Motorcycle Cruiser's Favorite Things - Only The Best

Motorcycle Cruiser's Resident Savants Share A Few Of Their Favorite Things

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.

Billy Bartels

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.

Favorite Ride

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.

Favorite Tool

ASV Y-Handle
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.

Mark Zimmerman
Technical Editor

Favorite Books

Motorcycle Design and Technology by Gaetano Cocco
Not a light read, but if you have the patience to wade through it, you'll be capable of building your own motorcycle.

Sport Bike Performance Handbook by Kevin Cameron
Yes he works for the competition, and yes this book is about sportbikes, but it's the best book on building high performance motorcycles since Phil Irving wrote Tuning for Speed.

Favorite Riding Gear

Gerbing Heated clothing
I live in Connecticut. I ride year round. I participate in the Midnight Run. What more needs to be said?

Shoei Multitec
I've got a Shoei head and I wear glasses. Wearing a full face helmet is a hassle and this isn't.

Favorite Tool

Carbmate Electronic carburetor Synch tool
This thing works like a charm and takes all the tedium out of synchronizing carbs and throttle bodies.

Favorite Tool Tires

Avon AM 26 Road Rider
Reasonably priced, long wearing and sticky (in a manner of speaking) they fit a lot of older standards and cruisers and they're the best tire I've found for all around use on bikes like the Triumph Bonneville and Scrambler.

Honorable mentions

Since I did a long diatribe on the value of pocket tools in the Tech Section, these didn't make the main article, but they would be my top two if I had it all to do all over again. Vice grips- a pair of vice grips will replace a busted shift lever, hold an axle in place and even tighten a loose bolt. You can even perform dentistry. CruzTOOLs Outbacker-Why? Because it'll get you home. That and the vice grips are you ever really need to carry.

Andy Cherney
Former Editor

Favorite Bike

Harley Davidson XR1200
There have been only a handful of newsworthy bike launches this year (Andy hadn't seen the Fury yet), but Harley's reimagining of 1970's mind-bending (at the time) XR750 is sure to be one of the most talked about. The 2009 XR1200 pushes all the right primal buttons ('course, I have yet to sample the new VMAX) and my biggest beef is, what took so long?

Favorite Bike Supplement

Motion Pro Tool Kit
Since I've ejected from the Mother Ship, I've found myself addressing bike repairs on a way more personal level. Which means I've been accessing the MP Tool kit a lot. It's a handy addition to the saddle bag for on-road repairs too-it can handle 8, 10, 12 and 14mm size bolts, Phillips screws, straight-slot screws and the odd Allen bolt. And it's a real boon for popping open bottles of post-ride cerveza...

Favorite Riding Gear

Icon Superduty 3
When it comes to touring footwear, I'm not a fan of single-purpose pieces-they tend to feel awkward off the bike. Hence my glee with Icon's Superduty 3. This lightweight street boot gives me the goods without looking (and feeling) like a friggin astronaut. Serious all-day comfort, decent ankle protection and a locking buckle make for a happy medium between shoes and full-on riding boots. I wear them all the time-not just on the bike.

Favorite Ride

Columbia River Gorge
Now that my base is Stumptown, I'm inclined to revel in roads north of the 43rd parallel. There's no shortage of scenics up here, but the patch of asphalt that gets my nod is a sublime stretch down the Columbia River Gorge. I'm talking about the Columbia River Highway (not I-84)! There's plenty of turns and incredible scenery along in this world-class route; it's an "All-American Road" as designated by the DOT.

Favorite Ride Accessory

These things are three years old, but I still think they're the cat's meow. Keith Myers struck a nerve when he released these pocket sized, laminated backroad travel guides back in 2005. The mini-maps serve up a variety of scenic rides with turn-by-turn directions and points of interest that just dare you to make up your own ride. And I have.

April Trestick
Managing Editor

Favorite keep it neat stuff

Pro Honda Spray Cleaner & Polish
I live in an apartment complex with no space for bike washing or access to an outdoor water supply. Honda Spray Cleaner & Polish simply works the best for getting rid of the grime without water. It's the only thing that helps keep my bikes looking semi-presentable.

Hair Glove
Anyone that rides with long hair needs to deal with the tangles; the Hair Glove solves all of that. I prefer the action sports version made of neoprene but they also have more traditional ones made of leather for motorcyclists.

Favorite Riding Gear

Joe Rocket Speedmaster 7.0 gloves
I have a bunch of gloves and they all seem to have fit problems-too short or too long in the fingers, too loose in the palm, too stiff or too flashy. The Speedmasters fit great and are really comfortable. They are protective without looking like I'm heading off to battle. The kangaroo palm helps keep them soft and flexible with good feedback. The red rocket on the side is a nice touch too.

Olympia Ladies Airglide 2 Jacket
Yes, I did just review this in the February issue but the Olympia really is my favorite jacket. It's the only jacket I've ever worn that fits perfectly off the rack and is flattering. It has a full array of protection and works well in a range of conditions.

Icon Alliance SSR
Icon helmets work really well for me. I now have the Alliance SSR in the eye-popping Rockets Dead Glare graphic. If the bright yellow and fuchsia characters are too flashy, Icon makes a great matte black-but it won't have a tiki idol with saws for arms. Icon's matte black which they call Rubatone, has a funky rubberized finish. The rubberized matte finish holds up to real life without scratching like other helmets can. My first helmet was an earlier version of this helmet in matte black. Sadly it sacrificed itself for my head at Buttonwillow Raceway.

Favorite event

No, it's not just for Sportbikes anymore actually, it's not just for women either. Femmoto started in 2001 as an all women trackday meant to be a way to introduce female riders to the track. Its grown beyond its track-based beginnings into one of the biggest gatherings of female riders in the country. The manufacturers have started bringing out their cruiser fleets for street demos that are open to anyone with a motorcycle endorsement.

Favorite Modification

Steel braided brake lines
Every bike I own now has steel braided lines. It's always high on my list of modifications. They look great and improve function as well. That's always a good thing. I have Galfer lines on my Honda but several companies offer them as well.

Favorite Ride Accessory

How will anyone know about those long trips and great roads without the pictures to prove it? I have a big super-zoom Canon which is great but I need something a little more compact to take along on the bike. So I don't actually have a favorite model, I'm still looking.

Favorite non-Riding time waster
Because you can't ride all the time! Here are some of my favorite movies:
Faster & The Worlds Fastest Indian-what can I say, I like speed
Feasting on Asphalt-Travel and food, what could be better?
Long Way Round & Long Way Down-More travel to dream about
On Any Sunday-The original against which all other motorcycle movies are judged