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!
We sort of named the bike after her, so...this one doesn't need much explanation!
I can give you several reasons why she was my favorite. Buuuuut we'll just leave it at, she's hot!
Alexis Lopez first caught my attention when she was a downloadable wallpaper for cell phones. When she walked into the shoot there was just as much coming as going in the assets department, making her an instant favorite.
McCoy Motorsports R1
Leave it to the McCoy clan to conjure up a crazy rear-mounted turbo system. These guys don't do cookie-cutter customs, so when they make a one-off it's truly unique. This R1 is a masterpiece from the custom wheels up to the insane turbo system and bodywork.
Just imagine rocking this ride around your town for a week-you'd become an instant celebrity.
Two Brothers ZX-6R
I've had a thing for lo-los with West Coast flair since I was a kid. And the Two Brother's ZX-6R looks like it came straight from the pages of Low Rider magazine. Curiously, the streetfighter strongly resembles the 2010 Z1000R.
"Shadow Boxer," 2004 ZX-10R
I'm the type of guy that's function before form, as I'd rather ride a total sleeper that's fast as hell. And that's just what Garth's '04 ZX-10R is, with a built motor and some juice this thing not only pushes over 200 HP at the wheel, but it's been GPS verified at over 200 mph! If this murdered-out monster isn't badass, I don't know what is!
Leo Vince Etched Exhaust and Two Brothers Custom Badge
I used to chop my pipes down or move the badges around just to make them a little different than everyone else's. Now there's a way cooler idea from two different pipe makers. I know, I have two choices here, but I can't decide which one I like better.
Two Brothers lets you mix and match different colors along with a customized badge, while Leo Vince does some cool laser etching of whatever you want to display. I can't decide which one I prefer, so I'm calling it a tie. You'll have to decide for yourself.
$ check Web for application
Eurocomponents USA Grips
Billet grips used to be a love 'em or leave 'em product. But, Eurocomponents came out with these finger holders that feature different choices of ends, caps and colors to let you go as crazy or as subtle as your style. They've changed my mind about the "coolness" of billet grips anyways.
Starting at $185
Lawst Caws Frame Plugs
Perfection is found in the details and the Lawst Caws frame plugs take a budget approach to this notion. That's right, for under 30 bones you can clean up your frame's act. Though they may seem insignificant, a little goes a long way and for just a few bucks they wont break the piggybank either.
Vance and Hines CS-One Exhaust
I have fond memories of Vance and Hines exhausts from my early days of riding. The CS-One pipe blends new school performance and style with old school history and heritage at an affordable price. The boys are back in town.
Michelin Power One tires
I was really struggling with stock tires at a trackday, but when we spooned on the Power Ones all of my stress was eliminated within a couple laps. Where I was slipping and sliding previously I was now getting on the gas earlier with more confidence. Then I decided to keep the tires on the bike for the street and they held up really well for a load of commuter miles. What more could you ask for really?
$ local dealer
Pirelli Diablo Supercorsa SP tires
Until now I would have never guessed a tire would top my list of favorite performance parts. But that went out the window the first day I tired these sticky buns. Yeah, don't kid yourself these are THAT good. Trust me, on track, on the street or in the canyons these tires are amazing! They heat up quickly, stick like stink and last forever.
$ local dealer
Ed Hardy Hayabusa
When your work looks so good everyone thinks it's a graphic decal you've done something right. H2o Cycles somehow made an ugly design look cool.
Two Brothers ZX-6R
This killer Kawi has serious OG flavor and West Coast roots. It's simple, flashy and has heart. I've always been a sucker for the low-rider scene and when flaked-out paint and wire wheels make their way on to a bike it's an instant classic. Good work Two Brothers.
Is it a coincidence that the owner of a powder blue bike is named Powder? Maybe, but that doesn't really matter to me as much as the fact that the blue body contrasted with the black chassis is a hot combo. Add the race inspiration from the Rizla Suzuki team instead of skulls or flames and I'd call it a winner. Hell, I had one of my personal bikes painted much the same.