This is a personal power supply system featuring a built-in lithium battery and three on-board power ports. It can charge laptops, phones, or any 12-volt accessory, and has the output to charge a 5-volt USB device. But what really makes us smile is that you can use it to jump-start just about any dead battery. We’ve used it at least 20 times in the last four months on my truck with a dead system, three times with my daughters’ cars (when they inadvertently left something on and drained the battery) and, of course, on dirt bikes that have gone dead. Ten years ago this wouldn’t have been a big deal, but just last weekend we had 11 guys on our ride, and nine of them were KTM mounted and had electric starters with fuel injection. No battery, no run! And, naturally, just about two times a month, someone forgets to check and shows up with a machine that has flatlined. Pop the mini clamps onto the terminals, then give it a second and hit the button. It’s worked every time. Love this product!
Designed to protect you from the cold, wind and some water-blasting, the Fly Windproof Technical jersey vents nicely out the back and keeps your core and arms from getting hammered by the elements. I love this jersey ($74.95) since it allows me to wear a vest, offering superb protection in some pretty serious weather, but not at the expense of mobility. I stay flexible, and ease of movement is key for hard-core enduro work. I always keep one in my gear bag!
TROY LEE GP PANTS
To some, the Troy Lee GP pant is too pedestrian, blasé and basic. To me, it’s an incredibly light garment, has a great fit, and the pair here (pictured) I’ve been wearing for almost two years. The pants have leather knees, and the rest of the material is a 600-denier polyester (light and breathable). There is just the right amount of spandex in the knees, calves and crotch, making this pant one of my top picks for long off-road rides. Believe it or not, you can feel the weight difference, and light gear saves energy! They sell for $105.
DUAL-SPORT/ADVENTURE SEAT KIT
Just the thought of fitting a fluffy, weirdly shaped saddle onto my hard-core dual-sport machine made my head vibrate. I’ve always liked taller seats (long legs and bad knees pushed me into the Jaak van Velthoven setup 15 years ago), but until recently, I’ve always built tall, super-stiff seats for moto and off-road because I didn’t want to wallow in a loaf of bread and hamper my ability to get out of the saddle. Unfortunately, age tends to alter your ego, which is what happened when the Seat Concepts boys sent me one of their Extra Tall (35mm taller than stock) seats for my KTM.
It features a wider seating area, which actually helps disperse the load and reduce pressure. This means you’re more comfortable! The foam and the density have progression, so it’s cushy initially but then firms up nicely. The cover (mine has a gripper center and carbon fiber sides) is excellent. Having increased “fanny traction,” along with the ability to find your proper spot (be it cornering or hill-climbing) without sliding around, has huge benefits. On long rides I’m no longer chewing on Advil due to derrière pain, and the load feels planted and cushioned. Also, my hill-climbing ability has improved since I’m not sliding around as much. I can preload into the saddle and hold my position and then concentrate on riding. I loaned it to my buddy (who dwarfs me), and after one ride he ordered one up. It was an instant sale. They do take some getting used to when you’re standing. Since you tend to pinch the machine with your inner legs right at the wide point of the seat, you feel this bulge when you’re out of the saddle. The seat kit goes for $159.99. You can ship them your saddle and they’ll install it for another 20 bucks, or you can order a complete saddle for $254.99.
ARC MEMLON LEVERS
I was really slow to get on board the plastic-lever express. The real problem is that I have a good memory. I remember plastic levers from the distant past, so when Bob from ARC showed me his new versions, I was super picky. They flexed more than aluminum, they changed characteristics in different temperatures, they were a little wide near the pivot, and the stock dust guards rarely fit. Bob kept changing his formula and bringing out more levers, and I kept finding more excuses. And then one day it happened: I ran out of excuses. On top of that, I actually discovered that I liked the ARC levers better than the ones on my stock KTM.
First of all, they truly are unbreakable. If you remember, ARC came out with the backwards-folding lever a long time ago, and it was almost unbreakable. There were still some angles that could snap the aluminum. These plastic levers, which are made from the trademarked Memlon material, don’t break. You can bend them in any direction as many times as you want, and they just return to normal. The earlier versions didn’t like super-cold weather, but now they actually are an advantage in freezing temperatures because touching them doesn’t freeze your fingers. They also don’t vibrate like aluminum on a big, shaky bike. They still flex slightly more than stock, but the day has come when that really doesn’t matter. Brakes are powerful enough, and having slight flex is easier on your hands. You can get Memlon levers for most bikes for around $65, which is a deal considering you’ll never need another lever.
XTRIG PRELOAD ADJUSTER
You really should change your preload more often than you do. You can dial in your bike for different tracks, as well as compensate for those pounds you added last winter, or, as might be the case one time out of 100, the weight you just lost on your new training program. But, chances are that you set your preload once and never looked at it again because it’s such a hassle.
Xtrig has one of the coolest products for this. It’s a mechanism that threads onto your shock body, replacing the stock preload rings. It features an 8mm bolt that offers itself for any adjustment, big or small. The full range of the shock body’s threaded section is still available (unlike with some other attempts at this kind of device), so there’s no need for a hammer, a punch or dripping blood. For us, since our bikes are subject to a constant rotation of test riders (who range from 140 pounds to the undisclosed mass of some of our senior staff), the Xtrig adjusters are well worth the $170 asking price.
STI EXTREME DUTY INNER TUBES
You would think that we would have progressed beyond the pneumatic tire by now. You would think that in this era of space-age composites we would have found something better than balloons for bouncing our way through the desert and across the trail. But no. Even with the coming of mousse inserts, the rank and file of the world’s off-road riders still prefer the feel, light weight and performance of old-fashioned, air-filled tires. And that means we still have to deal with flats.
The best way to fix a flat is to never get one in the first place. The bottom line is that off-road riders in particular have to have a source of good, rubber-based, thick inner tubes that resist pinches, punctures and pops. For us, STI’s Extreme Duty inner tubes are essential. They remind us of those old-school Metzeler tubes that cost as much as most tires. The greatest thing about the STIs is that they cost less than $20 each. They weigh slightly more than a regular tube, but we wouldn’t trust them if they didn’t. q
EKS ZIP-OFF PRO GOGGLES
These are the second version of zip-off-type goggle lenses in the X-Brand lineup and are much improved over the first version. The Zip-Off Pro system includes two rolls of film and a rain visor with a polycarbonate anti-fog and anti-stick-coated lens. There are multiple reasons I like this setup. First, you can purchase the lens and Zip-Off system by itself. Second, they are compatible with all X-Brand full-size goggles. Third, they feature a tear-off system that goes over the zip-off film with the patented tear-off post molded into the zip-off film canisters for additional opportunities of clear vision. The main reason I like X-Brand’s Zip-Off Pro system is they have worked flawlessly every time I used them.
SINGLE-SIDED EXHAUST AND SIDE-PANEL KIT
Another pick is FMF’s single-sided exhaust system and UFO’s redesigned number plate side panel for the 2013/2014 Honda CRF450R. The UFO panel comes as part of any of FMF’s single-sided complete exhaust system purchased at no additional charge. This kit is just a cool idea! I like the kit because it gives customers who for whatever reason purchased a single-sided exhaust system that factory-finished look at no additional cost. It’s great to see two companies in the motorcycle industry working together to bring better products and a great value to their customers.
FLY RACING BARRICADE KNEE GUARDS
I have never been a rider that had to wear knee braces; I usually wear a type of knee-cup shin guard when riding. I have been wearing Fly Racing’s Barricade guard system for the last six months and really like them. They offer CE-approved protection at a very affordable price, wrapped into a slim profile that has no issues thus far, fitting into any brand of riding pants, and I get to test just about everything that’s out there. With a perforated, Neoprene, open-back design, I stay cooler than with other knee-guard systems. I also like the easy-adjust Velcro straps—yeah, I know you only need to adjust them once when you first get them, but that’s in a perfect world when your riding buddies remember to bring all their own riding gear and aren’t constantly borrowing yours—not naming anyone in particular (Ron Lawson).