The Goods - Hot New 2006 Motorcycle Helmets & Motorcycle Accessories
Spring is definitely our favorite time of year. The sun sticks around longer each day, the roads clear up, the girls get their shorts out and the new motorcycle helmet models start piling up around the Super Streetbike office. Here are a few of our favorit
HJC CL-SP "Animus"
Though not a particularly high-profile brand, HJC is the number one-selling helmet in U.S.--success that's driven by high-quality, high-value products like the $174.99 CL-SP shown here. Featuring a sculpted, injection-molded polycarbonate shell with multiple aero "vanes" that make the helmet look much more expensive than it is, the CL-SP is well-ventilated thanks to an adjustable chin vent, high-capacity forehead vents and a Venturi exhaust spoiler at the rear that pulls air through the channeled EPS liner. Also notable is the large eyeport covered by an anti-fog-treated shield equipped with a two-stage "compression closure" that helps create an exceptionally tight seal with the eyeport gasket. A great value. www.hjchelmets.com
KBC FFR "Element"
We've long admired the functionality of a flip-front helmet, especially for riding in urban environs, but until now this feature has only been available on geeked-out touring lids that we wouldn't be caught dead wearing. With its new FFR model, KBC has finally merged flip-front technology with street-smart styling that is more suitable to the sportbike crowd. Featuring a single-button opening system for safe and easy operation and an innovative "Mag Cam" hinge (made from magnesium components for durability) to securely lock the front of the helmet in place, the FFR offers just as much comfort at speed as a traditional full-face helmet, if not the same protection. Just be aware that the rotating chinbar on the FFR doesn't offer the same level of frontal impact protection as a one-piece shell design, but if you demand the convenience of a flip-front and can live with the protection of a 34 helmet, the $269.95 FFR is by far your most stylish choice.
KBC Force RR "Dark"
A company that continues to impress us with features-rich, affordably priced helmets is KBC. Case in point--the Korean-made Force RR Dark (a limited-edition design) features stunning graphics, a full-length air intake system along the top of the helmet and a plush, two-color comfort lining (removable for easy cleaning), making the Force RR look and feel as good as anything from the big Japanese brands with an MSRP of just $219.95. Made from high-impact polycarbonate, the Force RR also benefits from a quick-release, scratch-resistant visor featuring a unique and functional "RIB" seal to reduce wind noise. www.kbc-helmet.com
Shoei X-11 "Kagayama"
Let HJC and KBC hold down the budget end of the helmet spectrum--if cost is no object and you demand absolutely the finest helmet in terms of design, function, fit and finish, look no further than Shoei's $692.99 X-11 model. Built around an "AIM" (Advanced Integrated Matrix) shell that is both ultra-light (the X-11 weighs just 3.35 pounds in a size medium) and ultra-rigid, the X-11 has been shaped through extensive wind tunnel testing for maximum comfort and noise reduction, aided by the "Aero Edge" spoiler on the back that reduces drag and lift to diminish rider fatigue. A "Dual Air Charge" system on the forehead of the helmet (with both upper and lower vents) manipulates air pressure inside the helmet to provide unparalleled venting, and an ergonomically designed interior structure (completely removable) combines top-level fit and comfort. Simply the best of everything on the X-11.
Shoei RF-1000 "Joust"
If you desire the same quality and construction as offered by the X-11 in a more affordable package, consider Shoei's RF-1000. The $474.99 RF-1000 features a similar AIM shell and ergonomically sculpted interior for a great fit but saves some paper by utilizing a less sophisticated ventilation system (the Dual Air Charge forehead vents are replaced with single vents here) and a less aggressive aero spoiler at the back of the helmet. One thing the RF-1000 does share with its costlier sibling is the excellent, CX-1 scratch-resistant, locking shield system featuring no-tool removal. Bonus style points because this is the same model helmet Shoei-sponsored stunters Kyle Woods and Kane Friesen rock in competition. www.shoei-helmets.com
Loud and Clear
Get an eyeful (and an earful) of this all-new, MotoGP-inspired X-Treme exhaust from Laser, made for the all-new, MotoGP-inspired 2006 Yamaha R6. Featuring two super-stubby silencers that exit just aft of the bellypan, this system offers all-titanium construction, a race-style flow-through baffle for maximum performance (and decibels) and a trick, trackside look previously unavailable anywhere in the U.S. outside of the Laguna Seca paddock in July. Get yours now for $529.30 through Spiegler Performance Parts.www.spieglerusa.com
You've seen these armored vests on the backs of Florida-based stunters like the Brunelle Bros. and Vertical Joe--now you can get your own "urban body armor" from StuntRagz. Low profile to fit under shirts and jackets and lightweight for comfort, the armor is made from injection-molded foam with an articulated plastic spine protector on the back and comes in four colors: black, blue, gold or gray. Featuring adjustable side straps for comfort, the quality is decent (the sample delivered to us had a few loose threads and some rough edges on the plastic pieces--your mileage may vary) but the pricing is hard to argue with--just $99, including elbow pads (not shown).www.stuntragz.com
Nip and Tuck
No matter how sleek and aerodynamic designers make today's sportbikes, to satisfy government safetycrats companies are forced to spoil its gorgeous designs with oversized rear fenders and turn signals that often look like something stolen from a farm implement. Thankfully, aftermarket specialists like Lockhart Phillips USA are around to help eradicate these DOT-mandated eyesores with simple, elegant fender-eliminator kits like the one shown here. Fabbed from sturdy, aircraft-grade 6061 aluminum, LP's slick brackets are a designer's dream and won't bend or fold. Available with or without LP's own Lightworks Stinger LED marker lights (which feature a unique aerodynamic shape and on-display LED electronics), these fender eliminators can be had in five different finishes (black, blue, gray or red powdercoat or polished aluminum) to fit nearly every sportbike, for prices ranging from $41.95-$59.95. www.lockhartphillips.com
The Third Dimension
Check out the new hotness from 3D Billet, the latest name in the world of sportbike bling. 3D offers everything you could want to smooth out and sex up your Suzuki, including mirror block off covers, brake and clutch reservoir covers, engine covers, grips, levers, spools and more. We had the opportunity to inspect a handful of covers and found the quality to be right on--the machined designs on the `Busa reservoir covers ($124.95, available in either the Hayabusa kanji or the "Superman" logo) were clean and crisp, and the chrome plating on the mirror blanks (also $124.94) was flawless (though we wish these included matching hardware to save us a trip to the shop). If you want bling, 3D Billet has got you covered. www.3dbillet.com