Friday, March 13, 2015

Preparing for Riding Season

Preparing for Riding Season
Depending on where you reside, winter may FINALLY be abating.
Or not.
Or you don’t have to deal with it.
Or you ride all year, no matter the conditions. Many Nelson-Rigg customers ascribe to the adage that “There is no bad weather – just bad gear.”  And Nelson-Rigg is here for you!
However, many motorcyclists prefer to wait for what they term the “riding season.” This can vary all over the place as to dates but generally includes mild temperatures and a relative lack of wet stuff.
If you’ve not ridden for some time, it’s a good idea to prepare for the ecstasy to come.  After all, perfect preparation prevents poor motorcycle performance.  And by performance, I mean you, your bike, and your gear. Let’s take a look at these three areas.
Body Maintenance:
Not to lecture about physical fitness, because irony will bite me in my butt, but a couple of items should be obvious.  Then again, perhaps they’re not, which is why I’m going to cover them.
If you’ve led a sedentary winter life with few opportunities for bear wrestling, mountain climbing, or running marathons, you need to pay some attention to your body. Not so much overall weight, but flexibility. It’s appalling how most of us can go through a work day and never turn our heads or stretch our arms and legs.  If you begin to simply spend some time each morning and evening doing basic stretching exercises, you will find your rides to be much more enjoyable.
Try this for an experiment. See how long you can stand on one foot. If that is too easy, close your eyes. I was advised to do this a few years ago and I was horrified at my ineptitude. Where did that come from?  Aging. Practice will take care of this and strengthen your core. It’s all good.
An even better idea, of course, is to get your saggy butt to the local Y or gym, or sign up for yoga or other classes. Anything to get your body moving and flexing.  Just taking a brisk walk each evening will bring positive results.
Getting off your bike after a ride all sore and aching is not fun. Nor is it safe. Fortunately, it is not required.
Head maintenance:
The same concepts that apply to your bod can also be used on your “brain muscles.”  If you’ve not been riding in the alternating monsoons and snow storms of the recent past your skills are now a tad rusty. Your bike handles differently than the car you’ve been droning to work in. Take the time to take a “test” ride and perhaps some low speed practice in a nearby school parking lot (hint – pick a time when the school is closed).  Can you do a tight circle with both feet up comfortably? When was the last time you tried to stop as efficiently as possible?  Even some practice backing the bike up with your feet would not go amiss. You need to re-train your brain to work with your muscles and sinews on the actions they will be asked to perform.
A better option would be to sign up for one or more of the offerings from the menu of training classes offered by the safe riding schools in your area. Most now offer several classes, and the basics class you took once upon a time could be revisited as an intermediate class or advanced. Some offer “cornering clinics,” which are track days with much of the testosterone drained off. A day spent focusing on cornering lines and body positioning will pay dividends all year.
Bike maintenance:
This can or should be easy.  Your motorcycle has an owner’s manual with maintenance schedules. Check and see where you are in the maintenance scheme of things.  If you are not adept mechanically  (the ineptitude rankings start here, with me pretty much unchallenged as #1), a local dealer or independent service outlet can take care of what your bike needs, whether a simple safety check-over, a service, or something more exotic. They will charge you for their expertise, as they should, but the season of riding peace of mind results is extremely worthwhile.
Gear check:
Where do you intend to ride this year? What will you need? With experience you’ll find that the list of what you want for your bike and on your bike will grow.
Several decades ago I took off on cross-country trips with virtually no thought at all.  I did not have a tire repair kit or a compressor or a first aid kit or a selection of tools or… pretty much anything. With this appalling lack of capability I rode between Minneapolis and Seattle twice, once to San Francisco and back (in late December!), and once from Seattle to Florida.
I was both stupid and very, very lucky, as I never had a serious problem. Now that I’m older and possibly wiser, I always carry a tire repair kit, a compressor, and a first aid kit. 
Good news here. Murphy’s Law seems to work in reverse in addition to the usual. Because I have these things I have never had to use them.
I’ve made excellent use of Nelson-Rigg gear for several years.  
Nelson-Rigg tank bag.  My latest one has been on my Triumph Speed Triple for over a year and has covered about 6,000 miles in sun and wind and rain and temperatures from the low 30’s to well over 100 degrees.  It looks brand new. The clear plastic map pocket is still clear, and the tank remains unmarked.

Nelson-Rigg tail bag. I use a magnetic Nelson-Rigg tank bag as a tail bag. It is at least ten years old. It has been used as a tank bag on bikes with steel fuel tanks and as a tail bag on many others. Even after a decade of use it looks brand new. This is especially remarkable on the Triumph, which has little in the way of a rear fender. The poor Nelson-Rigg is bombarded with a constant rooster tail of rain and mud and grit, and yet shows no wear. I live in the Northwest, where if you do not choose to ride in the rain you pretty much choose not to ride.

Nelson-Rigg rain suit:  On long trips I roll up an inexpensive Nelson-Rigg rain suit and stash it, just in case.   Nelson Rigg offers a wide variety of styles and suits for your selection.
So your bike is parked at a motel in a state far away. It looks so lovely sitting there as the evening gathers.  But - to miscreant locals it looks like opportunity.  While you sleep, a quick snatch and grab with a pick-up truck and you will probably never see it again.  Thieves rarely target a bike with a cover on it, figuring (probably correctly) that it is also equipped with a disk lock and an alarm. All of these things are available from Nelson-Rigg.
Other Stuff:
We can assume you already have “the basics,” – a jacket, boots, riding pants, and helmet.  Or not?  Time for some quality time perusing the catalogue! 
Here’s a tip. I usually carry three pairs of gloves with me on any ride.  Warmer ones for the morning, a sturdy but light weight pair for high heat conditions, and a third pair for rain. 
You will also find that once you invest in heated grips, or jacket or vest or gloves or socks, you will never again ride without them.  Even in the heat of summer, a ride over a mountain pass can get chilly, or much, much, worse.
How old is your helmet?  Is the liner capable of emanating odors that can be fatal to small animals?  It may be time to replace.
Always check the condition of your tires before the riding season, and often during it.  I have a friend who rides a lot, and he has two complete sets of wheels and tires for his bike. He puts on a fresh set of tires before any long trip.
If you’ve never had a pair of “real” riding boots you are in for a treat. The last three pair I have used were all completely and utterly waterproof.
Now for the most fun:
Break out the calendar and maps!  The roads beckon!  I used summer time trips to my advantage all year long. In the winter they are the “carrot” that gets me to the gym with some frequency. As spring arrives, the frequency tends to ramp up in anticipation.
Two months before I ride I let my local riding pals know of my intent. You may prefer to ride alone, but there are also advantages to traveling as a small group of two or three.  Even if none of your buds can get the time off to match your trip, you’ll all have fun yakking about your plans at length.
As a final note, the experienced rider will notice a subtle change in the Nelson-Rigg catalog over ten years or so ago.  There are now hundreds of products on offer designed by and for women riders. It’s all good.
David Preston

For more of David’s stuff, visit his web site at

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Why You Need a Rain Suit – Even If You Wear Textile Gear

Motorcycle rider gear has come a VERY long way in the past few years. For my first cross country trips, “gear” consisted primarily of a helmet, gloves, hiking boots, and a ski parka.  What would have happened if a high speed mishap occurred while wearing a ski parka?  Not pretty.

In 2014 riders enjoy a plethora of choices.  When I go out for a ride today I’m wearing gear that cost more than my first motorcycle. In fact, more than my first four motorcycles. Added together!  As with all quality gear, the assurance of comfort and greatly enhanced safety brings peace of mind at the start of the ride, and after all, isn’t peace of mind what many of us are looking for at the end of the ride?  In short, the cost of quality gear is always worth it.

Back in the day, a leather jacket and pants were the Mt. Everest of gear to aspire to, and many old coots still prefer them.  As an old coot myself, I still wear my custom fitted leather pants whenever the weather is not too foul.  For one thing, a custom fitted set of leather pants is a strong motivation to not gain weight. For another, you gosh darn look so cool, don’t you?  Maybe.

In recent years I’ve switched to a textile jacket all the time and textile pants for most of the rest of my rides.  In fact, I own three textile jackets. There’s a long story of how I came to own three, but we’ll leave that for another time. They have so many advantages, but…and there always seems to be a “but.”  With textiles, there are several such “buts,” and added together they make a compelling case for carrying a Nelson-Rigg rain suit with you on every ride.

Most textile gear is advertised as being “water resistant.”   You’ll soon learn the difference between “resistant” and “proof” on a ride of more than 20 minutes.  Most textile pants and suits have what is termed (insert brand name) “crotch,” which can make arrival at your destination or office interesting, to put it mildly.  Taking two minutes to pull on rain pants before the ride can save you the agony of many mildly embarrassed stares. The outright laughter as you explain yourself can be worse.

Of course, it does not rain all the time. It just seems that way if you ride in the Seattle area.  I’ve found that my leather pants will allow me to “cheat” for an hour or two. The cost of not spending the two minutes for the rain pants is the need for more frequent treatment of the leather with your choice of spendy cleaning and “feeding” goos and ointments. Oddly enough, this can vary with the motorcycle. I used to own a sport touring bike where, in a downpour, water would run off the tank bag and drip right onto the expandable panels at the knees. Soon I’d have rivers of refreshing chilled water running down into my socks. A rain suit is a better idea.

All three of my textile jackets shed most of the water, but not all of it. Over time, the jacket and pants become sodden, and worse – heavy.  I’ve had my textile jacket get so heavy it actually began to affect my ability to make rapid changes in the operation of the motorcycle. And then, when you take them off, they take much longer to dry, as in in days, than they did to get wet.  Sometimes even hanging up overnight in a motel room is not enough. My record for drying time is three days!

Worse, if the rain you’re riding in stops, you have a completely different problem.  In the great state of Georgia in the summer, for instance, it rains for about 20 minutes every hour or so, and then stops. When it stops you are riding in 20 pounds of sodden gear that is evaporating, and suddenly you are cold. In some cases; extremely cold.  To test this, wait for a windy day in your area. Put on jeans and a sweatshirt and stand in the shower for 5 minutes. Now go outside and stand in the wind.  In just a minute or two you will struggle to get out the words “D-d-d-damn, that’s c-c-c-cold!

Another factor is cleanliness. There are some who hold to the “I bought this bike to ride, not to wash” philosophy (which I always thought was just plain silly – and I worked for a BMW dealer!) and prefer to wash their bike and gear as seldom as possible, or not at all. This evidently makes you look more like a “real” motorcyclist.  That’s not how I was raised, and I like a clean bike and a (relatively) clean me.   When you ride in the rain your textile jacket absorbs a lot of road slop.  This is not too noticeable on most riding pants, which are usually black and don’t seem to show much crud. My jackets, on the other hand, quickly turn toward the muddy gray band of the color spectrum. In particular, the neon green high visibility one looks like it was hit by a shotgun loaded with mud pellets.

All of these issues can be resolved quickly and easily with a Nelson-Rigg rain suit, at a cost that makes them possibly the most reasonably priced gear available. You can purchase a two-piece rain suit for $40, which around here equals just a few daily visits to a Starbucks.  Even the best Nelson Rigg rain gear is under $100. 

Even better, your rain suit can be rolled up and stored in virtually no space at all. On many motorcycles there’s enough room under the seat.  For a few bucks more you can add some Nelson-Rigg Waterproof  Rain boot covers for complete protection.

And last, there’s the issue of cold. Whether on a short ride or a cross country jaunt, there will be times when Mom Nature decides to throw some cold your way that your gear and liner and shirt and sweater and whatever find more than challenging.  Simple. As the rain gear is impervious to water, it also makes a fantastic wind block, and you’ll be comfortable for much longer at much lower temperatures.

Endurance sports car racing teams spend a lot of time on something you might not think about – keeping the driver comfortable. They’ve found that a driver in a comfortable seat with enough heating or cooling, ample ventilation, and neck, back, and hip support, is much faster for a much longer stint, which is the whole idea.

Very few things on a motorcycle will make you as miserable as being wet and cold. Such conditions sap your energy, and your brain spends a valuable percentage of its resources (your results may vary) thinking about how cold and wet you are and thus, less on what you’re doing and the rapidly changing scenario in front of you. Being comfortable, warm, and dry can literally make all the difference. With the price so reasonable, a quality Nelson-Rigg rain suit is a very cost-effective investment in the quality of your ride.

For more of David’s writings, please go to

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Mental Prep For The Summer Trip

Right about this time of year, when the weather is pretty much awful pretty much everywhere, the thoughtful motorcyclist opts to spend quality time dwelling on more pleasant topics – like perhaps a longer ride than usual this summer.  Here’s some food for thought.

Bike:   If something as crass as money is not a concern, purchase whatever new motorcycle you deem perfect for whatever task you’d like to be at hand. For 99% of us, however, there’s a more comforting thought.  

What you have will do just fine.  

My first long ride was from Minnesota to Seattle and back on a camping trip in 1968.  My steed was a Yamaha YDS 250, a two stroke twin that weighed about 300 pounds and had 33 horsepower or so on a very good day. It was terrific.  Two years later, after a few west coast adventures and one return ride to Minnesota, a Honda 450 Street Scrambler took me from Seattle to Florida.  Neither of these machines would fit anyone’s definition of a touring bike.  Both of them were fine touring bikes.  This summer I’ll ride my Triumph Speed Triple on another sojourn to Minnesota and back.  Anyone who tells you that a large touring bike is required for a long ride has either never done such a trip at all, or on anything else, or is trying to sell you something.   If you already own a large touring bike, of course, this entire paragraph has been a waste of your time, and hopefully the next few will be of more use.

Two rules for the long ride:

  1. You need more carrying capacity than you think.
  1. You need to pack less stuff than you think. 
These appear to be contradictory, but are not. 

1.  You need more carrying capacity than you think because you’ll be spending a lot more time either by yourself or at the very least further from your usual sources of help and supplies.  That means, if you do not carry them at all times now (as I do), you’ll need space for a First Aid kit, a tire repair kit, and an air compressor.  Flat tires do occur, and they happen more frequently to people who are not prepared to have them who are riding on a lovely road that is 75 miles from the next town and in an area with no cell phone service. Some tire repair kits carry small canisters of gas to inflate the tire. What if you botch that? What if you do not have enough?  What if you have two flat tires?

You’ll also need to carry water, sun tan lotion, bug repellant, visor cleaner, water, maps, and perhaps batteries or chargers for your phone, GPS system, and other et ceteras we cannot seem to live without these days.  In addition, it is an excellent idea to take at least three pairs of gloves to deal with heat, cold, and rain.  You’ll need a jacket liner and a sweater and perhaps a neck tube thingie for the cold, and in the mountain regions it is always cold in the morning. When the temps hit 80 or so, you’ll need enough capacity to be able to carry the layers you want to shed. To help you keep all this organized and compact Nelson Rigg offers compression bags for this. You place your clothing items inside, connect the compression straps and start compressing your load by pulling on the straps. Reducing the volume of stuffed bag by 50% or more isn’t at all unusual, and while you’re t-shirts and such might have a few wrinkles when you take them out, you’ll sure appreciate the extra space they can provide.

Most of us do not carry a cover for our motorcycle at all times, and yet a Nelson-Rigg cover can be a real asset on a long ride.  People of lesser morality who like to steal things seem to go blind when confronted with a cover – they do not see that there is a motorcycle there at all.  Therefore, covering your bike even when parked in the relative security of a motel parking lot can do a lot for peace of mind.  As an intended bonus, it can keep the bike dry and clean if you find a rain system on your travels. But covers can fill up a whole saddlebag, right? Not anymore. Most Nelson Rigg covers now have one of those nifty compression bags included. Just to give you a better example of how effective compression bags can be for motorcycle traveling; you can now take a full dress Goldwing cover (that use to take up an entire saddlebag to store) and by using the included compression bag, you can compress the cover to the size of a can of coffee (or to about the size of an NFL football if you relate better, since the season just wrapped up). So now there really isn’t any reason to not take a cover with you.

All of this means the need for more carrying capacity than you might be accustomed to for day rides or commuting. My bike has “too much storage”, said no motorcycle rider ever! Right?

Choices.  Depending on the bike, you may need to add saddlebags (panniers), a tail bag or tail rack and trunk, a tank bag, and/or a back pack. All of them have advantages and disadvantages and time perusing the Nelson-Rigg catalog will help pass the time until your adventure, offering a lot of good information and quality choices. Once you made your choices, you’ll need to address the next point.

2.  You need to pack much less than you think you do. 

Almost everyone who goes on their first long ride packs way too much clobber. This is particularly true of clothing. We spend time in preparation trying to imagine every possible need, and pack everything we think might ever be needed. But the reality is that most of the situations and needs we think up will never occur, and a lot of them can be given a lower priority and taken care of with a charge card if the need arises. A charge card takes up virtually no space and you would be carrying one anyway.

The famous writer Peter Egan once shared his own packing system for a long ride. He would start the trip with the most worn-out and shoddy t-shirts in his drawer, the ones you should probably throw out but never get around to.  You will be riding a full-coverage jacket all day on your ride (or you should) so the shirt you are wearing will not be seen as you are styling your way through a gas station or rest area. At the end of the day, Mr. Egan would take the shirt, perhaps clean the bike with it, and then toss it. He reasoned that he would probably want to purchase a shirt or two at the event he was attending anyway, and those would replace what he threw away and be stored in the same place.

A lot of us have a lifestyle that features daily changes of every clothing item, daily showers, and daily shaving.  Out on the road there’s a tendency to get a little bit more liberal with these things, and as a consequence you may go through clothing items less frequently.  Or, in a motel or a campground, you can do a pretty good job of washing a few clothing items by hand and they’ll be dry by morning.

If you like to wear leathers, or even non-traditional clothing, you’ll need a set of rain pants and jacket (see the Nelson-Rigg catalog again) to keep you dry and protect your expensive leathers!

If you wear a one or two piece textile suit, all you will need is one pair of jeans for “evening wear,” a pair of shorts and perhaps a swim suit, and one small and light pair of tennies for relaxing.

Obviously, this is all very general, because I do not know how much time you’ll have or where you want to go.  This is intended to be the prod to get you thinking, however. So many people think about a long trip every year and never do it.  But you?  Why not you?  Make this your year (if you’ve never done this before) or the best year, if you have. You have map books to peruse, event schedules of various types to consider, and vacation days to put in for.  Get busy!

For our blog content, Nelson Rigg partnered up with David Preston who has been riding motorcycles, and talking and writing about them, for 47 years. For more of his thoughts, on motorcycles and motorcycle related information, please follow our blog. 

David Preston           Copyright 2014

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Nelson Rigg for 2014

Hey guys, we just wanted to officially introduce our company to your forum. Nelson-Rigg USA is a family owned and operated Powersports manufacturer celebrating over 30 years in the industry. We specialize in many types soft luggage, 100% waterproof covers and rainwear.

Main reason for starting a periodical blog is to help explain what we do, what new product and news we have, and to offer some useful motorcycle tips. Hopefully we can help you with your buying decision, show you what we have to offer, and explain why Nelson Rigg is a great choice.

Here is a link to our 2014 online catalog. If you would like a hard copy, please just send us an email with your address and we can blast one out to you.

Below are links to our social media pages.

Like us, follow us, watch us....

We also wanted to take this opportunity to explain some key points/changes/additions with our line.

Classic Luggage:
This year we are excited to be introducing a number of new products for you.

Additions to our CL line up include the CL-2020 GPS Tank Bag with hi-tech features that touring, sport-touring and commuters have been longing for. The CL-890 Mini Saddlebags which replace our CL-900’s but with more features. Our CL-1045 Sport Adventure Tank Bag Slim is a slimmer version (for KLR 650’s and other middleweight dual sports) of our already popular CL-1050 Adventure Touring Bag.

Riggpaks CTB Luggage:
The CTB-1000 King Roller features a convenient roller system with hidden telescopic handle and smooth rolling wheels which that takes sissy bar luggage to a new level of convenience and ease of handling. The main bag is fully expandable and also airline carry on friendly.

Our CTB-1050 Deluxe Tourer takes it styling cues from our King Roller but without the trolley system and top roll bag resulting in a very affordable price point for a sissy bar bag of this quality.

The CTB-1010 Roll Bag is a roll bag that rocks, but doesn’t roll thanks to a wide flat bottom with a spacious load capacity. This can also mount to the CTB-1050 for the ultimate touring package.

Touring  riders will be delighted this year as we introduce the new GWR-1200 Rear Rack Pack for their top boxes and tour packs. The GWR-1200 replaces the always popular GWR-1000.

Survivor Edition Luggage:
Back by popular demand, we have added two new offerings for cruisers from our 100% Waterproof Survivor Series luggage. The SVT-750 All-Weather Survivor Luggage System and the SVT-250 All-Weather Survivor Roll Bag.

For 2014 our Defender 2000 in size XXL (only) will now come with an optional antenna grommet kit. Now perfect for Ultra Classics and other full dress bikes with antennas. If you have inventory of this size Defender 2000, we have antenna grommet kits available to update those products for FREE (just give us a call!)

We have introduced two ATV Covers sizes (LG/XL) to protect valuable ATV’s from natures harshest elements.

Trikes seem to come in all shapes and sizes these days and to accommodate the new larger and wider designs we happily introduce two new products for Trike enthusiasts worldwide! The TRK-355 Trike Cover (fits Trikes up to 68” wide) and a new TRK-355-D Trike Dust Cover (fits Trikes up to 68” wide!).

Compression Bags;
Designed to help all riders keep their personal travel items organized and as compact as possible, these Compression Bags are offered in three sizes (M/L/XL).

If you have any questions or comments on any of our products, please feel free to ask here or via e-mail at

Thank you again and happy riding!! 

From the team @ Nelson Rigg USA