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Riding Shorts by Aerostich

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We’ve all had bikes with uncomfortable seats, and if you like to ride more than a couple of hours at a time, there’s a good chance your stock seat leaves you in some sort of pain by the time you stop for fuel. Riding shorts might seem like an odd thing to consider adding to your kit of riding gear, but hear us out: A pair of riding shorts is a lot more affordable than adding that custom-made seat you’ve been eyeing.

When I bought my 2006 Suzuki V-Strom 650 awhile back, it had the original, stock seat. The cover was in good condition, and the foam felt soft and comfy on my short test ride before I bought the bike. But after a few longer rides, I quickly discovered we weren’t going to get along. Sometimes rides as short as 45 minutes had me hurting. The soft foam had just gotten softer over time, and at times it felt like I was sitting on the seat pan. And then there were the hot spots and muscle cramps that came with it. When I bought the bike, I had a nice weekend trip planned and it was coming up quick, but no way was I riding on that seat. So why not try a pair of padded shorts?

Aerostich’s Riding Shorts aren’t anything new. In fact, they’re similar to padded shorts bicyclists have used for years. At 6 feet 3 inches and 150 pounds I’m thin, which means I’m short on natural padding to begin with. I ordered a size medium, and they fit snugly, as you want them to. Made of fleece and Lycra with foam padding in the front and rear, the Aerostich shorts add cushioning while providing wicking to keep you dry, and they don’t bunch up like cotton shorts often do under your riding pants.

So how do they work? Beautifully. They turned a seat barely comfortable for 45 minutes into one I sat on for 6-plus hours, several days in a row, no problemo. The only downside is they don’t have a fly, so keep that in mind for roadside stops. Available in black in sizes S-XL. $47. More info: AerostichLandon Hall

Rest in Peace, Patrick Godet

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Frame specialist Fritz Egli taking possession of his Egli Vincent replica from Patrick Godet in 1999.

French Vincent expert Patrick Godet, 67, passed away suddenly on Nov. 25, 2018, at his home in the Normandy countryside. His loss will be keenly felt by Vincent owners and enthusiasts around the world, many of whom used the huge array of high-quality Godet Motorcycles Vincent parts to restore or maintain their original Vincents. Others were fortunate to own one of the more than 250 Egli Vincent V-twins that Godet constructed during the past 25 years with the approval of Fritz Egli himself, the only officially recognized Egli Vincent motorcycles. Fritz has one, and thanks to its electric starter he still rides it today even after turning 80 last year.

Godet became enraptured with the British marque when he bought his first Vincent, a Black Shadow, in 1974 at the age of 23 after completing his military service. He then used his saved up military pay to establish a restoration and tuning business concentrating on Vincents. He bought a Black Prince for touring, but when the classic racing scene started in France in 1979, he sold it to raise money to go racing with his modified Black Shadow, which evolved into the Spéciale, tuned to Black Lightning specification.

Godet’s fanatical attention to detail and dedicated enthusiasm in helping his customers brought him business from around the globe. After expanding into a new, 6,500-square-foot factory with a six-man workforce 12 years ago, he turned his attention to turning the 500cc Vincent Comet single into a highly competitive classic racer.

After losing his wife, Sophie, to cancer four years ago, Godet threw himself into his business with renewed gusto and to good effect with the help of his business partner, Florent Pagny.

The long line of Vincent owners patiently awaiting their turn to have Godet Motorcycles restore their bikes paid testament to Godet’s expertise, and his ability to deliver on expectations. His sad passing means that many of his exciting future projects will remain unfulfilled, with the brand-new but visually authentic electric-start Vincent Black Prince with 1,330cc V-twin engine and full-enclosure bodywork with special panniers, all made in carbon fiber, that he was working on for an Australian customer, the most tantalizing. “Patrick Frog” spoke English fluently with a glorious French accent; it’s hard to think we’ll no longer have the pleasure of hearing him live on stage in a classic racing paddock anymore. – Alan Cathcart

Women's Defender Motorcycle Jeans by Diamond Gusset

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For women riders, finding the right riding gear can sometimes be a challenge. I’m new to motorcycling, so far enjoying riding two-up with friends, and hoping to take the rider safety class this spring and get my license. The folks around here are serious about safety, which was getting me worried about the thin, skinny jeans I was tucking in my boots when I rode, so I was happy to discover Women’s Defender jeans after meeting the Diamond Gusset crew at the 2018 Barber Vintage Festival.

I picked up a pair, and gave them a test drive once I got home. First, these are made of heavyweight, dark blue denim with Kevlar panels sewn in on the bum, hips and knees, but (eureka!) they are wash-and-wear like regular jeans. And while the Kevlar seams do show on the exterior, they’re attractive. Key to these jeans’ comfort is a diamond-shaped gusset in the center of the crotch, which gives the seat a totally relaxed and comfortable fit that’s complemented by the straight leg and overall relaxed style.

Other assets include a wrap strap at the ankle to secure the pant leg around any style of boot, a deep side pocket perfect for any cell phone, and a D-ring at the waist above the right pocket for odds and ends. Exchanges are easy if you have any fit issues (my first pair didn’t fit quite like I wanted), and they’re covered by a 30-day satisfaction guarantee and a 90-day materials and workmanship warranty. Highly recommended for women who pilot or ride two-up. $135.45. Available in woman’s 27-45 waist and 28-35 length. More info: GussetJean Denney

Neotech II Modular Helmet by Shoei

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I’ve spent almost a year with my Shoei Neotech II modular touring helmet, and it’s gradually become my first choice for all my riding except extended gravel roads, offroad trails and extreme cold (below 25 degrees F). As a creature of habit – 60-plus years’ worth – it took me a little while to get used to the securely snug fit, micro-ratchet chin strap, pin-lock fog-resistant lens insert and blunt shape. It also took me a bit to train my gloved hand not to open the flip-up face when what I was after was the lower front vent. Compared with my older dual-sport helmet, this thing was a modern rocket, and I’m no rocket scientist. But I am teachable, and it only took me five minutes to understand why the Shoei’s features were worth engaging.

What I Like: I love the helmet’s snug fit. It isn’t annoying or painful; it is reassuring, like a good hug. The helmet is so much quieter than my dual-sport helmets, so much so that when I wear them, I think there is something wrong with whatever bike I’m riding because it seems so noisy. Unlike my other helmets, I do fine without ear plugs with the Shoei. Initially perplexed by the opening face cover, I quickly fell in love with it. I could have a decent conversation with it flipped up – and I could don and remove the helmet without removing my glasses. At 4 pounds and a bit, the Shoei doesn’t seem heavy. At 75mph in the Kansas wind, the Neotec II’s aerodynamic design shines, my head no longer getting yanked about. The well-placed vents flow air nicely through the helmet – it was comfortable at 95 degrees and at 15 degrees (except for some fogging issues – see below), and the micro-ratchet strap is very easy to work, even with all but my heated winter gloves on. In the rain, virtually no water gets into the helmet, nor down my neck, and the padding is easy to remove for washing and easy to reinstall. The sun shield is easy to flip down and back up with gloves on. I really like this helmet.

What I Don’t Like: The major issue for me with the Shoei Neotech II is fogging at temperatures in the 20s and below. Even with the lower front vent and top rear vents wide open, I need to control my breathing to keep the fog to a manageable level. So on really cold mornings I choose my old dual-sport helmet because I can crack open the face shield a few millimeters to the first lock, whereas with the Shoei, the first lock has the shield about a centimeter open, which makes my eyes water from the cold air. I have not tried it in the cold with the chin curtain removed, but this might help.

Last Thoughts: At about $700 on the street, the Neotech II isn’t cheap – but quality rarely is, and you have only one head. As a creature of habit, I would say that I am now fully converted to modular helmet design with the quality and care the Shoei imbues. And the Neotech II is worth every penny to me for the fit, convenience (for glasses wearers) and most especially the quiet and aerodynamic features. Solid colors: $699/Graphics: $799. More info: Shoei Helmets.Hank Will

BORDO Big 6000 Lock by ABUS

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German lock experts ABUS have reimagined the motorcycle lock with the BORDO Big 6000. Combining the security of a U-lock with the flexibility of a chain, the lock features temper hardened steel bars encased in a non-scratch coating. The 3-pound lock’s unique folding technology lets it unfold to wrap around a bike, yet it takes up less space when folded up for storage than a traditional chain or cable lock. $149.99.

Rollie Free Revisited in Documentary

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On Sept. 13, 1948, Roland “Rollie” Free, riding prone on a specially prepared Vincent Black Shadow considered the first Black Lightning, and wearing nothing more than a pair of beach shoes and a bathing suit and cap, made his historic 150.313mph land speed record run on the Bonneville Salt Flats. The image of Free tearing across the Salt Flats on the “Bathing Suit Bike” is indelibly etched into the motorcycle community’s collective psyche, a vision of speed and outrageous daring that’s never been equaled in the 70 years since.

Recently released on Vimeo, Black Lightning: The Rollie Free Story, details Rollie Free’s life and the facts of his epic 1948 Bonneville run. Produced and directed by motorsports film producer Zach Siglow, the documentary-style, 35-minute tribute features interviews and insights from notables including William Edgar, son of John Edgar, the owner of Free’s record-setting Vincent, and Marty Dickerson, who set two Bonneville records aboard his own Vincent, the “Blue Bike,” in 1951 and 1953.

Free and Edgar were the perfect pair. A former speed boat racer knocked out of competition after an accident, Edgar wanted to beat the 136.183mph Land Speed Record set by Joe Petrali in 1937 aboard a streamlined Harley-Davidson. Snubbed by H-D early in his career, Free was devoted to beating them at their own game and readily embraced the opportunity to ride Edgar’s Vincent.

Also featuring commentary from pre-eminent U.S. motorcycle historian Jerry Hatfield, author of Flat Out! The Rollie Free Story, and motorsports commentator and historian Alain de Cadenet, Siglow’s film is highly recommended. Yours to stream or download for only $8.

Norton Commando Fork Seal Extension by Colorado Norton Works

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Norton Commando forks are prone to “stiction” – the fork tube binds on the bushing instead of sliding. The stock bushings are an issue, aggravated by the Commando’s short fork lowers, which put a high load on the upper bushings. Colorado Norton Works now supplies a bushing/fork seal extension made with a machineable plastic bushing and replaceable two-lip seal. The CNW extension is a screw-in replacement with no modifications: simply remove the stock bushing and seal and replace the stock retaining cap with the CNW unit. Neat. $198.95.







The sound and the fury: celebrate the machines that changed the world!

Motorcycle Classics JulAug 16Motorcycle Classics is America's premier magazine for collectors and enthusiasts, dreamers and restorers, newcomers and life long motorheads who love the sound and the beauty of classic bikes. Every issue  delivers exciting and evocative articles and photographs of the most brilliant, unusual and popular motorcycles ever made!

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