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 airflow. 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 have still been suffering from cold hands, but I saw these heated gloves for motorcycles 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 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.
Unfortunately, I don’t have the luxury of a garage or shed to store my motorbike, I have to park the bike on our driveway, open to the elements. There are no two ways about it, a bike will never last as well stored on the drive like this. But a decent rain cover can mitigate this somewhat.
But which cover? It seems you spend anything from a tenner to nigh on a monkey for a top-notch cover. But what is really worth it?
I was looking for something durable, waterproof (duh!), not going to melt on the exhaust and easy to put on and take off. Going through the reviews, the general verdict was an Oxford Stormtex or R&G Racing Superbike cover, which come in at £40 and £60 respectively. The Oxford cover has the edge in the heatproof stakes but costs more. However, R&G has an outlet store on eBay, where I managed to pick this cover for a measly £25! No contest.
Edit: The cover is a little tight-fitting, particularly so since adding the Givi top box rack, which juts out a bit at the back. As to heat from the exhaust, I’ve never had a problem, by the time I’ve chained up the bike and removed the top box, the can is plenty cool to pop cover over the top.
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.
Bike security is essential in London. It’s a sad state of affairs, but bike crime is rife and only a fool would skimp on security. A good solid chain is one of the best measures you can take, but it is only as good as what you chain the bike to.
→ Check out our full Motorcycle Security Guide
Your chain should have at least 16mm thick links, anything less is a waste of time. As many would be thieves favour 42″ bolt cutters, which generally have a mouth that can only accommodate ~14mm chains. Even better, opt for a 19mm chain. The best brands out there are Almax and Pragmasis. Price wise there is little difference, however I opted with Pragmasis as their ground anchor appeared to have the edge slightly. The downside of these big chains is weight. Since I would be carrying the chain to work everyday, I opted for the 16mm chain, which at 2m and with lock, weighs in at about 15Kg!