In our 65th Gear Guide we check out Blauer’s latest Combo gloves, Helston’s retro Engine jacket and a couple of visor and goggle options for your open face helmet from Soubirac, Bell and Barrufaldi.
Blauer Combo Gloves.
A little star and stripe flag tag sewn into the seem? Check – American and proud. These beautifully supple nappa cow leather gloves from Blauer are the first bit of gear I have tried from the brand, so in search of the back story I headed for their website which, confusingly, was in Italian. Google Translate eventually surrendered the secret of the European distributors website that Blauer have for over 60 years been the leading supplier of technical wear to the U.S Police force, Army and Navy. Blauer have since expanded their remit to include a range of protective motorcycle wear utilising all the experience and technical know how they have garnered from their history in the enforcement and military sectors. Their deigns are bang on point.
The Combo gloves feature perforated leather uppers with high tech TPU (thermoplastic polyurethane) knuckles and rubber finger protection inserts. A short zip and velcro closure finish off the attractive design along with an embossed Blauer HT logo. The aforementioned nappa leather is deliciously tactile and the armour adds reassurance to what is otherwise a lightweight glove.
After a month of commuting abuse the initial added fiddle of the YKK zip closure has become second nature and the tight to start gloves have settled nicely to my hands. They are definitely better suited to the warmer months and are far from water proof but even as the winter chill begins to set in I am reluctant to surrender the mobility and articulation they provide.
The gloves were stylish enough to pair unnoticed with my fine tweed and silk for last weekends Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride and even drew the odd comment of appreciation from the most finely attired crowd of riders you have ever seen. They are cracking gloves from a manufacturer creating an increasingly interesting range of products (their 80’s Helmet currently sits top of a fair few Bike Shed staff wish lists) well worth checking out. Also available in Black.
Helstons Engine Jacket.
My first encounter with Helstons gear was a pair of winter gloves, they impressed then and have done since, the leather is decent, the fit was good, stitching was nice, it worked for me. So when I ordered the Engine jacket I had high expectations, it didn’t let me down.
First impressions, the leather is lovely, soft and supple despite being quite thick. The overall fit is good, although I had to get a large even though I am a medium in UK standards. The zips are robust, the construction is top notch, and the CE approved armour offers proper protection, including the neat back protector pocket which comes complete with a dense foam pad. The sleeve length is just right for riding in colder weather as there’s no jacket to glove gap. There is also a removable thermal lining which will be handy for cooler days.
The only niggle about the fit is the shoulders fit kinda funny, giving a pronounced lump on each side. This is due to the shoulder armour which I would imagine will break in over time, or perhaps altered by swapping them out for pads from another jacket.
So, I have ridden with the jacket for the last month. I am so impressed with the cut of the jacket. It doesn’t impede your riding, or pull in odd places. It sits nicely on my waist and allows nice movement throughout. It feels sturdy enough to protect you in case of a fall and feels like it’ll last for years.
There are only a few things that I think are a set back. I have mentioned the shoulders and sizing, the latter is fairly typical of European clothing, and lastly is the colour scheme. I have the beige jacket. It looks great, but the blue and orange strips make it difficult to find matching gloves and helmet. I’m not that fussed about coordination, anyone that has played sports with me can attest to that, so I wear what I have.
Overall the Helstons Engine looks and feels great. It’s a jacket that will get you noticed and be admired, and one that I’ll be using for many more miles to come.
Review by Timm Wellens.
Bell Deluxe Bubble Visor and Peak
In Gear Guide #62‘s review of the Bell Custom 500 Helmet we promised a follow up feature summarising a selection of the visor and goggle options, never being ones to break a promise, here you have it.
Firstly what is missing – MX style goggles. Top of my list of eye protective pairings for the Bell were a pair of goggles from the stunning collection offered up by Barstow. In the hand they proved a seriously quality item and yet as I offered them up to my face, my hopes of ownership were quashed. It is important to point out these goggles work splendidly for many a rider, but for those (like me) whose majestic noses help them swim in perfectly straight lines, you may have clearance issues betwixt lid and hooter. Try them out, you may be one of the lucky ones I will forever stare at begrudgingly whose facial proportions allow for this stylish pairing, but for me an alternative was required.
The deluxe bubble visor from Bell is a beautiful object, with its chromed edge and deeply shiny anti-fog, anti-scratch, UV-protected shield it oozes 60’s glamour. The visor attaches via the classic 3-snap design with adjustable side poppers. As shown above it sits slightly tighter/better on smaller sized lids (the blue metal flake is medium, grey primer large) but looks fine on all but the very biggest of helmets. For the uninitiated riding in a bubble is a revelation, so much vision and space and a full face free of wind. The deluxe bubble from Bell is a beauty of the breed and is available in a wide spectrum of colours.
For that classic sheltering from the Californian sun look the helmet peak is a must. Available in both black and white and a selection of designs it purely comes down to personal taste which combination suits your style the best. They can be fiddly to fit but once on feel good and solid. The above picture is of the 510 variant.
Soubirac Flip Bubble Visor.
Are you the type that instigates a chin wag at the lights? Or enjoys a loquacious relationship with your local fuel merchant? For ultimate social interaction the Soubirac flip is the way to go, one can go from full coverage to full exposure at the deftest of touches.
It is predominantly a town riding option as a lifesaver over the shoulder look at dual carriageway speeds will tend to lift the visor and give you an unwanted face full of fresh air, but in the right setting the Soubirac is a terrific option. I use mine every day. Shown here is the 50% tint variant, it is also available in clear or rainbow finishes
Baruffaldi Halo Goggles
Baruffaldi have been producing goggles for Ski and motorcycling enthusiasts since 1932. Their range of retina protecting products is dizzying but it was their Halo goggles that caught my eye. In a similar style to horse jockey or sky-diving goggles the Halo sit inside the helmet tight to the face. The rubberised edge is comfortable although after a longer run I drew baffled glances for almost an hour due to the red lines etched into my visage. A good stretch of the elastic has reduced this to an extent.
I rarely reach sky diving velocity on my motorcycle but am thoroughly confident that when the occasion calls for it the Halo will keep my eyes intact and vision clear. The flattering sepia hue they lend the world is available at all speeds. A note for the long of lash from my beautiful wife, make sure your mascara is well dried before goggle placement or you will be viewing the road through a barcode…