Shift MX Blue Label LE Pant And Jersey

 

I probably could start a Keefer Inc. Gear Testing website only. That’s how much I love testing and nitpicking all different types of motocross gear. I get a lot of gear through my doors here, but only a handful of those sets of gear I would actually purchase myself. When I received a set of Shift’s new Blue label LE gear I was excited to try it since I have never worn the Blue label stuff. Immediately when I went to pick it up I was shocked on how light the stuff was. It literally felt lighter than any other pant or jersey I have worn to date.

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The Blue Label Limited Edition pant combines premium fabrics, advanced technology and a fresh new graphic. Shift designed the 3LUE (that’s how Shift spells it, but we are going with “Blue” in this test, ok?) Label pant specifically for their factory dudes, but wanted to pass down what they built for them on to us mere mortals. Built on a Cordura Stretch Nylon chassis, the pant is designed for mobility, an ultra-lightweight feel and durability. Not easy to do! Its main purpose is to create a streamlined fit for less drag and improved movement on the bike. The lower leg consists of an extremely lightweight and breathable Nylon/Elastane for comfort and breathability inside the boot. Taped interior seams reduce restriction and overall weight. 

 

The Blue Label Limited Edition jersey retains a streamlined fit and minimalistic wrist openings for reduced drag and restriction. It has a 4-way stretch upper torso and sleeves, so it virtually disappears while you're on the bike. For sweat management, the jersey features TruDri fibers and perforated sleeves, deigned so the rider can stay cool, dry and comfortable on the bike during long motos.

 

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Now that you got the gist of what is going on with this stuff, let’s get to the nuts and bolts of this test….I am not going to sit here and tell you how great this stuff was right off the bat. Honestly, it took me a few times to appreciate what Shift has done with the Blue label pant and jersey. When I first put the Blue label pant and jersey on it literally felt like I was wearing almost nothing! It was a completely different feeling and weird sensation to me. I have worn Fox’s FlexAir gear, Thor’s PrimeFit, FXR’s Revo and Alpinestars Techstar stuff and nothing comes close to how light the Blue label pant and jersey feels on the body! It was also awkward how the Blue label pant’s zipper is set off to one side. There was nothing wrong with the way it was designed, it’s just an awkward way to zip up your pants when you have been zipping your pants up one way for 30 plus years. The Blue label pant has a snug, but very stretchy fit that allows you to really be mobile on the machine. The sizing is true to size and the waist is so stretchy that if you’re a size 33 you're good to go with a size 32 pant. The seams on the yolk of the pant are slightly annoying at first and take some time to get used to, but once you have put a few rides in, it becomes a natural feeling. You will feel the seams when you're sitting on the seat and that is what feels foreign to me. Usually the seams on other sets of pants aren't there or not noticeable while riding, but the Shift Blue label seams are noticeable right away. The yolk (or butt area) of the pant can pull down with pleated/gripper seats when accelerating out of corners so make sure to tighten the ratchet style belt snugly to combat this. The leather on the knee area of the Blue label pant is not only tough, but provides excellent grip against the machine. For how lightweight the Blue label pant is, it can take some abuse. For an athletic fit pant, it’s not so tight where you will have trouble with knee braces fitting inside. This pant stretches remarkably well and is very breathable on the track (more on all this in a moment). 

 

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The Blue label jersey is thin and stretchier than any other jersey on the market today (minus the FlexAir jersey). The perforated sleeves are genius and I fell in love with the way the jersey fit on my body. The amount of air flow and breathability this jersey has is unreal. It’s tough to get a perforated sleeve that doesn't feel harsh or course on your body. I have worn plenty of perforated jerseys before and they chafe the crap out of my skin! The Blue label jersey’s sleeves are soft, pliable and fits sungly against your arms. I can’t begin to describe to you in this test how comfortable the sleeves are. The neck area has plenty of room and doesn't ride high up on your neck, yet doesn't let dirt inside the jersey very easily. As stretchy as the pants are I was shocked on how well the jersey stayed tucked in. I am not a big “No Tucks Given” kind of guy, so keeping ‘er’ all inside the pant is more my style and the Blue label jersey’s tail is long enough to stay “Tucks Given”. I also like the fact that the jersey accommodates underprotectors well and is stretchy enough to still feel comfortable. 

 This jersey is so comfortable when riding. Perforated arms are a blessing. 

This jersey is so comfortable when riding. Perforated arms are a blessing. 

 

One thing I have never noticed before, until recently, is how much better I feel on the bike when I have an athletic, streamlined fit pant and jersey. The Shift Blue label gear is the most streamlined fit I have put on to date. Riding back to back on the same day (with other sets of gear) you are able to really feel less drag when hauling ass around the track. When scrubbing jumps or accelerating down the straights I am able to feel more aerodynamic with the Shift Blue label gear. I honestly thought the word “streamlined” when talking about motocross gear wasn't a big deal and kind of “gimmicky” until I actually rode several days back to back (with the Shift Blue label gear against other sets of gear). Now does that mean you’re willing to pay $229.95 for the pant and $89.95 for the jersey? If you’re a weekend warrior probably not! However, if you're a serious racer type and want the most out of each race, I personally would pay money for this set of gear. Shift makes a White label line that is much more affordable for the weekend warrior that isn't looking to spend over $300.00 on a set of gear. 

 The seams on the yolk of the pant take some getting used to. 

The seams on the yolk of the pant take some getting used to. 

 

“Hey Keefer what about durability for that price”? I am fairly abusive with gear and after several long test days wearing the Blue label stuff I can sit here and tell you it’s pretty damn impressive for how lightweight it is. Now you can’t go and hit trees and shit and expect the stuff not to rip. It will! If you're sticking to the motocross track and you’re the guy getting roosted in the middle of the pack, don't stress, it will hold up! The hinges on my knee braces have yet to wear the leather down after several hours of riding and the colorway is black so it stays looking decent for a longer duration of time. I am usually not a huge fan of a black colorway, but if you tie it in with some colorful boots and gloves it could make it pop some! 

 The Blue label pants have held up extremely well for how light and thin they are. 

The Blue label pants have held up extremely well for how light and thin they are. 

 

Overall, it took me a while to get used to how lightweight and thin the Blue label pant and jersey were, but once I went back to back against other sets of gear on a hot day, there was no way I was taking this stuff off. It was like an air conditioner on my body. Even if you're a bigger dude and not all “weiner and ribs” you can still look good in this set of gear! Don't be scared, try it, but be ready to spend some coin! 

 

If you have any questions about this set of gear please feel free to email me at kris@keeferinctesting.com.  

 

 

Alpinestars A-1 Roost Guard  

 You can see the Alpinestars A-1 peeking its way through my FXR jersey.

You can see the Alpinestars A-1 peeking its way through my FXR jersey.

I am always looking for maximum flexibility when I ride and I am very picky about what goes under my jersey as far as protection. The Alpinestars A-1 Roost Guard has been around for a while, so I decided to test the crap out of it to see if I can live with having some protection under my jersey. As you may have read in an earlier chest pro review, my son gets on me about having some kind of protection on my body when I ride, so testing different guards has been an on going thing over here these days. 

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Don’t get confused, as the A-1 is not your full on maximum protection chest protector. The A-1 Roost Guard is constructed of a poly material blend and is CE certified (front guard) against impacts and roost (the back shell is not CE certified). However the back shell is removable and the whole shell is completely perforated to allow airflow through to your body. The shoulder pads are removable and the A-1 comes in combined sizes M/L to XL/2XL. I ran the A-1 Roost Guard with the complete shell intact for a while and found it to be very comfortable under my jersey and not too hot. Although it is not the lightest under protector I have tried to date, its mobility won me over and allowed me to move freely on the bike without feeling like my upper torso was welded together.

Once I got used to the complete shell, I removed the shoulder pads and back shell and rode with it like this for several weeks. This quickly became my favorite set up as it almost felt like I didn’t have anything on under my jersey. Adjusting from full shell to front shell is very easy with the integrated Y-strap system. I was skeptical on the sizing I received (M/L), but the A-1 guard is extremely adjustable and fit snugly around my torso. The straps have been durable, do not stretch out easily and the clips are tough enough to stand a nice size crash. I have tested that as well! I also appreciated that the soft bio foam shoulder pads do not stick out or make your jersey protrude outward when riding. I mean come on, you have to look good too right?  I didn’t get as warm as I thought I would when wearing the A-1 protector, so I really had no excuse on why I couldn't wear it on every ride. Even though I am not the best candidate for “dress for the crash, not the ride”, I appreciate a good roost guard that offers flexibility and enough protection/roost deflection for my taste. At $119.95 the Alpinestars A-1 is a great buy with it’s multiple configurations and is comfortable enough for me to wear year round. It is my favorite under protector to date! You can order yours over at www.alpinestars.com and if you have any questions about this test please feel free to email me at kris@keeferinctsting.com

 

Stance Long Moto Socks

No, the Stance moto socks aren't going to change your life like some may claim, but they are pretty damn comfortable for moto socks. Your motocross or off-road socks usually are the one piece of your rider ensemble you don’t really think too much about, when throwing gear into your gear bag. With the evolution of knee braces, however, socks have evolved somewhat right? Remember the thick ass neon socks of the 90's? Yes, I use to wear those and would never wish that upon anyone ever in my life. Stance is a company strictly devoted to your feet and they are a very moto oriented company, so the stuff they offer has some moto "thought" behind it.

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Stance offers short and long moto socks, but since it is starting to get hot and I wear knee braces, I wanted the long Stance motocross socks to put on my stinky size 10 feet (instead of the short sock, Asterisk or Leatt knee brace combo). The Stance socks have mesh panels that go up your leg for breathability, arch support and a reinforced toe/heel cushioning to combat holes. I will admit that the Stance socks are some of the softest- feeling socks I have put on and feel very cushiony inside my boots. The long mesh leg panels provide decent sweat resistance and the Lycra band at the top of the leg grips your thigh area firm enough for a nonslip grip. I have worn a pair of these Stance socks for more than a couple months and the elastic has held up well, only if you DO NOT DRY THEM! If you dry these suckers the elastic will stretch/sack out and lose their elasticity. Then what will happen is you’ll be pulling these suckers up all day inside your riding pants. 

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For $38.00 a pair for socks it’s something that will only attract some. I have tried on other brands of socks with almost the same comfort for almost half the price. However, I will give it up to Stance for being a very durable sock! The socks I have been wearing for over two months (riding 4-5 times per week) have zero holes in them, which is rare for me. They do lose a little of their soft new like feel after several washes, but are thin enough so my feet aren't sweating all to hell. Mrs. Keefer can attest to the smell that comes out of my gear bag after a long day... She even commented that these socks don’t stink or feel as wet as some other socks I take off after a full day of motos. Yes, my wife washes my socks! I know, right? That's why I married her! 

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So if you aren't into the Asterisk or Leatt knee brace pants and need a longer sock for knee braces, you can head over to stance.com and check out all the moto socks they have to offer. I only can afford a couple pair at a time, but if you’re a picky sock person these could be up your alley.

Asterisk Ultra Cell Knee Braces

Asterisk has been in the knee brace game for quite sometime and are one of the OG's when it comes to saving your knees (without a prescription). They are under new ownership and have been moving full steam ahead for a couple years now. Most of you know that I love the Asterisk’s ZeroG knee brace pant, but what about their knee braces? Well, I have put the Asterisk Ultra Cell’s through many motos and they have been basically an extension of my legs throughout several months of riding. The newest Ultra Cell version features four adjustable Velcro straps that are less bulky and way more comfortable than the older Cell’s. The knee cup system is almost seamless and leaves no gaps at all so you don’t have to worry about stabbing your knee with your handlebars (when you go deep into a corner). As you bend your knee, the upper and lower shields are revealed from beneath the patella cup, and as your leg is straightened, they move back into place behind the patella cup. The Asterisk Ultra Cell braces have a fully adjustable calf and thigh cuffs for a customized fit.

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The floating knee hinge automatically aligns itself with your knee joint thus allowing it to fit on a wide range of leg and knee shapes. The Ultra Cell brace is one of the most low profile non prescription braces I have tried and it will not get snagged or caught on your riding pant liner (if you have a liner in your pants) if you're careful. If you want to be more careless when putting the braces on please go buy yourself a pair of Zero G pants. Trust me!  The knee joint hinges are rounded enough that they don’t tear my pants up after months of use. Before you ask, yes I do wear pants long enough to see if it wears holes in them so pump the brakes. I like that I can adjust the extension and flexion of the brace so that I can determine how much I want my leg to bend. 

The Ultra Cell comes with a patented boot tether system that securely attaches at the bottom of the brace to your riding boot, effectively making the boot and brace as one piece of equipment. To do this you must drill a small hole and install the other half of the strap-attached clip to your boot, plus cut a small hole in your pant leg. Yes, it’s kind of a pain, but worth it when considering how much more protection you get. When you do tether the brace up, the force will now be transferred from your boot, into the brace. Did I do this with every pair of pants I own? No, I didn’t, but I did notice a more secure feel when I got caught dragging my feet in sizable ruts. The comfort of the Ultra Cell’s are second to none and although I am not a huge fan of the Velcro strapping system on any brace, I am glad that Asterisk has the ZeroG pant to prevent the brace from moving around on my leg.

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Call me crazy, but I thought the older lace up design held to my leg better than the Velcro strap system does. Sizing is important so make sure to measure your leg correctly by using a soft measuring tape and measure directly in the middle of your knee cap. I did encounter (with my large size brace) that I needed smaller (length) Velcro straps. If you do order direct (which you can) you might want to ask for a smaller sized Velcro strap set (just in case). 

 

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The Ultra Cell knee braces have been on my legs for many days of riding and have performed well, but more importantly left me feeling safe. Does that mean it has prevented a knee injury from happening to me? Possibly, it’s tough to say. I don’t wear or trust knee guards to find that out so I stick to braces. Some riders swear by knee guards and usually it’s a matter of feel (bulkiness) on the bike for them. I however do not notice a very bulky feel, when squeezing the bike, with my legs, with the Asterisk Cell braces. At $699.00 the Asterisk Ultra Cell braces are a good preventative piece of protection that I will not go without. You can go to asterisk.com to purchase a set or you can call them directly at (951) 268-6790

Thor MX Prime Fit Pant And Jersey

When it comes to gear I am a complete madman! I am so finicky that it's sometimes hard to please my picky ass! The growing trend in today’s motocross world is athletic cut fitting motocross gear. I for one am a big fan of this type of gear, but I am also 6’0 and 170 pounds. As my wife would say I am all D&R! Bigger dudes come up to me and say “there’s no way I can wear that stuff because I am too large of a guy”. In some cases, yes, if you're 260 pounds, maybe the compression/athletic cut isn't for you, but that is why Thor makes other lines/sets of gear to choose from. If you’re a size 38/XXL I am telling you right now there is nothing wrong with getting some athletic cut gear. There is no shame in being comfortable and this gear is just that. Comfy! Thor’s Prime Fit is in my top three favorite sets of gear to wear in 2018, so let me break down why I like this stuff so much. 

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Thor’s Prime Fit pant and jersey is an evolving concept that is built around a very lightweight, breathable athletic inspired chassis that allows for complete movement on the bike. Thor's Prime Fit jersey utilizes compression technology (in the sleeves) and moisture wicking away fabric to try and give the rider the lightest and most breathable jersey possible. The Prime Fit pant is made up of spandex and polyester, along with a generous amount of leather in the knee for grip. These combinations of fabric almost make you look down to check and see if you are wearing any pants at all. It's that light!

 

Thor’s Prime Fit Pant is true to size and once you put the pants on it almost feels like you’re not wearing anything at all. The knee area of the Prime Fit pant is very generous and accepts all types of knee braces and does not restrict movement whatsoever. I also like that the leather of the knee is very durable on the Prime Fit and withstands the abuse of knee brace hinges. The ratchet style front closure system and velcro adjustments make the pant snug enough so the yolk/rear of the pant doesn't slip down under acceleration. The pant conforms to your legs and stretches, yet doesn't feel like an “athletic cut” when moving around on the bike. The looks of the Prime Fit pant are more athletic than what it feels like when riding. Ventilation is superb and provides enough airflow for even the hottest of days. For how light and thin these pants are they have withstand some heavy abuse. Just note that this material doesn't like tree branches and will rip if you're an off-road guy. This is a more motocross style built pant. If you have a ribbed seat cover, that is fairly aggressive, the Prime Fit pant will wear out sooner (than other sets of pants) in the butt area. 

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Thor’s Prime Fit Jersey feels and looks like an athletic cut jersey. It is tight around the whole upper part of your body, but not restrictive. The Free Flex four way stretch sleeves allow plenty of unrestricted movement and hugs your upper torso nicely. You will have to get used to the tighter compression feel on the sleeves when you ride however. This isn't a big issue, but if you're coming off of a standard cut jersey it can take a moto or three to get used to the feel. When it comes to ventilation the closer fit noticeably helps cooling, while the moisture wicking fabrics, ventilated mesh panels under the arms and on the back assist in this area as well. The combination of the close fit plus moisture wicking, ventilated materials make this jersey a complimentary piece to go with the Prime Fit pants. The jersey is true to size, but again it might take you a moto or so to get it stretched out enough to where you are comfortable. A new Prime Fit jersey can take a bit to “break in” much like a pair of boots. I love that the collar is soft, doesn't ride too high up on the neck, yet keeps dirt from going in between you and the fabric. The Prime Fit jersey stays tucked into the pants, so if you are a “no tucks given” kind rider look elsewhere or un-tuck the jersey yourself.  

 

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The overall fit and looks of the Thor Prime Fit pant and jersey is some of the best stuff I have seen from a gear company in 2018. I am a fan of the performance and looks of this gear and I like that it can win a “Best Dressed” award on any given day. Not to mention the simple, clean colorways that Thor offers in this line of gear. The Prime Fit pant is $119.95, comes in sizes 28-38, the jersey is $59.95 and comes in sizes S-XXL. They have eight different colorways to choose from and I approve seven of those eight.  You can check out the complete line at www.thormx.com

 

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If you have any questions about gear, you know that I got answers, so email me at kris@keeferinctesting.com

 

Leatt X-Frame Knee Brace Review

 

For years I only wore knee pads because I didn't particularly like knee braces and their bulky feel. In fact there are still a few top pros out there racing that swear by only using pads and refuse to wear knee braces. About five years ago I had a friend give me a pair of his used braces that I had refurbished and rode with for a few days. After I gave those knee braces more than a day's worth of riding, I have been wearing braces ever since. In the past I’ve tested many different braces with that other magazine, but never had the chance to try out Leatt’s latest offering, the X-Frame. Leatt offers the braces in sizes small through extra-large as well as offering right and left sides sold individually. They are made from an injected carbon composite and are CE certified as both a medical device as well as impact protection. One cool feature the X-Frame has are the hyper extension limiters (5,10,15, and 20 degrees) that come with the braces just in case you have limitations from previous knee injuries. In addition to the hyper extension limitations, Leatt also has integrated hyper flexion stoppers to limit meniscus injury.  

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When it comes to protective gear with a lot of different configurations I’m a simple man, unless somethings bothering me I just leave it be. I am sure many of you out there can relate. So since I don’t have any knee injuries from the past, I never touched the different limiters that come with the braces, although for someone who has knee problems, I can see how it would be a huge advantage. Leatt did their best to keep the brace thin on the sides, so the braces don’t dig into your leg when squeezing the bike and I feel like they did a good job with keeping them comfortable. There were only a couple times that I had some slight irritation on the inside of my knee. That happened when I wore the Leatt knee brace pants incorrectly and had the braces riding on a sewn seem (of the pant) and it slightly dug into my leg. In addition to that, when my knees are in the slightly bent position I feel slight pressure on my knee cap from the knee cup. This isn’t anything painful, but can be slightly annoying after a long ride. In terms of impact protection these braces held up great, I had a few get offs while testing them as well as hitting plenty of trees/shrubbery while riding off-road. I never felt like my knees were vulnerable while wearing these braces and could wear them for a long period of time without too much fuss. When it comes to taking the braces on and off, it seems as though there are a few options. Both sides of the hook and loop straps come apart and can be adjusted. Not to mention the clips on the straps “clip” on and off of the brace. Every time I removed the braces I just left the clips in the braces and un-did the straps, so I got a nice snug fit every time I put them back on. I know this is a first world problem, but the hook and loop straps were VERY grabby when left undone. They would hook onto the other straps and get twisted up as well as attach to everything in my gear bag. This is not really an issue, just more of a tip for you all out there when using the X-Frame's. 

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Only a few years ago there were just a few players in the knee brace game, but now thankfully for us consumers, there are multiple high end options on the market like the Leatt X Frame Braces. I would say these braces are at the higher end of the market in terms of quality for being an off the shelf, non “custom fit” brace. Coming in at $449.99 for the pair, they aren’t going to completely break the bank either when compared to some of their competitors. If you’re looking for a quality knee brace that keeps your knees protected from impacts as well as internal injury, go to your local bike shop and try a set on and give them a shot. 

 

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Keefer’s Note: Please be aware that ALL knee braces take some time to get used to. You are not going to strap on your new knee braces, jump on your bike and everything will feel magical. If you have never worn knee braces before it can take up to a few rides to get used to the bulkier feeling (compared to knee guards). -KK

 

If you have any other questions regarding these braces feel free to shoot me an e-mail at michael@keeferinctesting. 

 

Fox Vue Goggle Review

 

Fox has been building and selling goggles for over ten years, but nothing they have brought to production has been this advanced until now. The Vue goggle is the latest model in Fox’s goggle program and is available now. It’s the product of an extensive R&D collaboration with Fox’s Moto-X Lab athlete Ken Roczen and takes over as Fox’s new top-of-the-line goggle. The Vue’s design focuses primarily on maximizing the rider’s field of vision, but it has two other interesting and practical design elements – the dual-material frame construction and a strap-outrigger system that doubles as a locking mechanism for lens removal/replacement. Genius! Fox offers three different colorways of the Vue goggle, the white and black colorway retails for $119.95 and the red for $129.95 (with spark lens). I am huge fan of the Oakley Airbrake goggle and its wide peripheral and easy to change lens system, so when Fox introduced the Vue, I was excited to see how it worked on my face while at the track. 

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The dual-density frame construction (with an ABS/nylon outer frame and softer TPU faceplate) allows the goggle to seal to your face shape really well. They do feel rigid when holding them in your hand, but are flexible enough to give the rider comfort and refrains from letting dirt inside the goggle. The triple-layer face foam is soft and wicks away sweat effectively on hotter days, even my heavy sweater tester commented that the Vue’s foam was more effective than his 100% goggles he currently has. No Maxi Pads needed people! The Peripheral Vision is on par with the Oakley Aribrake and Scott Prospect as the Fox Vue’s field of vision is excellent. The Vue goggle fits inside a wide variety of helmets like the Bell Moto 9, Shoei VFX-EVO, 6D ATR-2, Arai VX-Pro4 and of course Fox’s own V-3. The pre-curved injection-molded polycarbonate lens (which is similar to what appears on the Oakley Air Brake goggle) offers two huge benefits: optical clarity and much better protection against roost than conventional Lexan lenses. I have had more than a few Lexan lenses pop out on me when a sizable rock has hit my goggles (while racing in the past).

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 With the polycarbonate lens I have had several roost/rock moments and the lens has stayed in tact. The combination of 360-degree ventilation foam and the lens’ anti-fog treatment means the Vue goggle resists fogging much better than most other goggles I have tried with a single-layer lens. As much as I love the Oakley Airbrake goggle they do have a problem with fogging on colder days. I have tested the Vue goggle in lower 30 degree Fahrenheit temps and the lens will not fog. Boom! I have heard that Fox will be coming out with a dual-layer lens soon for you die hard, east coast, cold weather riders. Changing out the lens is easy to do by popping the outriggers off of the frame then popping the lens off its four posts. However, if I am nitpicking, which is what I do best, I would say that the Oakley Airbrake is easier to change lenses out by a hair. The Vue lenses, to me, are easier to change out than the Prospect by the same margin. Another benefit of a pre-curved polycarbonate lens is when you stack a pack of seven tear offs on the Vue goggle, the clarity stays in tact once installed. The Vue goggle clear replacement lenses are slightly less expensive than the Oakley Aribrake at $19.99 and are the same price as a Prospect replacement lens. 

 

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If you're looking for a great wide peripheral goggle, I think the Fox Vue is a great goggle at getting comfort, vision, clarity and sweat absorption. You can check the goggle out over at foxracing.com and purchase a set over at rockymountianatvmc.com

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Now, I already know what you guys are about to email me! “Kris, what if I wear Fly or Thor gear? Can I wear these goggles with other branded gear companies”? Ehhhhh boy…I created a monster! Yes, go ahead and wear the Fox Vue goggle with your Fly gear! The Vue goggle is good enough to mix and match, but just make sure your pant, jersey and gloves match though ok? -KK

Leatt GPX 6.5 V-16 Carbon Helmet

 

After testing and really coming to enjoy the Leatt GPX 4.5 gear I was excited to try their GPX 6.5 carbon helmet. For starters, who doesn’t like getting a new helmet and on top of that, it’s a helmet that matched my gear. Leatt has integrated their 360 degree Turbine Technology into this ECE and DOT certified helmet to try and limit injury from rotational forces.

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The first thing I noticed when viewing the Leatt was its small shell size. It almost reminds me of a full face mountain bike helmet. The reasoning for the smaller shell is simple; the less mass the helmet has, the less force is transferred to your head. Obviously there is a fine line between cushion and mass, but Leatt feels that their smaller shell is safer. One of the reasons that the shell can be so small is because the V-shaped impact foam is molded directly to the shell. The small turbine structures used in the helmet are designed to deform or collapse when forces reach a certain point, to help cushion the blow to the riders head. 

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Fortunately I never got the chance to really test out ALL the safety technology Leatt put into this helmet since I didn’t have a bad crash while wearing it, but here’s what I can tell you. The helmet is small and very light, which is nice because it doesn’t make you feel like a bobble head. I noticed the smaller shell instantly because I had to adjust my goggle strap tighter than I do with most other helmets I have in my rotation. Speaking of goggles, this is where I had my biggest complaint. The eye port/nose guard of the Leatt helmet was barely large enough to fit the array of goggles I use. The Blur magnetic goggles were tight in the eye port and had to be somewhat pushed into place in order to seal to my face. Any wide peripheral goggle like the Scott Prospect and Oakley Airbrake never really sealed well enough to keep dirt/roost out. For riders wearing smaller framed goggles like EKS Brand, 100 percent Accuri and Scott Recoil this wasn’t an issue. The helmet liner/cheek pads were comfortable, snapped in nicely, and after multiple washings didn’t show any signs of wear. One cool (pun intended) feature of the Leatt is the ventilation. This is the best ventilated helmet I’ve worn in quite some time.  Another feature I absolutely love on the V-16 is the hydration hose clip which is built in the chin bar. Instead of having to use a hook and loop strap, or drill holes and zip tie your hydration hose, you can just snap it into the chin bar. 

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After riding with the V-16 for quite sometime, I can say I am pleased with the light weight feeling it gives when being worn. On top of that, since I’m an off-road guy I have to say I love the hose clip as well as the excellent venting the helmet offers. On the negative side I don’t think the V-16 is very aesthetically pleasing in my personal opinion. I feel like the small shell gives the helmet a very awkward, small and un-natural look (this could be partially due to my giraffe like neck). The smaller goggle port also makes it tough to find the appropriate goggle to fit inside the Leatt lid. In terms of functionality and safety I have no problem saying that the Leatt is a high quality helmet that has a lot of thought and technology put into it. With a retail price of $599.99 it is in the range of most premium high end helmets, but can you really put a price on keeping your head safe?  -Michael Allen

If you have any questions about this test please feel free to email me at michael@keeferinctesting.com. 

 

 

6D ATR-2 Helmet Review

It’s hard to write about something, that in some cases, can’t be fully tested until shit goes wrong. In the world of helmet safety, we as buyers have to be very trustworthy customers. I mean…We have no choice but to be right? We have to trust in what the helmet company is telling us (about their latest safety technology offerings) is in fact the truth and works in real world conditions, just like the test results say back at the testing facility. The only way to truly know if the helmet “works” or not is to crash and that is something that riders usually aren't looking to do. However, when it does come time to test the safety aspect of the helmet, it better damn well work and be what we paid for. I have worn and trusted in the 6D technology for quite sometime now and even spent my own money on a few helmets for my kid and I. 6D introduced their latest off-road helmet, the ATR-2 and I have had some time on it now to fill you in on what it’s like to ride with.  

 

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 The 6D ATR-2 off-road helmet uses Advanced ODS technology. The ATR-2 is an evolved version of the company’s signature Omni-Directional Suspension system (ODS). The updates have been heavily influenced by the work 6D has done inside the NFL’s Head Health Challenge III Contest, in which 6D and testing partner Dynamic Research Inc. were selected as the Grand Prize Winner. What’s that mean to us off-roaders? It doesn't mean 6D is going to be switching gears and producing helmets for the NFL, but it means that they will have some extra funding now to further progress helmet safety for us dirt bike goers out there. All great news! 

 

The ATR-2’s Advanced ODS is highlighted by a new Expanded Polypropylene (EPP) multi-impact outer liner and a new Expanded Polystyrene (EPS) replaceable inner liner. Just like on the ATR-1, the two liners are connected via a series of elastomeric isolation dampers, assisting in progressive loading of the ODS system during impacts. Now, however, many of those ATR-1 dampers have been replaced by damping towers that are incorporated into only the outer liner; these towers are capped by newly updated, low-friction disks that slide freely against the inner liner, thus reducing friction under loading and increasing the displacement travel between the two liners. Make sense? Ok, good! 

 

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With this new Advanced ODS system in place, the ATR-2 is said to offer improved performance in both linear and angular acceleration mitigation, and at the same time can be made easily rebuildable for a longer service life. In addition to Advanced ODS, the ATR-2 features a number of other updates aimed at improving safety: A structural Brow Rib strengthens the upper eyeport area, while a special designed Cervical Protection Zone works to protect the rider in the event that the helmet is pushed down and back into the neck and spine during an accident. Safety features that have carried over from the ATR-1 include a clavicle cutaway, sternum pad, shear-away visor screws, and emergency removable cheekpads. This is not an ATR-1 with a new name. The ATR-2 is truly unique. 

 

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I usually wear a size medium in almost every helmet, but with standard cheek pads installed inside the ATR-2, it does feel a little loose against the cheeks (side to side). For most other medium wearing helmet riders that I let try on the ATR-2 helmet, they thought it was fine, but I go with a thicker 55mm cheek pad and the fit is great for my round shaped head. If you feel like you need to tighten the space in your ATR-2 try going one size up in cheek pads. The Genuine Dri-Lex liner of the ATR-2 feels slightly softer than the old ATR-1 and is not as harsh against my sensitive face. For guys that grow the beard out and love to moto, this is especially nice as it doesn't irritate your skin. When riding back to back with the ATR-1 and ATR-2 there were a few things that I felt were a noticeable improvement immediately on the ATR-2.

 

  1. The shorter visor. Yes, this is an aesthetic thing, but also safer in case of crash. I feel like it makes the helmet look more attractive as well. Yes, I also care about looks! Sue me! 
  2. I can feel a significant lighter feel with the ATR-2. The ATR-2 is only a 100 grams lighter on paper, but feels much lighter than that when riding. 
  3. The chin bar/nose area of the ATR-2 is closer to your face, but not so close that you big nose riders out there will start to feel cramped. If you are familiar with the Arai VX Pro-4 you know that it sits close to your nose, but the 6D ATR-2’s nose area sits slightly further away than its competitor. This allows more room for multiple brands of goggle frames, doesn't allow for a ton of roost in side your helmet and also gives you the sensation that your helmet isn't sticking out like a duck bill. 

 

The ATR-2 sits down on my head correctly and conforms comfortably. Some helmets come too far down on the forehead and that prevents my goggles from sitting in the eye port correctly, but the 6D does not do this. The eye port is huge on the ATR-2, which I love for peripheral vision and awareness when I race. The 6D ATR-2 is still a “loud” helmet when comparing it to others, but this is something I have grown accustomed to when wearing it more. The Genuine Dri-Lex liner wicks away sweat well and dries fairly quickly. The nine intake ports and six exhaust ports ventilate my head extremely well (even better than the old ATR-1, that incorporated eight intake ports and four exhaust ports). I have worn and tested a lot of helmets and the 6D ATR-2 feels like it vents better than any other helmet I have used. Taking the liner out, washing it and putting it back in is not a nightmare and snaps in easily. The ATR-2 is neck brace friendly and is just fine when using in conjunction with an Atlas or Leatt brace. 

 

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If you’re still  a fan of the ATR-1, don’t worry, it is still available and has a lower cost of $525.00. The new 6D ATR-2 will set you back $695.00 and to me is worth the extra cost. After I got my concussion (a couple years ago) I am big on safety features of off-road helmets and to me you will be hard pressed to find anyone else in the off-road world as passionate as 6D is. Like I have said in my previous podcasts, “we all should dress for the crash and not the ride”. 

 

The ATR-2 is available in three shell sizes covering a size range from XS to XXL and comes with a three-year limited warranty. The ATR-2 exceeds DOT, ECE, AC and ASTM standards.There are several color combos to match up with whatever gear you're wearing and most are available now. You can view the ATR-2 and ATR-1 at 6dhelmets.com.

Vemar Taku Helmet

When asked by Kris to try the new Vemar Taku helmet, I was happy to give it some of that honest Keefer Inc. Testing feedback. While I do not “write” a ton, I do “ride” a lot and have purchased many helmets over my 15 plus years that I have been riding dirt bikes. Vemar has been in the helmet market since 1987, but I have never worn one myself until now. I have been a Bell, Shoei, Arai and 6D owner, but never a Vemar. I did learn through this time testing the Vemar Taku that the company was was one of the first helmet manufacturers to use Kevlar carbon and multi-composite materials in off-road helmet construction. Although Vemar isn't new to the helmet market, they are not as well known here in the states as they are in Europe. Known mainly for their premium VR-X9, Vemar brought in the Taku, which is a new, lower price point helmet to their lineup.

 

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Upon arrival of the Vemar Taku helmet I didn’t really know what to expect, as Vemar is not as well known in the states as let’s say Bell or Shoei. We do know Vemar already has a premium helmet to their name and I was anxious to see what Vemar had to offer in the lower price point realm. To my surprise when I pulled the Taku out of the box I noticed its distinct euro style. As soon as you look at this helmet you can tell it is an Italian born lid, as most European helmets have very sharp lines and more of a squared off look compared to the traditional round look of many helmets. After picking up the Taku you notice how light it feels once you pick up and put it on your head. Vemar claims 3.1 pounds for the medium shell size I received and that weight was true on the scale. The Taku helmet is DOT approved, meets the ECE standard (which is the European version of the USA DOT standard), but is not Snell approved. The Taku is constructed with a R-3P shell with reinforced thermo-polymers offered in six sizes ranging from XS through XXL. Vemar also offers a five year manufacturer warranty on their helmets, but this warranty is from the manufacturer date not date of purchase. The Taku does offer a great ventilation with their VKS (Vemar Klima System) with intake ports above the goggle frame, along with two upper vents and one chin intake vent to help pull the cool air into the helmet. To aid in extracting the air, Vemar uses what they call their hot air exhaust system, which works in conjunction with their VKS vents to help pull hot air from the helmet. Vemar offers the Taku in six different designs and color ways, so you have plenty of options to help you look your best at the track. The Taku has removable cheek pads and an inner liner that are completely replaceable/washable.

 

When you first slide the Taku helmet on your head you do notice that the inner liner is very plush and feels good on your face. The Taku is more of a mid-oval shape and gives you more room front to back than ear to ear. Like I mentioned earlier, the Taku does feel as light as the scale says (when riding with it) and that is a very good trait to have especially during a longer off-road race. Some helmets feel great right away with little to no break in, but the Taku is not one of those helmets. The first 15-20 minutes of ride time the Taku felt as if it didn’t conform to my head as quickly as others, but the more time I spent with it, the better it started to feel. With intake vents above the goggle frame and two upper intake vents on top of the helmet it definitely keeps the fresh air circulating through the helmet. I am normally a heavy sweater, so ventilation is important to me when racing longer GP style events. I had no issues with ventilation with the Taku, but this can be a catch 22, since the Taku has no way of blocking off the vents. Even though I would never block off the vents living here in California, I can see this being a drag for you east coast riders, on very cold days where your head will get a little chilly. I do notice that more sound (similar to a 6D ATR-1) does gets through the Taku compared to a Bell or Shoei, so you may want to consider ear plugs if it is too bothersome. I had some issues with the eye port while wearing larger framed goggles like an Oakley AirBrake and Scott Prospect. You really had to take your time and work the goggle in to find that sweet spot for proper sealing. The Taku is neck brace friendly and works well with the Leatt GPX-5.5 and Atlas neck braces. When used with these neck braces I had no movement issues while riding, had normal range of motion and the Taku never obscured my line of sight while looking far enough forward down the trail. The Taku has a long visor, which did take a couple laps to get used to, but offers great protection from roost and helps with the sun on evening motos.

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 No, I haven’t taken a spill in the Taku yet (knock on wood), but I do feel safe enough when riding with it. Yes, I do have some gripes with this helmet, mostly having a smaller eye port area and a longer than normal break in time, but to me Vemar did a very good job building a lower price point helmet that is fairly comfortable. The ventilation is a strong point; flowing more air than some premium helmets I have worn in the past, it's light, is compatible with neck braces and has a 5 year manufacturer warranty. In my opinion you are getting a great value for an entry level helmet. For the rider on a budget or if you're new to the sport, this could be a good option, if cost is an issue. Head over to vermarhelmets.net to view all the models. -Matt Sirevaag (Pay For My Own Stuff, Blue Collar Electrician, 9-5'er)

 

 

 

Thor Sentinel GP Roost Deflector Product Review 

I haven't been on the chest/roost protector bandwagon since I was 18 years old. My dad used to make me wear one when I was young, but once I turned 18 and I started paying my own way to race, I thought I would try not wearing one at the track. Well.... That turned into not ever wearing a chest protector because I got used to all the freedom I had on the bike by not wearing one. Throughout my professional career I didn't wear any chest protection and luckily for me the difference of not having one on never came into play. I would occasionally wear something under my jersey to protect my chest from roost when I raced, but if the dirt was soft enough, I would just raw dog it for the most part. Fast forward to 2018 where my own son now sits and asks me, “Dad, how come you don’t wear a chest protector and I always have to when I ride”? Crap, that little sucker got me! I really had no answer for him. So in order set an example for my kid and try to promote better safety, I went searching to get back on the chest protector bandwagon and now I find myself here. 

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 I can tell you that I have tested a lot of chest/roost protectors over the course of 15 years with Dirt Rider, but I recently only came across a couple that I could actually live/ride with. The Thor Sentinel GP Roost Deflector comes in six different colors, three size options and will cost you $129.95. The Thor Sentinel is a lightweight certified stone shield that is constructed with energy dispersing molded panels and is a level 1 back protector constructed to reduce impact energy transmission. The Sentinel has an adjustable elastic torso strap with a ratcheting buckle closure that comes with strategically placed ventilation ports for maximum cooling. Its chassis has a soft liner molded for maximum comfort and also supports a back strap kit (just in case you want to remove the back panel) and ID panel that is sold separately. The Sentinel stone shield is tested and certified according to European Standard and the back protector is also tested and certified according to the European Standard. 

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Note: Stand by for the AMA to step in at some point and require all AMA sanctioned events to have some sort of standardized chest/back protection rule in place soon.  

 

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Sizing is true to form as I wear a size medium/large in the Sentinel, which is normal for my 170 pound 6’0 frame. I wasn't all that excited (on the inside) about setting a good safety example for my kid, but once I slipped the Sentinel on over my jersey, I started to re-think my fatherly decision. The Sentinel hugs your body and wraps around just enough to where it feels like it’s a part of your body. I was also impressed by the lightweight feel of the Sentinel and that it had enough ventilation for me not to bake out in the desert heat. I love that it has a ratchet style closure system and not a clip on style system as well. With the ratchet style system I can really feel the closure system start to hug around my torso and the Sentinel doesn't flop around on my body while riding. The soft shoulder pads don't do much for protection, but in this case for me, I do not mind the lack of plastic protection up on the tops of my shoulders. The downside to the soft shoulder foam padding is that it can rub the skin around your neck a little raw. If the collar of your jersey doesn't go up far enough around the neck area it can be bothersome. Although I didn’t have this problem on my Sentinel, my chest protection, pot-stirring son Aden did get a little chafing around the neck (from the foam padding moving across his skin). The Thor protector also is neck brace friendly as it accepts the Leatt and Atlas braces that I had on hand to test with the Sentinel. 

 

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There are only two things that can get me to wear a chest protector. One is my son telling me he wants me to be safer and the other is the chest protector has to be very, very comfortable. It can’t hinder my movement on the bike and must be cool enough to where I am not hot as hell when riding. The Sentinel checked all those boxes for me, but it took me a while to find a chest protector that fit my way of moving around on the bike. I figured I would pass on the information to all of you about how comfortable the Thor Sentinel GP Roost Protector is and how I have come to really enjoy wearing this when I ride. Yes, even when I wear other sets of gear besides Thor, you will now know that there could be a Thor Sentinel GP Roost Deflector under my jersey. Yes, it can be worn under the jersey as well so you don't have to worry about mix matching while riding. You’re safe! You can buy some Thor gear (Prime Fit is my favorite out of what Thor offers) and wear the Sentinel over the jersey like me or if you’re wearing another brand of gear you can wear it under. 

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Thanks Aden for bugging me enough to wear some protection. Your dad is getting up there in years and I guess I need to start dressing for the crash and not the ride. Thanks Thor for making a nice chest protector that isn't bulky and protects me well. You can check the Sentinel out at www.thormx.com

 

If you have any questions about this test feel free to email me at kris@keeferinctesting.com 

 

Leatt GPX 4.5 Pant, GPX 4.5 Lite Jersey And GPX 2.5 X-Flow Gloves

Leatt may be known mostly for their groundbreaking neck brace invention that changed the way most people think about rider/neck safety, but in the past couple years their off-road riding gear has been making a name of its own. We recently received a box full of Leatt protection pieces, including knee brace pants, knee braces, a helmet and some gear. Stay tuned for reviews on the other Leatt products, but for now let’s talk gear. Leatt sent us a 4.5 pant, 4.5 lite jersey and the 2.5 X-Flow glove to test, so we obliged and put it through some wear and tear. Being that California hasn't experienced winter yet this year I was just fine with testing a more lightweight, vented gear set in mid-January. Don't be jealous Minnesota peeps! 

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When it comes to jerseys, I feel as though they can be over priced at times, but the GPX 4.5 Lite jersey comes in at only $39.99, which doesn’t hit the wallet too hard. Don’t let the fact that the 4.5 gear is Leatt’s price point (AKA less money) gear scare you away, the jersey is nicer than some other companies high end jerseys that we have tried in the past. The Leatt 4.5 jersey is made from Moisturecool 3D stretch material and isn’t just a baggy one size fits no one fit. In fact the fit is what I normally like in a jersey. It has a precise athletic fit, but not so tight that it looks like I’m in a skin suit skiing down a mountain. The cuffs have a slightly stretchy material, so they don't ride up too high on your arm, but at the same time won’t cut off your circulation. Being that it’s a “Lite” jersey, it has excellent ventilation. That being said, it has such great airflow, that on chillier mornings, I found myself wearing a vest (yes I’m an off-road guy) until the temperature came up, so be forewarned. The overall stitching has held up well, but the material of the jersey tends to fray after being snagged on a few bushes (think creosote bushes). Other than the little fray points, I feel like the 4.5 Lite jersey is high quality for a fair price. 

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The GPX 4.5 pant, like the jersey, is Leatt’s price point pant at $119.99, but again don’t let the term “price point” fool you. The knee area of the 4.5 pant, which tends to be most riders weak point on pants, uses an Amara material. This material is soft and semi-stretchy, but still durable and so far has held up excellent to my knee braces, especially with how much I squeeze the bike with my knees. The 4.5 pant is somewhat like the jersey in that it’s a fairly lightweight construction and has quite a bit of venting, which results in a very breathable pant. The pant has held up to bushes and the occasional tree branch, with no rips. The zipper is smooth, hasn’t gotten stuck and also comes with a hook and loop strap, which keeps the pants closed at the top of the zipper (this comes in handy after lunch time). The main closure on the pants is the ratchet style system Leatt incorporates, which has worked flawlessly. There is also elastic inside the waistband that helps keep the pants snug along with silicone (like on the backs of goggle straps) on the inside of the waist band.  The fit of the pant is true to size, is very comfortable to wear and for the price is a great product.

When it comes to gloves a lot of riders are like Goldilocks “these are too soft, these are too hard, these are too bulky, these are too thin", but in my opinion the $29.99 Leatt GPX 2.5 X-Flow glove is like wearing heaven on your hand (if you can imagine what heaven would feel like). Although some people would complain about it being too minimal, I LOVE the 2.5! Yes it’s thin and its intended purpose is not to protect you from branches or roost (I use handguards so I don’t care). It contours to my hand perfectly in all the right places, doesn’t bunch and oh man is the palm material great. The material in the palm is called MicronGrip and it feels like a very soft, smooth, slightly stretchy leather. My ONLY complaint about the glove is that the stitching can be weak when putting the glove on that is typical of minimalistic gloves. Almost every minimalistic glove does the same thing. These gloves are meant for performance and comfort, not durability. You can choose between Leatt's other model gloves if you want a little more durability, but if you want comfort look no further. If you have a bad habit (like I do) of pulling hard on the glove where the wrist elastic meets the palm material you might go through these faster than the riders that do not do that. After more than several riding days the stitching gave out and the elastic separated from the palm, but just to show you how much I like the gloves, I kept wearing them even with the tear because it didn’t really bother me when I was riding. If Leatt can beef up their stitching in this area a little and maybe put a little pull tab on the end of the palm, it would be a flawless minimalistic glove.  

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After many days on the track and trail, I have to say I’m very pleased with the quality of the Leatt “price point” gear. Other than some bushwhacking that I have done and the glove separation, I feel like this is a set of gear I would love to purchase for myself to ride on long warmer days. Although I will say that for riders who strictly ride off-road, this gear my not be for you because the more you go through shrubbery the more frays and snags you might begin to see. For the guy that motos 70 percent of the time, rides off-road 30 percent of the time, the Leatt 4.5 pant/jersey and 2.5 X-Flow gloves are something seriously to consider. -Michael Allen 

 

If you have any questions about the Leatt 4.5 pant, 4.5 Lite jersey or the 2.5 X-Flow gloves, please feel free to email me at michael@keeferinctesting.com 

 

 

Alpinestars A-4 Chest Protector

 

Since I’m the resident “off-road” guy at Keefer Inc. it's only appropriate that I am also an avid chest protector wearer. Ever since I was a little guy I’ve worn chest protectors. Everything from the crop top looking JT of the 80’s, to the knight in shining armor bulky Thor of the 90’s. I’ve worn them all so I know what I like and don’t like. My current chest protector was showing signs of age, so Keefer mentioned that he had tried the Alpinestars A-1 roost guard and he was impressed. I looked more into the Alpinestars product line and came across the A-4. When it comes to chest protectors I’m a bit picky in terms of fit, comfort, and compatibility with over/under jersey wearing, as well as being able to use a hydration pack. 

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In terms of fit, the strapping system was pretty straight forward. There is a wide Velcro strap on each side that comes from the back and wraps around your side, giving you a nice hugging sensation. Once those are strapped there is an elastic strap on each side that clips onto the front of the chest pro and keeps everything in place. Something I wasn’t a huge fan of was the long back plate on the A-4. It felt excessively long and went down too far near my rear end. When worn over the jersey this wasn’t a huge deal (although in my opinion it still looks too long), but when worn under the jersey, the end of the chest pro was below my pant line, which caused a weird bunching when riding. When it comes to comfort (over the jersey) the A-4 is extremely comfortable and not bothersome. The A-4 feels like you’re being hugged in a good way and not too restrictive to my riding technique. There are no pressure points or uncomfortable areas when I’m moving around on the bike, which is important to me. The A-4 does not come with upper arm protectors and for me that’s just fine because I find them cumbersome. I end up always removing them on chest protectors anyway that come with them. One thing I think the A-4 could benefit from is a little bit of plastic protection  on the shoulders. There are thin foam pads over the shoulders, which in most cases is fine, but I think a little added protection in that area would be a plus. That being said, when wearing a hydration pack, sometimes plastic shoulder protection can cause your hydration pack straps to bunch up and become uncomfortable, that’s not the case with the A-4. When wearing a hydration pack it feels very comfortable and feels like it’s part of the chest protector because the straps can lay flat over the foam shoulder pads. 

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After logging many miles with the A-4 both on the track as well as on the trail, I’m very happy with the overall performance and it has now become my go to chest protector. Although it’s advertised as an over or under the jersey protector, for me it’s much better when worn over the jersey. If you’re a diehard under the jersey guy, Alpinestars makes the A-1 which is more minimal (and Keefer’s favorite under protector). If you feel like you want added protection they make the A-10 which is a full chest protector. On top of that they also make a full line of other armor protection as well. Another perk to buying Alpinestars protection is that it doesn’t matter if you mix it with other gear brands because they are one of the few companies that are given a pardon when being worn with other gear brands. This means you don’t have to be worried about having “clashing gear” out on the trail (if you care about that kind of thing). At $179.95 it may not be the cheapest, but if you’re in the market for a new chest protector, give Alpinestars a look. They most likely have something that will fit your needs no matter how much protection your riding style requires. -Michael Allen

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Blur Optics B-50 Goggle Product Review

 

I’m always excited to try new products when it comes to testing, especially when it’s a product that some people laugh at or may write off before even trying it. When I first heard I’d be testing a goggle that had a magnetic lens I too had some questions, but after several rides I have the answers to your questions that you may be asking to yourself. The B-50 is Blur’s highest price point goggle with an MSRP of $89.99, which admittedly seems like a lot since Blur has been more known for selling a lower price point, budget goggle. However, don’t judge a book by its cover; the B-50 has become my go to goggle in my assortment of goggle choices. 

 Tiny yet powerful magnets hold the lens in place. Yes, it's strong. 

Tiny yet powerful magnets hold the lens in place. Yes, it's strong. 

Starting with the frame, the B-50 gives you a fairly large field of vision since it doesn’t need to have a tall frame for the lens to sit in. The vents on the top and bottom of the goggle breathe very well, and even though I had some no fog cloth on hand, it never caused any fogging issues, even on colder days, doing longer moto’s or trail rides. The foam fit my normal sized nose nicely, sealed to my face well, and fit great inside of 6-D helmet that I wear most of the time. We did also fit the goggle inside of a Shoei VFX-EVO, Arai VX-Pro4, Fox V4, Bell Moto 9 and Suomy with no fitment issues. Admittedly I’m a bit of a sweater and when the goggles were new the foam didn’t absorb my heavy sweating very well. I had a few drips fall into my eyes at the beginning of the test, but for reasons unknown to me the more I rode with the goggles, the better the foam seemed to break in and soaked up my perspiration adequately. One of the many upsides of the B-50 is since the lens pulls right off, I was able to wash my goggles with the rest of my gear, and re-use the same lens after washing without much fuss. The adjustable strap is nothing fancy, but does the job well and always stays in place with the silicone grippers. 

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Let’s get to the part that everyone wants to know, does the lens fall out easily? No, I never had a lens come off unintentionally. I’ve had some small crashes (not head bangers), been roosted by Keefer lap after lap (when he’s lapping me), and taken many bushes to the goggles and have yet to have any issues. As far as I’m concerned, if you have a lens pop off, you have other issues……like how you’re getting back to the truck or how much your hospital bill is going to be. Not your goggle lens. Does it seal to the frame? Yes, the magnets are very strong, and the lip of the frame has not let anymore dust into the goggle than any other goggle on the market that I have tested. Does the lens rip off when you pull a tear-off? No, I’ve gone through traditional tear-offs as well as the laminated packs, and the lens never budged. Since the lens is so large, they all come with a mud flap at the top (that is out of the viewing area), to put the tear offs under so nothing gets between your tear-offs and lens. One downside is Blur does not offer a roll-off style system yet, so all you east coast mud-boggers may want to take that into consideration before making the purchase. 

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Not shocking, the lenses are hands down easier to change than any other goggle on the market, it really is that simple, just pull on the tab, and they come off from the bottom right corner. Being that they are so easy to change the B-50 makes the need to have 3 sets of goggles (one with each style lens) null and void. For example, you're going on a long trail ride and start the day off with a smoke or tinted lens and then the sun start dipping behind the mountains. Most of us off-road guys have been there right? Instead of having to take your goggles off (in order to see) to get back to the truck simply take an extra clear lens with you (in your fanny pack) and pop it in! Boom! Clear vision and goggles on all the way back to the pits! Lenses are obviously more expensive than standard lenses at $29.99 each, but unlike other high end goggle manufacturers, whose lens prices vary from $25.00 for clear, to $95.00 for special lenses, the B-50 lenses are all the same price. So if you have to be the “cool” guy and have the name brand popular goggles that’s fine. However if you’re open minded and want to try a really cool, innovative product, I highly recommend you give the Blur B-50 goggles a try. From easy lens changes to an easily washable frame, Blur seems to be trying to add more of a high end google to their line up and to me it’s not only a great idea, but a great goggle to wear as well. You can go to bluroptics.com to check out the complete line up that they have to offer. -Michael Allen  

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If you have any questions about this test please feel free to email me at michael@keeferinctesting.com

Shoei VFX-EVO Product Review

 

It’s been nine years since Shoei came out with a new/updated off-road helmet! Nine years! Shoei’s new VFX-EVO is their latest DOT and Snell approved off-road helmet that pays tribute to its VFX-W predecessor while updating some styling and incorporating a rotational-impact-protection system that Shoei calls "Motion Energy Distribution System" (M.E.D.S.). Other helmet companies have implemented a similar system, known as "Multi-directional Impact Protection System" (MIPS), so it’s interesting to see helmet technology moving in this direction, though each helmet manufacturer has its own way of marketing it.

 

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This is Shoei’s first helmet to feature this technology. The design uses a new two-piece EPS liner that reportedly doesn’t negatively affect overall weight, fit, or the impact absorption capability of the helmet. A fixed outer layer and an inner layer are anchored together by a center column that swings in the event of an impact, crushing surrounding perimeter columns to absorb energy. Shoei claims the system offers a 15 percent reduction in rotational forces to the brain. Plush materials are used in the lower areas of the cheek pads and, as with several full-face models, this helmet features E.Q.R.S (Emergency Quick Release System) pull tabs to easily and safely remove the helmet from the head of an injured rider. 

 

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When comparing the EVO helmet with the VFX-W you can feel the weight difference when putting the helmet on your head. The EVO feels slightly lighter and the shell of the EVO seems to have slightly more flex near the chin bar than the VFX-W. To me this a good thing as the older VFX-W shell is one of the hardest of all off-road shell types. A little flex is good in a helmet as you want it to absorb big impacts. If you push on your personal helmet, you can see it will have some flex. This is normal and that doesn't necessarily mean the helmet is less protective. The inside liner and cheek pads have much more of a comfortable feel and the coarse feeling cheek pads of the VFX-W is now gone. The Shoei VFX-EVO has more of a pillow/plush feeling against my cheeks (almost Arai VX-Pro4 like). Although I don’t sweat a lot, the EVO’s liner wicks away sweat more than the VFX-W liner. When testing the EVO and VFX-W back to back you can tell there is much less moisture in the EVO compared to the VFX-W. The eye port is the same size as the VFX-W, but the ventilation of the helmet is much better with sixteen intake and exhaust ports throughout the helmet. The mouthpiece has increased airflow and is the first thing you’ll notice (that is improved) when riding with the EVO. 

 

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The overall shape is close to the VFX-W, but with added lines throughout the helmet. Shell-integrated goggle channel forms a perfect goggle retention system that will not leave you with that goon style “Ronnie Mac” goggle strap. When you put the EVO on you will notice it does hang down low at the rear of the helmet, which can leave some neckbrace wearing riders with less movement of the head. Even though I do not wear a neckbrace I know some of you may wear one so I tried a few on. I tried on an Alpinestars, Leatt and Atlas and noticed the EVO has less rotational movement with the neckbraces on than a Bell or an Arai. If you are not a neck brace type of rider than you will not notice any of this. 

 

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After wearing the Shoei VFX-EVO for some time, I have come to the conclusion that it’s one of the most comfortable helmets available on the market today. I can’t speak much for the safety features first hand as I haven't tested that yet, but I am confident in Shoei’s new proprietary M.E.D.S. technology just like I am the MIPS or ODS technology. There are few helmets that I trust on my head and the Shoei VFX-EVO is one of those helmets. The Zinger TC-2 shown has an MSRP of $719.00, but an all white or black EVO is $539.00. The EVO is available now at your local dealer or you can check out the full line over at shoei-helmets.com.

If you have any questions about this test please feel free to contact me at kris@keeferinctesting.com 

2017 Favorites

 

The holiday season is upon us and 2017 is almost a thing of the past. When I am at the track I often get asked what are some of my favorite things I have tested and used for 2017? Although this is tough to narrow down because I have tested so many great things throughout the year, I wanted to compile a list of some of the most memorable bikes, parts, gear and accessories that I either wanted to keep in my garage or I would purchase myself. Here is part one in no particular order. 

 

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2017 KTM 450SX-F Factory Edition: I liked it so much that I got heat from Matthes on if I was going to turn full orange brigade. I chose to race the 2017 KTM 450SX-F Factory Edition at Loretta’s and became a fan of its smooth roll on engine character, an air fork I could live with and a chassis that loves hard pack square edge tracks. Although I struggled at Loretta’s, I learned a lot about the bike and what its advantages and disadvantages were. It was reliable (for the most part) and I enjoyed my time on it on thoroughly. One of the top three bikes for me in 2017. 

 

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2017 Yamaha YZ450F: You knew this was coming. No, it’s not the sharpest handling 450 machine out on the market, nor is it the lightest of them, but the Yamaha is stable, has an incredible engine (that is exciting) and suspension comfort every other manufacturer should try and emulate. Did I mention it was reliable? Yes, that too! 

 

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Arai VX-Pro4: One of the most comfortable helmets you can put on your head. The inside of an Arai VX-Pro4 is like wrapping a soft, cozy pillow around your brain bucket. The round shape of the shell fits my head well and I appreciate some of the colorways Arai offers. The Arai VX-Pro4 has been around a while, but they have updated the helmet and gave us long nose riders more room near the chin bar now which is a welcomed site. The helmet has ventilation you can open or close and an eye port big enough for wide peripheral goggles.  

 

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FAAST Company Spoke Torque Wrench: The most important tool I have in my track toolbox is this Faast Company spoke torque wrench. This spoke torque wrench comes pre-set at 48 inch pounds, but can be adjusted to  your specification anywhere from 10-100 inch pounds, select your own torque or use Faast Company’s recommendation for your application. Simply tighten the spoke until you hear and feel a click, and you know the spoke is adjusted to the correct amount of tension providing you an even pull over your whole wheel for exceptional strength. Dumb ass proof! Just the way I like it! 

 

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Oakley Airbrake Goggles: Expensive, but there is no other goggle that is as comfortable on your face as the Oakley Airbrake. Most average consumers would not want to purchase a $160.00 rigid frame goggle and I understand that. I am simply putting the Oakley Airbrake goggles in here because they are the goggle I look to when I get geared up. A wide peripheral goggle with a lens changing system that literally takes 10 seconds, foam that is not only plush but soaks up sweat well and laminated tear offs that do not distort your vision when you stack 14 or more on!  

 

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CTi Knee Braces: After all these years riding a dirt bike and I finally got a pair of CTi knee braces this year. CTi knee braces are custom fitted to your legs and are second to none in quality. The carbon frames are super lightweight when putting them on and the rotating knee cup system is smooth and never gets hung up inside your pants. They mold onto your legs and almost feel like they are not on at times. When it comes to protection of the knees, these braces set the standard for others to follow. 

 

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Works Connection Elite Clutch Perch/Lever: You want a buttery smooth feeling clutch pull? You have come to right place. The Works Connection Elite Clutch Perch/Lever has been around for years, but never gets old when you put one on your machine. Whether you have a brand new 2018 or you got your old 2004 two-stroke sitting in the garage, the WC Elite Perch/Lever makes your clutch pull feel like new. The adjustment wheel is big enough that you can adjust on the fly and the detent pressure is set to just the right amount of pressure to make it easy to spin in the air. 

 

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Alpinestars Tech 10: I ride with a lot of different brands of boots, but the Tech 10 has been a staple for me and my size 10 feet for quite sometime. The Tech 10 boots are very comfortable on hard landings and have an incredible soft feeling sole. The shock absorbing quality of these boots are second to none and as I get older I appreciate this more. My ankles and feet have never been sore after a long day of riding and the Tech 10 boots have me feeling secure and locked in on the bike. The Tech 10’s weigh in at roughly 10 pounds and while they are not the lightest boot on the market, the protection I do feel on the track is so good I am willing to overlook the heavier feeling I get at times. As you can see these are a fairly worn pair of Tech 10s, but they are still in the rotation and keep my feet happy on long test days. 

 

 

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VPT4E: Looking for a good pump replacement fuel? The VP T4E is great for all early and late model four-stroke motorcycles. The newly blended T4 fuel, which now is called T4E gives you better throttle response and more pulling power from bottom to mid range. It’s not going to transform your machine to an instant fire breather, it just gives a little extra crispness and is more consistent of a fuel than your standard pump gas. 

 

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Garmin Forerunner 910XT: If you don’t have a manfriend or a hot chic with large ta-tas to write times on a pitboard for you while you are doing motos the Garmin Forerunner 910XT is the next best thing. The GPS enabled watch can record your lap times with its auto lap feature, take your heartrate, speed, how many calories you burned and much more. This is one thing I don’t leave home without when I go to the track to burn laps. I can log all of my data from my watch to my laptop at home with just a simple USB cable. If you're looking for a do it all moto/cycling watch the 910XT is the best that I have found. Check out Amazon for the best deal on these suckers!

 

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Asterisk ZeroG Pant: You're a knee brace guy and your knee braces slip down over a long day of riding Asterisk has the fine for you. The Asterisk Zero G pant is a base layer compression pant that encompasses the knee brace to help keep the brace in place against your leg. The extra long length of the pant can fold back up and over the brace, traps the brace and a Velcro enclosure (located at thigh area) holds it all together. The Zero G pant is designed to make it simpler for all of us to slide the pant over the knee brace, as well as allowing the brace to move with your legs without restraint on the bike.

 

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Fox FlexAir Pant And Jersey: The new second generation FlexAir  pant has a new chassis that includes a new knee design that removes some material for a more aerodynamic, streamlined fit. There is an updated two-piece rigid waistband and closure system along with the removal of the pant liner to try and decrease ounces and unwanted heat for the summer. The updated 2.0 FlexAir jersey has a new bonded cuff along with a TRUDRI fabric blend to keep weight down and breathability up. For 2017 this was one of my favorite gear sets to wear on any given day. The fit was great and the ventilation of the gear was second to none. Not to mention all of the LE colorways Fox came out with in 2017 was insane! Come on Fox lets see some bad ass LE colors for 2018! 

 

 

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Pro Taper Fuzion Handlebars: Are you a crossbar kind of rider? If you're looking to go from a 7/8 handlebar to a 1 1/8 size the Fuzion is a great option. The flex locking system allows riders to choose between a stiffer, more controlled handlebar feel or a softer more shock absorbing feel depending on terrain and rider preference. Changing the bar from “Locked” to “Unlocked” takes only seconds by simply turning a knob. The Fuzion utilizes Pro Taper’s exclusive aluminum alloy, 4mm wall design for lightweight, strength and comes in six different bar bends. If I am going the crossbar route, this Pro Taper handlebar is a less rigid choice. 

 

Scott Prospect Product Review 

 

Scott USA has been in the motorsport goggle industry for just over 40 years and last year they introduced their newest goggle, “The Prospect”. A complete redesign from their top tier goggle “The Hustle”, the Prospect has been in development for nearly two years. Some of the standout features of the Prospect is a polycarbonate lens that is 1mm thick (versus 0.8mm thick like most other competitors lenses), the Scott lens locking system that consists of four locking pins that secure the lens to the frame of the goggle for safety (instead of feeding the lens into a groove and securing it with tabs), a wider frame, an updated two position outrigger system that can rotate to fit a wide range of helmet sizes, a No Sweat 3.2 foam, and a wider strap for better grip to the helmet.

 

                        A wide peripheral is one of the highlights of the Prospect goggle. 

                       A wide peripheral is one of the highlights of the Prospect goggle. 

I am kind of a pain in the ass when it comes to comfort with goggles and the Prospect goggle is one of only a few that I like. The No Sweat 3.2 foam against my face feels plush and soaks up enough of my sweat that it doesn’t drip inside the goggle on very hot days in the desert. There was no need to purchase any maxi pads products to add to the top of the goggle’s foam as it soaked up sweat adequately. The field of vision is very similar to the Oakley Airbrake as the Prospect goggle is as wide as its competitor. I have come to get accustomed to the peripheral vision I get with Oakley Airbrakes and the Prospect gives me a wide field of vision similar to that. It is however not so wide that it doesn’t fit in a wide variety of helmets. I went through several helmets while wearing the goggles off and on for over a year (Shoei, Arai, 6D, Fly, Bell, Fox, Vemar) and the Prospect sealed to my face well in all of them. I did notice that the goggle does drop low on the nose, which took me some time to get used to. Compared to the other larger/wider framed goggles the Prospect will ride down almost to the edge of my nose and I have a large nose. Adjusting it to your face is key and I found the best way to get it to ride a little higher up on my nose was to get the goggle strap extra tight and to remove the nose guard that the Prospect comes with. Doing this would allow the goggle to ride a little higher on my face and give me less pressure on the wider part of my nose. It didn’t affect the way it sealed to my face after doing so, but it did take a little longer than usual to find a way to position it correctly. So if you feel like the Prospect is riding a little low on your nose, try tightening the goggle strap a little more than usual. 

 

                             A nice plush face foam soaks up an adequate amount of human salt. 

                            A nice plush face foam soaks up an adequate amount of human salt. 

Changing lenses out on the Prospect is fairly painless. You can switch lenses out by popping two locking pins out on top of the frame and two at the bottom. Once those are popped out, the lens comes out easily and I was able to stick another lens in under two minutes! I wore the Prospect at a couple races where I didn’t get the greatest of starts and the four-post tear off design takes a little more of a tug to rip them off. However the way the tear offs lay and fold onto themselves makes it easy NOT to pull more than one at a time. With some other tear off designs there is not enough excess tear off (at the end) to find and pull (while riding), so you end up pulling two or three at a time. With the Scott Prospect tear off design it gives you enough tail that you can feel it easily with gloves and rip only one tear off.   

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When it comes to wearing what I want on certain days I seem to gravitate towards Oakley Airbrakes. I am sure you have heard Matthes give me shit on this constantly right? Yes, I know Airbrakes are expensive and I don’t think I could afford having four sets (if I had to purchase them myself) of those just laying around for me to wear. With the Scott Prospect goggle’s pricing (around $80.00 vs. a $160.00 Airbrake) I could actually afford a few pairs. I would also be getting the same wide peripheral vision and almost the same comfort. I say “almost” because of the low nose area with the Scott’s. The Airbrake’s frame fit better to my face (bridge of nose area sets higher up on my nose) and has zero issues with riding low on my nose like the Prospect’s. However, the Airbrake’s have been known to fog up on me on colder days. On cooler test days I haven't had a fogging issue with the Prospect goggle. The lens on the Prospect is more resilient to getting scratched, as the Airbrake goggle lens scratches super easy if you don’t keep tear offs on the lens at all times. I could wipe the Prospect lens with my glove while riding and it wouldn’t get nearly as scratched as the Airbrake lens. The winner of swapping lenses still goes to the Airbrake, but the Prospect is less painless and quicker than most of the other goggles that are out on the market (The Blur B50 magnetic goggle is the champion on lens swaps). 

 

 The outriggers on the Prospect aren't so big that it interferes with goggle placement to the face.

The outriggers on the Prospect aren't so big that it interferes with goggle placement to the face.

For around $80.00 I would consider this a very good goggle for the price. The field of vision, the comfort of the foam against my face, ease of finding the end of the tear off to pull efficiently, and the sheer convenience of replacing lenses make it a great buy. Setting up the goggle to fit up to your face might take you a couple rides to get comfy, but once you do you will agree that this is the best goggle Scott USA has made yet.

Fox 180 Boot Review 

 

The 180 boot is Fox’s brand new offering for 2018. The 180 boot comes in at a lower price point than the Instinct and has a couple new features we haven't seen yet from a mid line boot. Completely redesigned and built off of one of my favorite boots to wear, the Instinct, the 180 boot aims at getting the rider a precise performance fit at a lower cost. Some of the features of the 180 boot is a floating cuff system that aims to provide lateral support & fluid linear movement while locking out before the hyperextension of ankle, aTPU shin plate, calf guard, heel cap & full toe coverage, an exclusive silicone closure system on shin plate allows the shin to flex with the motion of the boot, a rubber medial and burn guard provides excellent grip, a rubber outsole with internal steel shank, two Instinct style lower buckles for a secure zero heel lift fit and a break in period that aims to give the rider instant step-in comfort. The Fox 180 boot comes in four different colorways and a MSRP of $249.95.  

 

            The Fox 180 Boots comes in four different colorways to match your ensemble. 

           The Fox 180 Boots comes in four different colorways to match your ensemble. 

The floating cuff system allows the boot to move naturally while riding on the bike, but also locking out to prevent hyperextension.The closure system is also designed for support and rider movement with 3 closures: two lower Instinct buckles to lock-in your fit, plus Fox’s exclusive silicone strap at the calf, the boots are designed to fit ultra-snug while providing flexibility where you need it. To get the boots on, set the two lower buckles using the set-it-and-forget-it memory settings, and pull the top closed with the silicone strap. The silicone strap has four size settings for a precise fit just in case you have calves like Gary Sutherlin (that is big, just know this). When it comes to coverage, the 180 boot has plastic plates at the shin, calf, heel and toe box. The rubber medial and burn guards are there to provide maximum grip and long-lasting durability.

 

 The top silicone strap of the 180 has four different settings (for wide range of calve sizes) that lets the rider easily choose how snug he wants the boot to be.  

The top silicone strap of the 180 has four different settings (for wide range of calve sizes) that lets the rider easily choose how snug he wants the boot to be.  

So what does all this mean in the real world of riding? Well…On some mid level pricepoint boots at times the feeling that I come away with is that I don’t get the protection I am looking for when riding. The boot is either so stiff I can’t feel the shifter and brake pedal or they break down so quick I feel like I am wearing a pair of Vans when I land from a jump. I was leery about the silicone strap system when I heard about it from Fox, but I can say with confidence that it’s a very good system. Once my foot was in my size 11 boots and both buckles and silicone strap were secure, it stayed that way over the course of every ride I took them on. It's wide enough for my foot and does not create any hot spots while I ride. 180 boot is true to size and fits similar to the Instinct. In fact I feel like I can get a snugger fit with the 180 boots than I can with the Instincts. The bottom buckles can seize up after some use so make sure to have some WD-40 on hand to give them the spritz every now and again. As far as the top strap, just know this. I am on board with the silicone strap people! Don’t be surprised to see more of this on other boots as well in the future. It's easy to take on and off, never gets seized up, will not get clogged with mud and gives me a snug enough fit around my shin plate (which I like). However, the one draw back is that if you are in the heat of battle and someone runs it in on you and hits your boot, it could be more susceptible to un-latching itself. This didn't happen to me when my buddies thought it was funny to play take out one day, but I can possibly see this happening in some extreme cases. The break in period is a little longer than the Instinct, but not so bad that you can’t feel the brake pedal or shifter on the very first outing. The Instincts are good to go out of the box, so it’s tough to hold a candle to those. 

 

 The burn guards have tons of grip that leaves the rider with a positive feel against the machine. 

The burn guards have tons of grip that leaves the rider with a positive feel against the machine. 

Once riding I felt the Duratac rubber sole had tons of traction and found it very easy to get locked down in on your pegs. The sole is “very grabby and sticky”, but it does take some getting used to. The sole is on thicker side on the 180, but once you ride in them a couple days you will begin to get used to it. After spending a lot of time landing hard off jumps, my ankles were in one piece and not sore the next day. Like I said earlier, when going down in pricepoint on some boots you can lose protection, but with the 180 boots that never happened. The toe box feels feels bigger than the Instincts, but I never really noticed it while riding. The inside rubber burn guards have great traction against aluminum and steel frames and gave me a positive feel while gripping the bike. The 180 boots are slightly heavier than the Instincts at almost 10 pounds per pair, but that doesn't correlate when you ride in them. They feel light and the only negative that I could find is the lack of ventilation. The 180s are on the warm side when the temperature outside rises. My feet were all sorts of sweaty after the first moto of the day, but once cooler temps prevailed in Southern California, the boots provided my feet the warmth that they were looking for. Wearing thin socks on a hot day helps combat some of the heat that I was feeling with the 180s. The good news is that they don't stink to high heaven after a few rides like the old Instincts used to. What about durability you ask? The Fox 180 boots have been great in that department as well. So far, the Duratac rubber sole is holding up with only minor teeth marks. The silicone strap and buckles haven't been a nightmare and are still intact. Fox provides an extra buckle inside the box of every 180 boot, so that is very cool, just in case you need them. The downside is that Fox doesn't have a replaceable sole you can go out and purchase for yourself. You can however send your boots back into Fox and they can replace the sole for you. Just make sure to send them back before they get too damaged or else they will not be able to re-furbish them for you.  

 

 The Duratac rubber sole has great traction on the pegs and also has great shock resistance for your ankles. 

The Duratac rubber sole has great traction on the pegs and also has great shock resistance for your ankles. 

So at $249.95 are these worth purchasing? The answer is a resounding yes! For about half the cost of Instinct’s you are getting a very comfortable and durable boot. Yes, the Instinct’s are slightly lighter, a little more comfortable in the footbed area, takes less time to break in, but are much more expensive. For the average blue collar working type of rider the Fox 180 boots are a great buy. I even gravitate to these over the Instincts at times when I go to grab a pair of boots off the shelf in the garage for a day of testing. To me that says something! 

FXR Racing Clutch Prime Pant And Jersey Review

 

 

 

 

 

Somewhat new to the American motocross market is the Canadian-based snowmobile gear company FXR Racing. FXR has been pushing the motocross market very heavy by sponsoring numerous privateers and now in 2018 they just announced JGR Suzuki’s Jimmy DeCotis to their team of riders. Their entry level priced line of motocross gear called “The Clutch Prime” and has seen its fair share of usage on my body over the past few months. The Clutch pant is constructed of 600D Polyester, a double layer knee system that features an inner material with heat and abrasion resistant leather outer panels, pre-shaped knees to accommodate room for all types of braces, and a soft-stretch span at the crotch and back leg areas for added mobility. There are also knit stretch inserts above the knee areas for extra mobility as well as full front closure system. The Clutch jersey features lightweight mesh polyester, moisture-wicking material to repel sweat, a V-neck shaped collar and tapered cuffs for unrestricted mobility, a longer length drop-tail hem to keep jersey tucked in, and fade-free sublimation prints.

 

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Putting on the pant I immediately noticed a more athletic cut thigh area that is tighter around the legs, but also stretchy enough so it doesn’t feel too restrictive while riding. The crotch area of the Clutch pant is not quite as snug and has a little more room to breathe before the pant tapers down into the more athletic cut thigh. The knee area is roomy enough to accommodate the few knee braces that I tried (which were Asterisk, CTi, EVS RS-9 and Mobius). Sizing is true for my 32-inch waist and the ventilation of the pant, although not as good as some other pants that I have worn, is still adequate on warmer days. The leather knee area has some signs of wear from the hinges of the knee braces, but with over four months of riding time on the pant, no holes have shown up to greet me. The closure system stays intact and the pant stays in place even with extra grippy seat covers. The colors on the pant have stayed vibrant and not a hint of fading has been seen.

 

The Clutch jersey, although very comfortable when worn, feels a little heavy and somewhat baggy in the arms compared to the pant. The material is soft to the skin, but can be a little warm on hot summer days. It does, however, wick away sweat fairly well once you are riding. The polyester of the jersey is stretchy, but like I mentioned above is not as form fitting as the pant. It seems the Clutch jersey’s cut is a little more on the “comfort” side through the arms and torso area, which can flap around while riding. Me being on the slimmer side, I would rather see the jersey’s arm length and arm area tighten up just a little more to match the pant’s more athletic cut. For you bigger boys out there this might be a good fit however. The tapered cuff on the arm however is a nice touch and it also stretches somewhat, so that I can pull them up to get some added airflow to my arms during longer motos. For all you metrosexual riders the V-neck shaped collar is a one of my favorite aspects of the jersey. Less restriction is felt around my neck area when moving around on the bike. This collar doesn’t leave me with a rash like some other rounded cut collars (which are typically much tighter). Just like the pant, the bright colors stay true and the jersey has yet to fade after many rides.

 

                                                                Male model status. 

                                                               Male model status. 

I have been very pleased with FXR’s lower price point/entry level Clutch pant and jersey. However, the downside is at $120.00 for the pant and $45.00 for the jersey, the cost is slightly on the steep side for an entry level price point. The upside is the FXR gear has held up to my durability standards, which is not always easy to do. Yo can go to fxrracing.com to view the full line of  2018 MX gear and order now.

 

Any questions about this gear feel free to reach out to me at kris@keeferinctesting.com

Arai VX-Pro4 Helmet Review

 

 

 

I have been wearing the VX-Pro4 has been in my helmet test rotation for over a year now. The overall look and function of the Pro4 is similar to the older model, but with a few new features that further refine Arai’s helmet fitment, which more of a round shape. There are several cool new colorways that pop up from time to time and I personally like bright helmets, so this particular color is my favorite. 

 

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Starting with the basics of the Arai lid, the visor is long and wide enough to provide better protection from your buddies roost. The visor comes with a black sticker on the underside to reduce glare and has large air vents for an ample amount of cooling. Rather than Arai drilling more or larger holes in the shell, the venting pieces on the top and back of the helmet have been designed to be more efficient at moving air through the helmet. On the older Arai’s I had a problem with the front of the helmet being to close to my big nose, but Arai has since moved the grill and mouth vents to the front of the bar, creating more space in front of my face. The cheek pad design hinges out of the way when taking on or off the helmet, yet is supportive and secure while riding. As with all Arai helmets, the Pro4 features a multi-density foam that Arai claims, in conjunction with the helmet’s stiff shell, provides better protection in a wide variety of crashes.

 

When I first slipped on the medium sized helmet, I noticed how much material was making contact with my head. The cheek pads are long and tall and extend well past the bottom edge of the shell which I love. Combined with the padding around the rear of the helmet, the VX-Pro4 has a very “round head”’ feel, unlike other helmets that can feel more ‘on top of the head. I have a round shaped head so this type of shell makes it one of the most comfortable lids to have on my head. The pillow like feel of the liner is by far my favorite and if there is a standard for comfort the Arai VX-Pro4 helmets are it for me. The ERS (Emergency Release System) cheek pads have a snug feel to it and wraps around my cheeks with a snugger fit, but if you do have a fat face than Arai offers optional cheek pads to snap in. This is a great option for you guys that don’t like cheek pads touching your cheeks as much. At $749.95 this is one of the higher priced helmets, but the comfort you get from the Arai is well with the price marker. 

 

Ventilation is not the VX-Pro4’s strong point compared to some other models like the 6D or even a Bell Moto 8. I like said earlier it is “ok” but in the hot summer months of California I was sweating more with the Arai than others. Arai’s primary goal of having the strongest shell makes for very few vent holes. The lack of ventilation is pronounced by the amount of very comfortable foam lining. The relief zones for your ears are pretty small and I felt more material in that area than with other helmets (hence the comfort). This makes the Arai a very quiet helmet inside while riding compared to a louder 6D, but the 6D breathes better for me. The goggle port is on the small side and to accommodate larger goggles like my favorite pair of Oakley Airbrake’s or goggles with nose guards, it’s tough to get them situated inside the port creating a good seal. I removed the rubber nose protector immediately on the VX-Pro4 to get extra room for goggles. 

 

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Don’t be scared to throw the liner in the washing machine as the liner can withstand the abuse of the washer just don’t throw it in the dryer ok? Let the liner air dry and you will be just fine. With the VX-Pro4, there is a balancing act with safety and comfort. After watching a bigger man  stand on the empty shell of a Pro4 without it flexing much at all, I got a good taste of how strong and hard this shell is (similar to a SHOEI VFX-W). Plus, with Arai’s triple density foam and breakaway visor and vent pieces, I have little doubt that the helmet will perform very well in a high speed crash. However, since it isn’t the lightest or most ventilated helmet on the market, you have to decide for yourself where you fall in the wide spectrum of helmet comfort and performance. I personally love the comfort so it’s one of my top three helmets to ride with. 

 

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You can check them out at araiamericas.com and see all the designs they have available. If you have any questions feel free to email me at kris@keeferinctesting.com.