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Old 07-09-2007, 05:22 PM   #1
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Icon/Joe Rocket/KBC/Teknic riding gear review: 1 year check in

I've been wearing most of these pieces since last summer so its time for a check in to see how everything has been holding up and how satisfied I am.

KBC VR-2 Helmet:
I was extremely happy with my VR-2 when I first purchased it. I still think that for the price it is an excellent helmet (available for around $200-300 at cycle gear depening on finish and under $200 at many online retailers). However, I have several gripes with it that have developed after extended use. First off, the visor mounting system is, I feel, poorly designed. I have had to replace the "base plates" (the plates that contain the hinges and catches for the visor) and the visor itself several times. There is a little plastic tab on the visor that clicks onto a toothed semi circle on the baseplate. This ALWAYS breaks off (yes even on my brand new 2 week old visor), making the visor impossible to adjust anywhere between fully closed or fully open. In addition, the forehead padding above the visor is disappointingly thin, resulting in irritation at my scalp line on rides of 8 hours or more. Finally, the vents on the front are simply inadequate for hot weather riding, especially at low speeds but also even at 40 or 50 mph. I often ride with the visor up (risking my eyesight to mosquitos and pebbles) just to get some additional airflow over my head.
For cold weather riding I prefer the style of my other helmet, an AFX, which comes with an integrated skirt at the bottom to block out a bit of wind and noise. However, that same skirt irks me at times when it traps in heat and and when it flaps against my neck, especially when stuck behind trucks and dealing with the associated backwash. Since I could have purchased a a removeable skirt for the KBC, I can't fault them for not including it, but I did think it was nice that it came with the AFX (though it would have been appreciated more had it been removeable).
Overall I would give the KBC VR-2 3 out of 5 stars, mainly because it is very comfortable, relatively light weight, and represents an excellent value. If you often ride in hot weather and need larger vents, or you find yourself on longer rides or have an easily irritated scalp, you may want to shop elsewhere, though these faults are in line with those I've experienced with most other cheaper helmets. My advice: save up and get yourself a shoei or arai and buy it someplace like cycle gear that lets you try it for a little bit and still return it if you are unhappy.

Icon TI-Max 2 Mesh Jacket with removeable liner:
At full retail the TI max 2 goes for something like $279.99. At that price, you certainly don't see too many out on the street, since the competitors from shift, joe rocket, and others are over $100 less. I found mine for around $190 at an online retailer and I must admit I was sold on its intimidating appearance. After receiving it, I was happy with it, but after the first month the loops that attach to your belt proved less than robust; one of the fronts ripped in half, the other front's rivet came lose, and the rear strap tore about halfway through. Well, its a year later and I've had no other problems with the jacket. The rear loop hasn't torn any further, though I rarely use them anymore. The jacket has proved comfortable and robust in its contruction, though I have yet to experience any Andrew to asphalt contact. The collar is very comfortable and doesn't chafe my neck even after 12+ hours in the saddle (this is the ONLY jacket I've owned that I could say that about). The removeable liner is water resistant and warm, keeping me comfortable on sub 30 degree mornings, and fitting under my passenger seat that evening for the 70 degree ride home. I like the full sleeve design of the liner as well, keeping me relatively dry on rainy days unlike some competitors, which only have a vest style liner.
My only gripes with the TI-max 2 are the lack of zippered vents. Because the mesh is a much thicker, finer mesh than other mesh jackets I've tried, at low speeds or in traffic it can get a bit stuffy. The only pockets are on the inside of the chest, which are impossible to get to with gloves on while riding (I know, I shouldn't be fumbling for things in my pockets while riding, but realistically there are 100 times during normal riding that you need to get our your cell phone or wallet or toll ticket quickly. When you have to pull over and take your gloves off and unzip your jacket to access these things, its just a huge pain in the ). Finally, the jacket comes in a variety of colors but all of them have the big black "dinosaur" spine protector, which absorbs heat and roasts your back and neck. That back protector is vented in sections, but during most riding these vents don't allow a lot of airflow. However, should I ever drop the bike, I'm sure I would appreciate the heavy padding it offers my spine, so its a mixed blessing.
Overall I would give the Icon TI-Max 2 jacket a 4 out of 5 stars. The lack of outside pockets/vents and its high price are the only things keeping it away from perfection. I highly recommend it, especially if you can only buy one jacket, because its mesh construction and full zip out liner make it suitable for year round riding. Check online to find it a little more cheaply, or check with local retailers and see if they will price match online stores.

Icon Pursuit Perforated Gloves
These are the gloves I wear nearly every day. While they are perforated for ventilation, my hands have remained comfortable at temperatures well under 50 degrees (though obviously not for longer rides). Their ultra soft sheepskin leather is so comfortable I can wear these all day every day and have never experienced any chafing or blistering. They are also thin enough to dial a phone or count out money while wearing, making them great for tollbooths or convenience stores since you don't always have to take them off.
I wore these while riding a dirtbike supermotard style on asphalt and hide-sided, and I slide 5-10 feet on my palms and knees. Some of the blue dye was worn off leaving white marks where I slid, but all of the seams held up and the leather didn't tear or wear through, even at the perforations (which was a concern I initially had). I still wear the same pair everytime I ride. Their short cuff design, foam padding, and thin leather construction means you'll probably want to look elsewhere for trackday gloves, but for extremely comfortable street gloves I haven't found a better pair anywhere. Be careful wearing them in the rain, like all full natural leather gloves, they can become somewhat slimy and slick when wet, and they will expand and then contract when they dry, but I've survived several monsoon style downpours in them with no adverse effects (though they did turn my hands blue after the first rain).
At $50 they represent an excellent value as well, leaving money for a gauntlet style glove for colder or rainier days.
5 out of 5 stars, highly recommended (to all of my friends, several of whom have bought them and also love them)

Teknic Rage kevlar reinforced riding jeans
I wear these when I got out for rides and I know I'll be riding hard on the street, but when the heat and bulk of my leather pants is just too much to bear. When I ordered them they came with a much longer inseam than regular street jeans. While on the bike this is ok, since your legs are bent at the knees and the padding in the knees lines up right where you would want it, but since most people wearing kevlar jeans will have on boots anyway, I would prefer a slightly shorter/tighter cut below the knee. This would make them fit better when I wear them to the mall or to dinner, and reduce their flapping against my shins on the freeway. I like that the rear pockets and nice and deep, to hold any papers or wallets far enough down that there is no concern of them falling out, but the front pockets suck. They are not lined with denim or with kevlar, just thin cotton, so there is nothing to stop them from ripping out should you go down on your front side. They are rediculously shallow as well. My Krazer phone nearly sticks out of the top of the pocket while riding. They are good for change and maybe holding a set of keys but not much else.
Given that I have worn them so frequently over a year, they have held up very well. There are a few little spots where the denim is starting to wear, and the cuff on the bottom has worn where I step on it while walking, but compared to normal levi's, these things are bullet proof, and I was wearing these during the supermotard dirtbike demonstration I mentioned above. When I picked myself up off the asphalt and my right knee was aching after sliding it 5-10 feet, I thought for sure I'd be needing a new pair of pants. But I looked down and the denim looked good as new, and the thin padding in the knee protected my knee and made what could have been a day ending injury just a little soreness and a red bump. Excellent protection. I paid about $50 for mine though retail is around $90 dollars. I would recommend trying them on before you buy a pair because of the extended length below the knees.
Overall I would rate them 4 out of 5 stars. I highly recommend to them over wearing normal jeans, but I would also like to try out some other brands of kevlar jeans (like the offerings from draggin jeans, joe rocket, and icon) to see if they have a more comfortable fit and perhaps better pockets.
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Old 07-09-2007, 05:22 PM   #2
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Joe Rocket Nova leather/textile gauntlet style gloves:
I'm not sure its worth reviewing these since they have been discontinued since my purchase and nothing in joe rocket's 07 lineup is even close to them in construction or appearance. These odd gloves are constructed mainly of "synthetic leather" (40%) with genuine leather palm reinforcements and nylon holding it together. I haven't worn them very often because they are very hot and they use a weird velcro strap around the wrist to tighten them, which doesnt' allow the glove to open very wide and makes it a bit of a chore to get them on and off. Once on though, they are comfortable. Their rather thin construction means for the most part they are comfortable, but on long rides I feel like I'm fighting the carbon fiber knuckle protection and formed straight (instead of precurved like most of JR's gloves) fingers. I do like that the anatomically molded carbon fiber knuckle protection rides on a 2nd layer of fabric over the knuckle; this makes them 100 times more comfortable than other CF knuckle gloves I've worn. However, the overall construction of the glove is thin and lacking reinforcements in the fingertips and the 2nd and 3rd joints in the fingers (thin molded rubber) so I have my doubts as to how they would hold up in a serious lay down. I save these mainly for the chilliest nights and mornings and on long rides I always pull them off to flex my fingers at rest stops. I paid $60 for my pair from my local Suzuki dealer.
I rate these 2 out of 5 stars, since they are decent but for the money there are offerings out there that offer greater comfort or greater protection, or both, depending on your bent. I do not recommend them and prefer JR's newer molded plastic knuckle/ reinforced fingertip design, which is what you'll find at your JR dealer anyway.

Joe Rocket GPX Boot
I LOVE the comfort and protection of this boot! These boots are no longer carried through many of the larger stores, but you can still find plenty of place that have them, I'm not sure if they are still in production or if they are just selling off the remaining inventory.
These boots offer superb protection via their full height, their solid leather construction, replaceable toe sliders, and ankle protection through the Joe rocket "360 AGS Tech" tensioning system. more on this later.
Their thick rubber soles help calm vibrating foot pegs, their wide width and american sizing system makes it easy for find a pair thats a good fit (so many other brands have narrow insoles and tricky european sizing). I also like the posture that they offer- they don't force you into a snow ski boot wearing forward gimpy gait while walking aroudn the mall like many other brands, but they still feel natural and comfortable when leaned over on the bike. Their thick leather on the insides of the ankles offers protection against the heat of your pipes too, even on longer rides. And while it is not advertised as one of their features, I found them to be all but 100% waterproof. If you wear waterproof pants on your legs your feet will stay very dry in these boots. Unfortunately, if you wear jeans and get stuck in a downpour, water will run down your leg and collect in these too, since they are so water resistant.
My only gripe with these boots is their velcro and "AGS" fastening system. The velcro is great and lets each user get a custom fit. It also means you don't need to adjust anything if you want to wear these under your jeans or over your racing leathers. On the other hand, most of us are probably wearing the same pants and are the same us everytime we strap on our boots, and I think a zipper on the side would allow you to use the velcro to get your fit the 1st time, and allow much faster entry/exit the next 1000 times. And the AGS buckle system is cumbersome, requiring you to thread a notched belt through a little buckle, which you then twist several turns to tighten. I can see no reason this buckle must be turned; why can't I just pull the strap tight like other brands (or use a lever to tighten like ski boots and spidi and others use). Further compounding the AGS problem is that the lever that pops up to turn the AGS buckle is plastic, held in with a metal pin friction fit to the buckle as a hinge. Well, the pin has popped at least halfway out about 3 or 4 times so far in the past year, requiring me to spend some time with pliers and a punch reinserting it. Its a poor design, and the only part of these boots that keeps me from giving them a 5 star rating.
4 out of 5 stars, and I love that they are suitable for racing but comfortable for the street, and at $119.95 they were an excellent value for the money. Shame about that AGS buckle system though.

Last edited by andrave; 07-09-2007 at 05:25 PM.
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Old 07-09-2007, 05:23 PM   #3
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Joe Rocket Men's Suzuki Factory Racing Replica Jacket
This jacket was $499.99 and very difficult to find in stock anywhere (a cycle gear employee told me that on Joe Rocket's most top of the line items, the store's profit was only $40-50 per item, making them less profitable to sell than the cheaper nylon and textile stuff, so stores were less likely to want to stock such expensive, slim profit margin items).
When I finally got it though, I was thorougly impressed with the construction, and it has worn like a rock. The only place on the jacket that has shown the slightest sign of wear are the silly plastic joe rocket badges on the sides of the shoulders. Why these needed to be constructed of cheap chromed plastic on a $500 jacket is beyond me. The chrome has flaked off and the plastic shows signs of me bumping into the occasional door frame with the jacket on. Joe Rocket: put some metal badges on there like my $200 icon has, or leave them off entirely!
This is one of the few jackets I found on the market that featured hard armor, and I love the forearm armor. I haven't gone down in it yet so I can't speak of its protection, but the solid forearms and substantial elbow and shoulder armor sure make me feel better when I'm leaned over and they allow me a little more confidence. The 360 degree zipper means easy attachment to my joe rocket leather pants for 1 piece like protection. People (both bikers and non bikers alike) compliment me on the jacket everywhere I ride it, and when I look in the mirror before I get on the bike, I always feel like #1 (corny joke, ok).
The variable flow ventilation system is a joke; the front and rear vents do very little to get any airflow through the jacket. Leave the armpit vents and the wrist zippers open helps greatly though, but this will never be as comfortable as a mesh jacket on warm days.
Now, you know that I have a few gripes about everything, and the same applies for this jacket:
First off, while it is a racing replica jacket, I am disappointed that it offers no zip in liners (not even zippers for optional liners!) While most people that buy this are probably looking for a track day jacket, it would be a much more versatile piece of my wardrobe if I could zip in a quilted liner for cold days, especially considering its thick leather construction. But, its not such a big deal and I just slip on a long sleeve undershirt or fleece and ride on.
Secondly, the collar design is pretty crappy, with only about a half inch of velcro to secure the collar (which never stays put at 120 mph) The collar chafes at the back of my neck, especially when I've got the bike leaned over and my head tilted straight back trying to look forward to the end of the corner. And the zipper/snap rivet wrist closure is too bulky to tuck under most guantlet style gloves. These are minor gripes though.
Overall, considering its race/track orientation, this is an excellent product, and I give it 4.5 out of 5 stars. Its collar and high price keep it from being perfect, but most users will not be disappointed.

Joe Rocket SuperMoto Pants
I bought the super motopants because of their thick tailbone and hip padding, knee sliders, and mesh panels. The thick padding is great and should protect me in most crashes, but it is also added insulation right around your midsection, meaning the mesh panels don't really keep you as cool as you might think. It also features a vented crotch but it becomes unbearably hot after the first hour or so and I often take cool down laps sitting on the tank to try and get some air to my junk. I like the 360 degree zipper allowing me to zip up to my joe rocket jacket, giving me full protection like a 1 piece. The legs are precurved so you don't have to fight against them when crouched down on the bike, but like most leathers, they are cumbersome to walk in. I also like the way they look, with the ROCKET logo emblazoned on the stretch panel on the back, and the white stripes and desig on the front legs. The lower legs are mesh where they tuck into your boots, which means a tighter fit for your boots and less insulation for your calves, both huge plusses as far as I'm concerned.
I was disappointed that they weren't a little bit cooler, given all the mesh panels, but they have held up well (though I admit I haven't worn them all that often). I still recommend them though, because at $289.99, they beat out the marginally cheaper $249.99 JR Blaster 2.0 pants, which are even hotter (no mesh panels or ventilation, much cheaper crappier padding) and the more expensive $349.99 SpeedMaster Leather pants are no better built and the vented ones have less airflow than my supermotos. 5/5 stars, Just be honest with yourself before purchasing these or any other race style leather pant, and realize that while they offer additional protection, their reduced comfort, especially on hot days, means that you probably will not be wearing them as much.

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Old 07-19-2007, 02:04 PM   #4
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nice review !
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