A biker's wish list: Part III
Motorcycling accessories have evolved and are now made to be both functional and futuristic. From helmets to earplugs, gone are the days where these motorcycle essential worked only the way they were meant to.
Motorcycle gear expert Wahid Ooi Abdullah writes about five different types of gear made for bikers in the last part of A Biker’s Wish List.
Arai Helmets, Ltd. in Japan operates strictly on the Japanese principal of responsibility towards their customers’ safety. If you’ve seen half of the things I saw during my visit to their facilities in Saitama, Japan, you would never look at another motorcycle helmet the same way ever again.
The RX-7x is the latest evolution of Arai’s R75 shape, which has pretty much stayed the same for, well, a long time. Arai found that the rounder shape helps to dissipate shocks better and more uniformly. Plus, the shape also prevents the helmet from being “stuck” on the surface it’s sliding on during a crash, to avoid twisting the wearer’s neck.
The RX-7x’s chin bar is 3mm longer and features the new Variable Axis System, Arai’s terminology for the system that pulls the visor snugly shut against the aperture’s (opening) rubber seal, to keep out noise and water. Besides that, the visor has a new locking/opening system, adopted from Arai’s Formula One helmets. But perhaps the most welcomed feature is that the visor’s “sidepods” now pop off at the press of a switch, making visor replacement and adjustment so much easier than its predecessors.
The helmet may feel slightly heavier than its contemporaries, but that’s because Arai uses the best materials in the shell, including Xylon, which is exclusive to Arai and finds wide uses in the body armours in the military. Apart from that, an Arai’s shell’s integrity is not to be compromised thus, the lack of molded-in air vents and such.
Cardo Scala Rider Q3
Let me share a story.
I was riding north of Peninsula Malaysia with my wife one day. As we passed a beautiful river, my wife tapped me on my left shoulder. I looked down into the river and saw a few kids frolicking. It was a beautiful village scene and I gestured her an “OK” sign. Not even a couple of minutes later, she tapped me again, more forcefully this time. I looked to the right and saw a BMW R 1200 RT (her dream bike) and waved at him (he didn’t wave back), only to have my wife smack the back of my helmet.
I slowed down, lifted my visor and she screamed, “BATHROOM! NOW!”
Communications is important, even though it has to tower above the exhaust note and wind noise, more so if you need to coordinate among marshals when riding in a group or kill the monotony on a long distance ride.
The solution is to install a Bluetooth communicator. We’ve come to trust our Cardo Scala Rider Q3 from the first day we got them. Cardo focuses on rider communications exclusively and are actually the technical partners to famed helmet maker Schuberth.
The Scala Rider Q3 is Cardo’s midrange communicator, yet it is packed with many useful functions, including fully duplex communication with up to four riders simultaneously to as far as a one kilometer range; music sharing between rider and passenger; make, receive or reject calls by voice or a push of a button; connecting two phones at once; built-in FM radio receiver; automatic volume control based on speed and ambient noise; voice-activated functions; among many others. The unit is also IP67 rated for being water and dust proof.
Features aside, my wife and I have never encountered any problems using the Q3, rain or shine. Pairing is easy, the audio is crystal clear (provided your wear “intelligent” earplugs or an exceptionally quiet helmet and a full charge lasts for days.
GIVI E43 Mulebox
Unless you ride a bagger or tourer, there’s always not enough storage space! Bikes are designed to be so compact these days, you can’t even store a rainsuit under the seat. Even the batteries are so diminutive they could fit in a RC car!
Enter GIVI’s luggage systems. While side panniers may make it dicey to slice through traffic, a top box is the answer.
GIVI’s E43 Mulebox was just launched earlier this year and is large enough to accommodate two full face helmets. The “Advanced” version, called the E43 ADV has eyelets on the top cover to secure an elastic cargo net and a passenger’s backrest. Besides that, GIVI also included a liner on the bottom of the inside to cushion your belongings and prevent water from dripping through.
GIVI’s continued use of top quality polypropylene (PP) copolymers means the box can last for a long, long time.
Nilox F-60 Evo
The Nilox F-60 Evo action cam is as tough as they get. I’ve seen it firsthand during a supermoto race when an improperly tightened clamp caused the cam to end up being run over by three other bikes. The waterproof casing’s integrity wasn’t compromised in any way and the camera functioned as though nothing had happened. It’s no wonder this camera is used by the Special Forces of certain countries.
The images look natural as the cam is good in determining the correct white balance. The Nikkor lens and Sony sensor (which can be found in Nikon cameras) ensure stunning images and videos.
Its functions are also easy to access and use, although you may need a little more time getting acquainted to them.
Pinlock is a worldwide name in making anti-fog faceshield inserts but the Dutch company is beginning to venture into protective wear as well.
Hearing damage is a problem that bikers don’t usually discuss but it has a huge effect, nonetheless. Permanent hearing damage results from prolonged exposure to noise levels above 85 dB, but we’re constantly bombarded by levels of up to 105 dB while riding. Even your “For race use only” exhaust system is “limited” to 120 dB.
Foam earplugs are acceptable but they block out almost all sounds. Great for all-out blasting at the track but dangerous on public roads, as you lose situational awareness for being in the “silent zone.”
But that’s what Pinlock Earplugs address. These hearing protectors allow noise levels to hit a maximum of 85 dB and no more, which means you can still hear conversations, music from your Bluetooth communicator, traffic sounds and engine notes; while cutting out the harmful frequencies and volume.
The result is more relaxed riding, but more importantly, you won’t end up going “What?” to everything people say to you.