Last year was a change for both the world and the motorcycle industry. While it started with plenty of cheers, there was more than its share of jeers as a downturn in the economy left only the strongest to survive. But with hard times comes innovation, and there was plenty that made its way through the SSB office, and we tip our hats to our favorite items from 2009. We're confident that these are must haves (though it might be a little tricky to get yourself a model), and should be part of every bike ensemble.
Alpinestars Reflex Knee Guards
It's the small things that matter the most and wearing proper knee protection is key. Just remember how bad you skinned your knee when you stacked your BMX bike and you get the idea. The Reflex guards from AStar are a steal at $25 and under your jeans they're hardly noticeable. Consider them a must-have.
Shift Avenger Jacket
There are tons of cool looking jackets on the market. But how many look good and hold up in a spill? I crash tested my Shift Avenger this year and walked away with only a small tear on the forearm. With sick style, comfort and safety, how could I pick anything else?
Sartso Killer Jeans
I regret to say that I've been riding in my usual LRGs simply because I haven't seen a Kevlar pant that looks decent, not to mention one that doesn't feel like sandpaper. But suddenly a new product lands on my desk and it turns out to be my new favorite apparel piece. And not just for riding; I've found myself reaching for my Sartsos on Friday night before hitting the town. The styles and fit are exactly what I've been looking for.
Sadly the CR was the last of the breed, but boy did it go out with a bang. This is the baddest Buell yet, thanks to a hard-hitting V-twin engine, powerful brakes and a chassis from the gods. It's sad we no longer have a proper American sportbike but if you can get your hands on one, do it! The CR is a legend that will not soon be forgotten.
$11,999...if you can still get one
Kawi's latest version of the ZX-6R has some serious balls, big-boy ZX-10 looks and a solid chassis holding it all together. Thanks to all the extra punch in the pants, 750 riders had better beware.
OK, so maybe there are a few quirks that I don't totally love, but then pretty much every bike has its odd characteristics. The Streetfighter encompasses everything its name suggests: wicked looks and superbike performance-just without all the plastic. And the price is manageable too, so you get that elusive exotic factor that no stripped down Japanese sportbike can touch.
One Off Creationz License Plate Holder
When you have a sleek wide wheel custom, nothing ruins it faster than an ugly square plate. One Off Creationz makes a nifty little solenoid that folds the plate up when lowering the bike, and it pops back out for riding (yeah right-Ed.).
XS Boost Fan Control
Most sportbikes run pretty warm, that's no surprise. But how come the fan doesn't kick on until the radiator is nearly boiling over? It makes sense to keep the temp cool all the time instead of waiting till the last second.
The XS Boost fan controller simply wires into your stock fan and lets you turn it on and off at will. Stuck at a traffic light? Pop the fan on and cool the bike down instantly. Brilliant.
Race Logic Performance Box
Everyone talks a good game, but with the new PBox from Race Logic you can actually put your bike to the test. Gone are the days of heading to the track for any performance numbers, now simply connect the PBox for 0-60, quarter-mile, roll-ons and many other performance tests. If that's not enough, it uses GPS technology so you know it's accurate. Now you can track what your mods are really worth!