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Used Motorcycle Gear

motorcycle gear closetIf you’ve ridden for any length of time and are like me you’ve probably got several pieces of gear that are just taking up space in your closet. For any number of reasons you’ve moved on to other gear and abandoned these items. So, what do you do with all that used gear? Here are a few ideas.

The most common way to get rid of your gear is to post it on Craigs List or eBay and wait for someone to find it and buy it. Both of these are viable options but they have their downsides. The first being that if your item doesn’t sell you have to re-post your listing. This isn’t the end of the world but it means that you have to remind yourself every few weeks to update the listing so it stays in the service. Then there’s collecting the money and shipping or coordinating a pickup and money exchange. It’s a lot of work, but a successful way to get some cash for your old gear.

Another option that I’ve come across are motorcycle shops. Some have started taking “gently used” items on consignment. For me this is a far more appealing option. I can drop off my gear and the store will display it, take payment, and then send me a check. This way my gear is seen by other motorcyclist and is more likely to sell. The downside here is that it’s up to the store to accept or reject your offering and they get to set the price. They also get a cut of the sale for all their trouble. Still, I’ll take their cut and call it a convenience fee for me not having to deal with the buyer, marketing, and shipment of the items. Most of these stores have a set time limit they will display your gear for before you have to come pick up. Usually around 90 days.

I’ve also found several shops that are taking used gear as trade-in toward new gear. What a great way to offload old gear and stock up on future used gear at the same time!

There are also donation centers where you can give your gear away and receive a receipt for a credit on your taxes. You do get some of the benefit in the way of a tax write off, but it’s not that immediate satisfaction of getting money in your had.

Lastly, have a gear swap with your riding buddies or riding group. This way you might at least be able to see your old gear once in a while and know that it’s gone to a good home.

Here are a few links to places in my area and other sites that offer trade in, consignment, or will take your gear as a donation:

http://www.ksumotorcyclegear.com/

http://www.wherethepoweris.com/used-motorcycle-gear.htm

http://www.mortonsbmw.com/parts.html

http://www.yellowdevilgear.com/

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Posted by on February 26, 2013 in Gear Reviews

 

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Coocase S50 Astra Topcase Review

photoI tend to carry a bit of “stuff” on my bike just as a precaution. I’m a little over careful that way. Be Prepared having been drilled into me as a Boy Scout. This means that one of my side cases is always full of tools, rain gear, tie downs, first aid kit, tire puncture kit, and various other  odds and ends. I accumulated these essential items by way of either needing it and not having it or having it and begin really glad I did. Once items go into the side case they rarely come out.

Pro Tip: If you put wet rain gear away in a waterproof side case, make sure that you take it out to dry when you get home. This may seem obvious but waterproof cases are not only waterproof on the outside, they are also waterproof on the inside. This is why I now have a fuzzy tool roll.

Being one side case down for storage meant I either needed to strap a bag on the back of my bike or get a more weather proof option like a top case. I did extensive research online as well as polled other riders about what they had purchased. I narrowed my options down to three choices: OEM, Givi or Coocase. Each of these options had their pros and cons but in the end I chose the Coocase S50 Astra Topcase.

For those not familiar with Coocase, they offer a line of motorcycle and scooter top cases that are feature rich and cost about half that of a Givi. I purchased my Astra from Twisted Throttle. Their site was also very helpful in choosing the case thanks to their videos and customer reviews. The Coocase comes standard with a padded inner liner (top and bottom), integrated alarm, LED running lights, brake lights and remote control. There is also a connector in the case for an optional accessory charger, I haven’t purchased this but I plan to. In addition I also bought a passenger back rest and SW-MOTECH’s steel toprack that replaces the plastic OEM rack that came with the Connie.

The build quality of the Astra is excellent. The gloss black matches my bikes color exactly. This being my first top case I cannot compare it directly to other cases. My opinion, however, is that the case itself is rigid enough that I would feel comfortable and safe leaning against it while riding on the passenger seat. The steel toprack connected to the Astra’s mounting base instills me with confidence that the Astra will stay put without issue. If there is a nit to pick it is with the locking mechanism for the lid. When I received the case it was very stiff. To close the top case took a fair amount of effort. I had to both push down on the lid and push up from the bottom of the case to get the latch to click home. The key lock was also pretty stiff. A few shots of WD40 into the lock solved this problem.

TailTurnWiring up the break/running lights was simple and direct with a kit and instructions provided by Twisted Throttle plus a set of Posi-Lock and Posi-Tap connectors (note: if you are not familiar with Posi-lock products, you really have to check them out. They are the simplest way of wiring electronics to your bike I’ve ever seen). I did not connect the case directly to the battery as suggested in the installation instructions. Instead I tapped into the license plate light and the brake light line. This does mean that I am unable to use the remote to lock/unlock the top case or use the alarm unless the bike is on. This didn’t present a problem for me as I ditched the remote pretty early on. As for the alarm, if you can actually get the top case off the bike without the key you are welcome to what’s in it. You obviously need it more than I do.

I’ve had the case now for over a year and it has been a welcome addition of my daily commute as well as on longer trips. It has held up well. The lenses for the lights have started to yellow a little. I’m not worried as they look more smokey then faded at this point. There are no cracks in the plastic and minimal scratches. I did recently have to repair the female connector on the bottom of the top case. The solder points that connect the wiring had broken off inside the connector on the base of the top case. I had to remove the plug and solder new connections in place. This involved having to take apart the entire locking mechanism inside the case and adding new wires to the plug as the ones that came with the case had no slack to work with. The repair took about … well let’s just say if I was better at soldering it would have been about an hour. Everything is working as designed now.

Overall I’m still happy with the top case. It’s large (holds two full face helmets) which comes in handy more often than I would have thought. The added brake/running lights are a nice addition too. I’d recommend this product to anyone looking for a less expensive (but certainly not cheaply made) feature rich top case for their bike.

 
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Posted by on December 12, 2012 in Gear Reviews

 

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Baby, it’s cold outside

Photo Credit: ADAM ZUCKERMAN, Rider Magazine

Photo Credit: ADAM ZUCKERMAN, Rider Magazine

Normally in the fall my friends and I take a four or five day riding trip that helps me get through the winter. This year we were not able to pull off our trip and I feel like somethings missing. I really look forward to this long ride capping off the regular riding season, but now it seems unfinished.

I’m not one to stop riding when it gets cold, but I do ride less in the colder months than in the summer. Partly this is due to me being lazy and not wanting to winterize my bike. It’s also because there are always those 60 degree surprise days that pop up all through winter and I don’t want to not have a bike to ride when they come around. Generally I’ll ride as long as the surface road temps are above 35 and the outside temps are around 40. I’ve collected a gear set that keeps me warm on my commute. With a little more layering I can go on long trips without getting cold. A few weeks ago two friends and I took a day trip into Luray, VA for lunch and a to ride the surrounding area. It wasn’t exceptionally cold but we did see snow on the side of the road as we crossed Sky Line drive on Rt. 211.

My winter kit isn’t anything special. It’s gear that I’ve collected over time and found works for me. I have Dainese TRQ-Tour Gore-Tex Boots, Smartwool tall ski socks, FirstGear TGP insulated riding pants, TourMaster insulated/windproof riding jacket, Aerostitch 3 season Vegan gloves, and a fleece neck warmer. For longer rides I will also put on my Cycle Gear FREEZE-Out base layer long sleeve top and long johns. I’ve been satisfied with my winter gear so far. The recent addition of the FREEZE-Out base layers has extended my riding range a lot. It’s light weight and breathes well keeping me warm but not hot and sweaty. My bike also has heated grips which are a huge help and allow me to wear thinner gloves but still have warm hands.

How long into the winter do you ride? What do you do to keep warm? Electric heat or no? Leave a comment and share. I’d love to discover your secret to staying warm so that we can all use it and be able to ride longer into the colder months.

 
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Posted by on December 7, 2012 in Commuting, Gear Reviews

 

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An Ear Full: Comply NR-10 in ear speaker review

When I ride I like to listen to music or Podcasts. There are those who feel this diminishes the riding experience but for me it’s part of what makes riding fun. I currently use a setup that has taken about three years to sort out. I think I finally found what works for me without issue and does it all well.

My search for a way to listen to music on my motorcycle started a few years ago when I first bought my Harley. The H-D had obnoxiously loud straight pipes on it when I bought it. Loud enough that it even bothered me when I was riding. I used earplugs and that worked to block out the rumbling. However, it also blocked out almost everything else. Rather than ride in silence I thought it might be nice to listen to some tunes. I bought a MotoComm setup that included helmet speakers, a microphone, line-in for music, and a push-to-talk (PTT) button that mounted on the handle bars. The system connected to a handheld two way radio that could be connected inline with my music and would mute the music when either I or someone else used the handheld. To be honest, it was not ideal. There where wires everywhere, down my back, down my front, connected to the PTT on the handlebars. The helmet speakers where barley loud enough to hear music, even with an inline booster. The PTT for the handheld also didn’t work well. I could hear someone talking to me, but at speeds over about 30 mph no one could hear me. It turns out that the PTT opened the mic in my helmet as well as the handheld on my hip and the wind noise just wiped out all communications from me. After two trips with the full setup I ripped it all out and went with earphones, an IPod and hand signals.

Finding a good set of earphones that didn’t let in too much noise was a little tricky. What I have found worked for me are the Comply NR-10  Foam Tip Earspeakers. These ear bud style earphones have a foam tip that’s compliant but durable. They reduce the ambient noise by ~29dB, enough to allow me to listen to Podcasts and music at a low enough volume on the highway to still hear what’s going on around me. Perfect!

But, I can’t leave well enough alone. I read about a new Blue Tooth helmet communication system that got my geek senses tingling and I had to try it out. It’s the Sena SMH10.  Basically it’s a small module that clamps to the side of a helmet and links via Blue Tooth to a phone or MP3 player and then plays the audio either through helmet speakers or an add-on that takes headphones. This was right up my alley. The one element that all of these systems have had in common for a number of years is they only use in-helmet speakers. I have never found these to produce audio in sufficient volume or quality to enjoy music or Podcasts. Sena offered exactly what I was looking for. A way to control my music, playlists, and even make and receive calls all via blue tooth and listen through my Comply ear speakers. Brilliant!

The interface is as simple as they come. There’s a jog dial that’s also a button and one additional button and that’s it. Even in my winter gloves I can use all the controls without issue. Mine is connected to my IPhone 4 and uses the voice commands to navigate playlists, play single artists or songs, take and make phone calls via my contacts list, and lets me control the volume. It’s rechargeable and can be updated and charged via a USB 2.0 cable connection. I think that this is the way things should be designed. Simple, functional, practical and it just works. No fuss. Don’t take my word for it though, there are a plethora of reviews as the SMH10, my favorite being from webBikeWold.com. They also have a long term review here.

I’ve used this setup for almost a year now and I have not found a fault yet. So, get your kit sorted out and … Get your motor running/Get out on the … well you get the idea.

 
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Posted by on January 4, 2012 in Gear Reviews

 

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Stormtrooper Motorcycle Suit

I saw this and just had to post a link to it here. This is where my trying to be cool motorcycle self meets up with my nerdist roots. That’s right, it’s a full leather riding suit with CE armor that is a perfect replica of a Stormtrooper suit from Star Wars. My only question is if the helmet is DOT approved. To see more details on this suit go to http://udreplicas.com.

 
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Posted by on December 12, 2011 in Gear Reviews

 

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Get a Grip Miles: 564 – 663

Being new to sport bikes I noticed fairly early that the grips where thinner. This combined with the forward riding position on the Ninja took a little getting used to. I received some advice that really helped me be a lot more comfortable. Basically, never lock your arms, and grip the tank with your legs to help support your body on the bike. I know this is probably sport riding 101 for most. Having only owned crusers this was all new to me. The other thing that really helped me was some information I picked up from Sport-Touring.net. To help with the little bit of buzz that comes through the bars and the smaller grips they recommended trying Grip Puppies from California Sport Touring. These are slip on covers for your existing grips made of CE Foam. They really do just slip right on with a little water and dish soap. I rode to work today after installing them last night and they made a world of difference. The Ninjas grips are now more comfortable and thicker. Problem solved. Now … what to do about that seat ….

I also had a fuel up today on my ride home from work. You can check out my stats at Fuelly.com:
MPG: 40.1
Miles: 163.0
Gallons: 4.066

 

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Tie Down: Miles 281 – 379

Most of the miles that I’ve put on bikes in the past few years have been from commuting.  It’s economical.  My fuel up this run put me at 40.1 mpg @ 165 miles since the last fill up.  It’s also a whole lot more fun than driving a car to work everyday.  I find that I arrive at work in a better mood and am better able to clear my head from the workday on the way home.  On my H-D I used to just slip my lap top bag into the side bag, latch it up, gear up and go.  Figuring out how to do the same thing, in a practical way, on the Ninja has been a fun challenge.

The easiest way, for me, to carry my bag to work has been to strap it onto the passenger seat on the N1K with tie downs.  I thought about trying to carry the bag like a messenger bag, but decided that was not safe with this bag.  Tie downs proved to be a really easy solution because Kawasaki have provided some great attachment points on the back of the bike.  There are two anchors/hooks located just behind the passenger foot pegs.  The passenger grab handles and expansive room under the back seat provide more opportunities for lashing items to the bike.  Here’s a look at my rig for commuting:

 

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