Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Changes Part I of III

Many racers are resistant to change, sometimes out of superstition or fear or just pigheadedness.  I am as guilty as the next.  But I would like to think that enough years competing in different competitive disciplines (stock cars, motorcycle road-racing and off-road hare scrambles) has taught me to recognize when something flat out isn't working.  My previous post regarding the VCHSS round at Sandy Bottom read here showed me there were a few things amiss in my racing program.  I could continue to struggle, wasting more energy and time until I quit in frustration or got hurt, or worse, hurt someone else.

Racing is all about time, whether you are on or off the track, there is none to waste.  Three areas requiring immediate attention were easily identifiable.  This post will deal with the first: Gear.

Simply put, the gear I was wearing, while quality stuff, was simply not designed for the hot/humid weather we were now encountering in Virginia.  I needed something with venting, lots of it.  Good kit ain't cheap, and the 600 or so bucks a helmet, pants and armor/jersey combo were going to cost would sting for a working class dolt racing on a dental-floss budget mid-season with a Christmas bonus too far off to spend.  Unless I was going to hibernate in the central air until October, it was going to be necessary.  It truly was not a matter of comfort, but of safety.

So I did my research, scoured the internet for reviews and best prices and here is what I came up with (let me be clear that I do not give a rat's ass about color, I was after function, not fashion.  I also do not endorse or receive any discounts from the retailers or manufacturers mentioned, but I have had good experiences with them.).

Helmet: Klim F4 Legacy.  Purchased from Dennis Kirk via Ebay $269.99 with free shipping.  The F4 is purported to be the best vented helmet made and Klim's gear has always been synonymous with quality, so this seemed like a no-brainer.   The medium fit my head (7 1/4) well, but I did have to go with the 30mm cheek pads to get the tight but not uncomfortable fit I like.  The venting has no equal, as other reviews have stated you can literally see your scalp through the ports in the top, while still having the ECE rating.  My only complaint, or caution, is that if you ride in areas with low-hanging branches and vines that require ducking under, be careful, they will rip the plastic air scoops right off the top of the helmet (see pictures).  There is nothing like smashing up your shit on the first ride.

Klim F4 Helmet

Pants: Klim Mojave In The Boot Pants.  Like the F4 helmet, Klim's Mojave pants have the reputation for being the best vented off-road pant available.  I was surprised at how thick the material felt in combination with the liner, I guess if it was any lighter or thinner it would shred itself at the mere mention of rocks and thorns.  There is plenty of mesh in the waist and below the knees.  The pants fit true at a size 32 waist, with some adjustability via velcro straps on the side.  Well made and definitely cooler than the non-vented MSR pants I was wearing.  Purchased via Ebay seller lytleracinggroup for $169.99 shipped.

Klim Mojave Pant

Ballistic Jersey:  Fox Titan Sport Jacket.  I am a firm believer in armor.  Lots of armor, and padding.  The older I get, the more of it I wear.  I crash a lot, and there is no better feeling than jumping up after a get-off unbruised other than ego.  I was wearing the EVS ballistic jersey, but they only come in black and the venting is not great.  The Fox Titan was getting good reviews so I tried it for $149.95 with free shipping from Motorcycle Superstore.  The venting is much better, the armpit area is actually open, so if you do not wear a shirt underneath, you can really get some air over your body, there is an added benefit of being able to use your body odor to distract the guys following you.  Like all of these ballistic jerseys/vests, the material that the pads are sewn to is very vulnerable to tears.  My first ride saw an errant branch tear into the area just above the shoulder pads, break out the Shoe Goo and sewing needle.  Wearing a motocross jersey over the jacket should help with this, but I am all about less layers in the summer.

Fox Titan Sport Jacket

   The first ride in the new kit is a hot and humid late afternoon practice in the woods.  The new gear vents much better than my other stuff, as long as there is some air-flow.  Stop or get stuck for any length of time and before you know it you are overheating, and barring an air-conditioned suit or moving to Alaska, there is nothing to be done about that.  As time progresses I will give my long term impressions of the gear, but right now, there is another race to get ready for!  Look for "Changes" part II coming soon, where I discuss the changes made to my Gas Gas EC300 to withstand the rigors of hare scrambles racing.

New gear in action, being chased by another damn pumpkin.

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