One of former Associate Editor Evan Kay's last acts at the magazine was to come up with this story: A list of all of our favorite motorcycle stuff. It was to be fairly free-form, but the one big rule was that it has to be something that readers can still do (or go buy). 35-year-old bucket-style Bell Helmets are out of the question (yeah, we're looking at you, Zimmerman) as are roads that are closed, rides and rallies that ceased to exist, etc (yea, we're still looking at you Zim). It all had to be current, living in the now and all that. So here it is, in no particular order and with little editorial oversight, what we collectively pulled out of our backsides. Enjoy.
Favorite Riding Gear
Vanson B Jacket and Saturn GlovesMy list is a mix of old and new. With the speed that most apparel companies change out their lineups, I rarely get the chance to really live with an item for very long before it's obsolete. Not so with Vanson. I've had both of these items since 2000 and they're still going strong in the 2009 catalog. Both of these items are decidedly old-school (no armor, venting, etc), and so the range of temps and conditions they can be used in is very narrow (dry, and warmer than cold, while cooler than hot). That said, they both fit me like they were tailored and have the mix of heavy-duty protection and style I like.
The gauntlet-style gloves feature a deerskin palm for comfort and a cowhide upper for rigidity, and it's a winning combination... though they faded at different rates. The jacket sports a not-removable quilted liner, and was stiff for the first couple years (!) I owned it, but now moves in all the right places and none of the wrong ones. It only takes a look through the pages of this magazine to see how much I like wearing them both, luckily it has been a dry rainy season here in SoCal. We need the rain, but I do so like wearing my Vansons.
Shift Torque Jean
For years, high-tech protective jeans had a very utilitarian, puffy space-aged look. Today, the options are far better, the Torque has Kevlar panels across the back of the thighs, and down the front of the shins. No armor, but then I like my jeans to look like jeans. The best part is that with leather detailing, extra pockets and overall modern styling they might just be the best-looking pair of jeans that I have.
Sidi Slash Boot
When I first got these boots, I wasn't sold. They fit rather loosely, making me think that they may get uncomfortable by moving around. Plus they look like sportbike boots that someone took a pair of tin snips to. Then I started testing them. I can't tell you how nice it is to have a pair of motorcycle boots that I can slip on in 2 seconds, zip, Velcro and go. Walking around overcame my fears of uncomfortability, these things are like slippers. Then I discovered their venting, making them perhaps the perfect summertime boots. They are my go-to boot anytime it's not cold out...but when it is...
Red Wing Lace-Up Waterproof Boot
I couldn't make up my mind which set of boots to put in here, so here's another. These things are like magic. The water simply does not get through these things no matter how hard it rains. They have a nice, soft tongue and are very well designed so the comfort on the bike is awesome. I dislike walking in any heeled boot, and this one is no exception as my toes bunch up, but overall comfort for riding and even mid-length walks is great, I just don't like spending the day on my feet in them. They're faded and in need of polishing, but I love them.
Lake Coeur d'Alene
This isn't some ride I discovered years ago and am sharing with you for the first time. Just look back two issues of Cruiser to the December '08 edition for this one. Last summer I went and the combination of solitude on the perfectly-paved roads with the nonstop boat-people party at all the little marinas around the lake simply can't be beat. The fun night life of Spokane (yes, Spokane) is just a half-hour west, and exploring the Rockies is just to the east, while Washington Wine Country and the Columbia Gorge are a short ride away as well. Possibly the best motorcycle vacation anywhere.
Unlike most T-handle type things, this one is customizable. With a handful of 1/4" (it also comes in 3/8") sockets you can do most things on a bike Metric or American.