Sunday, September 2, 2012

Gear for Ears and a little something for the Knees

Been adding a few goodies to the gear collection. D3o knee armor and finally a replacement for our chatterboxes that never recovered after our Montana trip.

It was the Montana trip where I learned that my knees don't do well with knee pads. Somewhere through the years my knee caps have acquired these tough little bumps that end up aching after hours in contact with armor. On the tour I pulled out the armor and just did without. I'd heard of the D3o armor, softer and thinner than regular armor. The theory is that it's soft and flexible but turns hard immediately on impact for protection. Online chatter proved some riders didn't quite trust the stuff, but a few who had tested it in an accident said it performed alright.
D3o armor and regular CE armor
I can't say if it's any less safe or not, but it seems to be a reasonable compromise. It's very comfortable. I hardly notice it's there. Bumpy patellas approve. I haven't tested it on a long ride yet, so we'll have to see how it goes. Now if I could just find some shoulder armor that actually stayed on my shoulders...

Last year, somewhere in Montana a cord on my chatterbox got caught in the chain. I felt a tiny tug and pulled back a decapitated wire used for a PTT button.  Trouble getting replacement parts for an older chatterbox and the fact that it didn't handle the Ninja's wind noise too well left us ready to try something else.

We put off getting a replacement until we thought we might take a trip. The trip didn't pan out, but a new intercom system did.  We got a set of Sena SMH10s.
Me actually being useful. Sena installation.
I had read good things about this system and it seemed to meet our needs. It's nice and compact on the helmet, and very easy to use with only 2 handy buttons for volume, switching channels, etc. Truth be told, we haven't quite figured out how to make it voice activated. The instructions seem simple enough, but it just hasn't worked for us yet. A minor issue, we'll get it figured out. Other options are we can either have it open all the time, or switch to PTT. Battery life hasn't been a problem for afternoon jaunts, so we just leave it open for continuous talking. I can also listen to music from my iphone if the mood strikes.
Sena SHM10 and  the evil iphone
The Ninja stirs up what sounds like gale-force winds around my helmet. The mic picks up a little noise, but not bad and we can still talk at 70 mph albeit with voices raised slightly. The chatterbox used to turn to static at highway speeds, so this is a definite improvement. Another thing to note is this system doesn't pick up signals like walkie-talkies, so may not work for group rides.

While the intercom has plenty of volume, when listening to music I have to have the volume almost at full blast. Even then the music is quiet. This is fine as I don't like it loud. It's more of an issue with the Ninja wind noise and my use of ear plugs. In the house, with no ear plugs the music is plenty loud.

Speaking of gale-force winds creating useless, blasting noise...

It's GOP convention week.
Much to Ron's and my dismay I've become interested in politics. I actually watched three days of this stuff. Ron put the time to good use ... in the garage
There is a bench under all that stuff!
He said it's good to clean up the garage every 4 years or so...

Lest you think you have my political leanings pegged. I will watch the DNC convention as well. Wonder what will get cleaned up next week? :)

Still haven't gotten up at 7:00 for morning pics.


  1. Dear Bluekat:
    My armor selection was always limited to what came in the jacket, as my jacket choices were limited by what fit. This is because I was ponderously fat. How fat? The neighbors didn't know I owned a motorcycle. They thought I ran up the street at 60 miles per hour.

    I did not wear armored pants as I'd need to have them custom made. My choices were limited to Defender Jeans, Kevlar-lined denim pants from Diamond Gusset.

    That has changed, however. The only good side-effect from the illness that has grounded me was a 35-pound weight loss. But there is nothing like two months in bed to beat an addiction to fast food, butter, chocolate, carbs, and pasta. Once I beat this muscle atrophy thing, and I will beat it, I intend to go from shop to shop trying on gear that would never fit before. My goal, losing another 100 pounds by next April, should allow me to pick the best of the best for armored pants and a jacket. Before I buy anything, I will check out this new armor.

    Does the communications package for your helmet use a wire or Bluetooth to get the music to the speakers in the helmet?

    Fondest regards,
    Twisted Roads

    1. Hi Jack
      Nice job on the weight loss, but sorry to hear it was at the price of illness. I use bluetooth to get music off my iphone. So nice not having little wires everywhere. I believe it also has a jack to plug in an MP3 player if needed.

  2. Been thinking about the d3o armor myself! I see you can buy it as kits now. Still, the stuff that came with my motoport riding gear has gotten me thru one low side crash pretty well. So, does the stuff really harden when you hit it?


    1. Hi Dom
      It sounds rather odd, but I guess it hardens/firms up, on impact then returns to it's regular state. I hope to never test it out. :)
      I thought I'd give the knees pads a try and if they work out I might try some of the other armor.

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  4. I've heard about the D30 armor and wasn't aware that it was available separately. It is much thinner and more flexible than the regular stuff?

    1. Hi Richard,
      Just a little thinner than the regular armor. The edges especially are thin and flexible, but it's firmer in the thicker portion where the knees hit. Over all it bends and flexes more with my knee. I barely notice it on.

      I got it through motorcycle superstore, but pretty sure I've seen it on several online stores. I didn't know it was available separately either until I stumbled across it.

  5. I thought about swapping out my armor for D3O, but for now I am just going to keep what I have at its pretty comfortable. The knee bump must hurt with the pressure of the pads pushing against it. I am thinking of getting a Sena system for my hubby and I for Christmas, good to hear another opinion on it. I have had good reviews on them from people I know who have them.

    1. Hi Dar,
      So far we've enjoyed the Sena. We've only had a couple of short day rides to try it out, but I really want to get a nice long trial in sometime.

      One other thing I forgot to mention, it doesn't come with a wall plug-in type charger. It has a cigarette lighter cord and a USB cord for charging. I thought that was kind of strange. We charge it on our computer, but I think I'm going to order a wall charger to go with it.

  6. I completely empathize with the knee armor issue. The armor from Rev'it is so hard I was almost crying by the time we got over the Glendale to Powers road last year. All those downhill twisties pressing my knees into the armor. I finally took it out and now have the softer foam armor from my Tourmaster pants. Not as safe but oh so much more comfy.

    Cool you guys got Senas. It seems a lot of people are picking them up. I think we'll be buying a set in the spring.

    As far as the politics...... I refuse to watch any of the conventions. I vote and I know who the lesser of two evils is for me, and I don't need to listen to the speeches. Besides I'd probably throw something at the tv they'd make me so mad. Still wonder what Ron will clean next week........

  7. Hi Brandy,

    lol - I've played "musical armor" too. And liners. Seems there's always something that can be modified and improved upon.

    Less of two evils ... so right. And the speech making ... I'm learning many creative ways to say nothing at all. ;)
    Maybe I should make Ron a honey do list :D

  8. Hey Blue when you play the music go on your phone and turn the volume up. Maybe this will work maybe not but I know my blueant headset works this way.
    This guy does some good reviews and gave me some good info--

    1. Hi Jon,
      Thanks I tried it, but it's still quiet. I can hear it, it's just not "rockin' out" loud. :)
      I think it would be too distracting if I had it louder anyway. Thanks for the link, I'll check it out later this evening.

  9. The armour issue seems to run in the motorcycle family. I guess I will have to check out the d30 because I have exactly the same issue with my conventional protectors which, I must say are not comfortable but saved my knee cap once when a piece of debris hit me.

    As for US politics, I rather stick to the Colbert Report for a reality check ;-)

    1. That was the dilemma. They hurt the knees because of the bumps. Because of the bumps I especially wanted my knees covered!

      The D3o is working quite well. My legs are fairly bunched up on the Ninja, but the armor flexes right around with my bent knees.

      +1 on Colbert! ;)

  10. Hi Kari,
    Good choice on the Sena. The clarity is amazing - very happy with mine. I don't use it in bluetooth or MP3 mode as I prefer riding without distractions. However, I use it in VOX mode for comms with trainee IAM riders and it's simply superb. Roger has one too and he's delighted with his too.

  11. Hi Geoff,
    Cool! Always nice to hear a good review. :)