20 Best New Motorcycle Accessories & Gear of 2006

The coolest in new swag from the annual Indianapolis Trade Show

Vendramini VR700 Race Steel

Although they're not exactly new, Vendramini's VR700 Race Steel boots deserve recognition just for the sheer amount of big-think that's gone into them. The Italian boot-maker pulled out all the stops for these: They're made of 1.8-2.0mm double-tanned leather, and utilize carbon-fiber-and-kevlar inserts at the heel and toe, a fine steel-mesh reinforcement at high-stress areas, an anti-crush sole insert that Vendramini says can withstand 400 lb. of lateral force, a claimed waterproof lining, an Outlast phase-change lining--and still more. The VR700 boots retail for $479.
www.bikerworldusa.com, (631) 234-1114

Olympia Ast Jacket

Bode Miller didn't exactly live up to the hype at the Olympics, especially when he smacked a gate with his face in the men's super-G. Maybe if he'd been wearing Olympia's AST (All Season Touring) it would have been a different story. The AST, Olympia says, features a coated 500- and 1500-denier Cordura shell with a waterproof and breathable membrane, plus a removable Thermolite-insulated liner (which can be worn separately) for particularly cold, wet, nasty weather. For warmer weather (or when Miller's overheated from trying to stay upright on one ski) the AST offers shoulder-to-forearm and torso vent systems, and a mesh lining. If none of that helped, he'd at least appreciate the CE-spec Motion Flex armor and back protector. Available in men's sizes S-4XL and women's sizes XS-3XL in pewter or neon yellow for a paltry $289.99. Boehm says he's gonna test one soon.
www.olympiamoto sports.com, (866) 473-4327

MotoGP Berik Titanium Suit

Reuben Xaus knows crashing. In fact, the young Spaniard has hit the deck so many times he makes Carlos "Careless Chucker" Checa look like a piker. And Xaus' choice of leathers? For years it's been Berik, now imported into this country by Tucker Rocky (as is all MotoGP-licensed apparel). The one-piece cowhide suits feature exterior titanium armor at the shoulders, knees and elbows, along with the usual features: perforated panels to keep you cool, pleated elastic stretch panels for freedom of movement, pre-curved sleeves and knees for comfort, CE-approved armor at the shoulders and elbows, and more. Berik's Titanium suit retails for $1099.95.

Pro Feet Silver Motorcycle Socks

Calling these little numbers socks is tantamount to calling the Mona Lisa just a painting. The Pro Feet Silver Motorcycle Socks are far more sophisticated than your average pair of soggy cotton footwear. To begin with, the Pro Feet feature reinforced heels and toes, with a comfort seam placed away from the toes; arch support; stay-up tops; shin padding; and more. Then there's the fabric itself, with both a silver material that prohibits bacteria growth to prevent odors, and phase-change material to regulate temperature. Available in blue/gray, black/red and black/gray in men's and women's shoe sizes and retail for $20.
CIMA International, (866) 243-5638

DataDots PowerSports Kit

If you've had your motorcycle stolen, you know the horrible feeling of seeing empty space where the bike ought to be. DataDots' PowerSports kit, though, can help prevent that from happening. The kit consists of 500 tiny polyester dots (about the size of a grain of sand), each laser-etched with a PIN, suspended in a clear, water-soluble ultraviolet-light-sensitive adhesive, plus a foam applicator brush. You brush the dots onto various places on your bike, and register with the National Insurance Crime Bureau. Consequently, even if your bike's parted-out, every piece with DataDots can be identified as yours upon recovery.Retail is $109.95.
www.datadotusa.com, (800) 546-4454

RXR Protect Body Armor

There's such an abundance of air around the planet, you'd think someone would think up more ingenious ways to use it. Well, it seems someone has. The people at RSR Protect have come up with a series of body armor consisting of little more than lightly inflated PVC bladders placed in abbreviated vests that cover the back and chest. Although primarily targeted toward off-road riders, the vests should fit inside a street jacket or leathers if they're not too snug to begin with. RXR Protect says its inflatable body armor transmits approximately one-sixth the force allowed for Level 1 CE certification. Specifics of prices and sizing had not been determined at press time.

Alpinestars S-MX 4 Boots

Ground-bound observers have noticed the evolution of a new star in the moto-boot galaxy, Alpinestars' S-MX 4. The 4 takes the place of the popular, now-departed S-MX 3, and got a thorough makeover in the process. The microfiber upper has polyurethane armor for the shin, ankle, calf, toe and heel area for impact and abrasion resistance, while the nylon lining is laminated with open-cell foam and high-density padding for additional impact resistance. Mesh with a waterproof membrane covers vents at the shin, calf, heel and forefoot, a dual-compound-rubber sole provides good grip, and an extra-wide Velcro flap over the side-mounted zipper sewn to elastic makes the boots easy to don or doff. They come in black/red and black/blue in men's European sizes 40-50 (36-50 in black) for $199.95; also available in women's sizes.
www.alpinestars.com, (310) 891-0222

Spidi JP3 Hydroback Leathers

Have you noticed it too? There's never a Starbucks or the like outside Turn X when you're on a racetrack in the middle of the summer. You don't want to wait till you get back to the pits for a drink; you need one now. You just might want to offer to buy the Spidi guys a tall, cold one when you next see them, because they came up with the JP3 Hydroback one-piece suit, the first production leathers with a 0.5-liter drink system integrated into the hump. Even apart from that ingenious addition, these are dandy leathers, made from 1.2mm top-grain cowhide, and with all the bells and whistles you'd expect of a premium suit, including Spidi's own Biomechanic elbow and shoulder armor. The JP3s can be had in blue or red in European sizes 50-56, black in 46-58, for $1499.99.
www.motonation.com, (877) 789-4940

Respro Hump Backpack Cover

Those who consider being highly conspicuous while riding a good thing know that the higher off the ground you can get bright colors and reflective material, the better. So we wear jackets and helmets with as much brightness as we can stand. (Art Friedman wears an all-blaze-orange Shoei all the time!) But what of that common backpack sitting way up high? Fortunately, Respro makes the Hump, a Day-Glo yellow/orange backpack cover with elastic edges that fits over most backpacks and offers Scotchlite panels for night-time visibility. It's waterproof, so it'll protect your pack's contents during rainy rides, and it folds away in its own pouch when you don't need it.
streetandcomp.com, $49.99

Mito Homelink

Not all of us are as fortunate as the Arabian Nights' Ali Baba, who only needed to utter, "Open, sesame," to get into the robbers' cave. We need something such as HomeLink, now available for motorcyclists. Since its introduction in 1996, HomeLink wireless transmitters have been installed in some 30 million vehicles. Now--manufactured by Johnson Controls, the same outfit that developed the device for autos--the water-resistant HomeLink for motorcycles offers the same features, with three buttons to remotely operate garage doors, home security and lighting systems and other electronic convenience devices. Available through the Mito Corp., the device retails for $149.
www.mitocorp.com, (574) 295-2441

Ferodo Array Cooling Pads

Who would've thought some small amounts of negative space would have such a profound effect? The canny engineers at Ferodo, apparently. Working with factory-based roadrace teams here and abroad, they discovered a few well-placed holes in sintered brake-pad material - which Ferodo calls Array Cooling - resulted in not only a claimed 15 percent temperature reduction but also increased bite, greater friction and resistance to fading and fluid boiling, decreased wear and more consistent performance. Think of it as getting something from nothing. Imported by Brake Tech USA, the pads are available for a variety of racebikes and sportbikes, in XRAC compound for racing and STAC compound for track-day riding, with prices starting at $48.95 for one caliper's worth of pads.
www.braketech.com, (951) 471-3476

National Cycle Peacemakers Exhaust System

This one's so simple in concept it's a wonder no one's thought of it before. Imagine being able to start your Big Twin for an early morning ride and not bother your neighbors. Or ride past a police officer or school zone without being aurally offensive. National Cycle's new Peacemakers exhaust system for Harleys allows you to do just that--and still enjoy the throaty roar and additional horsepower a good aftermarket system can deliver. Thanks to what NC calls a "diverter valve" positioned within the front end of its muffler assembly that's controlled by an actuator motor and bar-mounted thumb switch, riders can switch between loud and quiet modes; just thumb the switch and the valve re-routes exhaust waves through a more--or less--restrictive pathway in the muffler. Tested on a Harley-Davidson TC88B engine, the system is claimed to have made 10 more peak horsepower than the stock system (in the loud mode), and just 5 more dB than stock in the quiet mode (79 dB versus 74 dB).
www.peacemakersexhaust.com,(877) 972-7336

Hit-Air Airbag Clothing

Lots of creatures have the ability to inflate themselves when threatened, such as the puffer fish and certain chameleons. Seeing as how motorcyclists haven't yet evolved to that happy extent, we'll have to turn to garments such as Hit-Air's jackets and vests to blow up and help protect us in the event of a crash. Hit-Air offers more than a dozen garments with its CO2-powered "shock-buffering system." The system relies upon a coiled cord connecting the garment to the motorcycle; as the rider separates from the motorcycle in a crash, the cord disconnects and causes the CO2 to inflate the garment in just a fraction of a second. Prices range from $499.99 to $749.99; shown is the EU jacket, $699.99 for sizes S-XL, $749.99 for sizes XXL-XXXL.
www.airprotekgear.com, (877) 635-8731

Boz Bros Exhausts

The way Ben and Eric Bostrom saw it, there just wasn't enough style in the motorcycle industry. And, seeing as how the Bostrom brothers had style to burn, they decided to spare some to create a line of products that also would meet the high standards of racers like themselves. And the first items to come out of the Boz Bros' brainstorm are a pair of pipes, the Moira and the Gild. The Gild series slip-ons feature a 55-degree slash-cut tip with a 2-inch-diameter tip, while the Moira complete systems utilize a "slightly more urban-friendly" removable, re-packable silencer core. Prices for the two pipe lines--to be available for most modern sportbikes--had not yet been set at press time, but distribution had: Parts Unlimited will be handling that end of the Boz Bros' vision.

Moto Millennia

Alfred Kobacker, the man behind the exceptional Cycle Cat line of hard-part accessories, has started another venture, Moto Millennia, which he calls "America's distributor of the world's finest motorcycle products." Kobacker's not just spouting hype, either: Moto Millennia reps for such outfits as Alth, maker of top-shelf disc brake components; clutch and engine specialist Bucci; Matris of steering damper and suspension fame; MotoGP outfitters Dymag (wheels) and GPR (exhausts); and, of course, Cycle Cat.

Autographed Collectables Signed Memorabilia

If you've ever pined for something--say, strangely enough, Alpinestars boots Nicky Hayden actually wore--signed by your biggest hero in MotoGP racing, Autographed Collectables has your heart's desire. AC offers artwork and collectable merchandise featuring MotoGP and Grand Prix stars such as Hayden, Kenny Roberts, Eddie Lawson, Max Biaggi, Colin Edwards and much more. The company says everything is signed by hand, too--no 50,000 runs of so-called autographs fresh off the printing press here. What's more, the firm's owner, Miguel Ramos, told us Motorcyclist readers should contact him directly by e-mail to get special, low pricing. Most items should run in the $95 to $200 range.

Cobra Lifetime Warranty

That's correct. Cobra Engineering offers a lifetime limited warranty on select exhaust systems in its product lineup. Not your dog's lifetime. Not your tabby's lifetime. Not even your cockatoo's lifetime. (Although, as some species of cockatoo live up to 100 years, that wouldn't be such a bad deal.) The exhaust's lifetime. Which might just be your lifetime.

Autocom Communication Systems

If you're the strong, silent type of motorcyclist--or just silent, never mind strong--you can skip to the next product right now. If, however, you want to communicate with your riding partner(s) or your passenger, listen to high-quality stereo sound, or hook up your cell phone, radar detector or GPS, then take a look at Autocom's sophisticated line of communication systems built for motorcycles. Autocom's latest systems include the Easi-Plus, the Active-Plus and the Super Pro Avi, and each one has more features than we can list here. Suffice it to say each system offers features that old-school riders never even dreamed of. Want proof of their superior function? Kevin Schwantz's riding school uses Autocom communications systems. Good enough?
www.autocomamerica.com, (888) 851-4327

LeoVince Yamaha R6 SBK Exhaust

When it comes to pipe-building expertise, it's hard to beat LeoVince; the firm is a division of Sito Gruppo Industriale in Monticello d'Alba, Italy, Europe's largest exhaust manufacturer. LeoVince's expertise shows, too, in its latest offering, the SBK exhaust for Yamaha's newly minted YZF-R6. The pipe features TIG-welded stainless steel headers, a titanium canister (even the rivets are titanium) and a carbon-fiber end cap and mounting strap. Designed to work without the stock EXUP valve, but with stock fuel-injection settings, LeoVince claims specific power increases throughout the rev range. The R6 SBK pipe retails for $1299.
www.leovinceusa.com, (866) 610-4242

Icon Perimeter Domain

Ever since Icon hit the street, it's had the urban street scene styling gig down pat. The latest example of the company's expertise in that area is the new Perimeter Domain helmet. Available in three finishes--Solid, Rubatone Flat Black and black, blue, yellow, red or silver graphic pattern--the full-face helmet features a carbon-fiber/dyneema/aramid composite shell, a bottom-mount chin air-vent system augmented with a top-mounted vent and large rear exhaust vents, a fog-free visor that removes without tools, and a chin curtain to seal out noise and turbulence. Icon's latest hat comes in sizes XS-2XL starting at $340 for the Perimeter Domain Solid.
www.rideicon.com MC