, lightweight has become a reliable industry standard. High on comfort and low on noise, this helmet features a high-resistant thermoplastic resin shell, standard Street 8 clear face shield, a micrometric adjustable chin strap and much more! Starts at about $170. AGV K3 Icon Helmet on Amazon.

LS2 FF386

Not only will you feel awesome pulling on this high-tech helmet, but you’ll be ready for the long haul! The flip-up chin bar allows for open-face riding when you want to feel the wind and a closed helmet when the going gets tough. Its wind-cutting design reduces rider fatigue and keeps you cool (or warm) behind a wide, sratch-resistant eyeport and precision-fit inner padding. Starts at about $170.

What helmet revs you up? Discuss in the comments below!

(Header photo credit: Richard Stowey)

How to prepare your motorcycle for a long journey

If you are planning your first motorcycle trip, your might be prepared but it is important that your bike is also ready for the journey. Regardless of whether you are going abroad or just wanting to see another part of the country you need to ensure your bike is in good shape.

You might be up to date with your bike maintenance already, but just incase it is important to make sure that you have had a recent service. For a long trip it would be wise to ensure that you have had an oil change. This will ensure that your engine is running smoothly, remember a happy bike means a happy trip. Next, check that your brakes are up to the task if you are taking a major trip it would pay to bleed those brakes ahead any expedition.

If you have been using the bike for daily commute check those tires ahead of any trip. Take a good look not just the pressures but the tread depth. If they are looking pretty worn and approaching the tread depth it would pay to change them. Remember that when tires start to get the minimum tread they wear faster, a lot faster. Most touring tires give a great mileage without sacrificing performance.

Of course check cables, lights and everything else. It is often a good idea to wash your machine, not just so it looks good for the trip but it is the best time to spot any obvious faults or damage to the machine.

If you are taking your bike overseas you need documentation. Take original copies of your documents, especially the registration papers. It would also be wise to check for any regulations that would apply. If you are going to be driving on the opposite side of the road then you are going to need headlight deflectors for your machine. This is a legal requirement as without these you will be dazzling incoming traffic.

Finally, check everything and then take your machine on a test ride with the luggage that you are going to be carrying. This is to get used to the machine with extra load (this will certainly change the handling a little), and check your luggage. Make sure those panniers aren’t damaged.

Once you are happy, you and your bike are ready for a trip of a lifetime!

Photo Credit: Tomasz Kustrzynski

The 10 Bikes you NEED to ride in 2014

Spring is almost upon us once again, and the call of the open road is getting louder and louder. As a new motorcycle season dawns, it’s time to take a look at the hottest hogs on the market. Without further ado, let’s get an eyeful of some of this year’s hottest models.

2014 Honda CBR650F
Pitched as a smooth street rider at a wallet-friendly price, the Honda CBR650F boasts nimble handling with a Twin-Spar-style steel frame and powerful disc brakes, making this a fun ride through the hills, city streets or around the track. The CBR650F is easy on gas with a comfortable seat for everyday riding. Comes it Red, Candy Blue and Matte Black Metallic. Available this summer between $8499 and $8999.

2014 Honda CBR650F

 

2014 Star Roadliner S
How about a high-tech spin on an American classic? The 2014 Yamaha Roadliner S 1854cc features air-cooled pushrod V-twin engine for flexibility and thrust at any speed. Its high-tech fuel injection system allows for efficiency and throttle response in a variety of road and weather conditions. It’s flexible, it’s flashy and a smooth, comfortable ride no matter the road. Starts at $14,990.

2014 Star Roadliner S

 

Ducati Streetfighter 848
Ducati continues their trend of superb superbikes with the Streetfighter 848. The Testaretta engine delivers 132 horsepower and killer torque even at low speeds. Its sexy chassis allows for maximum control and comfort while maintaining Ducati’s signature raw power feel. Comes in Red and Dark Stealth.

Ducati Streetfighter 848

 

2014 Kawasaki Vulcan 1700 Nomad ABS
It has a retro look, sure, but don’t let the Kawasaki Vulcan 1700 Nomad ABS fool you – it’s a thoroughly modern machine! Sporting classic aesthetics with the cutting edge in ABS, cruise control and a velvet-smooth 1700cc V-twin engine, you’ll want to ride into the sunset long after it’s gone with this cruiser.  Comes in Flat Ebony/Pearl Flat Crystal White two-tone. Starts at $17,499.

2014 Kawasaki Vulcan 1700 Nomad ABS

 

Harley-Davidson V-Rod Muscle
Put a powerhouse between you and the road with this beast fresh off of Harley-Davidson’s assembly line. The V-Rod Muscle is an aggressive cruiser with the handling of a high-performance racer. The Muscle houses the durable Revolution engine, notorious for surviving the Dusseldorf Test, 500 hours of non-stop high-performance riding! Starts at $15,849.

14-hd-v-rod-muscle-bs

 

Indian Chief Classic
You don’t get much more classic than Indian motorcycles. One of the top names in bikes remade their iconic Chief, hooking up the legendary bike with the finest modern trimmings. The Thunder Stroke 111 engine offers a hefty 119 ft-lbs of torque echoing the nostalgic powerhouses of the past. The bike also highlights keyless starting, chrome for days and a slick, alluring classic look all around. Starting at $20,999.

2014 Indian Chief Classic

 

BMW S 1000 R
This dressed-down, comfortable quickster is perfect for urban roads, rain or shine. This little beauty comes standard with stability control, ABS and two power settings. The 4-cylinder in-line engine melds beautifully with the no-frills frame, making for a sleek, nimble ride mile after mile. Starts at $13,150.

2014 BMW s1000r

 

Suzuki V-Strom 100 ABS
The versatile V-Strom offers a powerful ride on and off the road. The smooth suspension allows for long travel times, and the Adventure version of the bike – with detachable saddlebags, a tall windscreen, hand guards and crash bars – is perfect for those who like a little mud on the tires. Starting at $12,699.

2014_Suzuki_V-Strom_1000_ABS

 

Zero SR
And now for something completely different. Boasting 106 ft-lb torque and a 0-to-60 time of 3.3 seconds, the Zero SR makes a strong case for the electric automotive industry. The 67-horsepower engine sends the SR zipping along at a top speed of 102 mph. The aircraft-grade aluminum frame creates a “naked,” sleek and modern look and a lightweight, maneuverable ride with a low center of gravity. The ZF11.4 battery back allows for a 137 urban mile range or 85 miles at 55 mph, and it charges in eight hours.  Starts at $12,999.

2014 Zero SR

 

Honda Valkyrie
The cruiser powerhouse Valkyrie is ready to roll off the assembly lines this April, and bikers are pumped for its return. The 1832cc 6-cylinder engine makes this beast roar and a 19-inch front wheel and 17 inches on the back keeps this ride low and taking corners like a dream. Make no mistake – The Valkyrie is a true muscle cruiser!

Honda Valkyrie

 

What’s your dream machine in 2014? Let’s talk about it in the comments below!

Ducati Monster 1200S – Review Roundup

“Cleverly updated Italian icon that blends traditional Monster style and V-twin character with much improved performance, comfort and refinement.”
Rating: 4/5
Daily Telegraph – March 2014

 “…the air-cooled engine has been switched to a large, liquid-cooled 1198-cc twin derived from the same powerplant found in Ducati’s Diavel and Multistrada. Output eclipses the outgoing 1100 EVO model by a wheelie-popping 35 hp (or 45 hp with the S model). “
Popular Mechanics – February 2014

” It is the strongest, probably the best, and arguably the most beautiful ‘roadster’ in a long line of Ducati nakeds and most Monsteristi will once again fall for this newest iteration.”
Asphalt & Rubber – February 2014

 “The engine has linear power delivery, low vibration levels and a feeling of refinement. Engine surge and excessive drivetrain lash are evident only if you hunt for it, by, say, keeping it under 2,500 rpm in top gear. “
Cycle World – February 2014

“Driving out of corners, it nearly doesn’t matter how high a gear you’re in. A gentle throttle hand draws the power like water from a deep well. The wide bars make it easy to stand up quickly as the road unravels. Then you nail it and the power builds and builds and keeps building.”
Visor Down – February 2014

“There’s loads of mid-range and low-down grunt, and it sounds fantastic for a standard bike. The handling on the S model is excellent, just as happy on road or track, and light and easy to ride.”
Rating: 4/5
Motorcycle News – February 2014

“It doesn’t look dramatically different at first glance, but the 2014 Ducati Monster 1200 S gains a slew of modifications that make this naked bike’s personality much closer to its menacing moniker than ever before, while still maintaining an air of civility.”
About.com Motorcycles – February 2014

“Ducati has improved every aspect of its naked bike, making it faster, more comfortable and better handling. I expect the existing and new Monstertisti will fall head over heels for the 2014 Monster 1200S in short order.”
Motorcycle USA – February 2014

Yamaha creates “Masters of Torque” anime mini-series to promote MT-07 & MT-09

If there’s an award for unusual motorcycle marketing campaigns, we think Yamaha must have it in the bag this year with the launch of this anime-style web series promoting its MT-07 and MT-09 naked streetbikes.

Masters of Torque will run for four episodes (each around 10 minutes long), telling the story of three young motorcycle riders in a futuristic Tokyo. The show is produced in Japanese, unsurprisingly, but features English subtitles.

According to Yamaha’s press materials, the series is designed to break away from conventional Japanese motorcycle marketing, which tends to focus on US/European locations, by instead celebrating Japan’s own style, culture and geography.

For more information, you can visit the show’s web page here:  http://global.yamaha-motor.com/showroom/mt/ 

And here’s the first episode, titled “Idle Roughness”…

Review: Garmin zumo 390LM motorcycle GPS

Manufacturers of specialised motorcycle GPS navigation systems are having to find new ways to compete with smartphones which offer built in navigation features. The Garmin zumo 390LM is the newest offering designed specifically for motorcyclists, with the kind of specialised features that smartphones can’t compete with.

First up, the 390LM comes in a rugged, rubber casing that not only protects it from daily battering out on the road, but also keeps the unit from being damaged by water, fuel and UV sunlight. The 4.3 inch touch-screen is easy to use while wearing a pair of riding gloves.

The device is supplied with both motorcycle and car mounting options, and features all the expected connectivity options, including Bluetooth, MicroSD port, USB connector, and headset socket.

The LM designation shows that you get free Lifetime Maps with the zumo 390LM instead of having to pay for new versions whenever they’re updated. There are a few brand new features for this model. Curvy Roads mode will help you find a more route that has more interesting, twisty Tarmac – perfect for riders who want to work on scrubbing off their tire’s chicken-strips.

The unit’s Bluetooth feature means it’s now easy to connect your smartphone to it, so with a headset you can easily answer calls while you’re riding. For many riders being unreachable is part of the joy of being out on the road, but long distance riders might well appreciate the ability to take calls without having to stop.

When used with a pair of optional tire pressure sensors (currently priced at $69.99 each) which fit onto your valve stems, the zumo 390LM will also monitor the pressures and provide you with a visual alert if they drop below a preset level. The system can monitor up to four wheels, so you could set up your car as well as your motorcycle if you intend to use the device with both vehicles.

Currently selling for $699, the zumo 390LM is certainly more costly than using a smartphone to navigate, but if you do a lot of long distance riding, particularly on unknown roads, it will certainly make life a lot easier.

Product Name: Garmin zumo 390 LM
Our Rating: 4/5
Amazon Page: Garmin Zumo 390LM 4.3-Inch Motorcycle GPS Navigator

Honda NM4 Vultus Preview

These photos of the new NM4 Vultus from Honda might look like a sci-fi inspired concept bike that will never see the light of day, but if press reports are to be believed we can expect these machines to start rolling off the production lines in the near future.

The 745cc twin offers a laid back, low down riding position and looks that will convince other road users that their being tailed by a stealth-bomber when they see you coming in the rear-view mirror. Ignoring the future-shock appearance, the bike seems like it might fit nicely into the super-commuter category, for riders who need to do long distances in comfort and don’t need super-sports performance or handling. We wouldn’t be surprised if that engine is very softly tuned for fuel efficiency rather than raw power.

As you can see from the pics, one version of the NM4 Vultus comes with a set of panniers built into the bodywork, which also hints at a commuter market, as does the fact that the bike offers a choice of manual or automatic gear modes. It might look like something out of Neo-Tokyo, but this motorcycle will probably appeal to riders who need to grind their way to work through in the more mundane cities of the present day.

The NM4 Vultus will be priced at $1100 in the US, and word is that the American market will be getting a slightly smaller 670cc motor, while the larger version will be available in Europe. More information on the Honda NM4 official site.

honda-nm4-vultus

honda-nm4-vultus

 

Hit-Air MX-7 inflatable motorcycle air-bag jacket review

Air-bag jackets have been the single biggest innovation in motorcycle safety over recent years. The idea is simple enough: the jacket contains a series of strategically positioned airbags which will instantly inflate if the rider gets thrown off the bike. These bags will cushion any impact and significantly reduce the chances of injury, particularly to your neck – which is something all riders worry about, due to the risk of paralysis.

Hit-Air is one of the best known manufacturers of air-bag jackets for motorcyclists, and the MX-7 is the company’s newest model. The jacket features an airbag which will fully inflate within a quarter of a second of impact, providing a cushion of air that covers the neck, upper and lower spine, hips and chest.

In addition to the airbag, the jacket also features conventional padded armour for the shoulders and elbows, as well as high visibility reflective detailing. The jacket comes with a special coiled wire which is used to attach it to the motorcycle – it’s designed to activate the airbag if the rider is thrown from the bike, but should not accidentally set it off if you simply forget to detach the wire at the end of your journey.

The jacket is designed to be reusable, the airbag can be easily repacked and replacement compressed air canisters are available at low cost. So if you have a low speed crash and the jacket is not damaged, you won’t need to discard it.

The Hit-Air system has been extensively tested by the Japan Automobile Research Institute and exceeds all international safety standards – the company also produces similar products which are used by police forces and emergency rescue services around the world.

Diagram of inflated airbag jacket protection
This is what the MX-7 airbag looks like when it’s fully inflated.

Obviously all motorcyclists have their own taste when it comes to the design of their gear, but we think the Hit-Air MX-7 looks stylish enough. There are a few color options, plain black, and black with with either red or green. Optional extras include chest and spine armor inserts and a breathable waterproof lining for extra weather protection.

This jacket will not make you completely invulnerable – but it certainly adds a welcome new level of protection over the standard gear that most riders wear. Priced at around $550, it’s not cheap, but if you’re unlucky enough to be involved in a crash, you’ll never regret investing in good quality safety gear. (If you’re looking for cheaper options, you might consider the previous generation Hit-Air “MX-6” model inflatable air vest.)

Product: Hit-Air MX-7 Inflatable Motorcycle Jacket
Our Rating: 5/5
Amazon Page: Hit-Air “MX-7” model inflatable air vest.