Joe Rocket RKT101 Helmet
Given Joe Rocket's ever-expanding line of riding gear, it was only a matter of time before the company completed its head-to-toe coverage by offering a helmet-the RKT101. With a fiberglass Spectra composite weave shell, the RKT101 meets Snell 2005 and DOT standards. Venti-lation consists of one large chin vent along with two intake and two exhaust vents in the top of the helmet. Inside, the cheekpads and liner are washable and removable, and a streamline, wraparound neck roll is said to reduce wind noise.
Made in Korea by HJC for Joe Rocket, the helmet shares some traits with HJC's top-of-the-line AC12 but is also significantly different. The shield and its mechanism are identical, with the same simple removal and installation procedures. The shield provides a good seal without fogging on even a cool, humid day. Peripheral vision is excellent, with the wide opening providing a clear view out the side of the helmet. The RKT101 is on the heavy side, scaling in at 3.62 pounds as compared with an equivalently sized Arai Vector at 3.26 pounds. The difference is noticeable, but not exceedingly so; like other recent HJCs, the Joe Rocket's shell design reduces the effect of windblast on the helmet, especially when your head is turned.
The RKT is quite comfortable, with a soft lining that is snug without applying undue pressure at any specific point. The neck roll does expand around the base of the helmet and provide more of a form-fit than it would otherwise, but the helmet is still on the noisy side compared with some others. Ventilation is far above average and rivals that of some top-shelf Japanese helmets, with the top front vents providing a steady blast of cooling air directly onto your scalp. It's enough that in cooler temperatures the front vents must be kept closed for comfort.
The RKT101 is available in sizes XS-XL and in a variety of color and graphics options. Prices start at $249.
Spidi Race Vent Gloves
Fully Vented Summer Golves Have Always Been kind of a compromise. You either got great venting with questionable overall protection or you got great protection with somewhat-questionable venting performance. Spidi's Race Vent gloves appear to have changed that paradigm.
Besides an outer shell constructed of perforated premium Italian top-grain leather, the Race Vent gloves feature titanium fiber panels on the knuckles and sides of the hands backed by foam and felt inserts, plus a padded outer thumb to provide ample impact protection. The large titanium fiber panel on the back of the hands has a large air-intake vent integrated into its construction; plus three finger vents contribute even further to increased airflow. The Keramide-reinforced and padded palm offers both abrasion resistance and comfort, and multiple flex areas allow freedom of movement to avoid fatigue. The Reflective Reflex area provides increased nighttime riding safety, and hook-and-loop wrist and gauntlet closures ensure a snug fit.
Spidi really seems to have ramped up its product development lately, and the Race Vent gloves are the latest fruits of that work. Overall fit and comfort are excellent, with the usual pre-curved, nicely tailored fingers offering great control without feeling too cramped when wrapping your fingers around the grips. Best of all, however, is the ventilation; the Race Vents are definitely one of the few fully armored, race-oriented gloves that have ventilation you can truly feel while riding. Substantial airflow reaches your fingers and back of the hand via the perforated leather and functional knuckle vents. And while thankfully we haven't had the opportunity to test the protective qualities of the Spidi gloves, our past experience with the company's gloves leaves us no reason to believe that quality has changed. Overall, an excellent buy and, at the price of $189.95, a bargain in our opinion. Available in sizes XS to XXXL, in red/white/black, white/silver/black or plain black.
Aerostich Tire Repair Kit...
Aerostich Tire Repair Kit
Aerostich Tire Repair Kit
The unspoken karma with tire repair kits is that if you carry one around with you, you won't suffer a flat tire. Apparently El Jefe's karma isn't exactly golden, as he discovered on the way to work one morning; a nice 2-inch wood screw decided to work its way into the rear tire of the Suzuki Bandit 1250S he was riding, luckily only a quarter mile away from his home.
Andy Goldfine's Aerostich Riderwearhouse (of the ubiquitous Roadcrafter oversuit fame) specializes in carrying products that are as well thought out as they are economical and efficient. The Aerostich Tire Repair kit is no different. It includes five threaded CO2 cartridges, an air chuck, a flex adapter connector, rubber cement, plug/patch installation tools, and multiple plugs and patches. In fact, it's that last part that we like the most regarding the Aerostich kit; most tire repair kits only include a couple of plugs or patches, but the Aerostich kit has a good number of both inside. While the kit obviously can only carry so many CO2 cartridges, they are readily available at most hobby shops. All these materials are packed neatly in a zippered pouch that's about the size of your hand and weighs less than a pound.
Unlike some other tire repair kits we've tried, the Aerostich kit utilizes unique rubber plugs that are self-vulcanizing, with their own adhesive seemingly soaked in. It took some muscle to clean out the puncture and then force a plug into it using the supplied tools (in order to properly install the plug, you need to work past the tire's steel belts), but after about 15 minutes of effort, we managed to get the plug fully inserted. The CO2 cartridges are supplied with a cover to prevent your fingers from getting stuck to the frost that forms when the CO2 is released from the cartridges; you might want to wear gloves anyway, as the uncovered air chuck frosted up pretty heavily after four cartridges. We were a bit skeptical that the plugs would hold up, but we rode on the tire fully inflated for over 250 miles with no problems. We were very satisfied with the Aerostich Tire Repair kit's performance, and at a suggested retail price of only $32, it's a very inexpensive way to gain the peace of mind that comes from having such a kit with you.