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.
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.
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!
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.
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!
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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!
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.