Check out your local Lidl store next week, they’re doing a bunch of biker gear cheap. Lids, boots, gloves and thermal base layers. The Lids, gloves and boots look a bit cheap and probably only worth bothering with for occasional pillion use. However the thermal base layers look decent. Although the worst of the winter is over, it’s still pretty chilly out there, so will still be useful before next winter. Offer starts Feb 28th, but be quick, once the stock has gone, that’ll be it.
Picked these Basic II Rain Pants up from Hein Gericke for £20. Like their name, just basic thin waterproofs to put on over my leathers. They work really well, keep me nice and dry, zipping down over boots to stop rain running down into them and pulled up under jacket to stop the rain entering there. Very effective, no leakage around the crotch where water can collect. They have no pocket holes mind. Being thin and lightweight, means I can pack them up at the bottom of my bag or under the seat, so they’re always handy in case the weather turns bad.
The only downside with these trousers is they can be a bit slippery on the seat. I keep finding myself sliding forward from my default riding position. No doubt I can get some sort of grippy seat covering, shall have to investigate.
I’ve found wind noise is a big issue on the motorbike. Not so much around town at low speeds, but as soon as I get above 40 mph it becomes more and more of a problem. A jaunt on the motorway is literally quite deafening, above 60 mph I can no longer hear the engine, wind noise just overcomes everything else. This is not good, as I have other interests are in music, hi-fi and home cinema. Going deaf or suffering from severe tinnitus will stop me enjoying these.
A study by the University of Southampton found that at 70 mph in ear noise can hit 100 dB. To put this in perspective, British law dictates that anyone exposed to more than 85 dB in the work place, must be provided with and must wear ear protection, to prevent permanent damage. At 100 dB, permanent damage can occur after just 15 minutes!
So, the moral of the story here, is wear some ear protection. There’s a multitude of different products on the market, from cheap foam inserts to custom moulded plugs. I’m currently using the Laser Lite foam ear plugs. Cheap, simple and actually pretty good. A big bag of them on ebay set me back just a couple of quid. At this price, you can get enough that you always have some handy and not too fussed if they get lost of dirty. They work surprising well and quite markedly reduce noise, which at first gives a strange sensation of isolation when riding. Go careful, as this isolation and reduced noise makes you inclined to ride faster than you think you’re going. Around town I tend not to wear the plugs, as I generally don’t go fast enough to warrant them and I like to use all my senses for awareness of those on the road around me. But out on the motorway, they are essential.
At last, my new Gerbings Junior Controller has arrived. After freezing my fingers off last week, this couldn’t come sooner. After plugging it all in, everything was working again, definitely confirming it was the old controller/wiring that was at fault.
I’ll be sending the old one back for replacement (as it has 3 year warranty), but this will keep me warm in the mean time. A spare will be useful, if I have problems again in the future.
In the cold and wet weather, a steamed up visor is a serious problem. Reduced visibility is just plain dangerous. I find myself having to ride around with my visor open slightly and often totally open when I stop at junctions, to get enough air flow. it’s a constant battle, alternating between cold/wet face and steamed up visor. The problem is twice as bad as a glasses wearer. Once your glasses are wet, even when not steamed up, visibility is poor.
I know I recently picked up some decent Alpinestars Goretex gloves, but I saw these gloves on special offer through BuyaPowa. They operate in a Groupon kind of way, where the more buyers who sign up for the deal, the cheaper the deal gets. Either way, I managed to get these Gerbing’s Heated Gloves for the super price of £100, that’s a good £60 off. They took a while to turn up, after the deal closed, but are definitely worth the wait.
These were the first pair of gloves I bought, having picked them up in the lengthy summer sale at Hein Gericke, whilst I was still learning. As you know, Hein Gericke UK went into administration in July, but have since been rescued by the German arm of the company and so many of their shops still remain. In choosing these gloves, I was looking for a good all round glove, and had thought an all year round glove would be viable. Oh how wrong I was.
When it comes to protective clothing on the bike, leather is still one of the best choices. Maybe not as waterproof as Goretex, or hard wearing as Kevlar, but on balance, it tends to be best overall value for the money. The other advantage, is there is loads of leather gear available second hand, often it very good nick. A fine example of which was these Alpinestars Bat Leather trousers.
I picked these up from a chap off the London Bikers forum, for the princely sum of £50. I already had some Hein Gericke leather trousers, I had picked up new in their recent closing down sale. However they were a loose cut style and a tiny bit big in the waist. Pulling the tabs in on the waist causes the leather to ruck up and becomes uncomfortable after a while. Moral of the story: buy what fits, not what’s a good price.
Anyway, back to the Alpinestars Bat Pants; they are quite low down in their range, but still normally retail for about £200. Protection wise, they just feature some layered leather knee pads – no knee-down sliding in these. They are a slim fit, with stretch panels and zips in the calf sections. They’re snug to get on and need a bit of wiggling to pull them up, but once in, they fitted me very well and were very comfortable, even after long periods of time.
Only a couple of down sides: Firstly, the single pocket on the right thigh, fine for a phone, but too tight for a wallet. So, once I take my jacket off, I’m stuck for pockets to keep my keys and wallet safe. Secondly the knee protection has a habit of folding over when putting your feet in, so needs flattening before zipping up the calves. This can be a bit awkward and annoying, however it may be down to the age of the leather and having lost some of its original rigidity.
Overall, I very happy with the trousers, much prefer the tight cut style. They’re very comfortable and I’ve not worn my old Hein Gericke trousers since.