Product Reviews

AltRider Brake Pedal:
ADVMoto May 2016 – AltRider Brakes Review – Bill Dragoo

Wolfman Overland Duffle:
ADVMoto July 2016 – Wolfman Overland Duffle Review – Bill Dragoo

Sargent Saddle:
ADVMoto July 2016 – Sargent Seat Review – Bill Dragoo

Project Bike – BMWR1200GS:
ADVMoto July 2016 – Battle Ready – Bill Dragoo

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Functional Socks

Review by: Bill Dragoo

BMW Functional Knee-length Socks $27.99 at Eurotek BMW, Triumph, Ducati of OKC http://www.bmwmcofokc.com/

Let’s face it; our feet are as different as rival siblings. As extremities belonging to motorcyclists, they are trained to perform different tasks, independent of one another, yet bonded to a common purpose—- supporting humans in whatever endeavor we may choose. The left foot is for shifting and lowering the side stand. The right is reserved for the rear brake pedal and kicking tires to check the pressure. Either can help us balance at a stoplight and both must pull duty as auxiliary steering components when we are standing on the footpegs. Armed with this information, BMW has chosen to create a pair of socks as independent yet cooperative as our pedes.

When I first tried on my new Roundel branded socks, it took a moment to figure out why they weren’t the same. Were they mis-boxed? One had some sort of neoprene like patch over the toes. Both were artfully marked with padded outlines over the anklebones, shin, Achilles area and at the bottom of the foot. They looked nice enough to wear as leggings, although a bit short for my 32” inseam. And then it dawned on me…the blue toe patch was to pad my toes against the shifter. Brilliant.

Wool has yet to be surpassed for its natural climate control capabilities, and these socks have it in abundance. Some 50% of their makeup is from the backs of sheep and laced with other technical fibers to allow them to stretch, to aid in durability, and to provide comfort and protection for long days in tall, stiff boots. Knowing this, I could hardly wait to pull them on and head for the training grounds where I would not only test my socks, but my self as well, against the ever changing South Canadian River where I would be holding an Adventure Rider Skills Clinic in a few days.

“Comfortable” hardly describes how my feet felt when I first slipped my Functional Sock clad feet into my Sidi Adventure boots. Light but firm pressure gripped my lower legs where the padding held the stiff leather away from my ankles and shinbones. I seldom give much thought to my socks, as long as they are dry, but this was nice. It was a good start.

The trails were muddy. Putty-like clay stalled the front wheel on my GSA, deep in the woods. Even as I decided this trail would be omitted from my students’ lessons, I floundered and fell. The front wheel was trapped, stuffed with sticks, leaves and muck. A half hour of lifting, sweating and digging had me rolling again, only to find myself wading boot deep in a mud hole. More sweating, lifting and pushing. My socks were no longer dry, but wool, by its very nature, does well, even when wet. Sweat and pond water soaked my feet, but there was no chafing. Finally satisfied that I had mapped out a suitable routine for my students, I hit the Interstate and pointed my toes towards home.

It was a tough test for a new pair of socks, but they had stood up well. Save keeping my feet dry, an unlikely challenge for any socks, they remained as comfortable as could be expected. I must say, these socks are indeed, “Functional.”

Pros:

  • High percentage of wool and other high-end materials make for a quality pair of socks.
  • Size 45-48 provides a generous fit for my size 11.5 feet.
  • Special toe protection and thickening at bony and stressed areas feels great.
  • Pricing is on par with other quality brands.
  • You don’t have to ride a BMW to appreciate the quality.

Cons:

You can’t wear them to the gym…or shouldn’t.

Colors: Anthracite/Black/Blue

Short version in cotton: Light Gray/Black/Mustard

Zowa Visor- Goggles $62.00

Review by: Bill Dragoo

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Some adventure riders prefer goggles to a conventional dual sport helmet and shield, especially for more technical riding where exertion levels are high. Goggles haven’t changed a whole lot over the years, until recently. Zowa Optics new wide view visor goggles have set a new standard for visibility. Goggles historically restrict peripheral vision with their thick frames sealing against the wearer’s face near the eyes. Zowa has developed a visor-goggle that instead, seals against a motocross style helmet at the top and sits lightly on the cheek below the eyes, reducing facial contact area by over half while providing a significantly larger viewing area.

I recently tested a pair of Zowas during preparation for an adventure rider’s skills class a few miles from my home. My first impression was that they looked overly large out of the box, because by previous standards, they are. Once on the helmet, the difference was less noticeable.

I often wear sunglasses with my helmet, so I was eager to see how the goggles worked with my Oakleys. There was plenty of room around the glasses, but I did notice some compression of the sunglasses between my face and the goggle lens. This could be due to the deep arc of my sunglasses, but it is worth noting that you should try your glasses on a short trip before committing to a full day in the OTG configuration.

Comfort is increased for most wearers because there are fewer restrictions to a proper seal as with traditional off road eyewear. Because they contact the top of the helmet opening instead of riding on the forehead, they follow the helmet through slight vertical movements, returning to a neutral position and requiring less adjustment when the helmet shifts or nudges the goggle. With less facial contact area, the goggle has less need to form around the face; hence they are less noticeable, especially after a long day.

Although not rated for highway use, I found the Zowas provided very good wind protection at speed. Ventilation was more than adequate and there was no noticeable turbulence inside to dry out my eyes. Once installed, they do require an instant longer to adjust due to the fit of the upper frame against the helmet, but in my judgment, the resulting seal and comfort are worth the trouble, and they stay put.

Peripheral vision is the main claim to fame for the new Zowas. In that category I would give them an 8 on a 10 scale. My Klim F4 helmet without goggles rates a 9. The lower portion just above the cheek was slightly visible when checking for traffic during a lane change, otherwise I had a clear field of view, noticeably better than with my Scotts.

I would consider the Zowas larger surface area an asset in most climates. In warm weather, a sweatband would not interfere with the upper seal as with traditional goggles and the extra facial coverage would reduce wind contact with the face, an advantage when the wind chill drops.

I did not test them with quick straps, but I see no reason they would not work. Again, it may take an instant longer to seat them against the helmet, but this shouldn’t be an issue.

As a goggle for adventure riding, the Zowas might be a good choice. They provide more frontal protection and a wider field of vision. Adding quick straps would make them more versatile. They are priced in the realm of other upper end goggles so why not give them a try?

  • Would I wear them? Yes.
  • Zowas come in cyan, black and red.
  • Tear-offs are available in packs of 20 for $14.00 and lenses are replaceable, clear Lexan only.

To order, contact Zowa at: http://www.zowaoptics.com/index.html

Wolfman Luggage Blog: Dry Gear on the Death Road
http://wolfmanluggage.com/blogs/news/tagged/adventure-travel

TKC 80 VS. Heideneau K 60 Scout Tire Review, ADVMoto Magazine

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