Rocket Touring Gear Roundup

Page 3

Pacsafe Tail Bag Direct Pacsafe Tailbag, item #9133, $227 Direct LidSafe #9122 Retail price: $227.00

There's only one brand of after-market luggage out there fit for the Fonz, the PacSafe line of anti-theft motorcycle gear. With all the technical equipment I carry running the magazine, its a huge PITA worrying about leaving my cameras, laptops, and Tamagotchi collection sitting out there on the bike for some would-be dick-head to come along and steal while I stop for a ninety-nine cent dinner at the AM/PM. PacSafe has created a line of tank bags, tail packs and backpacks that are created using what they call eXomesh material - a fully waterproof 900 denier high density polyester & nylon layering, sandwiching a laminated stainless-steel wire mesh to prevent someone from slashing open the bag while it's locked to your bike's frame. The eXomesh construction is wrapped up with a synching top and thicker securing cable you then feed thru your bike and back into the pack's lid.Center of gravity is no more affected by Al's giant bag than if you were riding in the circus with a trained bear on the back of your tiny bicycle.

The flagship bag is their TailSafe product, which touts a huge 2440 cu. inch main compartment and is big enough to hold a full face helmet, a few layers of clothing and a laptop computer.

I tend to pack my entire LowePro Nova camera bag inside it for off-bike toting of camera supplies at the races. Removing the entire pack takes seconds with the included three point straps and shoulder strap. If you don't wanna haul it around the pits, you can keep your Bratz Doll collection safely tucked away on the bike while at the races and safely store your hat in the LidSafe slash-proof bag, more below. Solid brass padlocks are included.

The TailSafe has a nice big top pocket too, but it's a tight fit once the bag is closed. I often use it for excess and off bike stuff, like a second set of gloves for changing weather or my hat to spare the viewing public my helmet hair when I dip in for a pint of ice cream at the local marble slab; baby loves her PB&J ice cream! On the sidewalls are a pair of smaller pockets good for carrying a wheel lock and the shoulder strap for carrying the bag off the bike plus some other small crap you don't want in your pocket while enjoying the ride.

With a tough rubberized bottom, any wetness from the road spray will not seep thru to the Bratz inside, and it'll last forever; it's durable on and off the bike. Plus, the bag has aluminum shaping rods similar to those found in your internal-frame backpack, to keep the shape of the bag from flopping around in the twisties when it's not completely full.

 But I wouldn't suggest using it on painted cowlings or tail covers as I like my
paint to be new for a long time. It's just best for the passenger pad or your bike's tail rack. [Gabe wanted to interject that when this bag is fully Fonzie-loaded, it has a tendency to come loose; he thinks it could use a more secure mounting system.]

On the days you're stuffing the TailSafe with clothing, tools, and whatnot and do not have a place to store your helmet while not riding, OutPac Deisgns has also created a matching security bag to safely lock your helmet as well. Using a similar interwoven wire mesh of the big bag and a cable to connect to the bike, the LidSafe is tape sealed and waterproof on the outside and lined w/ the same soft stuff your helmet came in when you bought it (not the cardboard box) and the LidSafe comes its own carrying case, to carry the carry case in while its being carried around town in your TailSafe pack... say that seven times fast! This product also comes with a set of padlocks and of course you need not the other products or even a motorcycle to use this bag. Locking your helmet to a fence or nearby building helps you keep the helmet in the event someone picks up the entire motorcycle to steal those precious beanie babies inside the TailSafe.

PacSafe is good stuff and I highly recommend it if you plan to move your toy collectibles thru a bad neighborhood.... or plan on traveling anywhere with something you would not want stolen. At press time, "WifeSafe" was still in development.

- Fonzie

Bel Radar Detector Retail price: N/A

In a perfect world, we would hire Jim from Mutual of Omaha's "Wild Kingdom" to shoot Highway Patrolmen with tranquilizer darts so they can be marked and tagged, leading to a better understanding of their hunting and migratory patterns. I can just imagine the Patrolman, eyes glazing over behind his Foster Grants as he staggers and falls in the dust by the side of the road, and then Jim attaching a radio collar before dragging him back to his patrol car, propping him behind the wheel and setting a box of Krispy Kremes within reach.

Unfortunately, it is against the law to tranquilize law enforcement officials in a majority of US states. However, using a radar detector is legal in most jurisdictions, so we can have at least one weapon in the cat-and-mouse game we play with those appointed to protect us from ourselves. Andy Goldfine recommended the Bel Express radar detector.

Shouldn't these be included with the ZX-14? We dare a motorcycle manufacturer to sell a bike with a built-in radar detector. After we strapped it securely to a mount and had Pete figure out how it worked, the Bel did what a radar detector is supposed to do. The warning lamps light up and the alarm sounds when the unit detects whatever radar band it is that the California Highway Patrol and local police use; we had several instances in the last few hundred miles of our Rocket Tour when the alarm sounded and sure enough, the familiar outline of a black-and-white came into view soon after. It seems to me that most police just kind of have their radar guns on all the time, making a radar detector a practical and useful thing to have. However, even the best radar detectors will pick up will pick up random signals that will give them false readings, but like one of those guys with a metal detector on the beach, you will learn to ignore false readings, making even a basic detector like the Bel a useful tool.

Of course, one problem motorcyclists will have using a detector is the problem of seeing small LEDs in bright sunlight or of hearing the warning buzzer at the kinds of speeds that require the use of a detector in the first place. Our unit was mounted on a most excellent platform that bolts onto the brake lever perch with existing bolts that Aerostich offers and was therefore very close to our field of view at all times while riding the Hayabusa it was mounted on, which made the lights and buzzer more noticeable than one might think.

However, using an earplug speaker or other helmet-mounted warning device would be the way to go for a committed law-breaker serious about using one of these. Aerostich sells several solutions we have yet to test, such as a helmet-mounted  LED that flashes right in your eye when the detector picks up a signal, or a junction box that allows you to wire your iPod, GPS unit, radar detector or even (has it really come to this?) your cell phone into your helmet speakers or earphones.The Marc's Visual Alert (item #3852) is $60 and should get your attention at any speed. It plugs into your detector so you can place it in your line of vision. There's a helmet-mounted version, too.

We understand this isn't a scientific test of different radar detectors. In fact, we know about as much about using radar as we do about electric fondue pots. However, it's a testament to the device's simplicity and functionality that we could strap it on and get some use out of it. It may have even saved us from a ticket going through a small town's speed trap; the device started chirping and beeping a full minute before we saw a CHP cruiser with a car pulled over to the shoulder, the CHiP busily writing his khaki-clad heart out on his ticket pad while a dejected motorist looked on. The Bel kept chirping away like R2-D2; the rear-facing radar gun must be on all the time.

Even if some police use an instant-on gun (which no detector can protect you from), we suspect most fuzz leave theirs on all the time. So even if some diligent LEOs use instant-on, a good radar detector will reduce, if not eliminate, your chances of getting a radar ticket, which is the most common form of evidence-gathering our police use.

Aerostich no longer carries this model Bel detector, but they have a wide selection of other units and accessories on their website and in their entertaining catalog.

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