The ZLA Awards Committee (a fancy name for some guys sitting around talking shop) underwent a change in the Parts Subcommittee for 2016.
Spurg and Lemmy are still deep in the trenches, testing bike bits and bobs, but this year they’re joined by Rob Kirkpatrick. Rob’s a Dirt Catalog Specialist for RevZilla, and brings a wealth of off-road knowledge inside the walls. Each of our judges wants to tell you about an award-winner and another personal favorite that just missed making the list.
“Howdy, this is” Lemmy
Harley Media Lead
2016’s Best Accessory is one I felt pretty good about. I’ve been working on bikes since I was 16 or so, and after all that time, 2016 was the year I finally popped for a set of paddock stands: the ZLA Award-winning Trackside stands. I spent my own money on them and I was delighted. We didn't have a front stand in the ZLA shop, so I actually first used them on the house Yamaha YZF-R6, before using them on my personal bike. For the money, I don’t think you can beat these. They work flawlessly, they have a durable powdercoat finish, and a set of front and rears won’t break the bank. They’re not perfect. The welds, for instance, are not artwork, but they’re functional. I’m not hosting an art auction, I am changing tires.
One unsung hero for me this year was the Duro Median tire. Specifically, the HF904, which is a rear, was a big winner: It’s a 16-inch knobby. That is a lifesaver for someone on a Harley who wants that off-road look without lacing up a hoop in a different size. We used one on our Sporty project this summer, and I was suitably impressed. Unless you’re looking into something really ‘spensive, like an Allstate Dirtman, this is a really good tire for pretty reasonable money. I had the devil of a time giving H-D and metric cruiser owners a product choice in this category, and thanks to our merchandising wizards here at RevZilla, I now have a great product to recommend to our customers. I still can’t believe it got beaten out for the ZLA Award. I demand a recount!
I only wish I had more awards to give out.
Spurgeon “enjoy the ride” Dunbar
Metric Media Lead
As I talked about in my mirrors article, when it comes to safety, being able to to clearly see what’s happening around you is critical. But what happens when you can’t see out of your mirrors? One of the most ubiquitous complaints on so many of the bikes that Lem and I ride is an inability to actually see anything in the mirrors. CRG Lanesplitters are my go-to recommendation for solving this problem.
While CRG has a few different flavors to choose from, the ZLA Award-winning Lanesplitter mirrors are my personal favorites. They fold in, thus reducing the chance of damage to the mirrors or the bike. If you live in California, Europe or some other lanesplitting-friendly location, you can fold them in to narrow the width of the motorcycle and make it easy to navigate through traffic. Plus, if you do manage to damage the glass, CRG offers a rebuild kit to fix the damaged mirror.
Not only do CRGs clean up the look of the bike, but they also offer an optical clarity that usually surpasses that of the OEM options that come with your bike. A rubber-mounted gasket behind the glass reduces vibration, allowing riders a clear view of what is happening behind them.
Shifting gears, I want to talk protection. If you’ve read any of my documented exploits on my Triumph Tiger 800 XCx over the past year, you know that I have a tendency to take a tumble from time to time. While AltRider crash protection isn’t new to RevZilla, this past year I put my AltRider crash bars to the test and they never let me down. I am very fond of these crash bars, which is why they made my list.
There are a lot of options out there to protect your large ADV bikes. I chose AltRider because the construction and style struck me as being a step ahead of most. They put countless hours of R&D into determining the best mounting points on the bike’s chassis. The joints are five-axis laser cut and precision-fit in a jig before being TIG welded by hand. Also, stainless steel is used in the construction, so you don’t have to worry about rust when multiple crashes wears through the finish.
A final factor to consider is that AltRider’s products are designed and manufactured in America by riders. Owner Jeremy LeBreton is extremely active in the ADV community, hosting rides and seminars across the country. AltRider protection helps to ensure you’ll bring your bike home in one piece.
Rob “Dirt Champion” Kirkpatrick
Dirt Catalog Specialist
If you ride off-road a lot, odds are wonderful you know at least a handful of people who rock a Rekluse clutch. If you follow the proper maintenance schedule, today's off-road bikes can be incredibly durable straight from the factory. However, one of the things that can feel less than fresh after as little as a year of serious riding are stock clutch plates. Many riders opt to improve the durability and performance of the entire system by replacing the entire clutch, from the clutch basket to the pressure plate.
This is where Rekluse’s innovative technology comes into play. Rekluse offers both traditional manual and auto clutch kits. The traditional manual clutch kit dramatically enhances torque capacity, while the world-renowned and now ZLA Award-winning auto clutch kits allow you to start and stop in gear without ever having to touch your clutch lever.
While I admit it does take some time to get used to, the benefits of the centrifugal auto clutch system in racing applications are so great it almost seems like cheating. Gone are the days of stalling in low-speed technical corners or losing time caused by a missed shift. The improvements in traction, controllability and riding confidence are obvious at the first twist of the throttle. The quality and craftsmanship are second to none, and by offering clutch kits for just about every popular off-road and adventure bike on the market today, Rekluse earns a ZLA Award.
If you’ve ever competed in any type of off-road motorcycle race, you most likely have a mental pre-ride checklist of things to hit before you head out for the staging area. That list can immediately get cut in half the second you show up late and you quickly find yourself in a panic, shuffling through the glove box for a pen to fill out the entry form while you unload your bike and inhale a gas station breakfast. Before you know it, your class is called to the line and you’re not even done putting your boots on. If you ever find yourself in this situation, at the very least, you should always take the time to check your chain tension, tire pressure, fuel level, and suspension sag. Assuring your sag is properly set is one of the most crucial steps in setting up your suspension and greatly affects the handling of your bike.
The Slacker Digital Sag Scale makes the frustrating task of checking your sag fast and easy. It allows you to accurately measure race sag by yourself in seconds and eliminates any excuses you might have to not check it. The tool could not be easier to operate thanks to the simple design and remote LCD screen, which is backlit for use in low light. Simply place the digital scale onto the center of your axle, where it is held in place with a very strong magnet. Use the supplied cable to find the proper arch of your swingarm in relation to your side number plate, and attach the clamp and measuring cord to this location. Turn the Slacker Scale on and you are ready to measure. The price, convenience, and universal design make the Slacker a highly recommended addition to any toolbox in my book.
If you’re not familiar with these products, it’s worth checking some of them out, as well as the rest of our ZLA Award winners. We loved these products through 2016, and we’re betting you will, too.