Gear Box

MC Tested - In China!

Hein Gericke Timbuktu Air Jacket and Cargo Mesh Overpants
When I set out to ride across hot, muggy, dangerous China (you wouldn't believe how they drive), I went looking for a comfortable and protective yet cool jacket/pants combination. I settled on the Timbuktu Air Jacket from Hein Gericke, matched to its similarly styled Cargo Mesh Overpants.

The jacket is made of porous Ballistic Airflow Mesh everywhere except the outer arms and front zipper area, and has EC "turtle" armor in the elbows and shoulders and foam padding down the spine. When it gets wet and/or cold, you zip in a toasty, allegedly waterproof, yet breathable Sheltex liner. The liner is compact enough to stash easily in a tank bag, so with an electric vest you're pretty much set for anything from the Arctic Circle to the Tropic of Cancer.

The pants are similar in material and liner configuration, with EC armor at the knees. They're designed as overpants, so they zip on quickly over just about anything. For China, I just slapped 'em on over bike shorts.

The jacket and pants performed like TsingTao beer--cool and effective. The air rushing through the mesh kept me reasonably unmelted from Beijing to Shanghai, even in 90-degree/90 percent humidity conditions. With all that air rushing over your skin at speed, you tend to dehydrate quickly; the optional 20-oz. Bota Bladder water pouch, designed to fit in the front-left jacket pocket, made it easy to refill my parched carcass on the road.

The jacket and pants are equipped with roomy, well-designed pockets. The front jacket pockets are especially bitchin'; they have side zippers that let you open up the whole pocket, making it easy to grab a camera, wallet or toll-booth bucks quickly, even while gloved.

My only complaint is a limited color selection. The two choices are black/charcoal and black/gray-camo, either one making you a conspicuity black hole. Luminex reflective material in the arms, both front and back, helps to light you up at night, but in the daytime you'll have to wear a bright helmet and keep your conspicuity high beam on. The black shoulders and back also tend to suck up sun like a sponge; everything's fine at speed, but when you're stopped on a hot day, you'll scramble toward any shade available. Red, silver/gray, orange or high-viz yellow mesh would sacrifice style points, but reflect more light into driver's eyes, and more heat away from your tender bod.

Timbuktu Air Jacket: $299.95
Cargo Mesh Overpants: $199.95
Contact: (888) 313-2510

El Vee's Six Pipe
Leo Vince Zx-6r Exhaust
No, Leo Vince is not Leonardo da Vinci's street name. Instead, it's the well-known name of a wide variety of stylin' aftermarket exhaust pipes such as this Factory Racing full system in a four-into-two-into-one configuration for Kawasaki's 2005 ZX-6R. Features include machined stainless-steel manifolds, oxygen sensor attachment and titanium-core silencers with titanium or carbon-fiber surface. The company claims the system offers better flow than a stock exhaust and weighs 8 pounds less. MSRP (including a stainless-steel mount for the turn signals and brake light) is $1288. (888) 610-4242,

Who's Got Your Back? **
**Impact Safe-T Armor Back Protector

What do Colin Edwards and Nicky Hayden have in common? If you said podium positions at the USGP, you're right--but there's more. The Texas Tornado and the Kentucky Kid both also use protectors from Impact Safe-T Armor. Shown is Edwards' B-004 back protector. Each B-004--as well as the firm's other armor--is custom-made, featuring a Kevlar and Keprotech expanding pouch that houses a nitrile foam core plus polycarbonate and polyethylene impact diffusers. MSRP is $185 for the B-004.

What Gear Is It? **
**Acumen Digital Gear Indicator

Some riders view gear indicators as a minor waste of technology. "I know what gear I'm in," they say. Oh, yeah? What gear were you in entering Turn Two on your last track day? And why do you keep trying to shift into seventh on the freeway? That's OK; Acumen's DG8 plug-in digital gear indicator just might help change your mind. The 1.5-in. by 1.2-in. by 0.8-in. housing utilizes a blue or red LED display, is suitable for bikes with up to seven gear ratios and features plug & play installation for bikes with electronic speedometers and tachs. MSRP is $139.99. (888) 922-9269,