Olympia AST Touring Jacket And Fasst Company Torque Wrench Kit

Olympia Ast Touring Jacket $299
I recently found myself riding from Seattle to Kelowna, British Columbia without having all my regular gear along, so I turned to Lisa Micone from Seattle Cycle Center for a jacket recommendation. She manages the shop and caters to hard-core riders who regularly brave the elements in the Pac Northwest. So when she suggested the Olympia gear, I listened.

Lisa guided me to the company's top-of-the-line touring jacket, the AST. The jacket features the latest bells and whistles-a waterproof membrane behind a 500- and 2000-denier Cordura exterior, a removable Thermolite liner, extensive zippered vents, and built-in body armor. It also has nice details like reflective piping and eight pockets.

The AST worked well in sun, rain and cold. With the liner in and only a light short-sleeve shirt underneath, the jacket is warm enough for cruising in 55-degree weather. Take the liner out and open the zippered vents and it is comfortable in 90-degree heat. The rain sealing was impeccable and I stayed dry during three hours of hard rain.

The high collar kept the cool air and rain out, and has a felt lining so it doesn't rub your neck. The liner fastens at the sleeves and neck, and doesn't move when you take the jacket off. The zipper was a little sticky on mine and occasionally was hard to zip up.

The jacket was comfortable as could be on a Concours 14, but a niggle came up when I wore it at home on my Lucky Explorer. The bike sits upright and, when I have the jacket on without the liner, it bunches up a little oddly around the chest and neck. I also had trouble stuffing my Zumo GPS unit through the small pocket opening on the front of the jacket.

The bottom line is this is a great jacket that offers all-weather protection for a reasonable price. -Lee Klancher

Fasst Company Torque Wrench Kit $293
Like any other threaded fastener a spoke works best when it's properly tensioned. When the pull of each spoke is equal and set to the proper torque, the wheel maintains its shape and structural integrity. When the spokes are loose it doesn't, it's as simple as that. Periodically checking the spokes solves part of the problem, but the other side of the coin is applying the correct tensioning force, or torque, to them. Like my friend Art says, "tight is tight, too tight is broken," and that's particularly true when we're discussing spokes.

Over or unevenly tightened spokes pull the rim out of true and are often more likely to break under strain than ones that are properly tensioned or even loose. Loose spokes don't support the rim very well, which allows it to come out of true, and may snap if the wheel takes a sudden impact. Applying the correct torque to the spoke nipple with a traditional spoke wrench involves a lot of practice, and yes, some Kentucky windage, and in the end it's only a very experienced hand that knows when tight is tight.

The guys at Fasst Company don't like guess work, which is why they offer what I think is the best spoke torque wrench kit on the market.

The kit contains an adjustable clicker type torque wrench (20-60 inch pounds) and a dozen spoke nipple wrenches, ranging in size from 4.0 to 7.4 mm, a spline drive (popular on dirt bike spokes) is also included. Everything is neatly packaged in a hard plastic case and includes easy to follow instructions.

All the components are US made and, at the risk of sounding jingoistic, are extraordinarily well done. The torque wrench uses a micrometer-style adjuster that's smooth as a pair of silk...well use your imagination here, but it's smooth. The black, gun coat-type finish should protect the thing for a lifetime and the wrench heads are precision ground to perfectly fit the nipples and prevent rounding them off.

In the event that something does go amiss, the wrench carries a lifetime warranty and if it ever needs it, Fasst Company will recalibrate the wrench for a nominal $10.00 shipping fee. As an aside, I've been using an earlier version Fasst Company torque wrench to maintain the wheels on my off-road bike for the last 8 years or so, and it's still as accurate as the day I bought it.

I've never liked truing wheels, and in honesty my Fasst Company torque wrench hasn't changed that, but I can say that it's made wheel truing a whole lot easier and faster, which is just as good, and removed all of the guess work, which is even better. In fact Fasst Company will be glad to provide any tech info you need over the phone should you run into a problem.

The kit retails for $293 which may be a little dear for the casual home mechanic, but you can buy the torque wrench alone for $138 and heads for $13 each, which is certainly reasonable compared to what you'll pay at the local shop to have the wheel trued. -Mark Zimmerman


4 Stars