Niranjan Chatterjee’s Weblog

May 6, 2009

Sissy Bar

Filed under: Motorcycle Accessories — niranjanchatterjee @ 8:00 am

Short Description: Sissy bar or sister bar, as it was popularly referred to in earlier decades, have gained in importance as a utility attachment rather than an ornamental one as motorcycles are being increasingly used as means of long distance travel by the young and the adventurous.

It is all very fine and heroic to either stay erect or crouch over the handlebars while cruising at eighty miles an hour, but ask those that regularly do this and you will surely come to hear a groan or two as to how badly their backs ached or their rib cages creaked as wind lashed howling back at their bodies as their machines munched miles after miles of gleaming tarmac at top speed. The need for a back rest is very genuine and no serious biker would ever go for a long haul without having a properly fixed and generously padded sissy bar for him or his pillion rider to recline on as the mean machine roars along the lonely road.

Generally sissy bars are fixed to the struts on the rear fender and are made of chrome plated steel to give an added gleam to the motorbike. But excluding those die hard aficionados of Harley Davidson, most of the other bikers prefer to clad their sissy bars in richly padded dark tan or black leather – preferably cowhide, to give the machine a new dimension. In earlier days these fans of Harley Davidson or Triumph often would go for sissy bars as tall as three feet and, conspicuous as they are, would specifically serve as staff from where their club flags proudly fluttered as the whole pack ruled the road they chose to travel on. Often these sissy bars were shaped in the form massive scissors or were hand crafted into massive U – shaped attachments that stood gleaming and erect on the hind fender of the bike all the while screaming out loudly the uniqueness of the rider. These massive sissy bars also served as tethers to which the biker securely tied his luggage while on a longish journey and these also served as solid backrests when the biker or his attractive pillion rider felt their backs needed to be rested.

But there are other bikes and bikers that are not so over masculine in their approach and they prefer a less loud sissy bar that serves both as a decent back rest and a secure handle to which their luggage can be fastened to. A case in point is the sissy bar meant specifically for Honda Aero VT 750 with exquisitely designed back plates that not only are great in aesthetics but also extremely handy for securing taller or bulkier bags. The reclining pad is fixed at the right height and is slanted at the exact angle to provide maximum comfort and support to a sore back. The sissy bar that is designed specially to be attached to a Kawasaki Mean Streak VN1500 02 is equally cute and tough but the pad is at a much lower height keeping in tune with the general flow of design of this bike. The rider will find the soft support positioned exactly where he wished it to be.

But all Kawasaki sissy bars are not that small as a glance at the sissy bar meant for Kawasaki Nomad VN1500 Fi 97 will immediately prove. Same is the case with sissy bar meant for Suzuki Marauder VZ800 97 motorbike. These are tall and strong pieces of solid steel and chrome with ample and gorgeous pads eagerly awaiting a tired back. The masculinity of these sissy bars surely make the motorcycles look quite a lot more tough than they would look without these attachments.

A discussion on sissy bars would be incomplete if a mention is not made about Harley Davidson Sportster 883 and 1200 Motorcycle Sissy Bar and back plate. This is a pure work of art where strength, utility and intricate design mingle effortlessly. The gleaming horizontal supports that span the space between the forked legs add both bulk and grace to the entire design.

Choose whichever sissy bar suits your taste and fits your bike but remember it is no longer an ornamental accessory but an absolute necessity if you plan long hauls on your machine.


Motorcycle Leather Accessories

Filed under: Motorcycle Accessories — niranjanchatterjee @ 7:59 am

Short Description: A bike is an extension of self for the aficionado who’d go any length to deck it up with leather accessories to give it that customized and uniquely individual signature.

Just let your imagination fly, a little faster than your bike can, and visualize this. You’re zooming on your Harley Davidson along a winding mountain road through gorgeous, nearly luminous greenery on an autumn afternoon. Can the picture be complete without a pair of motorcycle boots? Obviously not, those gorgeous biker boots, (with or without laces depending upon your choice) preferably caressing your calves while they climb up to your knees – well, that’s my preference, you may go for ankle-high boots also, if you prefer those, are absolutely essential to get the proper perspective. These boots give you a sense of authority in every step you take – almost like the raw power of your Harley Davidson.

You must be wondering why I didn’t start with the leather jacket which is a must for every biker worth his salt. Well, I was just following some sort of a schedule – gradually going up from below, that is. So, now is the turn to talk about leather chaps. These genuine buffalo patched leather trousers with zippers at thigh endow you with an additional dimension, as it were, and together with a genuine leather jacket with Conchos, fringe, a shirt collar, slit pockets, and a zip out liner with lambskin touch will make you one with your machine. For an onlooker, it’ll become a real problem to ascertain where the bike ends and the biker begins. Lest I miss out on it, let me include those goggles with leather padding, matching leather headband with clear, yellow, or grey polycarbonate lenses (my personal choice is the one with grey lenses) which must essentially be a part of this unique suit.

Some bikers also put on leather mask and skull cap as they feel these keep them cool during hot afternoons. These together with the goggles I had just now described would give you that air of a knight in shining armor, not atop an Arabian steed but a thundering Harley Davidson – pretty enticing, isn’t it? The leather gloves must also match the richness of the other pieces. Some bikers prefer those with metal studs, but to some they look a trifle rough and the cool elegance of the rest of the outfit gets dented somewhat. I feel you should go for those which neatly dovetail with the sleeves of your leather jacket and maintain a fluid continuity right through.

And what about those “getback” biker whips? One such whip must dangle from the clutch or brake lever as you thunder by. If you are a member of a bikers’ club, the whip must essentially sport your club colors, but if you aren’t a member, it doesn’t matter really. Just ensure it looks slightly ominous and gives that added dimension of power as you zoom by.

When you are leather clad, the bike should also have its fair share of leather, shouldn’t it? Deck it up with water and oil proof, full grain, genuine leather lever covers, tank bibs, fender bibs and saddle bags. Some even put leather covers over engine guards and kick stands to add that extra punch. It is needless to say buffalo or bull hides floorboard fringes and mud flaps will make the scene complete.

Custom Motorcycle Jackets

Filed under: Motorcycle Accessories — niranjanchatterjee @ 7:57 am

Short Description: What is a biker if he doesn’t wear a custom motorcycle jacket stitched out of thick, supple cow or buffalo hide? The personality of both the man and his machine get a bumper boost when the biker dons a black custom made motorcycle jacket.

Remember Marlon Brando – “The Wild One”? The unforgettable pictures of Johnny Strabler wearing double breasted “one star” Schott Perfecto custom motorcycle leather jacket while astride a 1950 Triumph Thunderbird 6T, fuelled so many high octane dreams across so many generations that after the movie had hit theatres across US no biker worth his salt ever mounted his mechanized steed without first slipping on his leather custom motorcycle jacket. Indeed, a biker without a custom motorcycle jacket seemed totally out of sorts even if he was astride the best maintained Harley Davidson, Indian or a BSA. These motorcycle jackets became an international uniform for bikers across continents and are still now a very important part of fashion accessory of every biker. But it might surprise today’s readers to know that the sales of Schott’s Perfecto jackets actually went down after “The Wild One” was released in spite of their immense popularity. The school and college authorities banned these jackets as they came to be closely associated with youth, freedom and wild abandon – the very essence of every biker’s philosophy.

Close on the heels of Schott came Joseph Buegeleisen Co. that manufactured custom motorcycle jackets in Detroit. Very soon Indian Motorcycles also jumped in the fray with “Ranger” for men and “Rangerette” for women. Not to be left behind, Harley Davidson also came forward with “Cycle Champ” for men and “Cycle Queen” for ladies causing a storm in the fashion world. This company later came out with another fashion blockbuster – the “Pistol Pocket” holster shaped model that reigned supreme for two decades and was carried forward into the Sears Oakbrook design. It would be unfair if mention is not made of other famed custom motorcycle jacket manufacturers as Buco, Blatt, Hercules, Beck and Grais.

Custom motorcycle jackets, however, are not only style; they have a very significant utility too. These jackets protect the biker from hustling wind and small particles that often hit a rider with the force of a guided projectile as he zooms along devouring miles after miles of tar. So, it is no wonder that custom motorcycle jackets are almost always fitted with protective armor that safely cocoon the biker while adding dollops of glamour as the world keeps gaping wide eyed – sometimes in awe, sometimes in envy.

Most custom motorcycle leather jackets are multi-pocketed and have belted waist and armors at elbows, shoulders, chest and padding at elbows and shoulders to make the biker feel absolutely snug and comfortable. Some prefer to have their customized jacket with detachable, zippered sleeves while some are absolutely sold out on double sided leather jackets. While customizing a motorcycle jacket, some also opt for electric heating in the liners to keep the jacket at perfect temperature even when it is snowing heavily. It surely is a luxury but it would not cost the earth if you want an electrically heated jacket; you could get one customized for you by paying as little as $600.

Some people, however, feel that leather jackets, no matter how glamorous they are, stew the biker in hotter climes. These riders prefer a cooler option without compromising on safety and go for mesh motorcycle jackets that can be beefed up with adequate armor upon request. These waterproof jackets thus combine breathability with safety in a unique way and have a sizeable fan following among committed bikers all over the world. There are a few who go a step further and don textile jackets. Though these can be very colorful and stylish and are also waterproof in most cases, they are not as safe as leather armored jackets. Some bikers have tried out armor with these textile jackets, but, frankly speaking, these two simply do not gel with each other.

The concept of one size fits all is not at all applicable in case of motorcycle jackets and hence is the need of custom fit. Some even go for custom material and spend hours to decide whether to go for deerskin, cowhide, horsehide or sheepskin and ponder for days on the design; whether it should be a double diamond or a single diamond jacket. Once the design is determined, many more hours are spent on deciding the artwork that will adorn the back of the custom made motorcycle jacket; the all time favorite being an ornately designed chopper.

A custom made motorcycle jacket does not come cheap, so spend a lot of time in ironing out the details.

Cheap Motorcycle Saddlebags

Filed under: Motorcycle Accessories — niranjanchatterjee @ 7:55 am

Short Description: As more and more people take to bikes for pleasure trips across cities – some are even zooming across the entire country, luggage space in motorcycles is becoming increasingly important and motorcycle saddlebags are very fast graduating as an integral accessory for every bike.

Motorcycle saddlebags have a pretty colorful and checkered history that stretches back to the sixties of last century. With the winding up of the Vietnam War in late sixties a new sense of freedom and relief swept across the youth in United States and Europe and this found expression in many of them opting for bikes as the preferred mode of holiday commute and fun travel in groups. As those trips became longer and longer, partly fuelled by larger and more powerful bikes from Indian Motorcycle Company and Harley Davidson Motorcycle Company; with Kawasaki, Honda and Yamaha throwing in their products too to generate a lot of heat, dust and razor sharp competition in motorcycle market, motorcycle saddlebags became an inseparable motorcycle accessory. These saddlebags also metamorphosed pretty fast from the inconsequential throw over ones to those that were more secure, spacious and added in their own way a new dimension to your favorite bike.

Yamaha, as most bikers aver, are a step ahead in creating a special space for riveting saddlebags on their bikes. They take special care to ensure that the side indicators do not get obstructed by these motorcycle saddlebags – a very common problem in smaller bikes. Manufacturers sensed a big opportunity in motorcycle accessories and started supplying factory fitted fiber glass saddlebags since early eighties. They surely were pretty useful and saved the biker the additional hassle of fixing a saddlebag, but the aficionado still favored those soft ones with studs, buckles and fasteners that not only safely enveloped the helmet when not in use but also stored a whole lot of luggage. The costlier ones are generally made from 10 oz. full grained cowhide but cheap motorcycle saddlebags are made from a synthetic, vinyl material that look like leather and feel almost like leather. Those gorgeous Honda, Metric and Harley Davidson motorbikes look even more mean and menacing when these saddlebags that double up also as backrests are mounted on them. You now have a smooth and firm backrest that supports your tired back as you keep munching endless miles with consummate ease. The biker in you almost jumps up in feverish anticipation every time a bike well clad in these indispensable motorcycle accessories thunders by.

Generally these motorcycle saddlebags open on both sides for ease of access and have two large zippered inside pockets to hold papers or some important documents. These are made of UV proof vinyl sheets that are waterproof too to prevent fading from over exposure to harsh sunlight or heavy rain or mildew. These come in various sizes and just in case you are slightly confused about those numbers, they only mention how many 12 oz. beer or soft drink cans the bag can hold.

But before you buy a saddlebag please check out how it is to be fixed to the body of the bike and whether it has a hard core to prevent it from sagging. Generally more expensive leather saddlebags retain their shape for quite a few years but those that are made of cheaper material tend to sag within a year or two. So, it is always advisable to go for those that have a harder core and are cylindrical in shape to double up as backrests. Their prices start from as low as $15, so why don’t you go and choose one that causes adrenalin to cruise through your body almost immediately?

Cheap Motorcycle Jackets

Filed under: Motorcycle Accessories — niranjanchatterjee @ 7:50 am

Short Description: Though all of us would love to don designer leather motorcycle jackets, cheap motorcycle jackets are at times equally good, if not better, and are surely immense value for money. So, definitely have a look at these before you spend a fortune.

If you are on the lookout for cheap motorcycle jackets, the best place to hunt for a bargain is the net. Here, more often than not you will get better bargains and greater variety than your friendly neighborhood store. And there are certain tips you must never forget while you go hunting for your cheap motorcycle jacket. If all the points in this checklist are not convincingly covered, it is better not to buy a jacket that might turn out to be useless very shortly even if it seems very attractive and appears to be fabulous value for money right now.

Please remember a motorcycle jacket is essentially a piece of protective clothing and not merely a fashion accessory. So, do not get carried away by the funky design or flashy material, ensure that if it is non-leather material it is nothing but 500 denier DuPont Cordura as anything else would not be hardy enough to withstand the rigors a motorcycle jacket has to undergo.

 The jacket must also have long sleeves so that they do not climb up your arm every time you rotate your wrists and enough space around shoulders to allow free movement of arms while driving. There must be enough material around the waist too; else the gap between your trousers and the jacket will be exposed each time you hunch over the handlebars while accelerating and cold wind or rainwater seeping through this gap might prove more of a nuisance than you had ever imagined. It would not cost you the earth to look for these qualities in a motorcycle jacket, even the cheap motorcycle jackets also have these features; you simply need to be aware of them while making the purchase.

One of the problems with cheap motorcycle jackets is that the lining tends to roll up and come out each time the jacket is taken off. Ensure that the lining is fixed at several places to prevent such an irritating thing from happening. Also it would be massively helpful to have a neck warmer; especially with a wind stopper which could act as a great intermediary between your helmet and jacket. You could get these neck warmers at huge discounts in trade fairs.

You need to have as many pockets as you can but these will be useless unless they can be secured properly and at least two inner pockets must be totally waterproof for carrying your documents and other important papers. Most cheap motorcycle jacket manufacturers tend to cut corners on waterproofing, so be very finicky about it while buying one. One other point about jackets must never be forgotten. Usually the jacket has to endure a fair amount of beating from the winds and zippers tend to get either jammed or become loose due to this continuous hammering. So, all zippers should preferably have a flap or some sort of covering to deflect direct pounding by the wind.

It is perhaps needless to add that there should be protective padding at elbows, shoulders and back. Remember, it is mandatory and is neither optional nor an avoidable luxury. Ideally go for jackets that have in-built protective padding but you can also go for ones without it (it would be obviously be cheaper) and sew in carbon Kevlar shells in the lining. This is one way you can cut costs to a great extent.

The other aspect of a cheap motorcycle jacket is that it tends to blow up like a hot air balloon or starts flapping dangerously the moment the biker gathers speed. So, ensure that there are strong enough fasteners at wrists, neck and waist. These will also prevent rainwater from seeping in and soaking you when you zoom through in driving rain.

Many accidents have taken place as the driver coming from the opposite side had completely missed the biker. So, never forget to include some reflective material or brightly colored stripes (like the ones found in Harley Davidson jackets) on your jacket and to have added effect you might also paste narrow strips of scotelite if it does not offend your taste.

If you are careful about these issues while you make a purchase, you can very easily get cheap motorcycle jackets at prices ranging from $250 to $350. Just one advice before we part. Never try to shortchange safety; it might become very costly in the long run.

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