Viking Bags - Dirtman Enduro Saddlebags

Commuting on a bike tends to require some storage space for things like rain gear, layers and other daily needs.  On a bike like the Ducati Monster, there aren't a lot of budget friendly, daily use luggage options.  Viking Bags  mainly specializes in luggage for cruiser bikes but recently they have added a line of dirt/dual sport luggage.  It includes the Dirtman Enduro Saddlebags and the Dirtman Enduro Tank Bag.  The Monster already has a tank bag so some saddlebags were needed.  

For $80, you get both saddlebags and the mounting hardware.  The bags are rubber lined on the main compartment so they offer some weather resistance but for serious downpours, I would use either an over bag or a dry sack inside. Each bag has an exterior pocket and a single compression strap. The zippers are nice and large and are covered by a storm flap to help keep out the elements. Total storage space is listed as 1375 cubic inches, it's definitely plenty for a daily use saddlebag or even a long weekend if you pack light.  

Since these are made for a dual sport / enduro bike, it will take some trial and error to get them to work with your street bike.  The install time for the Duc was about 10 min.  Some strap trimming was required.  If you trim, be sure to melt the ends of the webbing so it doesn't fray. 

Once mounted, they've been secure and work perfectly for daily use. Anything larger would really be overkill for daily use and anything smaller wouldn't be enough.  

Plenty of room left over!

Contents of Left Bag
1. Hi Viz Safety Vest
2. LED Light 
3. Gauntlet Gloves
4. Short Cuff Gloves
5. Neck Gaiters (warm and cool weather)

Contents of Right Bag:
1. Rain Jacket
2. Rain Pants
3. Tank Bag Rain Cover
4. Water Bottle

Overall these bags are a killer deal and worth every penny.  I'm looking forward to putting some serious miles on them.  


The Viking Bags Dirtman Enduro Saddlebags were provided by Viking Bags for this review.


Gear Review: LS2 Pioneer Review

LS2 Pioneer Review

Click here for the post covering the SENA SMH5 installation.

I've been lusting after a dual sport helmet ever since I saw the Simpson GS-3 MX.  I loved the styling, the large field of view and the air flow.  However, I didn't buy one due to terrible reviews. When I got my Ulysses, I started shopping for a dual sport lid again.  Unfortunately, I wasn't able to find one that offered multiple shell sizes, fit for a long oval head and priced under $300.  When LS2 offered me a chance to review their new dual sport helmet, I was ecstatic to learn that not only did it meet the above requirements, it is also DOT / ECE rated and has a whole laundry list of other great features.

First, a little background on the fastest growing helmet company you've probably never heard of.  LS2 has been manufacturing helmets for several large companies for 8 years.  They are the #1 selling helmet company in Spain (their home country), #2 in Italy and #3 in France.  In addition to having a Moto GP Team, they have been worn by winners of the Dakar (3 quad riders and 2 motorcycle).  Their moto is "Best product for the price and the best price for the product.", and if the rest of their products are like the Pioneer, they are sticking to that motto.

LS2 is factory owned, with production done in a factory north of Hong Kong.  The location features a full test lab covering all the major certifications: DOT, SNELL, ECE plus Japanese and Australian certs.  After a helmet is created, samples are sent to Southwest Research for independent testing and verification, the results of those tests can be found on the LS2 website.

Let's get down to the meat and potatoes of the Pioneer!


Made from a proprietary blend, called KPA (Kinetic Polymer Alloy) it keeps the helmet light but delivers low penetration rate and allows the shell to flex in order to assist with energy absorption. The Pioneer is produced in three shell sizes.  As I mentioned in my review of the Icon Airmada, finding a helmet that offers multiple shell sizes is a priority of mine.  The less weight on your neck, the safer you are.

The Pioneer comes in two color schemes, Solid and Trigger. I was torn between the Hi Viz Trigger and Matte Black.  Black, especially matte black, being the fastest color, won.

The peak blocks a great amount of sunlight and has minimal drag, even at highway speeds on my naked bike. The drag is decreased by having large cut-outs on the peak. It is removable but I think the benefits far outweigh a little drag.  You can adjust its placement up and down by about 5mm each direction.  If you push it all the way down (forward?) it does contact the visor when it is raised.

There are 5 vents built into the shell: 1x chin vent (close-able), 2x top vents and 2x side vents.  They flow a massive amount of air and funnel it out via 2x exhaust ports on the backside.


The visor gives you a huge field of vision and is UV, fog and scratch resistant.  Most of my commutes have been in temps ranging from 40 to 80 degrees, thanks to all the airflow, fog has not been a problem.  When shopping for dual sport helmets in the past, the visors all seemed to have some distortion due to the curve of the shield.  The Pioneer is distortion free and seems to be 100% optically correct.   It's easy to clean and the removal process, while not as fast as most street helmets, is simple.  Unscrew the side screws, remove the peak and visor. Assembly is the reverse.

The Pioneer features a drop down internal tinted visor that is operated via slider on the left side of the helmet.  Some helmets use a clunky linkage or spring system to operate their visors, the Pioneer uses a cable.  Due to the peak blocking a good amount of sunlight, I haven't really needed to use the internal shield very often.  When I have used it, it has worked well and is easy to operate.

I tested a set of goggles and they fit perfectly.  The goggles fit properly within the eyeport of the helmet, the visor closes over the strap without issue.  The strap sits securely between the exhaust port and a raised section above the DOT tag.  


The Pioneer uses  a multi-density EPS that is channeled to help air flow.  The liner is hypoallergenic, removable, washable, breathable and does a good job at wicking away sweat.  The liner features a recessed portion for glasses.  I wear "vintage" style glasses with thick arms and they fit well without being pressed into my head.

The cheek pads are laser cut from a solid piece of foam and feel much nicer than the standard pieced together cheek pads in most helmets.  Another feature of the cheek pads is the quick removal loops on the bottom.  If you are ever in a crash, EMS workers can pull straight down/out to remove the pads and then remove your helmet with a greatly lower chance of compromising your c-spine. This really should be an industry standard in all helmets.  I spent a brief time as an EMT and removing a helmet from an injured person is no easy task.

Instead of the standard D-ring buckle system, the Pioneer uses a ratcheting buckle system with a quick release tab.  It is DOT approved and a time saver, especially if you need to adjust/remove your helmet while wearing your gloves.

Fit and Comfort

I wear an XS in every helmet I've ever owned. I prefer my helmets to be tight, on the verge of uncomfortable. The Pioneer seems to run a bit big.  Not unsafe but just a bit looser than I like.  This is easily solved by wearing a Buff or other type of balaclava which I do on about 90% of my rides anyway.  The internal shape is a long oval style and fits great with no hot spots or pressure points. The wind noise isn't bad, with ear plugs it's just a bit louder than my other full face helmets.  As I mentioned before, the peak does cause some drag at highway speed but it's not terrible, even without a fairing.  It's only really noticeable during head-checks but it's not enough to jerk your head back.


For a helmet that falls in the sub $150 price range, I was truly amazed at the overall build quality and features that are packed into this lid.  The vents all work well, the chin vent opens and closes smoothly. The visor latches closed securely, there no mid position notches, it's held in place by friction.  I've found no issues or "quirks".  Using black EPS would be a good touch (maybe there is a reason why it's white?).  Overall, the quality is outstanding.  

Final Thoughts

My ICON Airmada was my go-to helmet but I've been grabbing the Pioneer instead. It delivered features and quality far above my expectations, especially for the price.  Besides the slightly loose fit, I have found no negative points to this helmet.


Cheaper to Keep Her

Over the winter months, I get some serious bike lust.

My eyes start to wander to Craigslist or ADVrider and soon I'm day-dreaming about another Ulysses, a naked DL650 Strom or maybe even something small and stupid fun like a TW200.  Then reality sets in and I remember I'm currently self limiting to one bike right now.  Even though I sold the XJ once before, I don't think I could do it again willingly (if it was a financial emergency, sure).  Plus, after a certain point, you won't be able to get back what you put into a bike.  I don't have much money thrown at the XJ but I have time and a bit of my soul wrapped up in there.  It was my first real bike that wasn't a complete POS and it was the first bike that my wife and I rode together on.  Nostalgia can be priceless.

Loaded up for a 5 day trip, last October. 

Loving an old, almost outdated when it was new, bike can be a bit disheartening at times, especially if there isn't a good amount of aftermarket or support for that model.  The XJ600 SECA II (Diversion outside the USA) is like that.  Thankfully, XJRider.com is a wealth of knowledge and support.  When a bike like this starts to get long in the tooth, we have to begin scavenging parts off of compatible bikes, like the FZ6R.  Since the tail of my XJ is getting a bit squishy and low, it's time to bring in a donor part.  En-route from eBay is a 2010 FZ6R rear shock which should a great improvement over the stocker.

     It's a simple swap w/the stock unit, no mods or spacers required.

Once the rear suspension is remedied, it will be time to look at the front fork.  The ride is a bit too harsh for my taste.  This didn't really come to light until my trip last October when I went on a very spirited ride on some crazy back roads.  One particular section almost had whoops like a motocross track.  The front fork was pogo-ing pretty bad and that made me feel really uneasy; and feeling uneasy about how your bike handles is a recipe for disaster on a tight and technical road.  

When my wife used to ride with me, I replaced the fork seals and fluid (moving to 15w).  Now that I ride solo, I need to move back down to stock weight.  I've looked into fork swaps but that will require a lot of additional parts (wheel, brake calipers and etc) and will have to be handled at a later date along with a rear wheel swap (move away from the legacy tire size).  These mods will definitely push my invested amount past what the bike could realistically sell for. That's ok, because there is something to be said about creating what you want out of something and in turn, knowing everything about it.  

When I start to day-dream about a newer bike, I think about how little I paid for my XJ and how much enjoyment it's given me.  The insurance is down to $75 a year,  with good coverage amounts and it still gets 40 mpg (if don't get too throttle happy).  It might not have fuel injection, high end components or the exact engine characteristics that I prefer but she's a good bike that will take me where ever I want.  In the end, it is cheaper to keep her.