Common Tread

2016 ZLA Awards: Parts and accessories

Nov 16, 2016

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.

Paddock stands
Trackside's paddock stands are easy to use, well designed, sturdy, and affordable. RevZilla photo.

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.

AltRider crash bars are thoughtfully designed and well executed. RevZilla photo.

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.

Rekluse clutch kit
The Rekluse auto clutch works so well it's almost like cheating. RevZilla photo.

​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.

Sag scale
Here's Rob's bike, ready to have its sag measured and set. Not having to rely on someone to help makes this job a lot simpler. Photo by Rob Kirkpatrick.

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.