Kit review

Tested – Arai RX-7V

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This is my second RX-7V and I have nothing but praise for it.

This is my sole lid, and it’s the exact same helmet that you see top racers such as Pedrosa, Crutchlow, Vinales and Rea wearing each weekend.

I love this helmet and with good reason too – it’s truly all-day comfortable, and the non-itch lining does a good job of keeping my scalp dry and sweat free. Its performed faultlessly on a recent three-day trackday at Jerez and the brilliant combination of powerful and effective visor vents and Pinlock means you’ll never suffer with misting, and the retractable chin spoiler is a neat, well-thought out touch.

This lid features Arai’s new visor change mechanism, which is far easier to master than the old system, and I know this lid will look after me in the worst case scenario – I threw my GP down the road when I came off at speed and slid some 110m down the road, smacking my head hard in three different places. The shell took a proper battering but everything worked as it should and I didn’t get so much as a headache. This new lid features a new, smoother outer shell, a longer diffuser, a new, bigger visor tab and a new interior.

The new outer shell is a result of Arai’s philosophy that a smoother shell offers the best protection through its enhanced ‘glancing off’ properties – the theory is that a smoother shape spreads the impact load across the whole helmet and thus helps reduce the amount of energy transferred to a rider’s brain in a spill. The shell itself is 30g lighter than the outgoing model, thanks a mainly to the new resins used, and there is now 3mm extra space around the rider’s mouth and chin.

This focus on ‘glancing off’ has seen the RX-7’s visor pivot lowered by 24mm to allow Arai to keep the shell of the RX-7V completely smooth above the test line of the Snell standard, further improving impact performance.

The new helmet also sports a prominent visor tab, which Arai has carried over from its F1 programme. The system is much chunkier than its predecessor, which makes it easier to use with gloved fingers.

Arai’s slogan is ‘there is a difference’ and they’re right. This is very much a top of the range lid, and it’s worth every penny of its hefty price tag.

New kit – BMW System 7 Carbon

BMW claims its new System 7 Carbon is set to become the new benchmark in terms of safety, versatility, and aerodynamic properties, and on paper it certainly looks promising.

An evolution of the hugely popular System 6, the System 7 Carbon can be converted from a full-face helmet to an open one by simply taking off the chin guard. No tools are required and it takes only a couple minutes to make the change. How good is that?

As the name suggests, the exterior shell is made out of carbon fibre and has reinforcement inserts. BMW claims the helmet will exceed all safety standards – some feat considering it weighs weighing just 1580 g or 1680g, accordingly to size.

The interior is made out of multiple EPS segments and different thickness foam padding to offer the best shock absorption and increased comfort. As is increasingly becoming the norm, the interior pads can be removed and washed.

The three-dimensionally curved MaxView visor promises to offer an excellent view in all weather conditions while also increasing the field of view compared to its predecessor. Other upgrades include an optimised aero spoiler, integrated sun visor, and an enhanced ventilation system.

The System 7 Carbon will be available in Black, Light White, metallic Graphite Matt and Silver as well as in Prime, Moto, and Spectrum Fluoro paint schemes.

Tested – Drift Innovation’s rugged Stealth 2 Action Camera

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Action cameras are gaining in popularity, especially with the rise in ‘Crash for Cash’ cases, as well as being used to record your rides and trackdays for prosperity. They’re great for checking your riding – lines, position and technique, and are invaluable for allowing you to critique and improve your own riding.

This is the Drift Stealth 2, and it’s right up there with the best – it’s a great entry-level action camera and a worthy alternative to the ubiquitous Go Pro. This very unit has just survived a spectacular off at 90mph (my fault entirely for not securing it properly in the housing), and when I eventually retraced my step I saw it lying on the tarmac still recording.

Yes, it’s battered, but that shouldn’t be a surprise. The footage shows the camera barrel rolling down the tarmac as it made its flight for freedom. The rear facing camera (A Drift Ghost) caught it even better – the Stealth must’ve launched seven feet in the air, and impacted the ground a good 10 times before it came a rest. When I eventually found it some 56 minutes later, it was still recording. I dusted it down, gave it a clean and reattached it to the bike and shot some more footage. This thing is tough, built to last and is as good as bulletproof. Impressive.

So what else have do I know? The unit itself is very compact – it measures just 80mm x 42mm x 27mm and weighs 97g, some 40 per cent lighter than the original Stealth. These measurements make it very aerodynamic and sleek; ideal properties when mounting on helmets or bike fairings – far more suited to bikes than the square design of its rivals.

As I’ve already stated, the rubber housing feels sturdy enough, and while it doesn’t claim to be waterproof, I think it would survive a nuclear attack.An industry standards screw hole sits at the bottom of the unit for mounting to tripods and other useful features include chunky, easy-to- operate buttons and a dial opening/closing mechanism to access the microSD and the HDMI and USB ports – perfect for keeping out dirt and grit.

On the side of the camera is a 1.3in screen that shows the menu options, and it’s backlit so you can see it in the dark.But the really clever part of this camera is that it comes equipped witha lens that rotates through 300 degrees, which means the camerais always capable of shooting landscape while allowing you all sortsof versatility when it comes to mounting the camera. However, this camera’s field of view is restricted to 135 degrees, compared to the 170 degrees offered by the Go Pro, but Drift claims this makes objects appear closer and sharper – and they’re right, the footage itself is superb – colours are crisp and it captures loads of detail, and there’s no ‘fish-eye’ effect at the edge of the frame

Despite the Stealth 2’s small size it still packs a powerful punch andthe battery life is an impressive three hours when shooting 1080p at 30fps. It’s also capable of shooting 720p/60fps all the way down to 120fps in WGVA quality slow motion footage. The camera also has Wi–Fi connectivity – which enables it to be paired to a smartphone or a Drift remote control unit, both of which are very useful when it comes to setting up shooting angles – a time-lapse function photo burst and video tagging.

Mounting couldn’t be easier and each kit comes with a selection of curved and flat mounts to suit all surfaces, and there’s even a handy goggle mount.Note to self – always check you’ve inserted it properly in the mount!

The Drift works equally well on trackdays and the daily commute – I’ve used it for instructing on track and it’s small enough to not be an issue while it has enough battery to make a decent commuter companion, recording every detail in the case of an incident. And it’s very competitively priced too. Highly recommended.

£149.99 store.driftinnovation.com/uk/

Tested – Knox Meta-Sys back protector

MetaSys (needs cutting out)

This back protector is CE Level 2 certified, which means it’s at the top of its game when it comes to offering protection. This is largely down to the tough properties of the hard polypropylene external shell.

Another key feature is Knox’s trademark hinged panels, which allow maximum rider movement without compromising protection. The four panels span the length of your spine, and the lower back section even extends to protect the coccyx area.

The Meta-Sys feels reassuringly protective on, mainly due to the sheer amount of your back that it covers – the upper plates even offer a decent level of protection for the shoulder area – but it’s comfy too, thanks largely to the soft, foam-like nitrex insides, which have a sweat-wicking liner to keep you dry. There’s a decent amount of adjustability at the the shoulder and waist straps too, allowing you to get the Meta-Sys to sit just so, and the clever design means air is channelled away from top to bottom to stop your back from getting too sweaty.

The only downside is that there’s no getting away from its sheer bulk. I simply couldn’t get it to fit into my snug one-piece leathers, and had to go up a size to accommodate it.

4 stars

£130

http://www.planet-knox.com

Tested – Drift Ghost-S

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There’s an awful lot to like about the Drift Ghost-S – it’s easy to use, it’s well-made, it’s well-specced and it shoots some pretty stunning footage.

It’s almost as if the Ghost-S has been designed with bikers in mind; it’s capable of shooting 1080p video at upwards of 60fps, and will also record 120fps video at 720p – a handy feature for any riders looking to shoot slow-motion footage.

This practicality extends to the camera itself. It has a generous-sized 2in LCD screen on the side, which can be used as a live video view and for playing back any recorded footage.

The Ghost-S is designed to be mounted horizontally, so that it sits flat against most surfaces. This is an important design feature as it keeps the camera’s centre of gravity low, which reduces vibrations and camera wobble. The camera uses Drift’s standard 1/4in-20 tripod mount in the base of the camera, which is a neat touch as it means you can also use third-party mounts. It also comes with a few mounts to get you started including a universal clip, goggle mount and some handy adhesive mounts for curved or flat surfaces. This stuff really works, and has allowed me to mount a rear facing camera on the bike’s tail section and a forward facing camera at the top of the lower fairing. And it’s not budged in the slightest.

The camera itself couldn’t be easier, or more intuitive, to operate. The controls are chunky and simple to use, and all the buttons are positioned on the camera’s side – power, to start and stop recording and to navigate the menu.

The back of the camera features Drift’s trademark removable screw-in panel that protects the Mini USB charging port as well as the Mini HDMI output, a function which allows you to connect the camera directly to an external display for playback. There’s also a 3.5mm connection for an external microphone. With the rear cover securely attached, the camera is waterproof to 3m, which keeps the camera dry, even in the grimmest of downpours.

Another neat feature is the rotating lens, which can spin through 300 degrees. This effectively allows you to mount the camera in any orientation and still have the video come out in the correct visual format. It’s worth pointing out here that the lens’ default position, when all sides are flush to the camera’s body, is oriented for when the camera is stood on its side instead of mounted with the screw on its base. This means you’ll need to remember to rotate the lens when the camera is mounted on top of something, such as a fuel tank, or a helmet.

We tested the Ghost-S over a four-week period in a variety of conditions, including a nine-hour round trip to Bristol, and we’re impressed. It feels secure when mounted, and its sleek, aerodynamic profile helps reduce any vertical camera wobble.

It will record for around three hours, and the footage is pin sharp, capturing beautifully rich colours and a high level of detail in the background, even at high speeds.

The camera’s apps are available for iOS and Android, and make the camera even easier to use. The apps allow you to adjust settings such as field of view, exposure and frame rate as well as triggering recording. The app also provides a live view of the camera’s sensor, and the camera’s Bluetooth capability mean it’s possible to copy photos and videos to your smartphone.

Yes, it’s more expensive than the already excellent Drift Stealth 2, but you’re paying for added functionality. That large screen is really useful for setting-up and previewing footage, and there is a greater choice of video recording modes.

We’ll be shooting some footage when we head over to the Isle of Man for the TT, both on-board and hedge side race footage on our YouTube channel. See for yourself why we rate it so highly.

Five stars

www.driftinnovation.com

£250

Object of desire – Arai RX-7V HRC

Arai has just announced that it’ll soon be accepting orders for a limited edition RX-7V HRC.

The lid features Honda’s famous HRC logo, along with the manufacturer’s iconic wings motif and Honda racing colours, and has been designed by legendary designer Aldo Drudi – the very same man who paints all of Rossi’s lids.

Honda Racing Corporation has taken the significant move of granting Arai permission to use its logo, but only for a limited time, meaning Arai will only be able to make a small quantity of these hand-made helmets.

The £649.99 RX-7V HRC LTD will be available for preordering from Why Arai, and will come from Arai in Japan; it’s not being stocked at Arai’s European warehouse.

For more information contact your local Arai dealer.

Tested – Kriega R3

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The Kriega R3 is the British company’s take on the bum bag, and as always they’ve done an excellent job.

Made from tough 1000D Cordura, the R3 is a one-stop carry-all for all your essential items – multi-tool, camera, phone, driving licence, passport, wallet etc. And when you’re off the bike it’s the ideal storage carrier for your bike’s action camera (s).

As its name suggests, the R3 has a three-litre capacity in its main pocket, and this is waterproof thanks to Kriega’s signature roll-top closure system. There’s also a smaller compartment which is sealed with a water-resistant zip.

The R3 comes into its own when wearing leathers, giving you the advantages of the pockets that come with textiles, with none of the bulk associated with wearing such suits.

It’s tough, unobtrusive and completely waterproof. What’s not to like?

www.kriega.com

£55

Four stars

First test – Arai RX7 V

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I’ve just done a 400-mile round trip to Bristol in the new Arai RX7-V in very changeable conditions, and first impressions are favourable.

The trip meant some nine hours in the saddle, and the Arai excelled throughout. It didn’t fog in the freezing and cold conditions in the morning, the powerful vents doing a good job of keeping air circulating throughout the lid. They’re easy to sue with gloves, and have a decent level of control from slight flow to full flow.

It’s comfy too – despite the fit of the new shell and lining making it feel snugger than its predecessor, there are no pinch points, no marks on my head; it just fits.

The lining itself is supremely comfortable, with no itches, and the field of vision is excellent, easily allowing you to see what’s going on around you.

But it’s the little things that stand out. The new catch on the visor makes it easier to operate, and the chin curtain makes a decent job of keeping noise down.
We’ll report back in another four weeks with a thorough review…

New – Wolf Racing-K 1-pc leathers

Wolf Racing-K 1pc Suit 1 copy

These subtle leathers are from Wolf, the British brand that is being relaunched for2016.

Made from a mixture of cow and kangaroo leather, the Racing-K is only available in black – a very understated and stealthy look that many manufacturers seem to have moved away from in recent times.

The leather used is 60 per cent cow hide and 40 per cent kangaroo, a material which more and more manufacturers are embracing as it’s stronger and offers greater flexibility than cow hide. It’s also supple too – essential for getting a snug but comfy fit.

This flexibiity is a key feature of the Racing-K. There are well-placed stretch panels on both sides of the ribcage and behind each arm, and these allow a greater degree of movement when on the bike. Wolf claim these stretch panels allow up to two inches of added flexibility – a welcome feature if you wear a back and chest protector.

Needless to say the suit boasts a plethora of protection including heavy-duty external slides on the elbows, shoulders and knees, which are designed to allow the rider to slide rather than dig in and cartwheel in the event of a crash – this is a key feature in preventing breaks.

Other features include vented panel on the torso and thighs, and Union flag graphics on the elasticated stretch panels above the knee and on the back.

£750

www.wolf-moto.co.uk

First thoughts – Arai RX-7V

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We’ve just taken delivery of a new Arai RX-7V and first impressions are overwhelmingly positive.

We’re huge fans of its predecessor, so that shouldn’t come as a surprise – the RX-7GP has looked after me in a quick 120mph lowside, and a 40mph highside, and each time I’ve walked away without so much as a headache.

I took the lid out for an exploratory ride yesterday and the new model is a big improvement – it’s snugger, which is good, the field of vision feels wider, it feels lighter, the new lining seems comfy and the new visor mechanism is easy to operate but reassuringly secure once in place.

We’ll be putting it through its paces over the next few weeks and will report back once we’ve got a few thousand miles under our belts…watch this space