It's the last Gear Guide before Christmas, and we featured some tasty gifts for you to treat yourself to, or alternatively you should be leaving big unsubtle hints for. We've also found a couple of very useful and inexpensive stocking fillers, and of course, what would Christmas be without socks?
PRODUCT REVIEW MAPLE 1976 BLACK ON BLACK JEANS
Kelvar denim pioneer Dave Fairbairn of Maple Jeans has recently launched a Kickstarter campaign offering a range of British made selvedge denim to customers directly at wholesale prices. Bikers can currently buy a pair of Kevlar lined selvedge jeans for a very reasonable £178, whilst retaining the build and protective qualities of his £300+ premium range. They are available in indigo and black, in straight 1945 (comparable to Levi 501s), and slim 1976 (comparable to Levi's 511) cut.
I recently received my 1976 Candiani 13.5oz black on black selvedge. These are a lovely deep black with red and white stitching, and match up to the quality of my now year old and well bedded in 1979 indigo Maples. These come with double interlocked flat felled seams, hand hammered rivets at the stress points, deep cotton lined pockets, exposed selvedge ticket and rear wrench pockets, and a hand pressed "proudly made in Britain" leather patch.
I ordered my usual 32, but with the armour in were a little too tight, so I sized up and they fit perfectly with enough room for the armour and moving around the bike. They're a mid-rise jean which means you're not exposing your butt cleavage to the icy elements. They are warm and water resistant, already keeping me toasty and dry on short rainy commutes.
These are a smart jean, so are appropriate for work, and look good in the pub. As with all good selvedge denim they will mould to your body shape and get better with age. To my knowledge these are the only black Kevlar lined selvedge jeans on the market.
Now there are some skeptics out there casting doubt on the protective qualities of Kevlar lined denim. Dave recently sent me these images of a pair of 1941 Maples worn by his customer Tim who had a nasty off at 60mph. Tim walked away well shaken but unscathed, and his jeans held up just fine. He sent them back to Dave, and received a free replacement pair. As the images show, Tim's Maples did the job they were meant to do.
Maple have successfully fused protection with style at a reasonable price point. My 1976 Black on Blacks are terrific.
PRODUCT REVIEW BY THE BMSC'S VERY OWN ALI LATIMER - BROOKS ISLINGTON RUCKSACK
Just over a year ago a good friend and fellow founder of the Bike Shed had this bag, I was looking for something to replace my old North Face messenger bag which after several years of daily use was tiring, the moment I saw Ben with the Brooks Islington I thought that’s the bag for me, then I saw the price, it’s not cheap! So it went onto my Christmas wish list, and thanks to my girlfriends generosity and her bargain hunter skills she managed to find a brand new Islington from a supplier in Germany for about 60% of its retail price.
Christmas day came and I could hardly believe that I had it, but I didn’t use it for a while, I felt it was too nice and too big, I was tempted to sell it and get the Pickwick bag, but then some time at the end of January I needed that extra space and made the commitment to keep it and use it, after that very first time riding with it, I knew I really did have the right bag for me.
Not only does this bag look absolutely stunning, it’s also super comfortable and really practical. It isn’t designed for motorcycling, Brooks make saddles and luggage for bicycles but it crosses over genre effortlessly. It has a vast load capacity of 23-33 litres thanks to the roll top design, in cm it measures 38W x 44-62H x 14D and weighs 1600g.
The Islington is made from Water Resistant Cotton Fabric and Vegetable Tanned Leather from Europe, it isn’t waterproof though, possibly the only downside, but then I don’t ride too often in torrential conditions; but I was caught out a while back, thankfully whilst it did get a battering from an incessant torrent, the inside was merely damp and I had prepared my contents for the possibility of a drenching by inserting everything into a couple of carrier bags.
The most appealing part of the Islington has to be the straps and the buckles, I’ve had many people ask me if it’s a converted parachute bag. The buckles are solid and clip to the desired strap loop for continuous adaption for the bags changing dimensions, crossing each shoulder strap across your body ensures weight is transferred to an unnoticeable level and comfort kept to a max, alternatively one can wear it as a conventional rucksack or utilise just one strap around the waist to help keep it in place when riding.
Brooks have a cool movie clip
on their site that demonstrates how versatile this bag is and how cool the straps are, so pop over and take a look. I highly recommend this bag and expect to it be one of those life long items, after all; it’s nearly Christmas again and I still love it and use it most days.
BOB HEATH - VEE WIPE VISOR BLADE
So Harley riders have been known to wear some pretty strange things over the years - often involving tassles and elaborate Native American embroidery, and dare I say it, chaps. So when my mate Rich turned up the other day with a strange plastic thing on his finger, I explained it away to myself as some esoteric accessory for an obscure Harley riders ritual to which I was not privy too.
As we drove off into the night and it pissed down upon us, I wondered how he managed to keep such a brisk pace with such poor visibility. I could see virtually nothing except for sparkly light refractions from the rain than stubbornly sat on my visor. We arrived at the Old Dairy and I noticed he had a clear visor. It finally dawned on me that the weird Harley riders finger decoration was indeed a visor wiper. Genius. I ordered one that night on ebay.
Worn on the riders gloved index finger, the VEE Wipe can safely and quickly remove dirt, mud, slush or rain from your visor while riding. It's so simple it's laughable. For six quid you can considerably improve your chances of survival when riding in the rain. I hope this simple little tool has made someone millions.
LOCK STRAP HELMET AND JACKET LOCK