Did you head in to this year’s sale? I was there, and here’s my brief review of this years kit:
1. Carbon Knuckle Gloves $29.99
The gloves have improved from before, although they don’t quite feel as thick. The carbon knuckles extend to all the finger joints now, not just the fists. Also there are plastic protectors along the side of the hands and little finger. Besides being protective, these gloves give very good tactile feedback. Perhaps even better than before. Using the bike controls, undoing a helmet strap, and even stabbing a button on the iPhone is fine in these gloves.
I will note, however, that the sizing seems to have changed. Where last year I needed an XL (stretched for 2 weeks), this year’s L seems too big in the little finger.
Rating: 4 Value: 5 – (I’ll up the rating to 5 if the M’s fit)
2. Motorbike Thinsulate Gloves $35.99
Do not buy these! At least not if you want to be able to control your bike. The weather in Sydney hardly requires winter gloves, especially with hand guards and handle grip heaters (and yes, I know that not everyone can afford these). But y’know, Sydney isn’t the only place I ride, and you don’t have to go very far in winter to be in minus temperatures. So I thought I’d pick a pair of these thinsulate lined winter gloves.
Then I thought to don them for the return journey from Pie in the Sky at Cowan on Saturday evening.
Which was a massive mistake!!
By the time I got home, my left hand went into cramps with my fingers sticking out at odd angles. And the pain…
Rating: 2 Value: 4 – Probably pretty cheap for winter gloves if you don’t need to grip or clutch with them
3. CE Rated Padded Jeans – $79.00
Ok, so these seemed pretty awesome (although I’d remove the stirrup), but there were 4 pairs, and none in my size. I.e. Chunky XXL. Which is a shame, because they’re a nice compromise for going away for a week-end when you don’t want to wear leathers or touring pants.
Rating: 4 Value: 5 – Lose the stirrups, and get more sizes in.
4. Kevlar (well, Aramid) Jeans – $59.00
Not at padded as the CR Rated Jeans, and a little long in the leg. Which is ok, as I have a seamstress wife. These come with CE rated knee armour, and are super comfortable. Also, plenty of pairs and sizes to go round.
Rating: 5 Value: 5 – Affordable Jeans for the daily commute. Buy a new pair every year.
5. Bike Cover – $30.00
Yep, haven’t taken this one out the bag yet. Last years is still going strong.
Rating: 5 Value: 4
6. Full face helmet – $69.00
Actually the sizing seemed good this year. An M is suitably snug, and feels like it would become comfortable over a couple of weeks of riding. The graphics are ok. The internal sun visor gives good coverage, although the release mechanism feels a touch plasticky. The helmet liner, and strap, all a faux suede, seem really comfortable…
…but, really, how much is your head worth? Yes, they meet the (effectively worthless) AS/NZ 1698 standard, but so what? What I want on my noggin is race and crash tested carbon fibre. Light, strong, and proven.
But I did toy with getting one of these for a pillion.
Rating: 3 Value: 3 – Sure they’re cheap, but the value is in saving your head in an off. Which is something that’s hard to validate
7. Rain Jacket and Pants – $30 each
I bought one of these a couple of years ago. Sure it’s waterproof. But not very visible. And the elasticated waist is a pain to wear over a leather jacket. Better off getting a proper textile jacket with waterproof liner, or a high viz jacket designed to don easily over leathers.
Rating: 3 Value: 4
8. Motorcycle Socks – $10
Green this year. Awesome. Got another two pairs. Just as comfortable as before.
Rating: 5 Value: 5
9. Leather pants – $119
I tried these on as an option for those “serious” twisty riding days, or occasional days down at the track. Like the padded jeans, there were none in my size. But if there were, I’d have bought a pair. They weren’t too ostentatious. The quality of the leather was good, with decent double stitching. These have hip and knee pads on the inside. But they seemed to be the soft variety.
No knee sliders, perforations (so they’ll be sweltering in summer) or stretch panels.
For the money, you’d probably be as well off heading the MCAS and trying on the different RJays models.
Rating: 3 Value: 4
10. Other bits and pieces
Boots – none in my size, although I have bike boots for every occasion already. At $60 these’re good value for daily, waterproof boots. But in all honesty you probably want something a little more fitted, with more functionality. My recommendation, check out as many of the Revzilla.com review videos as you can, then head over to MCAS and other bike shops to try on as many pairs of boots as you can, then see if the local dealer will match a price. If not, order them online.
Midlayer Tops – by all accounts people swear by these tops, which are equally compression and insulating. I can’t say I even bothered really, I mean a t-shirt, or sweatshirt is probably all you need.
Cocoon Bluetooth Headset – Another thing I didn’t bother testing, given how good my Sena headset still is after 3 years and tens of thousands of kilometres in half a dozen countries, and all weather conditions. Perhaps the Cocoon is better than the Bauhn, perhaps it’s simply rebranded. At $50 it’s certainly cheap.
Leather Jacket – there’s only a couple of challenges with this jacket. Firstly the vecro for the back protector is in the middle of the back, not at the bottom. With a snug jacket, this presses against (my) back uncomfortably. Secondly, the thermal liner is sleeveless. So your arms are going to freeze. Apart from that, for $149 it’s a decent, protective, good looking garment. Then again for that money you can buy any number of different styles of RJays Leather Jackets. All of which you can try on for size at leisure, and compare.
Textile Jacket – Fair jacket, but the waterproof liner is built into the jacket. Which means in the Sydney summer you’re going to melt. No, the vents don’t let enough air in, especially at the traffic lights. For the $100, there are plenty of options around.
Textile Pants – These on the other hand are pretty good for touring. I wore a pair on my USA West Coast Tour back in 2012. They’re tough, protective, comfortable, just what you need for 10 days and 4,300kms across a continent.
As ever, the annual bike gear sale has some great affordable gear for motorcyclists. I like that Aldi are continually upgrading the quality and options of the gear. I do recommend getting to Aldi (even now a week late) to pick up some good staples.
Do be careful not to buy the more expensive gear, like jackets, or boots, just “because it’s there.” Although, with a 60 day return policy, you could pick something up, then try on alternatives elsewhere to compare.