Bilt Adventure Explorer Review / Return

Last October, I posted about the Bilt Adventure Explorer helmet and how it piqued my interest.

On 5/03, I ordered the Explorer in hi-viz from CycleGear.  When it finally arrived, I was impressed with what I got for $99.  Nice bright paint, a spring loaded internal sun shield and decent construction. The removable liner is a bit rough but nothing terrible. However, when I put it on my melon, I was disappointed.  Following their size chart, I ordered a small but this fit like a medium.  Normally I wear an XS but between the measurements on the size chart and the reviews stating it runs small, I thought the small would be a safe bet.

I called CycleGear's toll free number and waited in queue for about 12 minutes. After my long wait, the agent answered, said they would cover return shipping for the exchange and to just put a note in the box stating what size I would like.  So far so good.  The helmet shipped back on 5/08 and they received it on 5/10.  Having not heard any details from them by 5/22, I called customer service. The agent apologized for the delay and processed my return while we were on the phone. Cool, things are looking up.

With my new smaller lid on it's way, I was looking forward to finally having a new helmet.  My Caberg V2 is past it's prime, it's from 2006 and my M2R helmet is toast.  The XS Adventure arrived on the 5/28.  I rode home, excited to take it out for a spin.  However, that excitement turned to disappointment again.  The XS fit just like the small.  I checked the box, XS.  I checked the helmet, tagged as an XS on the visor.  I checked the removable liner, XS.  I checked under the removable liner,the EPS liner is labeled S.  What the hell?

I called CycleGear and I was placed back into the eternal queue. After 15+ minutes, I finally got to speak to an agent.  He said that Bilt uses two shell sizes and then different liners to adjust for fit.  I agreed and said "Different EPS liners but this has a Small EPS liner and an XS removable liner.".  He said that's how they size it down from small to XS, by using a thicker removable liner.  I was kind of pissed off at this point and really disappointed in Bilt's helmet construction.  The next day, I called the Louisville store and spoke with a very helpful salesman who checked another XS just to make sure my helmet wasn't a fluke.  Turns out, it's not.  The only difference between the Small and XS is a few millimeters of foam/cloth.  With removable liners compressing over time, I don't see how this size can give safe and secure fit.

The lid is now on it's way back to California.  If you choose to buy from CycleGear, be aware the sizing from Bilt can be crazy and the "hassle free" return page references a mythical return/exchange form but I have yet to be able to find it. (You have to call and have it emailed to you.)

I don't want you to think that CycleGear is 100% crap because it isn't.  This is just my rant about unsatisfactory product sizing and construction (and some minor nit picking about customer service).  I ordered a pair of Bilt Cyara gloves for Shrewsieq that are an absolute steal at $15 and there are other products that CG sells that I'd like to buy.  I'll just travel down to the store in Louisville, KY to make my purchases.  I think this has spoiled my online helmet shopping for awhile.

I still want a DS styled helmet but I don't have the scratch to buy the ICON Variant Construct (which has a dedicated Sm/XS shell), so I'll probably try the S&S SS2500Fly Trekker or AFX FX-39.  

I called CycleGear to obtain a copy of the mythical Return/Exchange form and the wait time was only 6 minutes today.  Getting better.  =]


the quest for ethanol free gasoline

On Saturday, ShrewsieQ and I rode north to a Co-Op station in Hamilton County in search of ethanol free gas.  I found the lonely additive free pump and filled the Ulysses up with delicious 91+ octane.  It requires at least 91 and I usually feed it a steady diet of 93 if I can.   With the frame full, we headed to World Market to fill up or own tanks with imported snacks.

Last year, we rode around on the Yamaha and ended up at World Market for snacks.  Since it was threatening rain, we parked on the curb under the overhang and had our snack.

This year, we followed the same tradition even without the threat of rain.  We're rebels.  

I realized I should have taken more pictures, like of the pump, our snacks and my lovely wife.  I am lame.



The 18th marked one year since Unk took the big ride fated for us all. 
 He was truly one of a kind.  

Grape Ape

I have to admit, I would love to have this but it needs a few cans of flat black to suit my tastes.

Good luck with the sale Dave.  If I had the spare $$$, I'd buy your hack. 
(I'm developing a serious sidecar lust.)


The thunder! The lightning!

About 15 minutes before I get off of work, ShrewsieQ calls and says I might want to head home now since the sky is black and the wind is picking up.  I look out the windows and see some clouds and a generally calm sky.   Puzzled I ask her what direction she is facing. Before she has time to answer, I turn around and see a wall of black through the windows on the other side of the building.  Hmmm.  Time to gear up and get moving!

I throw on my Belstaff Adventure jacket, Aerostich AD1 pants and my JR Sonic boots, and haul butt down to the parking lot.  As I'm warming up the Uly, the wind starts to pick up.  I guestimate that I have time to get home before the sky opens up.  So, I pack my rain jacket in the side case, strap on my helmet and hit the road.  About 1/3 of the way home, I see cars in the oncoming lane with their wipers on, completely soaked.  Crap.  Time to pull over and throw on my rain jacket.  Keep in mind, I've never worn this rain jacket since my TourMaster Transition II is "waterproof".   The bright yellow Teknic rain jacket fits well over the Belstaff, except the sleeves are about 4 inches too short.  

With the hatches all battened down, I hit the road and then the sky breaks free.  Visibility drops, so I adjust my speed accordingly.  The Bridgestone Battlax tires have always done well in the wet and the Uly has smooth power delivery, so traction is good.  Using the Sena SMH5 and Siri, I send Shrewsieq a message updating her that I'm dry and safe.  

Dry with the exception of my hands, so I click the grip heaters to low and concentrate on trying to see out of my rain splattered visor.  (Mental note, find my glove squeegee.)  Thankfully, the ride home was uneventful.  I pull into the driveway after crossing some flash floods and see she has the garage door cracked open and ready for my arrival.  (Mental note #2, research garage door openers and #3, my wife is awesome.)

I peel off my gear and find only my hands and the bottom of my work pants are wet.  Had I tucked my pants into my boots, they would be dry.  No infamous Aerostich wet crotch and no leaks from the Teknic jacket.   However, rain has some how got between the clear layer and the reflective layer on the reflective stripes.  Not sure how that affects the visibility.  

All in all, I actually like riding in the rain, assuming I can see. 


The basics of motorcycle protective gear

      If you ask anybody about what is the best motorcycle protective gear they will all have different opinions. An opinion is a view or judgment formed about something, not necessarily based on fact or knowledge.  This article talks mainly about jacket armor but pant armor is pretty much the same and of course wear helmets, boots and something to cover the first thing that will hit the ground, gloves.

     As the calendar slowly turns and the temperatures slowly rise, riding season is finally coming. With the dreams of a new riding season come the dreams of new riding gear. These days protective gear is more than long pants, long sleeve shirt, gloves, high top shoes and a helmet. The new armor is more than the foam I remember from many years ago. I started riding at the age of 12 and always wore long pants, long sleeve shirts (where we used to ride, the weeds used to hurt whipping by at 40 mph) hiking boots, gloves, helmet (thanks Mom) and sunglasses. Really not until my legal riding age did I do the cool thing of shorts, t-shirt, flip-flops and sunglasses I was lucky never had to have any expensive skin grafts. Man I was Stupid Cool, now I would just say Stupid Lucky.
     From what I have read there are basically four types of armor:
#1 Foam Armor 

My first and the 1st type of protection was purchased along with my KLR. After my disability had put me down for a while and I wasn't able to get up off the ground as quickly as I used to beforehand. While shopping for the KLR I looked at some Firstgear mesh jackets and pants that had a simple foam padding in the proper areas. I had already purchased a nice helmet with DOT and Snell safety ratings. The foam protection really did not provide any real protection other than skid protection which meant no more cleaning out road rash with a green scouring pad.The foam was an open-cell foam covered in thin nylon only about a 1/2" thick.

The foam is exactly what is says it is “foam” which is the least expensive of all the types of armor, but it offers minimal protection. Although foam is thick and dispenses force well, it is suited only to low-impact accidents, which is what you always hope for at the most in a crash.
#2 Hard Armor    
 My second and the 2nd type of protective armor came when I bought the Ducati, I figured since I was buying a lot more power I should also have a lot more protection. The other reason for the "more" protection was I saw a friend of mine get rear ended the morning of the Indy 500. That morning his GSXR became a hood ornament on an SUV and my friend never really recovered. I purchased an Alpinestars leather jacket. It was a heavy jacket
with excellent abrasion resistance due to the 1.2-1.4mm full grain leather and had CE-Certified elbow, shoulder and back protection that felt like an injection molded plastic resin lined with foam. This injection molded armor is good in both impact and abrasion and holds it's shape very well. The downside of the injection molded armor is while it hold it's shape very well it can be slightly uncomfortable while wearing and may need adjustment more often. 
The hard armor was not necessarily the most comfortable armor to wear but I thought provided excellent protection during my Ducati crash. A couple friends and I were tearing up the curves on 135 when I hit some grave in a 40 mph turn. I slid approximately 30 feet on my right side until the edge of the road where I was ejected over the bike and landed on my back. The hard armor provided excellent impact absorption and skid protection, luckily with all the protection I was wearing I was relatively unharmed, the only damage was the bike and my pride.
#3 Memory Foam Armor
The memory foam is not a piece of armor that I have owned or had the opportunity to try. From what I have read the BMW PE armor offers good impact protection while being able to conform to your body better than a lot of CE-approved armor. We do have a member of the blog that does use the BMW PE armor and I will let red review this one.
Red stated "I'm using the BMW armor in my British Motorcycle Gear Adventure jacket, so I had to cut down the back pad and trim the elbow pads. If the jacket has been hanging weird or on a skinny hanger, the armor will mold to that shape. When the armor is cold, it's very stiff and takes a little while to warm and soften up. Once it's warmed up and molded to your body, it's extremely comfortable, unlike armor with a hard plastic shell.  I can tell you that during a low speed dump, landing on an elbow and back pad, I didn't feel a thing."(red)

#4 Strain Sensitive Armor - D3O
My first experience with D3O armor was in my Klim Badlands jacket. When
I first read about D3O armor I was intrigued  as to how it worked. Have you ever seen or preformed the science experiment where you mix corn starch and water to a certain consistency and when you stick your hand into it it feels gooey.  When you strike it or slap it at impact like speeds it solidifies then returns to the liquid state. The D3O armor works in the same way where it give great impact absorption from wrecks and hits yet remain soft and flexible when wearing every day. The D3O remains soft and flexible even in cold temperatures as we tested earlier in January by myself, red and McMark on our sub-freezing ride. The US ski team also now uses D30 armor in their ski suits. D3O provides tested and CE certified body armor solutions for the Motorcycle market. These light and flexible components are integrated as back protectors, shoulder pads, elbow pads, hip pads and knee pads, providing the world’s leading brands with comfortable protection.
From what I have experienced and read the "pro's" for the D3O are the great flexibility that gives you the ultimate protection packed into the slimmest low profile armor on the market. The "con's" I have not yet discovered, I am a big fan.
Thank you Sky News for the great video.


Adios Teknic

Looks like Teknic has closed down according this thread on ADVrider. Their homepage is blank and my Google-fu only turned up a lot of vendors selling Teknic gear at closeout prices.  I'll update this post if I find any additional info.

They make some good kit, hopefully it's just a rumor.


RTW Day 2013

In anticipation of Ride To Work Day this year, I mailed a letter to the Mayor's office requesting to make the 3rd Monday in June official RTW Day!  I submitted the official application this morning.

This could be a great step towards creating a better motorcycle culture for Indianapolis!