Wednesday, February 26, 2014

New Riding Gear for Spring

I recently acquired a new leather riding jacket from I have to say that I’m very pleased with this jacket; especially since I’ve been using textiles for a few years now. One of the reasons I went to textiles is that the fit for leather was always problematic for me. So you can imagine my trepidation when selecting a jacket online. Would it fit? Would I have to go through the trouble of returning it or exchanging only to find the second selection lacking in some way? So what is it about finding a decent leather jacket that had me going to textiles in the first place?

One of the problems I have with leather jackets for women in general is that they seem to be constructed for fender fluff. Sure they look cute, but they aren’t functional enough for me. In addition, they always seem to be cut for a model figure. If you don’t happen to be a model, there are several problems with the cute leather jackets out there for women. First, they always seem to ride up in the back, exposing the flesh to the cold wind. Second, the sleeves are always too short. This might not be a problem if you are a passenger, but if you are reaching for the grips, having your sleeves ride up has you shivering in a few short minutes.

The jacket I selected from is made by First Classics, a division of First Manufacturing Co, Inc. Their size chart was spot on. That alone was a pleasure to discover. Once I had the jacket on there were a couple of other pleasant surprises. The sleeves are nice and long. I held my arms out, as if reaching for the grips, and the sleeves where exactly where they should be, at the wrists.

As with most jackets, this one too has a liner for colder weather. My second nice surprises are the ribbed cuffs at the end of the sleeve lining. I don’t remember ever encountering this feature in any of the jackets I’ve tried on in the past. If you’ve ever ridden is cold weather, one thing you don’t want is the wind blowing a breeze up the sleeve. With the ribbed cuff snug around the wrists this should prevent the shivers nicely. When the liner is no longer needed as the weather warms, there is a breathable wicking fabric liner to keep your flesh off the leather, and circulate the air.

A lot of women’s jackets on the market have fluff style adornments on them. Being the practical sort, I have no use for these embellishments. This jacket is, to me, very stylish in its basic shape and cut. Zippered air vents are provided front and back to allow for air circulation as the temperatures rise. Two deep zippered pockets on each side to allow for plenty of storage, and prevent lost items along the roadway. In addition, there are two breast pockets on the inside. One zippered and one snapped. The snapped pocket is especially deep. I’m already thinking of this one for my cell phone; easy access, yet deep enough not to fall out.

Sometimes you want to snug the jacket up around the waist. I was in luck here too. On each side of the jacket at the waist are four adjustable tabs with buckles. These allow for cinching or releasing and the holes have grommets for extra strength. Overall, I’m pleased with my experience working with Motorcycle House. If you’re looking for a jacket, check them out. They have a large assortment to select from. As for me, I’m looking forward to my first spring ride!

Friday, February 14, 2014

Riding and Ergonomics

The cartoon above may be funny, but not so much when you’re experiencing back pain or neck and shoulder aches. Anyone who’s ridden all day can relate to the suggestion above. Multiply the aches day after day on a long trip and you could be in serious trouble. If the neck and shoulders are troubling you for example, you may not twist your head enough to look over your shoulder at intersections; with potentially deadly results. With that in mind, here are some tips for a comfortable ride, no matter how long you’re on the road.

First let’s look at the saddle. Is your butt or back sore after only a short while on the road ? Many stock saddles might feel fine right off the show room floor, but they soon lose the ability to support your shape. Try an aftermarket saddle such as Mustang or Corbin. In my experience with a Mustang saddle, my first impression was that it felt hard to the touch. That was my hand of course, but my behind experienced something far different. The extra firmness supported my shape, and the design offered lumbar support as well. This last turned out to be of more importance to me than I first realized as I have spine issues in the L region. I can now ride a full day without butt or back issues at all.

Many riders experience shoulder and neck pain. It’s possible they need to adjust the handlebars up or down. An adjustment up or down can spell a big difference in how you are positioned in the saddle. If no adjustment seems to work, consider risers. These extensions can assist your back especially for taller riders who feel as though they are slumping over their tank.

For some, the handlebars are fine, it’s their hands and wrists that tingle and go numb on long rides. Check out the comfort grips on the market. A friend of mine, with arthritic joints has discovered a pair that gives her tons of relief. There are plenty on the market. I suggest waiting for a motorcycle show in your area to examine a few. There is nothing like touching and feeling to help you make up your mind which is right for you.

Another piece of equipment that is helpful for neck pain is a windshield. Being buffeted by highway wind on long rides will put huge amounts of stress on your neck. Check out the various brands on line. They have helpful tutorials to select the windshield that is right for you and your motorcycle. In my experience, the first advice I followed was to select one I could see over. Yet, when I purchased my Star Tourer, the windshield was higher than my eye level. My concerns were soon assuaged, when I discovered that keeping the wind of my head saved my neck and shoulders from fatigue on long rides. You have to experiment for yourself.

We’ve covered the upper body; now let’s move to the legs. I was never a fan of highway pegs, but had a pair installed on the engine guards just before our 2,000 mile trip to Sturgis in 2011. They turned out to be a lifesaver. My knees began to ache on the long stretches of I-90 and it was a great relief to be able to stretch them out on, or even over the peg. Also, keeping the legs in one position for too long can result in serious problems. This is why people who travel by car are encouraged to stop, walk and stretch. For motorcyclist, the do have to stop more often to tank up. During these periods, take breaks that include moving around, not just a walk to the restroom.

One unexpected result of an upgrade I did to Blaze turned out to be a godsend while touring Nova Scotia last year. I replaced the front fork springs with a good pair of Progressive springs that saved me more than a few times. While Nova Scotia is beautiful, some of the roads along the Eastern Shore are brutally in need of repair. The new springs helped in minimizing the jostling, otherwise, I’d have been wiped out managing the motorcycle on these long stretches of roadway.

If you have any other suggestions that would help in the comfort of our rides, please share with us. I’ve only covered a few basics, and you may have ideas that are insightful or from firsthand experience. With spring on the way don’t let your first ride be to the chiropractor.