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New products and press releases

Bonneville Boots by Bates Leathers

bonneville boots

With deep roots in the industry, the folks at Bates Leathers know how to make top-quality leather motorcycle riding gear, including boots. The new Bonneville features a Vibram Christy sole for ultimate durability on and off your bike, and sports extra leather on the toe for shifting. It comes standard with an extra 1/8th-inch insole for extra comfort, along with a standard insole and leather heel. Available with or without the Fast Lane patch on the ankle pad. Stock colors are black and chocolate brown. $270.

Savage Bluetooth Helmet by SENA

bluetooth helmet

Communications expert SENA recently introduced the first Bluetooth integrated open-faced helmet we know of, the Savage. A built-in intercom system using Bluetooth 4.1 technology lets you connect with up to three other riders, plus listen to music, GPS directions, or take and make phone calls. The Savage comes pre-installed with speakers, a microphone and easy to use controls, with a jog dial and phone button on the left side of the shell. The two-layer shell features a multi-density EPS lining. $350 (est.).

KickMagic Pneumatic Starter by The Classic Bike Experience

kickmagic starter

The British bike experts at The Classic Bike Experience in Essex, Vermont, have announced the development and availability of their KickMagic pneumatic starter for Triumph oil-in-frame models built from 1971 to 1979. Unlike an electric starter conversion, the KickMagic uses high-pressure air and a pneumatic actuator that pulls the kickstarter lever. An electronic control unit guarantees proper operation, and kickback is eliminated because the actuator acts as a buffer. No permanent modifications are required and it can be quickly removed. Look for a full review in a coming issue. $1,995.

Touch-Screen Elkskin Ropers Gloves by Aerostich

touch screen gloves

Hardcore touring riders know that nobody makes serious riding gear like Minnesota-based Aerostich. Among the incredible products in their latest 308-page (!) catalog you'll find their new Touch-Screen Elkskin Ropers gloves. Like the original Ropers, they feature soft but incredibly tough elkskin leather. How tough? Every CHiPs motorcycle cop is issued a pair. As the name suggests, the new Touch-Screen Ropers feature electro-conductive stitching in the finger tips to let you scroll, dial, pinch-zoom, browse or anything else on your smartphone. $67.

40 Years Ago: Mike “The Bike” Hailwood’s Isle of Man Comeback

sidecar

Forty years ago, Mike "The Bike" Hailwood made one of motorcycle racing's most famous career comebacks. Following an 11-year hiatus from motorcycle racing, Hailwood, who had switched to Formula 1 car racing, decided to return to the Isle of Man, where he had first ridden as an 18-year-old in 1958, to take another stab at winning on one of his favorite circuits. Given his long absence from motorcycle racing, he was considered by many a long shot to win, but win he did, coming in first in the 1978 Isle of Man Formula 1 race aboard Steve Wynne's Sports Motorcycles Ducati 900SS.

Hailwood had actually quit car racing following a bad crash at the Nürburgring in 1974. In an interview with motorcycle journalist Alan Cathcart, Wynne said that Hailwood's re-entry into two-wheeled racing came about after a chance meeting at Silverstone, where Wynne had one of his Ducatis. According to Wynne, Hailwood threw a leg over the Ducati and said, "This is the kind of old-fashioned bike I understand — wouldn't mind doing another TT on this!" Wynne basically said, "why not," and after a brief discussion and a handshake — followed later by a contract for a mere £1,000 (roughly $1,900 U.S.) — Hailwood's victorious return was set in motion.

Already a legend for his race-winning years riding for MV Agusta and others, Hailwood's win permanently etched his name into the history books as the greatest motorcycle racer of all time. He raced the Isle one more time, in 1979, before retiring for good at age 39, leaving behind a legacy of 76 Grand Prix wins, 14 Isle of Man victories and nine World Championships.

Two years later, on a Saturday afternoon, March 21, 1981, Hailwood went out for fish and chips with his two children. A delivery truck making an illegal turn struck his car, critically injuring Hailwood and killing his 9-year-old daughter instantly. Hailwood held on for two days before succumbing to massive internal injuries. The truck driver was reportedly fined £100.

Keeping a Wheel Up: Wheel Jockey

wheel jockey

For bikes lacking a centerstand, simple maintenance like tire inspection and cleaning and lubing the drive chain can be a real chore. What to do? In the March/April issue, we tried out the SnapJack V2 from Tirox Products. A simple device, it lifts the rear wheel while your bike's on the sidestand, letting it spin free for servicing. We liked it, and looking for other options we landed on the Wheel Jockey.

Designed by veteran motorcycle tour operator Bill Kniegge, the Wheel Jockey was Bill's response to the hassles of prepping and maintaining bikes in his tour fleet, especially out on the road. Simple in design and operation, the Wheel Jockey is really nothing more than a miniature set of rollers. Center the wheel jockey in front (or behind) your bike's rear wheel, then simply push your bike to get the wheel up and centered on the Wheel Jockey.

I was a little skeptical at first, expecting it to be hard to roll my bike's rear wheel up and over the rollers, but it was surprisingly easy, the process aided by a small pre-roller that steps the wheel up to the main rollers. Your bike only lifts 1-1/2 inches off the ground, so stability during use is very good, and no-slip strips on the bottom plate keep the Wheel Jockey from moving while loading your bike. Quality of construction is excellent, with a stout steel body supporting aluminum rollers riding on sealed ball bearings. Further, its small size makes it easy to throw into a luggage bag so you can take it with you when you tour.

Appreciating that not all bikes are equal, Kniegge offers three versions of the Wheel Jockey: the Big Joc for bikes up to 950 pounds; the Sport for bikes up to 650 pounds; and the Joc Jr. for bikes up to 450 pounds. We tested the Sport model, which was perfect for the bikes we ride, most of them trending toward the mid-size point on the spectrum. Suggested retail: Joc Jr., $39; Sport, $59; Big Joc, $89.

Rapid Transit Recon 19 Tank Bag by Joe Rocket

Tank Bag

Finding the right tank bag can be harder than you think. Over the years, I've used just about every type, from small day bags to huge expandable tank bags big enough to carry a week's laundry. The problem is, they all seem to have built-in limitations. A small tank bag is great if all you're carrying is your wallet and a few necessary items like keys, phone, glasses and the occasional extra from the store, but you can run out of room so fast a small bag suddenly becomes as much hassle as help. Big tank bags are great for long trips, or when you need to transport groceries — or laundry — but they're usually bulky and sometimes less than secure, especially large bags with magnetic straps. Enter Joe Rocket's Rapid Transit Recon 19 tank bag.

An 18.7 liter capacity means it actually holds quite a bit, but its profile — longer than it is wide — makes it look much smaller than it really is. I've been using a Recon 19 on my 1973 BMW R75/5, and it's literally a perfect fit. Most bags I've used tend to be too wide for the BMW's somewhat narrow "Toaster" tank, over-extending at the sides and prone to shifting side-to-side in motion, leaving me forever nudging the bag left or right to keep it centered.

Helping keep the Recon 19 stable are six magnets, one in each of the three flaps and three more sewn into the bottom of the bag, and once on the tank it's absolutely secure. It's also hugely versatile, with two generously sized waterproof interior side pockets, a wallet-sized waterproof interior pocket, two exterior pockets running the full length of the bag, a small front pocket, two zippered pockets for toll cash, and an exterior pocket for your cellphone, although it won't hold phones any larger than an iPhone 7 or similar. There's also an access point for headphone cables, a map window, and a built-in rain cover tucked into a small zippered enclosure at the front of the bag. That last bit is pretty cool, made even cooler thanks to a tether on the rain cover so it can't get lost.

The Recon 19 also comes pre-equipped with an inner bag for an optional water bladder ($21.99), held fast with a hook-and-loop strip running its full length. The Recon 19's double-zippered, dual-closure system — the main top panel opens to the front, with a secondary panel opening to the rear — gives easy access to the toll pockets and the interior. The zippers, each set pulled with a single strap, seemed clumsy to me at first, but I quickly warmed up to them because the system works. Not too big and not too small, the Recon 19 is just right for daily use. Price: $94.99.