Shift Mach Gear
I put the 2005 Shift Mach Gear through the ultimate torture test at the 24 Hours of Glen Helen. Yes, I wore only one set of gear during the brutal 24 hours. And yes, the gear was a little dirty and stinky afterward!The Mach jersey is polyester with sublimated graphics. To keep air circulating, the underarm areas are vented mesh and the back and sidepanels are made of a thinner vented material. The elbows and shoulders were beefed up with padding for shielding. The new jersey definitely feels different from last year’s-heavier, but not in a bad way! It also has a dropped tail that helps the jersey stay tucked in. The collar fits nicely and snugly, preventing dirt from slipping underneath. For $39.95, the jersey (available in sizes S-XXL) is innovative, and it’s built for thrashing. It breathes well, and the sizes are a true fit.The Mach pant’s waist area fits snugly, and the belt-style ratchet closure system works smoothly with no hang-ups while a new yoke allows the waist area to flex a bit. The biggest change is in the knee area, with more room, a cupped shape and articulation allowing knee braces and knee cups to fit without any restriction. Thicker material extends life to the knee section, and a full-grain-leather inner-knee area saves the tank and shrouds. I did experience a bit of tearing, but that was caused by a high-speed crash; the handlebar caught my inner knee and poked a small hole in the stitching where the leather is sewn, but it proved repairable. The leg bottom’s breathable panels help with cooling under the boot. The pant is designed with your riding position in mind and is roomy yet still offers a snug fit, and it is built for the long haul. At $139.95, the pant (available in sizes 28-40) is like a high-end tailored suit without the expense.For $29.95, the Mach glove (available in sizes 8-12) is a top-notch piece of paw protection. The updated glove uses Spandura and airprene to allow flexibility, and it is topped by mesh for cooling. The fingertips have a bigger silicone patch to help with traction on the levers; however, if you get caught in the rain, the patches work against you as they become super-slippery. Overall, the glove fits and ventilates well. It offers a light feel but gets the job done. -Corey Neuer888/744-3848
Vented Strafer Gear
I love vented gear. Yeah, I know; I live in California. But many dirt riders live in warm climates. I’ve been spending a lot of time in Fox’s Vented Strafer Racepant ($139.95) and Strafer Aero Jersey ($39.95). They began a hard life with the 24-hour race at Glen Helen. I wore the gear day and night but slipped a T-shirt underneath in the middle of the night. I even slept in the stuff! My set is black and white, so it was stained with dust and silt after the event, but the gear washed clean with no special care. The pant is constructed mainly of nylon and polyester, and oddly enough for a vented pant, the main body fabric is water resistant and water repellent. That’s similar to putting screen doors in a submarine, but it works, so I can’t knock it. There is a lot of mesh fabric in the front body panels for ventilation, and there are stretch panels at the back yoke, knee, thigh and lower back leg that work with the body and seem to flow air nearly as well as the mesh. Vented material isn’t the best for high-wear areas, so the saddle panel is tough (but perforated) Cordura, and the inner knee features embossed leather.The Strafer Aero Jersey is 100 percent polyester mesh with a comfortable and generous cut. The graphics are sublimated, so they don’t obstruct airflow and last well through wash and wear. Another nice feature is the micro cuff; each arm concludes with a thin band of elastic that holds the arm in place well without being tight to the skin.Both the pant and jersey are light-feeling and comfortable. Compared with the 2004 Fox vented gear I wore, the Strafer pant feels 50 percent lighter. When the going gets warm, I truly appreciate the venting and the cooling airflow it generates. For serious stifling heat, the Moose Sahara gear is lighter and more vented, but the Strafer offers better roost protection and is more easily worn as the temperatures drop. The pant is available in sizes 28 to 40, the jersey comes in S through XXL and they are both offered in black, navy, red and white. The kids’ version of the jersey ($29.95) comes in S through XL in Blue Napalm and red.Overall, I’m impressed with the fit, the wear and the performance of this gear. I didn’t even pack it away during the winter, since I used it on some balmy days. -Karel Kramer888/772-2242WWW.FOXRACING.COMIndependent Race Shop
The new generation of suspension that comes on the 2005 YZ250 is the best we have ever seen from Kayaba. However, the more time I put on the stock suspension of our ’05 YZ250, the softer it became, and I thought it could be significantly better with some focused attention. So I ripped the suspension off the blue 250 and sent it to the boys at Independent Race Shop (IRS) in Central California.In stock trim, the suspension is a tad harsh in rough conditions. The last part of the stroke on the fork is too progressive and left me thinking I had bottomed out when I hadn’t. I also didn’t like how low the fork settled in low-speed, tight corners. It used up too much of the stroke. As for the shock, it wasn’t all that bad, other than being a bit soft on flat landings. It was the opposite of the fork, as it was not progressive enough, though this was hardly noticeable.IRS replaced the stock 0.43kg/mm springs with 0.44kg/mm units along with easing up on the valving. IRS went up 2 in the shock’s spring rate, from 4.9 to 5.3kg/mm. Once the work was done, the IRS mods were tested at a very rough Glen Helen. I set the rear ride height at 105mm and dropped the fork tubes down to the bottom lines. The IRS modifications worked well; I now had what I desired. The bike sat higher in the stroke when cornering, and the fork wasn’t too harsh at the bottom. I was able to use all of the fork travel. The biggest difference was the jarring sensation when I nearly bottomed on the fork was completely gone, and the fork was much more predictable. The 5.3 shock spring was too much; so we replaced it with a 5.1, which worked great for me; now the shock was very compliant and soaked up anything thrown at it.Overall, the bike felt much more balanced; the front end no longer felt low, and I liked how predictable both the shock and the fork were with the new valving and spring rates. The complete customized suspension modification cost $575, and IRS did a great job. If you’re a serious racer, you’ll find the IRS crew provides trackside support at nearly all the big amateur nationals. -Corey Neuer8O5/544-9531www.INDEPENDENTRACESHOP.comMakita14.4V Cordless 1/2-inch Impact WrenchI call the model 6934FDWDE Makita cordless impact driver the Love Tool, because it makes tedious jobs quick, easy and almost fun. The 3.8-pound Makita is roughly the size of a compact cordless drill, but it delivers 1240 inch-pounds, or 103 foot-pounds, of torque at up to 3000 impacts per minute. The trigger allows variable speeds and amounts of power, and a button easily reverses the drive. A built-in LED light illuminates the work area. The tool comes with a charger and a second battery. I go weeks or months of sporadic use without charging the battery.This is for taking things apart as there is no torque setting, though the manual does give you a guideline for how many seconds you should hold the trigger for different-sized bolts. This is a powerful tool, and for tearing down an engine or changing out a clutch, it is magical. After a long day of wrenching, my wrists are less tired and sore if I use the Makita whenever possible. At $480, it is much more expensive than an air-powered tool or even a corded electric impact wrench but much more convenient. -Karel KramerSee Your Local DealerWWW.MAKITA.COMACN MachinING & Welding
At first glance, it seems as if ACN Machining & Welding would have a tough time selling its hand-guard clamps. Why pay $39.95 to $43.95 (depending on whether you get normal or extended ones, dual-sport or colors) for a hand-guard clamp when your hand guards come with clamps? Remember that saying about building a better mousetrap? The ACN mounts are simply of a higher caliber, and if your bike/guard installation has any cable/hose interference at all, these mounts are well worth the money. Check out the photo and see that the ACN units have a channel through which cables and hoses are routed. That channel makes installations painless while decreasing the chance of damaging any controls if the guards move in a fall. The mounts are not only a good idea but also beautifully manifested, with a polished finish and every edge rounded and smoothed. I want them on all my bikes, and everyone who sees them also wants a set. You should check out the web site to see all the options that are available before you order. -Karel Kramer408/258-4772www.acnmw.comASV Inventions
When I first tried the Y-handle, I wasn’t impressed. It felt odd in my hands after so many years of using T-handles, but I plopped it in the drawer with my sockets anyway. Then I had to change a handlebar quickly; I grabbed the Y-handle and stuck an 8mm, a 10mm and a Phillips bit on it and swapped out the bar without reaching for a single tool. Suddenly I was a fan, and now I keep a 31/48-inch-drive and 11/42-inch-drive model in my toolbox at all times. Both models allow you to install socket-type accessories at the ends of all three arms for rapid work, and a spring-loaded ball bearing at each end holds each socket in place. Plus, the body of the chrome-plated, forged-steel tool has a rubberized surface that is safe to hold in extreme temperatures.Each arm is 5 inches long, providing the reach and leverage of a T-handle, and you can attach normal socket-wrench extensions to add length and get into hard-to-reach areas. Yet the tool is small enough to fit in most toolboxes. ASV’s $25 Y-Handle is made in the United States and carries a five-year warranty. -Karel Kramer877/278-7000
www.asvinventions.comIn The May Issue:
Seven stock 450 enduros go toe-to-toe.First test:
Suzuki’s long-awaited RM-Z450 finally debuts, and we pit it against the CRF450R.Playbike Showdown:Yamaha’s new TT-R230 vs. Honda’s CRF230F.AMA SX update and a look at the new privateer.Can the CR25oRbe saved?
Extracting more gusto from the two-stroke mill via bolt-on parts.Standard KX25oF fork fixes:
Curing the green machine’s Achilles’ heel and alternative medicines.Dr. Dirt: This old bikeRebuilding a 1994 CR250R-for less than the blue book value!