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Added a product review for Rocket Exhaust - 2015 Yamaha YZ450F 8/30/2015 7:09 PM
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Tested: Rocket Exhaust - 2015 Yamaha YZ450F

Rating:

The Good:

The Bad:

Overall:

Ever since the 2015 Vital MX 450 Shootout back in January, I've had the 2015 YZ450F in my garage. Out of the box, the overall package makes it very competitive, with the stock powerplant being the biggest standout. Still, I was curious to see what could be done with a simple mod, and decided to try out a system from Rocket Exhaust.

Rocket Exhaust Features:

  • Constructed from 6061 aluminum and 304 stainless steel.
  • All models come equipped with carbon fiber end caps.
  • Optional carbon fiber exhaust cans and FIM 2 Meter Max sound test cans.
  • Optional exhaust can lengths available.
  • Made in the USA.
  • Price as tested: $604.95.

First Impressions

From years of experience and plenty of wasted money, I've come to the conclusion that unless you're a top rider where every ounce counts, or are sponsored (where there is no cost), the exotic titanium and carbon systems are too expensive and just don’t last as long as the aluminum/stainless versions. The fact that Rocket mostly utilizes these materials when building their systems shows in the clean design and build of the exhaust I received. Among Rocket's options, we went with a standard length can, but added their blacked out option, along with optional heat shield brackets for the headpipe. This allowed the use of the Yamaha's stock heat shields.

Installation is be a bit of a process, but that's more due to the unique nature of Yamaha's exhaust layout. While the exhaust can be changed out only by removing the right-hand side panel, removing the shock can be helpful for those that are struggling to tighten the head pipe to the cylinder head and need additional room. Overall, Rocket's system was much easier to install than stock, thanks to its on point bends, and the improved fitment around the front of the cylinder head.

On the Track

The most obvious change is of course the exhaust tone when rolling out onto the track. While Rocket does offer AMA-legal cans, the exhaust I used was the standard model. That means that this system was definitely a bit louder than the standard exhaust. In stock trim, the Yamaha is extremely responsive with a very impressive and "snappy" hit as you roll on the throttle. With the Rocket however, the bike doesn’t leap forward as much with each blip. The overall bottom-end power has been smoothed out and has a more roll on feel compared to the stock snap. The positive was the fact that the bottom-end snap was traded out for a more progressive mid-to-top power, making the overall powerband feel wider.

After riding with the Rocket Exhaust for an extended period of time, I swapped it back out for the stock system to compare. This left me a bit torn, as I definitely enjoyed the response of the stock system as this is the power I typically look for in a 450. But, the added mid-to-top power on the Rocket system can make the bike easier to ride.

Long-Term Durability

I think the quality and craftsmanship of the pipe is very good, as I experienced zero problems during the 20 or so hours I used the system. As long as it's repacked when it breaks down and gets louder, I have no doubts that it would last for years. I also strongly recommend the pipe shield bracket option to re-use the stock heat shields. Without them, you're just asking for melted boots.

The Last Word

Most people decide to invest in a pipe to gain more power, but for most the Yamaha doesn’t really need more. For myself personally, the pipe didn't meet all my needs as I was would have liked to retained a bit more of the initial hit. Overall, Rocket has produced a solid pipe for a good price. This is an ideal pipe for someone who wants to tame the Yamaha a bit off the bottom and wants more top-end, or needs a good value pipe to replace a damaged or broken stock exhaust.

Vital MX Rating: 3.5 Stars - Very Good


Check out RocketExhaust.com to see all their available exhaust options.

Review by Derrick Caskey // Photos by Michael Lindsay

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Added a product review for 2016 Yamaha YZ250F 8/19/2015 9:39 PM
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First Impressions: 2016 Yamaha YZ250F

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Hear our First Impressions on the 2016 version of Yamaha's highly-acclaimed YZ250F.

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Added a product review for 2016 Kawasaki KX450F 8/13/2015 8:01 AM
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First Impressions: 2016 Kawasaki KX450F

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First Impressions: 2016 Kawasaki KX450F — More Motocross Photos

Hear our thoughts about the new 2016 Kawasaki KX450F after spending the day on it out at High Point Raceway.

This product has no reviews yet.

Added a product review for Boyesen Supercooler Water Pump Kit 7/15/2015 8:15 PM
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Tested: Boyesen Supercooler

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The Bad:

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You know the drill... the combustion of fuel and oxygen in our bike's engines creates power, and while this reaction propels it through a series of mechanical functions, it also creates heat. The faster you are, or the longer the motos, the higher the heat. At a certain point, the higher temperatures become the enemy when it gets to the point where it decreases power and reliability. Of course, most modern bikes are water-cooled to keep the temperatures in check, but Boyesen has tried to improve one of the most important aspects, the water pump, with their Supercooler.

Boyesen Supercooler Features:

Two-piece cast aluminum construction.

Increased coolant flow at all RPM ranges.

Patented Nautilus style impeller for hydrodynamic efficiency.

Price $189.99 - $219.99.

First Impressions

At first glance, the Boyesen Supercooler is visually larger than the stock Kawasaki unit. This is because the Supercooler's impeller is larger, which means that the housing has to be larger to accept it. The Boyesen Supercooler also features smoother transitions and surfaces internally, allowing the water to flow without as much resistance throughout the water pump. Think of it as a porting job for your water pump.

The Supercooler that arrived for us is also part of Boyesen's Spectra series. While the Supercooler is available in silver, black, and magnesium on most models, the Spectra series also offers colors that are more desirable for certain bikes. In this case, I received a blue water pump to outfit our 2015 KX450F.

As for the installation, it was fairly simple. First, I drained the coolant, loosened and removed the bolts holding on the stock cover, and removed it from the water pump hose. As for the stock impeller, most can be removed if you place the bike in gear and hold down the rear brake pedal (since the water pump is driven off the engine, it will turn over the engine when it's turned). As for the new water pump impeller, simply reverse the steps while using the recommended torque specs for the impeller. The impeller is not the strongest part in the engine, so overtightening it can break the part. Then install the new gasket, place the dowels from the stock cover into the Boyesen unit, tighten it back down, and refill the bike with coolant.

On the Track

So how did I compare the before and after performance of the Supercooler while riding? I decided to monitor it with a temperature sensor. To do this, I cut a radiator hose and installed an in-line sensor which had a digital meter, so I could view the temperature in real-time. The results were fairly obvious, as I tested this with the stock water pump and Boyesen one within about 20 minutes of each other. The Boyesen unit runs a couple degrees cooler at idle, and I saw as high as an eight degree temperature swing when riding at pace.

As for how the Supercooler aids in perfromance, specifically in EFI bikes, you can get more info by checking out this interview we did with the Boyesen staff last year - Boyesen: Engine Heat VS Power Loss. In short, keeping the bike at its optimum temperature allows the EFI system to run in the most powerful map. If the bike becomes too hot, the EFI system will slightly decrease power as a failsafe.

Long-Term Durability

This isn't actually my first go-around with the Boysen Supercooler. While our 2015 KX450F has had one for the past two months, I've also had one on another personal bike for over one year without any problems. As with any area of the engine cases though, it can be susceptible to impacts and damage caused by debris or other bikes if it doesn't have proper protection. In the case of the KX450F, the water pump is a bit exposed and could take some serious damage in certain situations. But that's true of the stocker, as well.

The Last Word

To put it simply, the Boyesen Supercooler does exactly what it's supposed to do. By increasing flow, it offers the engine the ability to run cooler and keep closer to its optimal operating temperature. This aids the engine's reliability and allows it to stay closer to its maximum power output.

Overall, it isn't a must-have product for every rider, but one that can definitely help those with a heavy throttle hand, or who live in hot climates and are experiencing cooling problems.

Vital MX Rating

For more information on Boyesen's Supercoolers, check out Boyesen.com.

About the Test Rider

Michael Lindsay- is a born-and-raised moto freak and gearhead from the heart of motocross in Southern California. First swinging a leg over a bike at the age of five, he immediately caught the racing bug, spending nearly every weekend behind a gate…and a lot of time on the couch while injured. While swinging back and forth between moto and the off-road scene, giving him a wide range of experience on the bike. Of course, all of this led to one thing: Lindsay loves working on his bikes almost as much as he loves talking about them. When he’s not in the Vital MX forum or writing his latest product review, you can find him out at the track taking dirt naps, snapping some pictures, or drooling over the latest parts for his bike. With an outspoken personality, gearhead background, and as Vital MX’s guru for product, Michael is here to share his unbiased opinion.

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Added a product review for Galfer SKW Oversize Front Rotor Kit 6/20/2015 7:51 AM
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Tested: Galfer SKW 270mm Front Rotor Kit

Rating:

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Over the past few years, larger front brake rotors have become more popular, especially on modern 450s. An aside to this trend has been the increased frequency of floating rotors, which have taken away attention from the good ol' solid-mounted rotor. Until recently, I'll proclaim that I was dead-set on riding the floating rotor train...until I had the chance to test a couple bikes with larger solid-mounted rotors. To give this my best comparison, I grabbed a 270mm SKW solid-mounted rotor from Galfer to test on our 2015 Kawasaki KX450F, which comes stock with a 270mm floating rotor.

Galfer SKW 270mm Front Rotor Kit Features:

  • 270mm diamater rotor produced from 420 stainless steel.
  • Caliper bracket made of 6061 T-651 CNC billet aluminum.
  • MSRP: $150.00.

First Impressions

Over the past few years I've had the chance to sample the majority of Galfer's products, and the SKW 270mm kit gave me the same impression as those I'd tried before...quality. The kit is simple, and for $150 the package includes a 270mm SKW solid-mounted rotor, along with a billet aluminum bracket for the caliper to help accommodate the larger rotor. In this case, the 2015 Kawasaki does come stock with a 270mm-sized rotor, so the bracket wasn't necessary. I did switch it anyhow, as the Galfer bracket was lighter, appeared to be tougher, and just flat-out looked better. (Style wins points). The rotor itself continues the trend, as it's also lighter than the stock unit by 3.5 ounces.

On the Track

As I mentioned before, I decided to test the SKW kit on the 2015 KX450F, which already features its own 270mm floating rotor. The reason for this was to find the difference and feel in the actual rotor itself.

Once the rotor was broken in, the difference in action and power was immediately noticeable. To put it simply, the solid rotor doesn't move when the pads press against it like the stock floating unit would. That means there's a more positive feel from your fingers to the action of the brake. The floating rotor has a bit more give before braking action, which relates to more lever travel. Because of this, I would tend to grab the lever a bit quicker to activate the brakes, but I'd typically get in a rush and cause the brakes to lock as I'd grab the lever too hard with the stocker.

Overall, I was left with more consistent braking action. This was extremely helpful in dry and slick conditions, where I'd tend to misjudge the stock brakes and lock them, causing me to tuck the front end or slide.

Long-Term Durability

It's interesting to see the wear difference between some stock rotors and a quality aftermarket unit. In some cases, I've found that a stock rotor will thin out and wear down just as quickly as the brake pads. However, Galfer's SKW rotor has been through two sets of pads with almost no wear to the rotor at all.

The only real negative to this large solid-mounted rotor is the higher chance to bend it or damage it due to an impact.

The Last Word

Even on the KX450F, which may seem like the least likely bike to add a 270mm rotor onto, the Galfer SKW was an improvement. At $150.00, this a pretty solid investment, no matter which brand/model you're on. I have no real complaints because Galfer has produced another great product.

Vital MX Rating

Check out GalferUSA.com to see what braking-related products they have for your bike.

About the Test Rider

Michael Lindsay - is a born-and-raised moto freak and gearhead from the heart of motocross in Southern California. First swinging a leg over a bike at the age of five, he immediately caught the racing bug, spending nearly every weekend behind a gate…and a lot of time on the couch while injured. While swinging back and forth between moto and the off-road scene, giving him a wide range of experience on the bike. Of course, all of this led to one thing: Lindsay loves working on his bikes almost as much as he loves talking about them. When he’s not in the Vital MX forum or writing his latest product review, you can find him out at the track taking dirt naps, snapping some pictures, or drooling over the latest parts for his bike. With an outspoken personality, gearhead background, and as Vital MX’s guru for product, Michael is here to share his unbiased opinion.

Review and Photos by Michael Lindsay

This product has no reviews yet.

Added a product review for Polisport Folding Bike Stand 5/27/2015 10:43 AM
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Tested: Polisport Fold up Bike Stand

Rating:

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Whether they're constructed from metal or plastic, and are tall or small, we all have bike stands. Aluminum stands are sturdy, but take up a bit of space. The size of your stand may not be a big deal if you're going for a solo ride in your pickup, but if you're hauling a few bikes, then every bit of space becomes important. If you're like me and need the extra space, a folding stand could be quite helpful, like this one from Polisport we've been using recently.

Polisport Fold Up Bike Stand Features:

  • Supports up to 550 pounds.
  • Crafted through injection-molded rubber and polypropylene.
  • Weighs just over nine pounds.
  • Removable side panels.
  • Available in eight color options.
  • MSRP $99.99.

First Impressions

Polisport's folding stand arrives as you might expect, all folded up. When folded flat, the stand is roughly four inches thick and features a nice rounded handle at the top (coming out of the center of the stand top) to carry it with. Unfolding the stand is quite simple, as you just spread the the frame a bit, then press down on the top of the stand until it completely unfolds and clicks into place.

Once expanded, the stand spreads its weight by contacting the ground in six places. Obviously, the four corners of the stand hold the weight but it also touches the ground in the center of the holding joints, giving it a bit of extra stability. The rest of the construction is fairly simple. The top features rubber ridges to hold the bike in place, and the side panels can be removed if needed.

At the Track/ In the Shop

I found Polisport's Folding Bike Stand to be useful whether I was at the track or in my garage. While in the shop, I could have a few stacked in the corner without taking up too much space. The actual stand is very practical and set at a good height, not too short but just tall enough that even the awkward-sitting Honda will have both wheels off the ground. Also, the rubber ridges offer great traction and are tall enough that they leave a bit of a channel for oils, fuel, etc to settle in and not affect the grip of the rubber.

Heading to the track is where this stand really shines, especially when you have a full truck or van. While a folding stand may seem gimmicky, it's quite nice to have that extra room when necessary.

Long-Term Durability

In the past, I haven't had the greatest luck with plastic stands. Because of my smaller size, I typically swing the bike onto the stand with a bit of momentum, which has led to some cracking or failure of stands. Because of this, I took it pretty easy on the Polisport stand for the first few weeks, but all seemed to be good. Once I started to treat it as I normally would, I noticed a little bit of flex when the bike slammed onto the stand. But after three months, the stand is still intact and hasn't cracked.

The only thing I've found to be an issue is the fact that a bit of dirt can bind up the hinges, so I take care to pressure wash the stand and occasionally use some WD-40 to keep the hinges freed up.

The Last Word

As I mentioned before, I viewed the Polisport Fold Up Bike Stand as a bit of a gimmick when I first received it, but have really grown to like it during my time using it. Overall, I can only find one deterrent from buying this stand, which is the lack of a tool tray that's common on other brands. For me, though, the Polisport is a traveling stand and the tray would just be in the way, so I don't find it as a major negative.

Vital MX Rating

For more information on Polisport's extensive plastic product lineup, check out Polisport.com.

About the Test Rider

Michael Lindsay- is a born-and-raised moto freak and gearhead from the heart of motocross in Southern California. First swinging a leg over a bike at the age of five, he immediately caught the racing bug, spending nearly every weekend behind a gate…and a lot of time on the couch while injured. While swinging back and forth between moto and the off-road scene, giving him a wide range of experience on the bike. Of course, all of this led to one thing: Lindsay loves working on his bikes almost as much as he loves talking about them. When he’s not in the Vital MX forum or writing his latest product review, you can find him out at the track taking dirt naps, snapping some pictures, or drooling over the latest parts for his bike. With an outspoken personality, gearhead background, and as Vital MX’s guru for product, Michael is here to share his unbiased opinion.

Review and Photos by Michael Lindsay

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Added a product review for Fly Racing F2 Carbon Helmet 5/12/2015 11:05 PM
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Tested: Fly Racing F2 Carbon Helmet

Rating:

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Fly Racing has been around just short of 20 years and in that time, they've gone from selling handlebars and low-end helmets, to being a top-of-the-line gear manufacturer. Over the past couple of years, Fly has really stepped up with their helmet development; focusing on creating a safe, comfortable, durable, and reasonably affordable level helmet. Considering that Trey Canard, Andrew Short and many more of their top athletes regularly wear and race in the F2 Carbon, I thought this mid-range helmet had to be worth a try.

Fly F2 Carbon Helmet Features:

  • Composite construction shell - aircraft-grade woven carbon fiber and Kevlar® composite.
  • Dual-density EPS liner - two layers of EPS (Expanded Polystyrene).
  • Quick-release washable CoolMax® comfort liner and cheek pads.
  • SNELL M2010, DOT approved.
  • MSRP $319.95.

First Impressions

The Fly F2 carbon helmet is the second-tier helmet in Fly's lineup, behind the Formula Facet helmet. Straight out of the bag, there's not too much of a notable difference between the F2 and the Formula, besides a couple different ventilation designs and the mouthpiece. Overall, the shape of the helmet is pretty normal, with an exception of some of the ventilation systems running along the front side and also the back of the helmet.

My initial thought when I put the helmet on was how comfortable it was. Having never worn a Fly helmet before, I was definitely skeptical, but the fit was virtually perfect for me. It had an overall snug feel, but nothing too tight by any means, which is absolutely better than having a sloppy-fitting helmet with gaps. One of the most standout features that I noticed right away was the helmet liner and how comfortable the general feel was.

Initially, it did feel as if the mouthpiece area was a bit tight and the 100% goggles I wear were going to be cutting it close, but they managed to squeak in. In some cases, the mouthpiece may not provide enough room for goggles with noseguards, depending upon the shape of your face.

On the Track

Compared to previous helmets I've worn (the latest has been a Shoei VFX-W), the F2 Carbon is by far the lightest helmet I've ever tried without a doubt. The comfort level of the helmet, combined with the light weight, meant that it took virtually no time to get used to or become comfortable with spinning laps while wearing it. The second most noticeable thing that grabbed my attention was how well the ventilation system worked.

At first, it honestly took me a couple laps to adjust to the ventilation system because of the noise I could hear coming in. After a few laps however, this wasn't an issue and was something I was really becoming impressed with. As the temperatures have been rising, I was surprised at how much less I was sweating and how dry the liner stayed during the long motos.As for the fit while riding, I never felt the helmet slid in any unusual directions, and it stayed in place even during the most abrupt motions.

Long-Term Durability

Without taking a major impact crash to the helmet, it's tough to truly put the helmet to test in a durability situation. So far I've encountered your typical slow-speed corner crashes, which sometimes can be the worst concussion culprits, and everything has held up great so far. The liner has also worn well, even after multiple trips through the washing machine, the comfort and durability haven't seemed to fade at all. The overall fit has maintained quite a snug type feeling as well, as there hasn't been any additional slop or movement in the helmet from my first ride.

Last Words

The Fly F2 Carbon helmet was hugely impressive for me as an all around helmet. With a retail price of $320, I feel that the F2 Carbon helmet is possibly the best helmet in its price range. It's an absolute bang-for-the-buck winner with some of its features, and its general fit and wear. I can truthfully say that I would confidently consider buying this helmet at the listed retail price. There are helmets better than the F2 Carbon on the market, but I don't think you will find another helmet of the same quality at this relatively affordable price range.

Vital MX Rating

For more information on Fly Racing's extensive lineup, head on over to FlyRacing.com.

Review by Jessie Huntley // Photos by Michael Lindsay

This product has no reviews yet.

Added a product review for Race Tech 19mm Shock Shaft Kit 5/3/2015 8:30 PM
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Tested: Race Tech 19mm Shock Shaft Kit

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At the top level of the sport, suspension with larger sizes and more adjustment are all the rage. But for the average joe, most of these parts wouldn't make a large enough difference to make up for their even larger price tags. To help trim a pro's racing costs, Race Tech developed a 19mm Shock Shaft Kit to give their Supercross/Arenacross riders a bit more safety and the added adjustment found in kit suspension. Recently however, Race Tech contacted us to try this kit on an application that could be beneficial to the public.

Race Tech 19mm Shock Shaft Kit:

  • Eight clicks per revolution rebound adjuster allows for fine-tuning.
  • Built in rebound separator valve.
  • Around 40% stronger than stock 16mm shock shafts.
  • Spring top out provides less harshness and a freer initial movement
  • Made in the USA.
  • MSRP: $999.99.

First Impressions

At 19mm, the larger shock shaft kit will stand out solely by size and its black anodized clevis. The majority of late model bikes utilize a 16mm shock shaft, such as the 2015 Honda CRF450R we had Race Tech's kit installed in. The reason we tested this in the CRF450R, is the added value by gaining a rebound adjuster in the clevis. For 2015, Honda's KYB shock came with a new shock adjuster design that housed high and low-speed compression along with the rebound at the top of the shock, so the rebound adjuster at the bottom of the shaft in the clevis was eliminated. There can be a bit of a problem with this, as the new rebound adjuster in the top of the shock seems to be a bit more high-speed based, and doesn't offer the same feel when adjusted as the older shaft-based version.

You can either purchase the shaft kit outright and install it yourself, or have Race Tech do the dirty work and even add it to a revalve, as we did. At $1000, it does include more than just the shaft; this kit comes with its own shock bumper kit, top out seal casing, and a built-in rebound separator (this part's a bit more crucial in Supercross settings). The rebound separator can create a much more progressive compression feel without an ill affect to the rebound.

On the Track

To give this kit the best comparison possible, I met up with Rob Brown from Race Tech out at one of our local tracks so I could start the day with a standard setting, then move to the 19mm shaft kit with just a short break to switch out the components. Once we had the shaft installed and I was back on the track, the first feature that stood out was the increased damping feel. I felt that the shock was more speed-sensitive, basically becoming more progressive as it pushed through the stroke, but without becoming harsh.

Beyond that, the 19mm shaft kit also added more tuning options. Not just because of the added rebound adjuster, but the extra "charge" that the larger shaft pushes through the adjuster as it goes through the stroke. To put it simply, it made the rebound and compression adjusters at the top of the shock more affective. Instead of needing to turn high-speed compression five clicks to gain the change I was looking for, I was able to find around the same adjustment with three clicks once the 19mm shaft kit was installed.

As for the rebound adjuster, the CRF450R's stock one seems to act as more of a high-speed adjuster. This adds its own unique type of adjustment, but also means it doesn't always solve the problems that you may have used rebound to fix before. With the re-addition of the shaft-based rebound adjuster, I also was able to make some more adjustments that suited low-speed situations. This adjuster acts as I'm used to with any other shock, so I found myself using it much more than the one located on the top of the shock.

Long-Term Durability

In the Supercross world, it's rare but not impossible to actually bend stock shock shafts. For the general public this isn't as much of a worry, but the 19mm kit should eliminate any thought you have of this ever happening. In the durability department, there's nothing negative to report. The casing hasn't leaked and the shaft rebound adjuster clicks and spins as it should.

The Last Word

At $1000, Race Tech's 19mm shaft kit is a tough pill to swallow. Yes, it did add a performance advantage to our 2015 CRF450R, but by itself it's as much as having an entire suspension job done. In the world of large hits, big whoops, and massive rhythms, the 19mm kit seems to be a bit more worth its weight. But for the general consumer who is just looking to add shaft rebound adjustment back to their 2015 CRF450R, you're probably better off checking out one of Race Tech's clevis kits to get that effect. If you're looking to get that extra bit of adjustment due to the larger shaft charge and that more progressive feeling, this kit can do just that.

Outside of the pricing, I couldn't find a negative to Race Tech's 19mm Shock Shaft Kit, but that alone brings the rating down a bit in my eyes.

Vital MX Rating

Check out RaceTech.com for a list of applications and to check out their other suspension options.

About the Test Rider

Michael Lindsay- is a born-and-raised moto freak and gearhead from the heart of motocross in Southern California. First swinging a leg over a bike at the age of five, he immediately caught the racing bug, spending nearly every weekend behind a gate…and a lot of time on the couch while injured. While swinging back and forth between moto and the off-road scene, giving him a wide range of experience on the bike. Of course, all of this led to one thing: Lindsay loves working on his bikes almost as much as he loves talking about them. When he’s not in the Vital MX forum or writing his latest product review, you can find him out at the track taking dirt naps, snapping some pictures, or drooling over the latest parts for his bike. With an outspoken personality, gearhead background, and as Vital MX’s guru for product, Michael is here to share his unbiased opinion.

Review and Photos by Michael Lindsay

This product has no reviews yet.

Added a product review for EVS Sports Web Pro Knee Braces 4/12/2015 8:42 PM
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Tested: EVS Sports Web Pro Knee Brace

Rating:

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EVS started their motocross adventure about 30 years ago with the first-ever MX-specific knee brace, the AMX-5. Since then, they've expanded their line of safety equipment to include helmets, neck support, chest/back protection and more. During this time, they've continued their focus on knee braces and currently offer more than six different options to keep your knees in one piece. For the past few months we've had their newest top-of-the-line model, the Web Pro, on for some long-term testing.

EVS Web Pro Knee Brace Features:

  • Utilizes a dual-defense patella cup.
  • Upper and lower frames constructed from twin-wall carbon fiber.
  • Adjustable hyperextension lockouts.
  • Available in small, medium, large, and extra-large.
  • Sold individually or in pairs.
  • MSRP: $425.00 individual sides, or $799.00 for a pair.

First Impressions

Since the EVS Web Pros can be purchased individually, each side comes in their own separate box, even when purchased as a pair. Inside each box there's a Web Pro knee brace, an instruction manual, and a bag with different size pads to change the fit around the knee, and a series of extension stop inserts for additional customization.

The braces themselves are quite light, as the top and bottom frames are made from carbon fiber, while the hinges are constructed from aluminum. Looking at the inside of the brace, you'll find a generous amount of padding all throughout the frames and the patella cup section. The inner padding is constructed from neoprene, which is quite comfortable but also grippy, which helps eliminate sliding up or down the leg. The strap sections are made from a wide and comfortable material, with really grippy velcro to hold them in place. Both ends of the straps are attached to the frame through a rotating hinge. This allows each strap to rotate as the muscles contract and expand when the leg moves through its motions.

The Web Pros don't immediately look different than most braces on the market, but the dual-defense patella cup does stand out. To put it simply, it's one cup on top of another. When the brace contracts, one cup follows the lower brace while the other follows the upper brace, leaving the knee cap protected throughout the range of the brace.

On the Track

The Web Pro braces are offered in a few different sizes, along with a decent amount of adjustability. Once I added an extra set of pads on the outside of each brace (I'm very "bowlegged") I was ready to head out. While on the bike, the Web Pros move very naturally with the leg and I had forgotten I was in a brand new set of braces within a few corners. Another reason it was so easy to get used to the braces, was the excellent quality of the padding used throughout the braces. Even when gripping the bike in an aggressive stance, the padding dampened impacts being transferred from the brace. While I could barely tell the braces were there, I also still had a good feel for the bike.

Another positive while riding is the hinged strap system. Having all four straps hinged at each connecting point allows the straps to move with the muscles quite well. That means I didn't experience any binding up or down my legs. This is very important to me since I have quite large thigh and calf muscles (size large braces) which expand quite a bit as I squat and sit on the bike.

EVS had a great idea with the use of a fifth strap that wraps around the calf muscle. This strap is much wider and softer than the other four straps, since it's actually a continuation of the inner padding from the lower frame. Because of this, the strap is very grippy but also stretches. This is important, as the calf expands and contracts the most and needs the material to be soft and stretch so it doesn't aggravate or tighten up on the calf. By also utilizing the neoprene material from the inner padding, it helps hold up the brace throughout the motos.

Long-Term Durability

The most common item that wears out on knee braces are the straps or their velcro. In this case, EVS has done well by using material that's not only comfortable, but very long-lasting. The only noticeable wear I've found on the Web Pro is a slight amount on the lower frame, where it's pressed into the bike when hanging on tightly with the legs.

The Last Word

There's definitely something to be said for high-quality padding, as the EVS Web Pro ranks in as the most comfortable knee brace I've tested to date. The overall construction of the brace is top-notch, they offer great comfort, and they're lightweight. The addition of the dual-defense patella cup was a personal favorite, as I've manage to smash my kneecap into the bars many times when my knee has been bent and exposed in other braces.

I only have two minor complaints about the braces. First off, when they're perfectly straight, I feel that the bottom patella cups are a bit too flat and wide. With this, the Web Pros can be a tight fit in pants that don't have the roomiest of knees. Second, the $800 price tag is a little on the high side, as there are a lot more options on the market in the $600 range.

EVS does offer a wide-range of braces in different price ranges, but if you have the extra dough, I'd consider looking at a set of Web Pros during your next purchase.

Vital MX Rating

Check out EVS-Sports.com for more information on the line of safety equipment from EVS.

About the Test Rider

Michael Lindsay - is a born-and-raised moto freak and gearhead from the heart of motocross in Southern California. First swinging a leg over a bike at the age of five, he immediately caught the racing bug, spending nearly every weekend behind a gate…and a lot of time on the couch while injured. While swinging back and forth between moto and the off-road scene, giving him a wide range of experience on the bike. Of course, all of this led to one thing: Lindsay loves working on his bikes almost as much as he loves talking about them. When he’s not in the Vital MX forum or writing his latest product review, you can find him out at the track taking dirt naps, snapping some pictures, or drooling over the latest parts for his bike. With an outspoken personality, gearhead background, and as Vital MX’s guru for product, Michael is here to share his unbiased opinion.

Review and Photos by Michael Lindsay

This product has no reviews yet.

Added a product review for Pro Taper Fuzion Handlebars 3/12/2015 8:47 PM
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Tested: Pro Taper Fuzion Handlebar

Rating:

The Good:

The Bad:

Overall:

For some, handlebars are just a hunk of metal that they hang onto and use to turn the bike. Picky people, such as myself, find that every millimeter difference in the bend, or how the bars flex, can greatly affect how you ride. For the longest time, I'd been a part of the crossbar clan. Whether it was reality or just a mental thing, I seemed to be more comfortable with a crossbar in front of me. But at the same time, I do value the extra flex that comes from an oversized bar without a crossbar. Apparently someone at Pro Taper had the same conundrum. That's where the Fuzion comes in which has a cool feature found beneath the bar pad, which gives you the ability to choose your ride quality.

Pro Taper Fuzion Handlebar Highlights:

  • Available in six bar bends.
  • Only available in 1-1/8" mounting size.
  • Features locking dial, which can be unlocked to receive more flex.
  • Weighs 975 grams.
  • MSRP $129.99.

First Impressions

Before you take off the crossbar pad, the Pro Taper Fusion bar looks just like any other 1-1/8" crossbar handlebar. Its bigger in the center, before tappering off to 7/8" by the ends. Once you pull the pad off, you'll find a dial that has an arrow which corresponds to lock or unlock. Inside this dial is a simple hook that hangs onto a pin inside of the crossbar. When it's locked, this pin won't move, causing the bar to be more rigid. When it's unlocked, the hook releases the pin and allows the crossbar to flex during impacts, thus allowing more flex. To better explain the design, check out the illustration below.

Although a crossbar that has adjustable flex isn't new to the market, Pro Taper took a different approach by offering the simple lock/unlock dial that doesn't require any tools to change.

On the Track

Personally, I've always preferred a 1-1/8" bar with a crossbar because of how they behave on the track. And by this, I mean the precise feedback I get from the front end of the bike due to the rigid feel of the bar. This might sound minute, but I normally struggle when I have a bar that flexes heavily, because I lose the ability to react as quickly when something happens with the front end of the bike.

When in locked mode, the Fuzion feels just as I'd expect, rigid and precise. At the same time however, this feedback can be brutal on hard-packed tracks with high-speed "chatter" chop that is repetitive on the hands and arms. So as you'd expect, there is some give and take in this situation. In unlocked mode, Pro Taper claims that the Fuzion begins to flex almost as much as their popular EVO bar (1-1/8" non-crossbar), but it still has a unique feel. The Fuzion's sleeve inside its crossbar only allows so much travel in the bar. For me, it still has a bit more precision than the non-crossbar. It took away a bit of the harshness on the repetitive, high-speed chop, but still gave me enough feedback to feel comfortable with what the front end was doing.

I feel like the Fuzion gives the user the ability to answer a question, do I like my handlebar rigid or flexible? It's as easy as stopping, flipping the bar pad upside down, and turning the dial. Doing back-to-back laps to get a feel for how different it really is can be enlightening. As the rider, you may find one of two things. You may either answer the question about which you prefer and leave it in that position, or find under what conditions you'd switch the dial position to get the best advantage from the bar.

Long-Term Durability

I originally received a set of the Fuzion bars back in July of 2014 at Pro Taper's intro. Since then, that set of bars has jumped from bike-to-bike and over the past seven months has witnessed me running out of talent numerous times. Through it all, I've yet to bend them in any way, although I did manage to mangle a set of bar mounts on one bike.

The only concern I found was after a few months, the nut on the side of the lock dial/crossbar had become a bit loose. Now I check it every so often to ensure that it stays in place.

The Last Word

I have no complaints when it comes to the overall function of the Fuzion. The concept is simple, as the dial mechanism can be used without tools. Which allows you to stop outside of a corner, flip the lock and continue on your way. The price is my only dig, as $130 is a bit on the high side for handlebars. But if you consider the fact your sort of getting two handlebars in one, it could be viewed as a bargain as well, depending on what you're looking for. Also in hindsight, I do wish there were a few more bends available, but Pro Taper seemed to get the most popular ones in their six options, including the one I typically use. All-in-all, the Pro Taper Fuzion is a good buy but an even better one if you're really trying to figure out if more or less flex is right for you.

Vital MX Rating

Check out ProTaper.com for more handlebars and other products.

About the Test Rider

Michael Lindsay - is a born-and-raised moto freak and gearhead from the heart of motocross in Southern California. First swinging a leg over a bike at the age of five, he immediately caught the racing bug, spending nearly every weekend behind a gate…and a lot of time on the couch while injured. While swinging back and forth between moto and the off-road scene, giving him a wide range of experience on the bike. Of course, all of this led to one thing: Lindsay loves working on his bikes almost as much as he loves talking about them. When he’s not in the Vital MX forum or writing his latest product review, you can find him out at the track taking dirt naps, snapping some pictures, or drooling over the latest parts for his bike. With an outspoken personality, gearhead background, and as Vital MX’s guru for product, Michael is here to share his unbiased opinion.

Review by Michael Lindsay // Photos by Michael Lindsay and Todd Gutierrez

This product has 1 review.

Added a product review for Dubya Talon EVO Wheelset 3/6/2015 11:35 PM
C138_dubya

Tested: Dubya Talon EVO Wheelset

Rating:

The Good:

The Bad:

Overall:

Having a spare set of aftermarket wheels is a bit of a luxury, due to the somewhat extreme prices of the top-of-the-line sets. Quite honestly, though, these were the only option I would have seriously considered, since entry-level wheelsets often seemed to be not only heavier than stock, but also quite a bit weaker. What's the point of buying a shiny new set of wheels, if they're just going to change shape when you come up short on a double? The crew at Dubya recognized that not everyone has the budget to go after the same wheels they build for the likes of JGR or Red Bull KTM. That's why they teamed up with one of the companies they represent, Talon, to build a suitable wheelset for the everyday Joe that also wouldn't break the bank.

Dubya Talon EVO Wheelset Features:

  • EVO hub is built from 6082 billet aluminum.
  • Wheels are assembled with carbon-steel spokes and nickel plated steel nipples.
  • Talon EVOs are available in 21-inch front wheel and optional 18- or 19-inch rear wheel.
  • EVO hubs covered by one-year warranty.
  • Hub color options depend upon brand of bike, total colors include; orange, blue, and red.
  • Components are hand assembled at Dubya USA.
  • MSRP $899.98.

First Impressions

As mentioned before, I've been extremely skeptical of entry-level wheels, due to some personal experiences and seeing many friends go through set after set of wheels that wouldn't hold up for more than a few weeks. There literally wasn't a wheelset on the market under $1000 that I'd put on my own motorcycle, without making me question their durability. Thus you can understand my worries when I was approached about testing a new set of wheels, until I had a personal assurance from Dubya's John Anderson that the Talon EVOs would change my mind on this topic.

First up, the wheels don't appear much different from Talon's higher-end offerings. The center hub diameters are almost identical, and most of the machining even looks similar. The only real obvious difference are the rims, which are sourced directly from Talon, instead of D.I.D or Excel.

Installation is beyond straightforward. Once you have tires, rotors and a sprocket mounted, remove your old wheels and put the EVOs in their place. The EVO wheels come with their own spacers designed to match that hub; don't use the stockers.

On the Track

There's not much to say about wheels on the track. The rims have stayed round, so there's no jittering around and the hubs roll just as smoothly, if not better than the stock set. Meaning there's no extra drag that you can feel while riding.

Long-Term Durability

The biggest kicker with any entry-level wheelset is how do they handle extended abuse? After a few months on our RM-Z 250 on a moto track, and then a swap over to the 450 for moto and off-road loops, they've held up amazingly! After the first few rides, there was a minor bit of tightening required for the spokes, but nothing major. Not once did a single spoke become much looser than the rest of the wheel. After two or three tightening sessions over the first month, the spokes seemed to have found a resting point and have held their tension. I was also impressed by the strength of the spoke nipples themselves. Usually after a decent amount of adjusting, some cheaper brand's nipples will deform and squish, making them almost impossible to get the spoke wrench back on the next time around. With the EVOs however, this didn't occur.

Even after multiple encounters with faces of landings I found by mistake, rocks and the occasional canyon-sized square edge hole, the rims have held their original shape quite well. The only standout wear relates to the rim itself, where the black coating has begun to strip/wear-off a bit due to the tire rubbing against the edges when it flexes. There's also one minor thing that relates to the hubs, as any red anodizing struggles to keep its original deep shade of color over a long period of time.

The Last Word

At $899.98, the Talon EVOs are pushing the scale when it comes entry-level wheels. But this extra bit of dough seems to have gone a long ways towards getting a set of wheels that have the needed durability. Would I put these wheels on a bike destined for Supercross, Nationals, or even off-road races such as WORCS? No. Even Dubya admits these wheels aren't quite built for those levels of abuse, but they're a great wheel for the weekend warrior who needs to replace their worn-out stockers, have a spare set, or just want to add a bit of bling.

Vital MX Rating

Check out DubyaUSA.com to get more information on what wheel options are available.

About the Test Rider

Michael Lindsay- is a born-and-raised moto freak and gearhead from the heart of motocross in Southern California. First swinging a leg over a bike at the age of five, he immediately caught the racing bug, spending nearly every weekend behind a gate…and a lot of time on the couch while injured. While swinging back and forth between moto and the off-road scene, giving him a wide range of experience on the bike. Of course, all of this led to one thing: Lindsay loves working on his bikes almost as much as he loves talking about them. When he’s not in the Vital MX forum or writing his latest product review, you can find him out at the track taking dirt naps, snapping some pictures, or drooling over the latest parts for his bike. With an outspoken personality, gearhead background, and as Vital MX’s guru for product, Michael is here to share his unbiased opinion.

Review by Michael Lindsay // Photos by Michael Lindsay

This product has 1 review.

Added a product review for Fox Racing V3 Flight Helmet 2015 2/26/2015 9:17 AM
C138_fox_15_hel_v3_fli_ora

Tested: Fox Racing V3 Helmet

Rating:

The Good:

The Bad:

Overall:

While Fox has been a longtime player in the gear market, some of their safety equipment hasn't always been as top-of-the-line as their gear. In the past few years however, Fox has taken a new approach to their product line and have committed to relaunching the safety side of the brand, which of course includes their helmet line. Part of this relaunch included taking some of the already popular existing products, such as the V3 helmet, and bumping them up a notch.

Fox V3 Helmet Features:

  • Contains Multi-Directional Impact Protection System (MIPS).
  • Designed with a composite shell utilizing carbon fiber, kevlar, and fiberglass.
  • Dual-density EPS liner.
  • Utilizes 14 intake and 4 exhaust vents for airflow.
  • Available in three different shell sizes and four EPS liners to cover a range of head sizes.
  • MSRP: $449.95.

First Impressions

In the past, Fox's V3 helmet was the premium model until the arrival of the V4. After this, Fox went back to the drawing board and brought some of their knowledge from the V4 down to the newest V3. From the front, the new V3 looks quite a bit like its predecessor but from the rear, it resembles its older brother, the V4, with most notably the exhaust vents. As for the overall shape of the helmet, nothing too out of the ordinary stands out with the V3's design, outside of the larger air vents found along the shell.

When first sliding the helmet on, I found it was much more comfortable than Fox's previous V3. The first time I put the older model on, I had an instant feeling that I was in a decent helmet but not a top-level helmet. The new V3, however, has a much more comfortable liner, plus a snugger fit across the dome of the head and along the chin bar/cheek pads. Underneath the new dual-density EPS liner, there's something yellow and interesting, the Multi-Directional Impact Protection System, or MIPS for short. While this isn't new to helmets or even the moto market, it's new to Fox's range. For an explanation on MIPS, jump to their website here.

With goggles getting larger, their fit can be a concern for those who are worried that their favorite set won't fit inside their newest helmet purchase. The V3 was made after Fox produced their own larger frame goggle, so this was in mind during its creation. While the V3 has plenty of room for the largest of goggles (Dragon, Oakley Airbrake, and 100%) it doesn't have much room for goggles with noseguards. The mouthpiece of the V3 may not be as close as say a V4 or Arai, but the built-in noseguard on the helmet does come back quite a ways, requiring the noseguard on any goggles I tried to be removed.

On the Track

Personally, I tend to prefer helmets with a very snug fit, especially around the cheeks to help hold my head back in the helmet where it belongs. I found that from side-to-side the V3 stays in place quite wellm but from front-to-back, I noticed that my face can slip forward a tad bit easier than I'd like with a decent jolt. Once underway, I can honestly say I can feel the MIPS at work. There's a tad bit of movement in any direction and a noticeable squeak of it sliding through its motions. It drove me slightly insane going through the pits but once you're out and up to speed, it's nearly impossible to hear. Interestingly enough, I've been spending a lot of time in different helmets that feature carbon fiber shells, and this is the first all composite shell I've worn consistently in quite a while. The slight weight increase in the V3 was noticeable compared to the helmets I've been wearing recently (including Fox's own V4), and it made me miss the light weight which is becoming more common on the market, even in this price range.

Thanks to the lack of a real winter in Southern California, testing the ventilation has been an easy task. Overall, the V3 does a decent job of keeping my head cool, as I haven't found myself in a downpour of sweat yet, but I've tested helmets that have better ventilation. A big plus with the V3 is the liner quality, which I thought soaked up any sweat quite well and without irritating my face.

Long-Term Durability

As much as we try to be thorough, a crash test isn't exactly planned when it comes to a helmet test. As for the V3, I didn't have the honors of going headfirst into anything, but a small smack on the side of the helmet from a front-end washout will have to do. Fox's current liners are great, both in comfort and durability, even after multiple washes. Also, the overall fit of the helmet has stayed fairly snug over the past three months, without much loss in cushion and tightness from the padding.

The Last Word

While Fox Racing's V3 is most definitely an improvement over its predecessor, I'd have a bit of a hard time pulling the trigger on purchasing one. At $450, I feel like the V3 has over-shot the mid-range spot that the previous model held on the market. At this point, I feel like spotting the extra money to jump to their V4 model or another true top-of-the-line helmet isn't that big of a deal, while the price-conscious can get into a carbon or carbon composite shell at a similar or cheaper price than the V3. Of course the V3 does feature MIPS, but this is a technology that other helmet companies are also licensing, which in turn adds to the price. Overall, the helmet is not a bad buy, but there are arguably some other options on the market that could make more sense.

Vital MX Rating

Check out FoxHead.com for more information on Fox's wide range of motocross and lifestyle products.

About the Test Rider

Michael Lindsay- is a born-and-raised moto freak and gearhead from the heart of motocross in Southern California. First swinging a leg over a bike at the age of five, he immediately caught the racing bug, spending nearly every weekend behind a gate…and a lot of time on the couch while injured. While swinging back and forth between moto and the off-road scene, giving him a wide range of experience on the bike. Of course, all of this led to one thing: Lindsay loves working on his bikes almost as much as he loves talking about them. When he’s not in the Vital MX forum or writing his latest product review, you can find him out at the track taking dirt naps, snapping some pictures, or drooling over the latest parts for his bike. With an outspoken personality, gearhead background, and as Vital MX’s guru for product, Michael is here to share his unbiased opinion.

Review by Michael Lindsay // Photos by Michael Lindsay and Todd Guitierez

This product has 1 review.

Added a product review for Leatt C-Frame Knee Braces 2/20/2015 10:30 PM
C138_cframe

Tested: Leatt C-Frame Knee Braces

Rating:

The Good:

The Bad:

Overall:

Growing up racing, I was lucky enough to have parents that kept me in the best safety equipment possible. Because of this, I've been in knee braces since I was finally big enough to jump in to Asterisk's smallest knee brace, the Cell. Since then, I've never thought about running without them, especially after forgetting my braces one day and trying to ride without them. The downside to Asterisk's original Cell knee brace was its extreme bulk. Because of this, I'm always seeking a thinner profile brace, but without sacrificing the safety aspect. Thus my interest in Leatt's entry into the market, the C-Frame.

Leatt C-Frame Knee Brace Features:

  • Mono-hinge located on the outside of each brace.
  • Carbon frame is designed to break away before the average force required to break a bone.
  • Thigh and calf straps use a X pattern for more even coverage.
  • Adjustable knee lockouts to prevent hyper-extension for those with pre-existing knee problems.
  • CE impact certified.
  • Sold in pairs.
  • MSRP: $599.00.

Many of the terms about the C-Frame's design are a bit difficult for me to explain. So for a bit more insight on what they mean, check out this video from Leatt.

First Impressions

Right off the bat, the C-Frames are noticeably different from any knee braces I've seen before, as they only have a hinge on one side! Leatt had a few bio-mechanical reasons for this design; plus the fact that there's less between your inner knee and the bike. Beyond that, the braces utilize a double hinge/reel system, instead of relying on a single hinge. This gives the C-Frame a flex pattern that's much more natural and similar to the travel of your own knee.

A big plus is the adjustable width in the upper frame. Typically knee brace fit has been a struggle for me, as I have quite the muscular upper legs. Even loose jeans look like skinny jeans on me. The ability to loosen two bolts and expand the the width of the upper frame massively helped me and made the C-Frame much more comfortable to wear. The strap design that Leatt uses also plays a big part in the comfort and fit. The straps use an X pattern which spreads the load more evenly across your legs and helps eliminate binding. They also use a very thin velcro strip on the end of each strap, which keeps the straps from catching on your pants and undoing the straps when getting dressed. The couplers that attach the straps to the frame are all on hinges as well, which allows them to work with different sizes and shapes of legs.

On the Track

Once out and about, I was really happy to have a more direct feel with the bike, largely due to the lack of an inside hinge. Also, the mono-hinge's reel system allowed the brace to move more naturally than any other braces I've tried. The padding of the braces are quite comfortable and the amount of adjustment left the braces without any pressure points or discomfort while I was putting in laps.

But as the laps wore on, I ran into a few problems. Most notably, the braces aren't the easiest to keep up. The straps didn't seem to have much in the way of traction, so every time my leg muscles would relax and contract a bit, the braces would slip down immediately. To combat this, I ended up cranking down the top buckles of my boots to a near uncomfortable level. The design and shape of some boots seemed to work with them better than others. Such as the Fox Instincts, which could be left a bit looser than than the Alpinestar Tech 10s that I also tested the C-Frames with. Another problem I had with the braces coming loose came from the fact that the top buckle on each brace would pop open occasionally while out on the track.

Although I was originally pumped on the lack of the inside hinge, it also brought up another problem. The portion of the upper brace that the inside of your knee presses against just ends and leaves an area that catches on the shrouds when you're hugging the bike tight between your legs. This became the most apparent when sitting down with your leg out when entering corners. As I'd sit, the brace would catch the top of the shrouds and try to pull them up my leg a bit, along with upsetting my movement on the bike.

Long-Term Durability

The hinge and main sections of the frame have held up quite well, but I have had some other problems with the brace. During a small fall in a corner, one of the strap loops broke and released the strap. However, the straps themselves have held up quite well, without fraying or any loss of grip from the velcro. Beyond that, I also had a problem with the "handlebar protectors" (thin, white plastic strips between the patella cup and main frame sections) coming off, and eventually breaking one of the pins that latched it to the frame.

The Last Word

This product is interesting. I really do like the theory and design of just using an outer hinge and allowing you to grip the bike more naturally, this along with all the safety features that Leatt brought to the table. Plus the comfort of the padding and where it sits and pushes on your leg is possibly the best of any brace I've tested. Sadly, the execution just isn't quite there with the rest of the brace, and I feel that the C-Frame needs a bit of improvement. Between the braces catching on the shrouds, the struggle in dialing in the fit, and some of the parts that weren't well thought out, these braces lost me and found the shelf more often than the gear bag. Overall, it can be really hard to get used to these braces if you've worn a more typical knee brace but could be a great option for someone who hasn't jumped into the knee brace market yet. The C-Frame's rating reflects the struggles I had with it, and I would hope to see some things change on the brace, because as I stated above I really like the concept.

Vital MX Rating

Check out Leatt.com for more information on the C-Frame and their expanding range of moto protection.

About the Test Rider

Michael Lindsay- is a born-and-raised moto freak and gearhead from the heart of motocross in Southern California. First swinging a leg over a bike at the age of five, he immediately caught the racing bug, spending nearly every weekend behind a gate…and a lot of time on the couch while injured. While swinging back and forth between moto and the off-road scene, giving him a wide range of experience on the bike. Of course, all of this led to one thing: Lindsay loves working on his bikes almost as much as he loves talking about them. When he’s not in the Vital MX forum or writing his latest product review, you can find him out at the track taking dirt naps, snapping some pictures, or drooling over the latest parts for his bike. With an outspoken personality, gearhead background, and as Vital MX’s guru for product, Michael is here to share his unbiased opinion.

Review and Photos by Michael Lindsay

This product has 1 review.

Added a product review for Motool Slacker Digital Sag Scale 2/5/2015 6:40 PM
C138_motool

Tested: Motool Slacker Digital Sag Scale

Rating:

The Good:

The Bad:

Overall:

Article and Photos by Michael Lindsay

Before my time at Vital MX, I was lucky enough to spend quite a bit of time testing suspension and learning from one of the best in the business, Ross Maeda from KYB and Enzo. One of the most standout lessons was about how important correctly setting sag is. To put it bluntly, if your sag is incorrect it can not only affect how the bike handles, but it also affects the bike's balance and how the suspension reacts. As an example, if the shock's sag is too low, it will place more weight on the shock, thus causing it to be softer. This also takes weight off the front and would cause the forks to feel stiffer. I could go on and on about how sag affects the whole bike, but that example should give you a quick idea of how much impact it has. Dealing with customers, I very quickly found that simply setting the proper sag adjustment would either cure or reduce most complaints. This is because the riders had either never set their sag, or hadn't checked it in a long period of time. That's a problem, as our weight is ever-changing. Most riders tend to never check it because it's too much of a hassle, and they need someone who understands how to measure it to help them out. This is where Motool's Slacker Digital Sag Scale comes in, which allows a rider to set their sag completely on their own!

Slacker Digital Sag Scale Features:

  • A magnet allows the scale to be attached to any steel surface.
  • Allows user to set their sag without assistance.
  • Can be used on any size motorcycle.
  • Remote display can be mounted to bars for rider to read while on the bike.
  • Can be used to set the shock or forks sag.
  • MSRP: $140.00

First Impressions

Inside the box from Motool, you'll find the four main things needed to use the Slacker; the digital scale box, mounting clamp, remote display, and a cord to connect the scale to the remote display. The larger box is your digital scale, which has a power/rest button, LCD display, measuring cable, and a large magnent on the rear. The smaller box is a remote display, which has its own LCD display and reset button. It however doesn't have space for batteries, so the cable included feeds it power and information from the scale.

The included instructions give you all the info you need to get started, but you will need two AAA batteries. I didn't discover this until I took it to the track and decided to use it the first time, then I realized my blunder. Call it a pet peeve, but I get really annoyed when an electronic device doesn't have batteries included.

At the Track

Using the Slacker out at the track is fairly simple, especially when it comes to setting the rear sag. With the bike on the stand, install the digital scale to the rear axle using the magnet. Next up, latch the mounting clamp to either the rear fender or sideplate, then pull the cable from the scale and hook it to the mounting clamp. Last thing is strapping the remote display to the handlebar, then hooking the scale and remote display together using the included cable.

Once it's ready, you simply press the power/reset button on either the remote or scale so it shows a 0. Remember to only hit the reset when the bike is on the stand and the suspension is fully extended to set it to zero. If it's done when the bike is on the ground, the weight of the bike will affect the outcome of the results, as the number displayed would be starting from the static sag. Once the Slacker is zeroed out, pull the bike off the stand, climb aboard and see the results. I found that my best results happened when I placed one foot on a stand with my other on the pegs, with the goal of keeping as much of my weight as possible on the bike. Keep in mind that it's near impossible to get all your weight on the bike consistently enough for an exact readout. As an example, I looked at 102mm as if it was actually 103-104mm, once I accounted for my foot resting against the stand.

All-in-all, the product is easy to use and seems to be very accurate. I've tested the Slacker's results against the old-fashioned tape measure multiple times, and I found it to be spot on if I repeated the method with both measurements (one foot resting against the stand). Another plus with this product is how easy it is to also check your fork preload, which has become more important with SFF and SFF Air forks, since they have adjustable preload. In this case, the scale is attached to the front axle, with the clamp latched to the front number plate.

Once you've set it up, it's pretty easy to repeat the process in a couple of minutes, but I do have two small digs against the product. One is the lack of batteries. My other is that the scale will only measure up to 200mm, after 200mm it goes blank. For most this doesn't matter, but I'm unable to measure the full extended length on the stand. I would like the ability to zero out the scale before attaching the cable to the clamp, thus showing me the extended length number before climbing aboard the bike.

Long-Term Durability

As with most tools, the durability depends on how well you treat it. Being that the Slacker has digital screens, it would be best if it was kept in its original box. The scale and remote display both are encased in fairly thick plastic casings, which will hold up to some decent abuse. My personal durability test included accidentally smashing the scale into the stand when I almost fell over, and kicking it out of the van while looking for some goggles. (whoops)

The Last Word

Based on my intro, you probably figured out that I really believe the necessity of checking your sag to maintain a consistent setup. Because of this, I found this product to be extremely important, as it eliminates the main excuse that riders have when it comes to checking their sag, "I need help." Its price definitely reflects that of a specialty tool, but considering we spend upwards of $500 to have our suspension set up for us, it's well worth the price to keep this investment in check. If you're lucky enough to always have someone around that understands how to set sag, then this isn't a necessary tool. But if you're lacking the help or like to keep track of the numbers for yourself, then the Slacker could find a home in your tool box.

Vital MX Rating

Check out Motool.co to order one for yourself.

About the Test Rider:

Michael Lindsay- is a born-and-raised moto freak and gearhead from the heart of motocross in Southern California. First swinging a leg over a bike at the age of five, he immediately caught the racing bug, spending nearly every weekend behind a gate…and a lot of time on the couch while injured. While swinging back and forth between moto and the off-road scene, giving him a wide range of experience on the bike. Of course, all of this led to one thing: Lindsay loves working on his bikes almost as much as he loves talking about them. When he’s not in the Vital MX forum or writing his latest product review, you can find him out at the track taking dirt naps, snapping some pictures, or drooling over the latest parts for his bike. With an outspoken personality, gearhead background, and as Vital MX’s guru for product, Michael is here to share his unbiased opinion.

This product has 1 review.

Added a product review for 100% Racecraft Goggles 12/22/2014 12:36 PM
C138_ohp_rcg_is

Tested: 100% Racecraft Goggles

Rating:

The Good:

The Bad:

Overall:

Review and Photos by Michael Lindsay

Since I started riding as a child (about 18 years ago), it doesn't seem like goggles have changed a whole lot. However as you've probably noticed, the overall size of the goggles and their lenses have been increasing the past few years. 100%, in particular, took advantage of this change when launching as a brand. In the few years they've been around, 100%'s popularity has grown quickly. So this year, I finally grabbed a pair of their outrigger-style goggle, the Racecraft, to try them out for myself.

100% Racecraft Goggle Features:

  • Outrigger frame design.
  • 45mm goggle strap to improve fit.
  • Silicone coated strap.
  • Frame contains three layer foam.
  • Nose guard is removable.
  • Box contains a carrying bag, clear lens (if ordered with mirrored/tinted lens), and 20-pack of tear-offs.
  • MSRP is $65 - $75 (depending on the lens choice).

First Impressions

Inside the goggle box you'll find the Racecraft goggles, a pack of tear-offs, and an extra clear lens if you purchase the goggles with a mirrored lens (thus the extra $10 for the pair I tested). This all may seem very standard, but I've noticed a few goggle companies have quit this practice in recent times.

The first thing that typically stands out about 100%'s goggles are their bright colors that adorn their massive straps. The larger goggle strap design they utilize offers up two benefits. The designs are easier to see, and the goggles are more secure against the helmet, with a snugger fit. Beyond that, you'll find that the nose guard can be easily removed and reattached as necessary and that the frame is lined with three layers of different types of foam.

As goggles have been becoming larger in size in recent years, it can become more difficult to get them to fit correctly with your helmet. It's gotten to the point where helmet companies are going with larger eye-ports to help the fit. 100% has hit a good middle ground with using a slightly larger traditional frame, but without going overboard. I tested these in numerous helmets, which include; Fox, Bell, TLD, AGV, Shoei, Fly, and Thor. I found that the Racecraft can still be squeezed into some of the smaller helmets, while still keeping contact between the foam and your face.

On the Track

When first pulling on the Racecrafts, the larger strap starts to make sense. The difference in how evenly it pulls the goggles to your face and how secure they are, is fairly noticeable. The actual frame shape itself seems to be a big help as well. In my opinion, it has more curve than what I'm used to, allowing the outer edges to press down on the face more evenly. To get this same full-face contact with some other goggles I've tried, you end up over-tightening the actual strap, which in turn could cause too much pressure on your nose.

Over the months I've used these, I've noticed that the foam is more secure to my face than most goggles, leaving less chance of any debris entering the inside of the goggle. I also spent most of the late (and hottest) part of the summer with these to see how the foam does against my profuse sweating. Whenever I see a goggle advertised with "multi-layer foam" I still don't completely trust it. What does multi-layer do for you, if every layer isn't up to par? I really struggle with sweat getting through these layers in most cases, but the Racecraft outperformed the majority of goggles I have used. I'm not saying it's perfect, as I have never found a goggle that can withstand the Niagra Falls that is my forehead, for an entire day. But nonetheless, the Racecraft impressed me with its resilience.

With thicker foam can come less airflow, as it would of course restrict the air passing through. The Racecraft seems to have a good balance when it comes to the foam that protects the air vents that feed your face. This can be really important during longer motos (trust me, I wore a set of goggles during a WORCS race once that almost cooked my eyes...).

The Racecraft is an outrigger frame goggle, which means it carries a tear-off mount on the edge of the frame on the left side. Personally I quite like these style of frames, because I'm not the best at reaching close for tear-offs.

Long-Term Durability

With goggles, there are two main things to look at when it comes to durability. The foam and the strap. The Racecraft's foam has held up quite well, even on a pair I've washed at least ten times. Usually after a few trips through the washing machine, I'd find that the foam has come unglued from the frame, but not in this case. The thicker 45mm strap has held up well from fraying or any kind of tears. But I do feel like it continues to stretch-out, even after months of use. After awhile, I can see the difference as the clips on the straps come around the helmet so far that they start to block the 100% logo. On the contrary, they never seem to come loose during a moto and stay nice and snug along the helmet.

The Last Word

100% offers up a goggle that gives you a bit more vision, without as much worry if they will fit your helmet. The large quantity of frame/strap designs and lens color options give you quite a bit of room to work with if you're the type of rider that's looking for a specific look.

Overall, 100%'s Racecraft is a solid buy. It's easily one of the most versatile goggles I've tried when it comes to helmet fit. On top of that, the foam quality is great, there are a ton of options to suit your tastes, and the thicker strap can be a noticeable difference. The pricing definitely places this as a top-end goggle, but not completely outrageous when compared to a few of the newer "large frame" offerings out there.

Vital MX Rating

To check out all the possible options and 100%'s other products, go to Ride100Percent.com.

About the Test Rider:

Michael Lindsay - is a born-and-raised moto freak and gearhead from the heart of motocross in Southern California. First swinging a leg over a bike at the age of five, he immediately caught the racing bug, spending nearly every weekend behind a gate…and a lot of time on the couch while injured. While swinging back and forth between moto and the off-road scene, giving him a wide range of experience on the bike. Of course, all of this led to one thing: Lindsay loves working on his bikes almost as much as he loves talking about them. When he’s not in the Vital MX forum or writing his latest product review, you can find him out at the track taking dirt naps, snapping some pictures, or drooling over the latest parts for his bike. With an outspoken personality, gearhead background, and as Vital MX’s guru for product, Michael is here to share his unbiased opinion.

This product has 1 review.

Added a product review for Nuetech Tubliss System 12/11/2014 8:13 PM
C138_tubliss

Tested: Nuetech Tubliss Rear Tire System

Rating:

The Good:

The Bad:

Overall:

Review and Photos by Michael Lindsay

The majority of my younger life was spent on a motocross track, and part of my pre-ride check list was ensuring my tire pressure was correct. At a younger age, 12 1/2 PSI seemed to suit me just fine and I never found a reason to try anything else (probably wouldn't have noticed much back then as I didn't care about much, such as my dirty, scratched up goggles for instance). As I progressed and eventually ended up on 250Fs, I found that a tad bit lower pressure could work well with certain tires, but this would typically end with a pinched tube.

Later on, I pushed more into off-road and found that I was typically running heavy-duty tubes with a bit more pressure than I'd like, or running a mousse insert to survive some of the longer and nastier events. During this time, I heard of a few riders running the early version of the Tubliss system, but dismissed it and followed suit of the teams by running a mousse. Recently however, the Tubliss system caught my eye and I decided to see if I had missed out in the past.

Nuetech Tubliss Rear Tire System Features:

  • Two valve stems feed the system for different purposes.
  • Capable of running extremely low tire pressure without failure (four PSI in our own tests)
  • High pressure bladder seals against tire bead to seal the tire to the rim.
  • The Tubliss system is available for 21" front wheels, 19" rear wheels, and 18" rear wheels.
  • MSRP $99.99.

First Impressions

The Nuetech Tubliss is a very interesting product to look over, but fairly simple once you take a few minutes to see how it works. It consists of a small bladder that sits inside of a red casing, which replaces your standard inner-tube. It also features its own bead lock and two valve stems.

Even though the word Tubliss makes it sound like there isn't a tube, in a way there is, as there's an inner bladder that's surrounded by a red outer casing. Once installed, the inner bladder is filled with a higher pressure, expanding the red casing, which presses against the inside of the tire and in turn seals the bead of the tire. Overall, it's a simple but unique idea. Once sealed, you adjust the actual tire pressure through a valve stem, which feeds through the bead lock to the area between the inner tire and the red casing. Since the inner bladder takes care of sealing the tire to the rim, the tire pressure can be lowered without fear of a flat or a failure of the tire's bead.

Installation can be a tad bit interesting the first go around. I implore that you read the instructions, as there's a few steps that are different than just changing a tire with a standard tube. Even better yet, you can watch all the steps in video clips that are on their website (which can be found here).

There are a few key steps when installing. First off, you need to tape the wheel and drill the existing hole, or a new one for the larger valve stem on the bead lock. The bead lock and bladder valve stem need to be placed four spokes apart. On some wheels, you'll have to drill an entirely new hole or in the case of the Suzuki RM-Z450 we tested this on, drill one of the existing holes to 10mm. After this, you install the Tubliss system to the rim and then things get a bit different. Because the Tubliss system is already on the rim, you must slide the rim inside the tire.

This stage of the installation is where I found some difficulty, depending on which tire was used and and how warm it was. Nuetech provides a metal glide plate that slides onto the bead of the tire, to help keep the tire open as you're sliding the rim in place. In my case, I had the glide plate pop out multiple times, until I finally pushed my foot on the top of it, which kept it pressed down while sliding the rim into the tire. Once in, you will mount the tire as normal. At this point though, you want to take care with your tire spoons. If you get too agressive with it, you may damage the Tubliss system inside or tear the bead of the tire, which can effect the air seal. For more clarification on what I've explained, I highly recommend you check out those videos.

On the Track

My first test began with a Dunlop MX32 120/80-19 on a motocross track, which I'm very familiar with. I started at my standard 12 1/2 PSI and noticed that the tire felt a tad bit stiffer than before. I chalked this up to the fact that the sealing bladder and inner red casing are pressing up against the inside of the tire sidewall, causing a bit less flex. I felt like taking about a pound to a pound-and-a-half of pressure out brought me back to the feel I was used to. Beyond that, I dropped the pressure at half-pound intervals until I reached down to nine PSI. At this point, the motocross based tire would have too much sidewall flex, and I could feel it folding over too easily in corners. In off-road situations, I felt more comfortable running the tire around seven or six PSI to gain traction when climbing rocks and other situations that are lacking in traction.

After this, we took the advice of Jeff Douglas (Nuetech's owner), and tried out some more off-road based tires. Included in this test was a Dunlop AT81 RC 110/90-19 $144.95, Dunlop D739 A/T 120/90-19 $167.95, and a Sedona MX8887 IT 120/80-19 $85.95.

Dunlop AT 81 110/90-19: I'll start off with this, out of three off-road tires tested, this would be my choice for a more moto-oriented rider. The tread pattern on this tire is reminiscent of a certain Dunlop prototype that many pro riders quite like. Enough, that a few racers tried this tire out during outdoors but with one main problem, the side wall is a bit too stiff for moto. Now with the Tubliss system, I was able to run around eight PSI on the track and be quite happy. At this range, the tire has more flex and has better lay-in qualities when entering corners. The big plus is that this was a 110 rear tire, meaning the extra squish didn't make this tire overly wide. The positive over running the MX32 was the fact of how much tougher and longer lasting this selection was. It's pure off-road capabilities were fairly good, but offered a bit less straight line traction and climbing abilities compared to the other two, wider choices.

Dunlop D739 A/T 120/90-19: This tire was my favorite choice for more off-road based riding. It did fairly well on a track, but once the tire pressure was lowered enough to get past the stiff sidewall, the tire would squish out and become so wide that it became a bit tougher to enter corners with any moderate lean angle. It also would tend to stand up easily when the throttle was applied. For tracking around flat corners however, it was excellent. In off-road conditions it was unmatched for traction when the pressure was dropped, which worked well even down in the four PSI range. This tire worked amazingly when climbing nasty uphills and over rocky mounds, while this type of terrain would normally tear a motocross tire to bits within a ride or two.

Sedona MX887 IT 120/90-19: As you may have already guessed, I didn't prefer the Sedona over either of the offerings from Dunlop. Except in one category, bang-for-your-buck. This tire is nearly half the cost of the other two options and is just as tough, if not tougher. However, I didn't feel any performance advantage with this tire over the other two, but makes an excellent choice for the price minded rider.

Long-Term Durability

As for durability, I haven't had a single problem with the system itself. Even more interesting is the fact that you can run more durable/ heavy-duty tires, thus expanding your tire's life and spend less time changing tires. If you puncture the tire however, the air will leak out. In this case, you plug the tire with the kit from Tubliss and go back to riding. If you don't have the kit with you, the system is capable of running on flat to get you back to your camp or pit. This may sound like a downfall, but realistically anything that's sharp enough to puncture the tire would normally puncture the tube inside as well. The Tubliss system is well protected from punctures by the thick red casing around the inner bladder.

The Last Word

There really is a lot to like about the Nuetech Tubliss System. It can potentially save you money, as you can run harder compound tires longer and spend less time changing them. On top of that, you're keeping comparable traction because of the lower PSI possibilities, and even gaining traction on certain terrains with even lower settings. Plus, don't forget the fact that you're almost eliminating the chances of ever getting a flat. Based on you tire vs. previous tube choices, it may also shed a little bit of weight as well. Overall, I find this an excellent product for someone that rides off-road or for riders that use the same bike for both trails and the track. I do feel like it has a tad bit less merit for a pure track rat, as I'd personally still prefer a straight moto tire (such as the MX32 for instance), which for me doesn't benefit from a lower pressure under around ten or nine pounds (because of sidewall flex). As noted, we spent our time with the rear system, which I feel has more gains then the front.

Rating wise, this averages out a bit for myself. For a moto only guy, I'm not 100% sold on it, but it does have some great benefits, so I'd give it a four star rating. For a rider that takes on moto and off-road on the same bike, I'd rate it a bit higher at four and a half stars. Finally, this system really benefits the true off-road enthusiast and would rank in with a top score.

Vital MX Rating

To find out where you can get your hands on a system, check out Nuetech.com.

About the Test Rider

Michael Lindsay - is a born-and-raised moto freak and gearhead from the heart of motocross in Southern California. First swinging a leg over a bike at the age of five, he immediately caught the racing bug, spending nearly every weekend behind a gate…and a lot of time on the couch while injured. While swinging back and forth between moto and the off-road scene, giving him a wide range of experience on the bike. Of course, all of this led to one thing: Lindsay loves working on his bikes almost as much as he loves talking about them. When he’s not in the Vital MX forum or writing his latest product review, you can find him out at the track taking dirt naps, snapping some pictures, or drooling over the latest parts for his bike. With an outspoken personality, gearhead background, and as Vital MX’s guru for product, Michael is here to share his unbiased opinion.

This product has 1 review.

Added a product review for ODI Emig V2 Lock-On Grips 12/2/2014 6:48 PM
C138_odi_g01_is

Tested: ODI Emig V2 Lock-On Grips

Rating:

The Good:

The Bad:

Overall:

Review and Photos by Michael Lindsay

Grips used to be a simple purchase on my part. I'd just grab a pair of half-waffle grips off the shelf and I was good to go. Personally, I would snag the hardest compound, just so I didn't have to change them as often. But in more recent times, I've grown fairly picky and prefer the softest compounds I can wrap my fingers around. Sadly, this often means I'm changing grips at a rapid rate, and even the smallest tip over can ruin a set.

ODI's lock-on grips are quite popular amongst the mountain bike community, but have only recently caught on with the moto crew since they introduced their V2 moto grip. With the help of Jeff Emig, they've also added a different pattern and design that carries his name. With their simple installation process, I decided it was time give them a shot to see if they could end some of my current grip woes.

ODI Emig V2 Lock-On Grip features:

  • No grip glue required.
  • Grip ends knockout for hand guard installation.
  • Includes three throttle cams to allow for a wide range of applications.
  • Only available in a half-waffle pattern.
  • Available in seven different color combinations.
  • MSRP $24.95

First Impressions

Once I decided on a color option (there are seven available), I opened my first package. As you can guess by the pictures, these grips come pre-installed on plastic tubes to cover each end of the bars. The throttle side uses removable throttle cams, so they can be interchanged based on the model. One comes already installed, and there are two others included in the package. Make sure to select the one you need. Instillation for the throttle tube is just as it would be with a normal tube. You first set the cables on the cam, cover them with the two-piece throttle housing, and then tighten them down to secure it to the handlebar.

The left side grip comes on its own tube, which has a small Allen screw towards the inside. Once the grip is on the handlebar and the position set, you tighten the Allen screw tightly to lock it down on the bar. All-in-all, these grips can be installed in around five minutes and allow you to ride immediately. No glue or safety wire required.

On the Track

As I mentioned before, I'm extremely picky with grips. The main reason for this is my hand size (I blame my overall size on my mother's side of the family...). I typically wear a small glove and even an x-small in some brands, to give you an idea of what I'm working with. So my biggest problem with some newer grips is their overall diameter, which can be a tad bit too big and makes it quite hard to wrap my fingers around comfortably.

As soon as I put the Emigs on, I noticed that the left side grip matches the size of the throttle side. This I didn't mind, but as you can imagine the overall size of both of the grips are a bit larger due to their design. This wasn't to my thrill, but was fairly manageable. The grips themselves offer a unique half-waffle design that's relatively small, only covering the area where your fingers touch but leaves a gap for your thumb. This makes them quite natural to wrap your hand around and continue to hang onto during a moto. The actual compounds are fairly tacky but have a harder base than a soft compound grip. After a few long motos, I found that this combination left my hands in great shape. Mostly, I was impressed with the half-waffle design, which wasn’t intrusive and didn't leave any unusual wear or marks on my palms and fingers.

Long-Term Durability

I've had these grips on a few different bikes this year, and they've all been tough as nails. The main area you wrap your palm around has held up extremely well and barely shows any signs of wear, even after weeks of use. The grip ends also have been outstandingly tough. Now I've had one grip slightly tear after a few spills, but no major chunks or structural damage have been incurred by the grip or the tubes inside. About the only thing I have noticed is some slight discoloration on certain color schemes.

The Last Word

The fact that these grips don't require any glue or safety wire is a massive plus. They're tough, durable, and fairly tacky, but still fall short in a few ways. First off, they're only available in a half-waffle design, with no other designs available. Also, the pricing is a tad bit higher than most grips on the market, but this is offset by the fact you don't have to purchase grip glue or some other adhesive compound. Lastly, the slightly larger feel may not work for some riders. With something as important as grips, even the smallest change can upset a rider. Overall however, the ease of installation and grip vs. wear makes these an excellent choice that I'd recommend you at least try once to see what you personally think.

Vital MX Rating

Check out ODIgrips.com to see where you can get your hands on a pair (literally).

About the Test Rider

Michael Lindsay - is a born-and-raised moto freak and gearhead from the heart of motocross in Southern California. First swinging a leg over a bike at the age of five, he immediately caught the racing bug, spending nearly every weekend behind a gate…and a lot of time on the couch while injured. While swinging back and forth between moto and the off-road scene, giving him a wide range of experience on the bike. Of course, all of this led to one thing: Lindsay loves working on his bikes almost as much as he loves talking about them. When he’s not in the Vital MX forum or writing his latest product review, you can find him out at the track taking dirt naps, snapping some pictures, or drooling over the latest parts for his bike. With an outspoken personality, gearhead background, and as Vital MX’s guru for product, Michael is here to share his unbiased opinion.

This product has 2 reviews.

Added a product review for Nihilo Concepts Factory Frame Grip Tape 10/25/2014 5:36 PM
C138_griptape

Tested: Nihilo Concepts Factory Frame Grip Tape

Rating:

The Good:

The Bad:

Overall:

Review and Photos by Michael Lindsay

Wandering the pro pits is always interesting, especially when you spot the small tricks that the factory mechanics do to their rider's bikes. One thing that's quite common, is to find grip tape along spars of the frame. Some riders love the extra traction that can be found by doing this. But it can be a bit of a pain to replicate, since cutting out the perfect-sized piece of grip tape is time consuming and takes practice, even with a good template. Now there's a solution, Nihilo Concepts has produced a grip tape kit that is made to fit individual brands and models.

Nihilo Concepts Factory Frame Grip Tape features:

  • Available in black, grey, and OEM colors.
  • Cut to match each individual advertised model.
  • MSRP $15.95-18.95.

First Impressions

The Nihilo's frame grip tape comes on a simple sheet of backing paper, such as a set of graphics would. You simply peel and and place them on the frame. Each piece is cut to match the corresponding side of the frame, and typically runs from right above the footpeg to the third of half-way point up the spars of the frame.

The grip tape is available in black and grey for all models, and the OEM color to match that brand. If you're a Husqvarna or KTM guy, the grip tape offers more than just extra grip, but can also protect your colored frame from wear, as well. Also, if you meet a minimum order amount, you can have them customized with a personal logo.

On the Track

As you can guess, the idea of this product is to give you more confidence on the bike by giving you better control over the bike. Depending on how you ride, the extra grip may not be immediately noticeable. In my case, it becomes the most apparent when standing up in the attack position, such as standing on the balls of your feet while charging into jump faces. Here it can help you keep your forward stance without as much effort. Also, I find more confidence in keeping proper body positioning under heavy braking.

Long-Term Durability

The grip tape takes a lot of abuse. It's attached to the frame and rubs directly against your boots, so something has to give. In this case, it's the grip tape. Depending on how you grip your bike, the life of the grip tape can vary. Unless your feet are always off the pegs, they will wear out.

The Last Word

Nihilo Concept offers up a simple but unique product that you otherwise would spend a lot of valuable time replicating. The Factory Frame Grip Tape does exactly what it's supposed to, improve your control and grip on the bike. Also in the case of KTMs and Husqvarnas, it can protect the finish on the frame. But it still faces a huge downside, it won't last. Depending on how aggressively you hug the bike with your legs, that time can be extremely short. In short, it's a great product if it solves your needs, but will always require replacement.

Vital MX Rating

Check out NihiloConcepts.com to find out if the Factory Frame Grip Tape is available for your bike.

About the Test Rider

Michael Lindsay- is a born-and-raised moto freak and gearhead from the heart of motocross in Southern California. First swinging a leg over a bike at the age of five, he immediately caught the racing bug, spending nearly every weekend behind a gate…and a lot of time on the couch while injured. While swinging back and forth between moto and the off-road scene, giving him a wide range of experience on the bike. Of course, all of this led to one thing: Lindsay loves working on his bikes almost as much as he loves talking about them. When he’s not in the Vital MX forum or writing his latest product review, you can find him out at the track taking dirt naps, snapping some pictures, or drooling over the latest parts for his bike. With an outspoken personality, gearhead background, and as Vital MX’s guru for product, Michael is here to share his unbiased opinion.

This product has 3 reviews.

Added a product review for Works Connection Aluminum Radiator Brace 10/14/2014 7:18 PM
C138_l581055

Tested: Works Connection Radiator Braces

Rating:

The Good:

The Bad:

Overall:

Review and Photos by Michael Lindsay

In my group of riding buddies, bike damage seems to be a common theme. There's always that one guy who gets a flat, burns out his clutch, or destroys a radiator during a small tip over. (Actually, in my group that's typically the same guy.) A damaged radiator is one of the biggest pains. Mostly because you either have to buy a costly OEM unit, or if you're lucky your stocker might be repairable, which still results time and expense.

After I started racing off-road, I needed to do anything I could to keep the bike in one piece for the longer races. Between rocks, high speed desert sections, and constantly banging into riders before entering the tight confines of a scoring loop (have to make every pass count!), the radiators would be in a bit of danger. After doing a little searching, I settled on some radiator braces from Works Connection.

Works Connection Radiator Braces features:

  • Constructed from aircraft-grade aluminum.
  • Supports radiators from side impacts and being bent backwards.
  • Sold in pairs when applicable.
  • MSRP $39.99-$109.99.

First Impressions

The Works Connection Radiator Braces are fairly simple in design. For most models, they resemble an aluminum triangle that mounts to the top and bottom of the radiator and to the side of the frame. They're slim in design, following the general shape of the radiator shroud. On some models, it may take a look or two to even realize they're on.

Inside the packaging, you'll find a pair of braces (for single radiator bikes, there will only be one brace), along with mounting hardware.

In the Shop

For most models, there will be three mounting points. To install, you simply take the radiator shroud off, bolt the brace onto the outside of the radiator, then re-install the shroud. The braces use the bottom shroud mounting bolt hole and one along the side of the frame. Some models have a hole along the top of the radiator for the third bolt (such as the Kawasaki KXF models), but some need to have the third hole drilled (Honda CRF and Suzuki RM-Z models for instance).

You can bolt the braces up to the two pre-existing holes and then drill, using the open third hole as a template of where to drill on the radiator. As long as your radiators are fairly straight, these braces line-up extremely well. However, if the radiator has already taken a few hits, there are no guarantees that the braces will fit.

On the Track

Some radiator cages I've seen before required spacers because of their large size. This can cause the radiator shrouds to bulge out and widen the feel of your bike. I've tested these braces on five different bikes, and never once thought to myself that the shrouds were wider and impeding my comfort on the bike.

Long-Term Durability

The most long term situation I've spent with these braces consisted of a year on a KX450F. This bike spent its time between motocross tracks, desert races, WORCS, playing around with Endurocross, etc. Even though this bike had spent plenty of time bouncing down hills, falling in corners and rocks, and the occasional end-over-end flip, it still had its stock radiators at the end of the year. I will mention that I went through about eight sets of radiator shrouds in this time, giving you an idea of how may times it took on side impacts.

The Last Word

How do I describe these braces? Cheap insurance. A pair of these braces are cheaper than just one aftermarket radiator and around the cost of repairing your stocker. In trade though, they offer continued support crash-after-crash. They're well-priced, can save you money, and keep you from loading up early after a small tip over. As most riders are aware, you endo over a triple and your bike might be fine, but you can fall over at 5mph and rip your radiator off.

These braces will offer more protection on some bikes compared to others based off the bike's design. Personally, I've noticed these braces are most supportive for modern CRF and YZF models. The only real drawback is that some models require a small amount of drilling to properly install.

Vital MX Rating

Check out WorksConnection.com for more protective products for your bike.

About the Test Rider

Michael Lindsay- is a born-and-raised moto freak and gearhead from the heart of motocross in Southern California. First swinging a leg over a bike at the age of five, he immediately caught the racing bug, spending nearly every weekend behind a gate…and a lot of time on the couch while injured. While swinging back and forth between moto and the off-road scene, giving him a wide range of experience on the bike. Of course, all of this led to one thing: Lindsay loves working on his bikes almost as much as he loves talking about them. When he’s not in the Vital MX forum or writing his latest product review, you can find him out at the track taking dirt naps, snapping some pictures, or drooling over the latest parts for his bike. With an outspoken personality, gearhead background, and as Vital MX’s guru for product, Michael is here to share his unbiased opinion.

This product has 1 review.

Added a product review for Troy Lee Designs 5955 Chest Protector 10/8/2014 8:04 AM
C138_tld

Tested: Troy Lee Designs 5955 Chest Protector

Rating:

The Good:

The Bad:

Overall:

Review by Michael Lindsay // Photos by Joe Carlino

At one point or another, we've all questioned how much protection we need to wear while riding. Weight and comfort is an issue, as is the ability to keep cool... or maybe look cool. Personally, I've been all over the map when it comes to chest protection. I grew up wearing a chest protector until I was almost 18. Then went without it, before realizing that the roost hurts, so I grabbed an under-the-jersey foam pad to eliminate the pain.

I then figured out that the foam padding wasn't quite enough to withstand small rocks flinging off the rear of a 450 during a beach race. At this point, I wanted slim and light, but with more protection. After walking down the line of a pro national, I noticed quite a few pros running Troy Lee Designs's 5955 Chest Protector (catchy, huh?). This includes some who aren't exactly sponsored by TLD. (Vented jerseys are a bit revealing...) Thus, my choice to try one out.

Troy Lee Designs 5955 Chest Protector features:

  • Neck brace integration.
  • Customizable, and capable of over 50 configurations.
  • Designed to be worn over or under jersey.
  • Jointed panels allow for larger movement range.
  • Available in black or white.
  • MSRP: $199.99.

First Impressions

In standard form, the 5955 looks quite bulky, but that's where the separate panels of this chest protector come into play. Thanks to the panels, the chest protector is hinged in some crucial places that allow you to move more freely and naturally.

On closer inspection of the panels, there are screws to disassemble these sections. The top sections on the front and back can both be removed to allow for the use of a neck brace. Beyond that, you can also remove the hanging arm pads and even the top shoulder pads. This quickly lightens up the 5955 and opens up another option. Stripping the 5955 down to this level makes it a great hard-shell under-the-jersey option.

On the Track

The original version of this chest protector I used was already stripped down to the bare bones when I received it. This time around, I left the 5955 in its normal configuration to find out how well all the folding panels worked while in action.

In the 5955's largest form, it can feel a bit bulky when getting underway. Once the action begins though, it quickly falls out of your mind. TLD built the folding sections in all the right places, making its overall size easy to forget when out on the track. For those looking for the maximum protection, this is a huge plus.

The 5955 features "neck brace integration," which is fancy talk for removable panels that offer an opening for your beck brace. This leaves plenty of room for a Leatt and an Atlas, but doesn't really leave enough room for the lower-sitting Alpinestar Bionic. The former two fit comfortably, but will move in conjunction with the chest protector at times.

The most standout feature is of course the ability to remove almost any panel that doesn't suite your style. If it's too much, unbolt it and go lighter. I personally pulled more and more sections off, until I was left with just the upper and lower sections, both front and back. On top of this, I even removed all the padding from the shoulder sections. This turned the originally bulky 5955 into a more protective vest which could be worn over the jersey or in my case, under.

Long-Term Durability

I've actually used one of these for well over a year, and it's held up amazingly well! My treatment of it includes cleaning the inside padding with a pressure washer after every ride. Surprisingly, the material is still in one piece and hasn't ripped from this abuse. I was also initially worried about the strength and durability of the folding sections, but this as well has impressed me and left no further concerns.

The Last Word

Sizing wise, this chest protector is not designed with taller riders in mind. At 5'9 (when my back has been recently adjusted), a large is barely adequate for me. If you rank much larger in size, you'll start losing coverage. If you're wondering, there isn't a size above large. Also, I've found that the screws that lock the sections together have been treated with some very strong Loctite. I highly recommend using an extra set of hands to disassemble the 5955.

Over the past year, I've used a few different chest protectors for shoots, but I always come back to the 5955. Its large variety of customization options, thin profile, and multiple flexing panels make it my top choice in my gear bag. However, that isn't saying it's perfect by any means. Its 200 dollar price tag may turn off some buyers, since it's still a hard shell protector, while there's a few more advanced chest protectors on the market in this price range. Now if you don't need the extended shoulder protection and the arm pads, there's a less expensive model ($25 less), known as the 5900.

Vital MX Rating

Check out TroyLeeDesigns.com for more information on their full range of protective equipment.

About the Test Rider

Michael Lindsay - is a born-and-raised moto freak and gearhead from the heart of motocross in Southern California. First swinging a leg over a bike at the age of five, he immediately caught the racing bug, spending nearly every weekend behind a gate…and a lot of time on the couch while injured. While swinging back and forth between moto and the off-road scene, giving him a wide range of experience on the bike. Of course, all of this led to one thing: Lindsay loves working on his bikes almost as much as he loves talking about them. When he’s not in the Vital MX forum or writing his latest product review, you can find him out at the track taking dirt naps, snapping some pictures, or drooling over the latest parts for his bike. With an outspoken personality, gearhead background, and as Vital MX’s guru for product, Michael is here to share his unbiased opinion.

This product has 1 review.