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Latest content

Vance & Hince 2-1 UpSweep Exhaust Review

Customs Customs Customs

Vance and Hines 2-1 Upsweep Exhaust Pipe System Review

How it started

I’m pretty sure Vance and Hines have a solid role to play in me actually buying a Harley. Honestly! I went to my local dealer to take a bike out for a test ride; I had no intention to buy, I just missed the Harley vibe I’d first discovered in Texas. And that was it, the sound the power, and I was hooked. The bike I took was a DYNA Street Bob with a Stage 1 upgrade. This means it had the Screaming Eagle intake, retune and of course the stunning V&H ShortShots. Oh wow, they made a sound that just reached deep into my soul and told me I needed this bike in my life. Let’s just say the rest is history and now I own Thug my Street Bob.

I ran these pipes for a few years before discovering the temptation of the 2-1 Upsweep   …I figured it would be rude not to give them a go!

So how do I rate them?

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Performance

In a sentence – oh boy do these pipes pull!! Definitely a noticeable improvement.

There are loads of pipes out there, and there’s a long list of differing effects varying pipe styles can have on power. So before you pick pipes you should think about what sort of riding you do most – i.e. what RPM range do you ride at most consistently. For me, just to be a little awkward to this theory, I do a range of riding; town, winding country roads, highway, long trips, short trips, high speed, low speed, and overtaking. I really do a mix. This leaves me ultimately needing a pipe system that can perform under a wide range of pressures. Introducing the Vance and Hines 2-1 Upsweep, which has magically been created to cater for the mixed riding demands of people like me.

So where does the 2:1 fit in? With the Vance and Hines 2-1 Upsweep, they work by having a single system collector that does a very good scavenging job on gasses and reducing reversion or pulses. This means you’re getting improved pull between the cylinders during the intake and exhaust valve cycles resulting in a cleaner charge of air into the cylinder and better combustion. Better combustion means more pressure, which means more low-end power. Plus, you’re combining this with shorter pipes, which are known for their top end power; giving you a far broader power brand and greater performance output.

  • Better gas scavenging
  • Cleaner air change within the cylinder heads
  • Better combustion

But how do they sound?

These babies give a beautiful deep and throaty note in a way that is just so perfect. They’re loud but not obnoxious like some; the sound is just beautiful. When you open the throttle: the raw, the power, the grunt forward is truly incredible. Coming from my ShortShots, which I thought sounded incredible; these take the sounds to the next level. More refined, more enjoyable, just flawless refinement. Put these on your bike, and you’ll be falling in love with something you didn’t know you could love even more.

Hear it for yourself…the moment I first heard them:

For those who don’t like a head turning sound…V&H do offer an optional quiet baffle. But that’s enough on that.

Factor all these together and boy do you have a machine that pulls and turns heads!

Look & Styling

2:1 pipes have had some bad stick over the years; however, Vance and Hines have cracked it with the Upsweeps. They’re slick, sexy but also chunky. They demand attention and stand proudly on your ride. They come with a matt effect [like mine] or in chrome for those who like the shiny look [far too much polishing for me]. The detailing on the pipes includes an embossed V&H emblem. I miss the little bling logo the ShortShots have, but these pipes make up for it 10 times over in all other areas.

Top notch looks from my opinion!

Build Quality

Anything that comes from Vance and Hines, from my experience, comes with their superb build quality. A brand doesn’t get to their level of prestige without producing the quality kit. I gave my pipes a very thorough look-over before installing them, and I couldn’t find a fault on them. Pristine! Everything you would expect for putting on your ride.

Also, anything that includes the description ‘machine billeted’ gets me excited! That’s talking about the end cap.

The best way to clean ceramic painted  pipes is with hot soapy water and a gentle cloth! The perfect combination of a cleaning session on the rest of the bike.

The only thing I would say on maintenance, and this is on all ceramic painted matt black pipes, you’ve got to be careful not to rub your foot on them as you ride. On my last pipes, I made a little guard to prevent me rubbing the black off. So far the riding position with the new pipes means I don’t actually rest my heel on them [but it’s my bad hip side], so I might add one simply because I like the custom look of a plate [and it’s an excuse to get the angle grinder out. Its’ definitely not needed.

Ease of Installation

Okay. I’ll be honest; I didn’t actually fit these ones. But when a legend like Charlie Stockwell offers to install your pipes [read about the day here] you don’t turn it down.

I was there with him when he fitted them, and including all the messing around with me distracting him, it didn’t take more than 1 hour to remove the old pipes, give the engine areas now accessible a clean, and fit the new pipes.

It’s a very simple system, and I would say you don’t need to be a mechanic to fit them.

Please note that due to the change in pipes I did need a re-tune, this was done using the Vance and Hines FP3 Fuel Pak via my iPhone. For more on the FP3, please see my review.

Crowd Reaction

Head turners. Definitely. I’ve had a lot of attention, people hear the lush sound and just can’t help themselves. I’d also say that as they’re quite a new pipe to the market, there is an extra level of interest with people wanting to know more, understand what they are, the performance impact and for me to start her up again. Always willing to give her rev.

There’s something about the unique sound of these pipes that just seem to give people pleasure. From the buddy riding next to me, the couple on the pavement or the car next to me. They’re pleasures.

£££

Pricing for the 2-1 Upsweep from Vance and Hines is on the higher end of the pipe market; ultimately if you can stretch to the price, I honestly don’t think you’ll ever have any regrets

Highlights

  1. Head turners
  2. Improved pony power [aka more horse power]
  3. Look lush, sound lush

Tips From Experience

  • Get them on your bike
  • That’s it…

Overall Rating

Fantastic all-around high-performance pipe system with great looks, fantastic sounds and what most important, improved performance.

Latest content

Crusher Performance Maverick Air Cleaner Intake Review

Customs Customs Customs

Crusher Performance Maverick Air Cleaner Intake Review

How it startedCrusher Performance logo

I often find myself drawn towards big mean shiny looking things.

Kind of like how a magpie homes in on items glistening in the sun. And I guess that’s exactly where it started with the Crusher Performance Maverick air cleaner! It’s big, it’s bold, and it shines. Plus, from my experience, Crusher Performance, part of the MAG Europe custom family, is a lesser known brand over here in England. This ultimately means when you rock up with their kit you get an extra level of intrigue from others as they’re racking their brain to work out who it’s by. I love that. For me, Crusher was a perfect fit, something slightly different, something that demands attention while stepping away from the main-stream look.

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Performance

This heavy-breathing air cleaner is designed for engines with pony power up to 150hp and from its core is designed to deliver the power you’ve been hungering for. The design factors a high-flow curved entry to the throttle body, tuned for optimum performance.

I’ve got it combined with some 2-1 UpSweep Vance and Hines pipes and the FP3 FuelPak and as a pair ‘boy do they rock’. I never feel my engine struggling for power.

In terms of the filter, Crusher has worked with K&N, one of the ultimate global brands for filters, to design high-flow filter element that’s washable and reusable. So you’ll be set for years.

Improved intake. Improved performance.

Sorry, California guys, it looks like your emissions mean you can’t get this in the State! Come to England and buy it.

Look & Styling

With a forged premium grade billet aluminium finish, this intake has a very aggressive look. Its bevelled design combines satin matt black looks, stainless steel mesh inserts with brushed stainless. What I love is how Crusher has specifically designed it to ensure all the mounting points are out of sight too. The centre mount is concealed by the sexy Crusher badge, which dominates across the middle. For me, the balance between the ‘oh so trendy’ matt look and the eye-popping chrome is just right. The intake looks poised and demands interest.

The intake is available in satin mat like mine or chrome for those who like some extra bling. It’s also probably worth mentioning that the Maverick air cleaner is the latest addition to Crusher’s flagship Maverick range which includes exhaust components and heavy-breathing air cleaners.

Build Quality

The intake feels high- quality, with its beautifully forged aluminium to the attention to detail on invisible mounting points. Crusher have also teamed up with K&N who have a resounding reputation for high quality filters, which to me gives it an extra stamp of approval.

Superb piece of kit.

Ease of InstallationInstallation of Crusher Performance Maverick air intake Harley Davidson StreetBob

I genuinely think anyone could install this; even someone with no history is able to do any form of bike maintenance or of mechanics. The kit comes with clear and detailed instructions providing a step by step guide to installing. For me, it probably took 15 minutes to remove my old one, clean the area whilst it was off and bolt on the Crusher Performance Maverick.  The only disadvantage was the absence of torque values for the mounting bolts.

Crowd Reaction

It actually amazed me how much attention this beast has had on my Street Bob. I frequently get people eyeing her up and asking specifically who the intake air cleaner is by – it’s rather satisfying. For my Street Bob, it’s a thing of beauty. The curves of the tank, the flow of my 2-1 UpSweep Vance and Hines pipes, the light popping on the vinyl wrap. Beautiful! And then you have the air intake, boom; aggressive, balanced, and commanding attention. Perfect.

£££

Priced on the higher end of the market, you’re paying for the aggressive looks, highly refined air flow and head-turning implications of having something outside of the mainstream.

Highlights

  1. Aggressive looks
  2. Simplistic design
  3. Killer sound and air flow

Tips from Experience

  • When installing, pay careful attention to the backing plates and the order for fitting – I managed to miss one and had to remove it and start again. Smooth…
  • Remember to consider whether your bike will need re-tuning to ensure the fuel metering system is set for optimum performance on changing the intake. Risks of not tuning could be to the detriment of items such as your O2 sensors.

Overall Rating

Refined yet aggressive beauty combined with raw power. Certainly not one for the faint-hearted.

Latest content

Vance and Hines FP3 Fuelpak Review

Customs Customs Customs

Vance and Hines FP3 Fuelpak Tuning System Review

How it started

My decision to get the FP3 over my original Screaming Eagle tuner most likely comes down to a meercat, like interest in new technology and my love for analysing things. The thought of being able to mount my iPhone on the handlebars [I have a nifty little mount from Roam Accessories] and being able to watch all the performance telemetry was just mind-blowing.  We all know Harley Davidson’s don’t give the most holistic info on the centre console, and here was a product promising me a view of the inner performance of my machine. The draw when I open the throttle in numbers (Not sure what you mean), the analysis of fuel performance, and of course, the ability to refine the tuning without the cost associated with a garage tune-up,  or the need for expensive computer software  and wiring harnesses; I was sold.  A benefit I’ve not yet explored is the ability to fault-diagnose using this tool; the ability to view live engine parameters will certainly speed up investigations in future.

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Performance

Ultimately the FP3 does exactly what it’s sold to do. You can select the tuning desired, specifying your bike, and the configuration of exhaust and air intake you are running.  This can be done by selecting the manufacturer and model of  the system you have, and it does the rest for you. It’s designed to allow you to fully utilise the performance potential of your machine by tuning it to precision.

The app software is always utilising the most up to date information within the Vance and Hines database and reacting correctly.

Mr. Vance and Hines, from what I’ve heard, are rather particular and detail focused guys and making sure the tuning is absolutely spot on is something they’ve nailed. The database is kept current and rest assured that whatever system you’re running you will be able to tune it successfully.

The pre-set tuning options are all for higher performance items, for example, the Crusher Performance air intake. However, it is possible to tune with stock items too. For example, you’ve upgraded your pipes but not your intake. Here you need to use the Auto-tune feature; you plug it in, turn it on and ride. The system will then monitor all the sensors, tuning as your ride, and let you know once it’s done. It’s magic. If for any reason, you can’t ride long enough for this to complete you can shut down and continue next time. This feature, of course, requires you to keep the unit attached while riding.

The auto-tuned feature also provides you with another layer or precision tuning for specific requirements, such as unique components [maybe you’ve got custom made pipes], or different grades of fuel.  This setting utilises all the factory sensors to find the optimum set up, all very cool!

Some fields you can change are front and rear spark advance, air-fuel ratio, front and rear cylinder VE, Acceleration and Deceleration enrichment/Enleanment [aka pop], idle RPM, rev limit and ACR (automatic compression release).

One of my favourites is the ability to adjust the deceleration pop. For me, I absolutely love the pop from excess fuel in the pipes igniting, however for those wanting slightly more civilised sounds you can reduce this. Or of course, increase it as I did! Pop pop pop!

It’s worth noting that, as with all tuning systems, it will only work on one machine. The fuel pack will link to your VIN and can thus only be used on an individual bike.

Look & Styling

As a tiny plug-in device it will fit within your battery case and be invisible. Or you can plug in, tune and remove it. I like having it plugged in as the monitoring gauges are sweet for visuals when you’re riding along. That’s the inner geek in me.

Build Quality

It’s Vance and Hines. It’s spot on!

Ease of Installation

You plug it into your machine, download the app and connect via Bluetooth, and you’re away. The app provides a list of all the custom parts you could tune to, or you can opt for the auto-tuned option and let the factory sensors do the work for you.

It’s a pretty new product to market, and while Vance and Hines have a comprehensive FAQ section on their website, there doesn’t seem to be extensive user guide yet.  But in all honesty, I don’t think you’ll need it. The systems are super intuitive, really user-friendly and ultimately, easy to use. Yeah, it will take you a few minutes to figure your way around the app, but that’s pretty standard.

Crowd Reaction

Being able to show your engine stats on your iphone is pretty unique. It’s a nice little conversation topic. Plus, its ace being able to tune for the type of riding you’re doing or simply crank up the sounds for head turning.

Ultimately though, no one will know you have an FP3 Fuelpak unless you tell them.

£££

You’re looking at around £250-£300. It’s an essential if you’re upgrading parts of your system so why go with the hold when you can have the latest Smartphone tech. The extra money you spend buying it over others available, you’ll save in the ability to re-tune yourself without having to go to the dealer.

Highlights

  1. Simplistic, user-friendly interface
  2. On the go monitoring gauges
  3. Negates the need for a dealer to retune

Tips from Experience

  • If your phone doesn’t see the Fuelpak immediately try unplugging it and restarting your Bluetooth
  • Finding space for it can be tricky on some models, if so, pop it on, tune and then remove it
  • Keep the FuelPak safe; it’s only usable on your ride once paired as you can use it in the future to diagnose and tune

Overall Rating

Compared to the market, the Fuelpak FP3’s ability to refine individual changes directly on your iPhone, the simplicity of its use, the magical auto-tune capability and of course the Vance and Hines reputation behind it, made it a nobrainer for me.

Latest content

Protective Heat Shield

I can do it, you can do it! DIY ‘Do It Yourself’ – for the Bike

Protective Heat Shield

How it started

Fitted heat shield to leather panniers Harley Davidson Street Bob
Fitted heat shield

I have a set of beautiful Harley Davidson panniers [similar to these] and with my former pipes, Vance and Hines ShortShots, which point horizontally backwards, they were all good. However, I decided to upgrade to the new 2-1 UpSweep pipes.

Everything was fine until a few rides in when I realised that my new UpSweep pipes, the clue’s in the name…yup, they point directly at my beautiful panniers! I’d successfully, in just a few trips managed to melt the bottom, thankfully nothing too dramatic, still totally functional and visually perfect from the outside.

But at this point I’m faced with three options;

  1. I either remove my panniers and live with a rucksack
  2. I remove my pipes, or
  3. I figure out a way to protect my panniers from the beastly pipes

Anyone that knows about my accident history will know that I’ve had a full reconstruction of my right shoulder and so carrying a loaded rucksack isn’t an option. Plus anyone attuned to riding will know that carrying a rucksack isn’t very pleasurable anyway, so that’s number one out! Oh and getting rid of the pipes, definitely NOT an option.

Poor melted pannier

It left me with finding a way to deflect the heat from the pannier in a cost-effective and efficient way as re-positioning the pipes or panniers definitely wasn’t an option.

I swiftly came to the conclusion that a metal plate spaced from the surface of the leather to allow air flow cooling was going to be easiest. There are loads of options online for plates but it came to me the everyday random DIY use checker plate would be readily available, and I know the local hardware store, ScrewFix sells aluminium checker plate. Cost effective, easy to source, and when it comes to heat conduction aluminium is a pretty poor conductor compared to many metals. Stainless steel would be the dream but the work intensity would increase due to its rock-hard qualities – hard as steel is a valid statement – plus it’s a pretty good conductor so it would likely end up in a scolding hot shield.

I got my idea; all I needed to do was make it! Here’s how I did it

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Tools Needed

  • Aluminium checker plate
  • Disk Cutter [protective glasses, gloves, mask & ear defenders]
    • Metal cutting blade
    • Metal sanding blade
  • Drill with
    • Screwdriver head [match your bolts]
    • Metal drill bits in 3 sizes [small, medium, and large – large being size required for desired bolts]
  • Nuts and Bolts [I used 3x 8mm]
  • Washers [for use as spacers – I used 4 per bolt]
  • Spanner
  • Vice or Clamp
  • Hammer
  • Wood scrap for use hammering
  • Cardboard and sharpie

The Recipe

Make a cardboard template

  1. While pannier is attached, mark pannier where centre, top and bottom of pipe exhaust hits
  2. Remove pannier and make a template plate using cardboard to ensure the areas marked are covered with excess on either side. At this point think about the look you want to achieve, do you want curves, swooping lines, aggressive edges, or even a funky shape? Get it right in cardboard before you crack on
  3. Cut out cardboard template and mark where the folds will be required
  4. Test template on pannier until you’re completely satisfied with the shape and position, and be aware of where the bolts will go – you might want it to be a fraction larger to align with an existing pot rivet that can be drilled out, you can utilise holes and avoid adding holes that will affect its structural integrity.

Cut Aluminium

  1. Transpose template onto your aluminium plate, be sure you’ve got it the right way up
  2. Use disk cutter to cut out the shape and then the sanding disk to smooth
    and curve the edges to remove any sharp points. Remember to wear your safety gear!
  3. Align plate on panniers and confirm it’s right, then mark where you need your folds – if you must do a curved fold like mine cut a triangle out on the bend to enable the fold to happen in two parts [or more if needed]

Fold aluminium plate

  1. Aluminium is a super soft metal, and so with a firm hand, you can literally manipulate it. Pincer the aluminium in your vice and then, using cardboard to prevent scratches, position a piece of wood on the folding edge. Gradually apply consistent force across the full fold line, using a hammer if needed. The ideal is making the whole fold in one, so it’s a continuous line, avoid doing a bit at a time.
  2. Hold up your new plate to the panniers and continue to adjust the fold until you,re happy with the result
  3. You’re now ready to attach it

Attach your new heat shield

  1. Align your shield and mark where the bolts will go, do one bolt at a time
  2. Drill your first hole. When drilling aluminium always start with a small drill bit to minimises jumping and ensure accuracy, then switch to a medium size head, before finally drilling to the diameter of your chosen bolts – I used 8mm
  3. Align your hole with the pannier and drill your pannier using the same gradual method
  4. Put a bolt through your new holes with washers between the pannier and plate – this will provide the gap needed for heat disbursement. I used 4 washers
  5. Once you’ve got one bolt through you can then mark through the inside of the pannier out to where you need to drill the next aluminium hole. Doing one at a time ensures they’ll always align
  6. Repeat the process until you feel your plate is secured. I used three, top, middle and bottom

Test Heat Shield works

    1. Refit your panniers with their sexy new plate, turn on your bike and check if the exhaust is hitting the centre of your plate if it’s not you probably need to start again
    2. Go for a ride and check the plate and internal pannier temperature afterwards. If it’s cool, then your work is done! Mission success

Mission success

  1. Step back and enjoy, you now have

Time Required

2 hours

Ease of Completion

Simple cutting, shaping and bolting. Low skill set required.

If you’ve used a disk cutter before; then, this is a pretty easy task, no special skills needed. If you’ve not used one; just have a little practice on a scrap first, still a totally manageable DIY job for a newbie.

Crowd Reaction

Amazingly positive! I half anticipated stick for keeping my panniers and not just getting rid. However, it seems my fellow bikers are practical fellows. I’ve had a lot of comments that the panniers even look better on the plate and I should make one for the other side. Definitely a hit with the crowd, nothing fancy but simple and practical, it scores points.

£££

Super cheap! About £15 for the checker plate and I had a few bolts hanging about.

Highlights

  1. Saves the life of my panniers
  2. Workable solution for protective plates
  3. Looks ace

Tips from Experience

  • Drill your aluminium gradually, small drill bit, medium and finally bolt size to ensure accuracy and prevent jumping
  • Utilise any existing bolts or pot rivets on the panniers, drill them out and reuse where possible
  • The plate could be used to protect other areas of your bike, such as a tank, pannier, heel guard.

Overall Rating

A simple home fix to allow pipes and panniers to live in harmony, and it actually looks sick too. Winner.

Remember, I’m an account director in marketing…not a mechanic or engineer…so if

I can do it. You can do it!

Give it a go and give me a shout if you have any questions.

Latest content

Draggin Jeans Kevlar Motorcycle Jeans Review

Draggin Jeans Kevlar Motorcycle Jeans Review

How it started

Draggin Jeans Logo Kevlar reinforced jeans and clothing

I discovered Draggin in 2015. It was during my post-accident, and I was starting to commute to work during periods between operations when my body was able, and so I wanted something I could ride in but also wear in the office, out for dinner, be in normal life; having to change to get on the bike sucks. Something I thought was an impossible combination. But then I found Draggin in our local Blade Group dealer <link>, and the rest is history as they say. I now have three pairs of different looks, blue, dark blue and black, and I can rock up, get off my bike and not look like a biker in massive bike trousers. I wanted to look ‘normal,’ casual; it’s the ultimate look for the Harley too; safety without the safety look.

So how do I rate them?

Please hit follow on Instagram @thegirlonabike and Facebook

Safety

For me, this is really where Draggin Jeans stand out. They’ve been making motorcycle clothing since 1997; I was a wee kid back then! And, more importantly, they were actually the first casual motorcycle brand in the world to have ever passed the Certified European [CE] Level 1 and CE Level 2 certifications for Abrasion, Burst and Tear resistance. That’s a tested transmitted force up to 18 kN! Blimey. Now for me, that makes me feel protected!  [more on CE ratings here].

If you have any doubts, check out the below video. What better way for a brand to show their trust and confidence in their products; than by dragging someone down a runway in them! Secretly one day I’m hoping I can work with Draggin and do a video like this with me! I trust them that much – hint Draggin.

There are definitely loads of Kevlar jeans out there, but I feel Draggin have gone one step further with their latest kit. In the Draggin Twista jean, they have added a soft knitted lining made of Dyneema which is the world’s strongest fibre and DuPoint Kevlar covering the major crash zones. The lining takes advantage of Dyneema‘s amazing strength, which is 40% stronger than Kevlar and 15X stronger than steel! And they even have the option of extra pads for additional impact protection. For me, safety comes first, and these stats and features give me confidence.

Look & Styling

They literally look like normal jeans. Their earlier pairs had seam lines where the Kevlar was stitched in. However, the new kit doesn’t even have that. I’ve had many comments about me riding in ‘just jeans’, and it’s so unbelievably satisfying when you can turn around and say, ‘actually these are Dyneema Kevlar with a CE level 1 rating!’ Boom!

They have a range of designs, colour and styles. If you want skinny, baggy, boot cut, you name it, and I’m confident they’ll have them. Check them out Draggin Jeans.

Photos by Victoria Bowers

Ride Comfort

I’m not sure how they’ve managed it, but these jeans are just like normal jeans. Yes, they’re a little thicker due to the Dyneema and Kevlar. However, they have loads of flex, they hug the body, bend and stretch as you move. There are no worries about bending down to pick things up! I frequently wear them all day in the office simply because I can, and changing is such a pain! They’re that comfy.

If I go away on the bike, I tend to literally only take my Draggin jeans, plus some shorts if the weather allows.

It’s also worth noting that some of their newer kits come with a sports liner, which makes them breathable and ideal for year-round riding. Cosy in the winter and breathable in the summer.

Limitations

I’m clutching at straws here…

  • Not waterproof but what jean is… I simply carry a small pair of waterproof over trousers if there is any rain risk. Easy!
  • Draggin doesn’t do Dyneema Kevlar shirts yet – fingers crossed they might start.

£$€

 They’re definitely on the pricey side for jeans, but remember these are not just jeans. These are highly protective high-quality motorcycle trousers, compare their price to some leathers or other dedicated focus bike trousers, and suddenly they don’t look expensive.

Remember, you get what you pay for. Buy cheap Kevlar, and you’ll get cheap Kevlar.

Highlights

  1. Highly protective
  2. Super comfortable and flexible
  3. Look awesome, like normal jeans

Tips from Experience

  • Squeeze into the smallest pair you can. Given the nature of the fabric, they stretch; so you want to buy small and then when they give they’ll be the perfect fit.
  • Be gentle when washing, follow their instructions, and they’ll last for years

Overall Rating

Must have for any motor biker’s wardrobe.