Easy Rollers – Bridgestone Battlecruise H50 Tire Review

Bridgestone Battlecruise H50 Tire Review (Brian J. Nelson Photo)

Bridgestone Battlecruise H50 Tire Review (Brian J. Nelson Photo)

By Tyler Greenblatt – No matter how much money we may like to spend on our bikes, there might be no expense as important as that spent on the handful of square inches that actually makes contact with the ground. Not only do your tires allow for your motorcycle to actually roll down the road, but they provide an excellent opportunity to extend and enhance your ride.

I recently had the opportunity to test Bridgestone’s new Battlecruise H50 tire designed specifically for American V-twins. While some tire companies brag about extreme mileage capabilities or sticky canyon carving performance, the Battlecruise does both exceptionally well in its attempt to simply be the ultimate American cruiser tire.

Creating the Battlecruise H50 started back at Bridgestone headquarters using the Ultimate-EYE (U-EYE), a high-tech testing facility that’s part of the Bridgestone Research and Development Group. The Battlecruise is only Bridgetstone’s second tire to go through the advanced U-EYE process, meaning we’ll probably see more and more from Bridgestone down the road. U-EYE essentially measures all sorts of real-world figures that matter not only to the engineers but to the riders actually running the tire. Developers can better understand a variety of features to see how a tire tread reacts to various speeds and conditions, and they can also better target the optimal combination of compound, tread design, construction, and tire profile. U-EYE can also track contact patch pressure distribution at various speeds, loads, and slip angles to ensure the greatest amount of contact as often as possible.

When it comes to a tire’s performance, either on the highway or on the track, one of the biggest factors is the contact patch and how the motorcycle’s weight is distributed. Since American V-twins tend to have a greater weight distribution between front and rear tires (among other differences) than most other types of motorcycles, Bridgestone developed specific front and rear tires. The Battlecruise rear tire has a larger crown profile which increases the size of the contact patch and improves load distribution, while a newly developed compound extends mileage drastically. The front tire was built in similar fashion, with the emphasis on cornering and handling ability and reducing force required to maneuver.

Bridgestone Battlecruise H50 Tire Review

AIM Garage Editor Tyler Greenblatt said his biggest takeaway from testing the Battlecruise on a Softail Slim was that it provides a noticeably smooth ride.

Bridgestone claims that its front tires require 40 percent less operating force than its “main competitor.” Especially when it comes to stock Harleys, a set of tires can play a big role in shock absorption and vibration damping, and Bridgestone had that in mind when developing the Battlecruise. By placing strategic reinforcement on the carcass and envelope of the tire, developers targeted the appropriate balance of heavyweight, long-lasting rigidity and comfortable shock absorption. The goal is to make a long ride that much more comfortable, because for some people being able to go an extra 50-100 miles is the difference between camping for the night on the side of the road or at the Buffalo Chip.

Okay, but how does the Battlecruise perform in real-world riding, far from the high-tech laboratory? Even on a short ride, the Battlecruise advantage is clear. Low rolling resistance, light turn-in, and confident outer tread grip are the hallmarks of the H50 and some of the most important aspects of a heavyweight cruiser tire. Additionally, wet grip performance remains a key factor, and although Bridgestone has the science to back it up, our group wasn’t able to test this function in sunny Orlando, Florida.

My biggest takeaway from testing the Battlecruise on a Softail Slim was that it provides a noticeably smooth ride. Tiny pebbles and imperfections in the road had no repercussions through the bike, and low-speed maneuverability was also noticeably easy. And while each potential customer gets to decide if the looks of the tire work on his bike, I was pretty pleased with the appearance on my open-tire Slim test bike.

Bridgestone has released a bunch of front and rear tire sizes for a variety of Harley, Indian, and Victory cruisers and plans to release even more to cover baggers next year. AIM





Like what you see? Find this article in American Iron Magazine Issue # 347 along with features on Blings’ Custom Indian, Team American Iron’s 1915 Harley Daytona Racer and a review on the 2017 Sportster Low! To order a back issue of this or any other issue of American Iron Magazine, please visit Greaserag.com.
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Roland Sands Design Mojave Boots Review

RSD Mojave Boots Review

RSD Mojave Boots Review

From building ground-up customs to designing hot-selling aftermarket parts to stitching together a wide range of apparel, the Roland Sands Design portfolio is as multi-faceted as you’ll find in this industry. But up until August, somehow a good set of motorcycle boots weren’t on that list. This changed with the release of the Roland Sands Design Mojave Boots, leather lace-up riding boots that look like a solid pair of work boots. No sooner did they hit the shelves than a pair arrived in the office and since then they’ve been on my feet every time I hop in the saddle.

The exterior of the RSD Mojave Boots are top grain leather that are reinforced in both the toe box and heels. The boots are made up of a patchwork of panels including one to protect against the wear and tear of shift levers which have a habit of thinning the fastest. Many of the leather panels are triple stitched and we had to look hard to find one frayed stitch after four months of wear as overall construction is solid. The Mojaves are almost two inches taller than comparable boots from Alpinestars and TCX I’ve tested, thus providing more ankle support and a bit more protection. The top opens up wide and the laces are long and don’t have to be undone in order to slip the boots on, the process facilitated by a convenient leather pull tab.

Inside the RSD Mojave’s have a padded, removable insole. There’s also a nice layer of padding surrounding the ankle. The top portion of the tongue is padded as well, all making for a comfortable fit that doesn’t require much break-in. The boots have a porous moisture-wicking polyester liner that is supposed to be waterproof as well. Fair-weather riding means we haven’t had to test this claim but we’re sure that opportunity will soon present itself because the rainy season is upon us in my neck of the woods.

The Mojaves have a Vibram sole with a uniform tread pattern front to back. RSD states the outsoles are oil and chemical resistant. While traction hasn’t been a problem manhandling big cruisers and tourers in and out of parking spots, the material the soles are made of is a little soft and the tread pattern is wearing thin fairly quick.

Roland has an eye for design and this extends to the styling of the RSD Mojave Boots as well. A true barometer is the number of people who’ve asked about them, which have been plenty. Rugged like a pair of work boots, they’re stylish enough to sport for a night out on the town with the Ms. Thanks to its combination of a padded insole and pliable leather the Mojaves are comfy enough to stomp around in day and night.

Considering this is the first footwear RSD has produced, they nailed it. The Mojave Boots rate high in comfort, style and durability. Between the thick leather and reinforced areas RSD’s riding boots provide ample protection, too. Available in four colors – Black, Grey, Oxblood and Whiskey, and priced at $300, they’re built solidly enough to easily get your money’s worth out of them.

Rockin' the 2017 Fat Bob in RSD Mojave Boots

Considering it’s RSD’s first foray into footwear, we’re impressed with the style, comfort and construction of their Mojave Boots.

Indian Scout Genuine Leather Saddlebags Review

Indian Scout Genuine Leather Saddlebags review

Between the revvy nature of its engine and low-slung stance, the Indian Scout is a solid everyday solo rider. But every now and then, a rider could use a little extra storage space for running errands around town or when traveling longer distances. Indian offers a solution with its easy-on, easy-off Genuine Leather Saddlebags for the Scout.

2016 Indian Scout with Genuine Leather Saddlebags

When it’s time to go exploring on the Scout, the leather saddlebags are a welcome addition.

When we say easy, we mean it. Indian has made installation as painless as possible because there’s already two mounting points in the Scout’s stock rear fender. Simply remove the two hex bolts on the side of the fender, screw the mounting spools into their place, and slide the posts on the back of the saddlebags into the holes on the spools. Then open up the bag, flip the latch down to secure it, and you’re good to go. The only time you’ll need a tool is during the initial installation to remove the hex bolt and to tighten down the ones in the center of the mounting spools. After that, removing the bags is as easy as flipping up the latches and pulling them off. The mount isn’t oversized so it doesn’t detract from the look of the bike without the bag. They do stick out about an inch-and-a-half but it only takes a few minutes to take them off and replace them with the stock bolts which sit flush on the fender.

The mounting spools for the Scout's leather saddlebags bolt right in to preexisting holes.

The mounting spools for the Scout’s leather saddlebags bolt right in to preexisting holes.

The factory Scout saddlebags feature a plastic shell interior while the outside is wrapped in weather-resistant leather. Using hard plastic for the inside helps the bags maintain shape. We’ll vouch for its ability to keep contents dry after getting caught in a couple of summer time storms. On the exterior, the tan leather and dual buckles give the bags a vintage look, as do a couple of shiny Indian headdress medallions. The metal buckles and leather straps are just for show as the real latching system comes in the form of a plastic clasp and nylon strap hidden underneath them. The plastic clasp is quick and convenient to use. There’s also snaps at the front and back of the lid to ensure it doesn’t blow open once a rider’s up to speed.

Indian Scout saddlebags plastic clasp

Beneath the leather strap and buckle of the Scout saddlebags is a plastic clasp and nylon strap that expedites access.

At 4 inches, the Scout Genuine Leather Saddlebags aren’t overly wide. Lengthwise, you’ve got 16 inches to work with. The bottom of the bags are contoured slightly in order to provide a little space between them and the pipes. They’re the perfect size to stuff a riding jacket in and have been useful for carrying cameras and GoPro’s for photo shoots. They’re big enough to hold enough stuff for an overnighter but not big enough for a multi-day trip. There’s also no way to lock them to protect your valuables.

Indian Scout saddlebag latch

Once the mounting spools are in place, removing the Scout’s leather saddlebags is as easy as flipping this latch up and pulling them off.

The Genuine Leather Saddlebags are available in Desert Tan or Black for $999.99 and come with a one-year warranty. The traditional styling complements the Scout well and they rate high for being easy to install and remove. The one hitch is you have to purchase the mounting spools separately for $149.99. Considering the bags already cost a grand you’d think they’d be bundled into the overall package. Granted, they’re not cheap, but the cost becomes easier to swallow every time a rider doesn’t have to throw on a backpack for runs to the store or long day rides.

Indian Motorcycles headdress medallion

Indian headdress medallions add a little style to the factory accessory leather saddlebags.

Alpinestars Riffs Denim Pants Review

The heft of Alpinestars Riffs Denim Pants is a good indicator of their solid construction. They’d easily tip the scales on a pair of Levis. The tight weave of the 98% cotton outer shell makes for a durable denim. The pants are made up of several panels, all double-stitched together tightly. To help make them comfy when seated they’ve got stretchy accordion panels, one in the back just below the waistline along with ones right above the knees.

In addition to well-woven denim, the Alpinestars Riffs Denim Pants have a layer of aramid fiber fabric in the butt and hips for added protection. The knees also have an extra layer of aramid fiber stitched into them, these layers a blend of 60% polyester and 40% aramidic fiber. These high strength fibers are man-made and like Kevlar are used in ballistic-rated body armor. The extra layers are strategically placed in high impact areas. The A-Star Riffs also have CE-certified knee armor that stay in place well thanks to stitched-in mesh pockets. The final layer of protection comes in the form of removable, 5mm-thick hip pads with Velcro attachments. All of the armor needs to be removed for washing, but Alpinestars recommends washing the pants inside out anyways, so it’s no hassle removing them.

Alpinestars Riffs Denim Pants Review

Alpinestars’ Riffs are the first denim pants I’ve tested that have two zippered vents with mesh liners in the thighs, a welcome addition when riding on 100 degree days. Another beneficial feature are small zippers at the bottom of each leg so riders can expand the circumference in case a rider wears big boots. The pants also come with Velcro cuffs at the base so riders can further tailor the fit.

The pants have four pockets, two front, two back, all a little more than hand-deep in size. All four zipper up to protect valuable items like wallets and cell phones. The pants have belt loops like a standard set of jeans, a personal preference, along with a zippered front. The Alpinestars Riffs are pre-shaped, again something you don’t frequently see in denim pants. Team this with their accordion panels and you’ve got a comfortable set of riding pants.

What impresses me most about the Riffs are how well they’re made, from the materials used to construction. After months of wear, there’s no loose stitching and the denim has barely faded. Granted, I don’t wash them after every single ride because there’s no need. One tip though – order them a size larger than normal to ensure a proper fit. At $299.95, they cost more than the average pair of denim riding pants, but their quality construction and extra layers of protection warrant the cost in my book as the Alpinestars Riffs Denim Pants have been a vital part of my summertime gear bag.

Alpinestars Riffs Review

The Alpinestars Riffs Denim Pants have stood up well to a summer of riding.

Harley Downtube Bag for Sportsters/Dynas Review

While our 2004 Sportster XL1200C project bike has served us well, it’s always good to have a few basic tools with you when you ride for those unpredictable roadside emergencies. And while we wished we could bring a few along, we’ve spent a lot of time hot roddin’ the Sporty up and didn’t want anything big and bulky detracting from its racy disposition. We found a solution in Harley’s Downtube Bag (Item #93300044 – $149.95) for Sportsters and Dynas.

Harley Downtube Bag for Sporsters

The Harley Downtube Bag is small and indiscreet but will hold enough tools to help get you through a jam.

The bag itself is 10-inches long and 4-inches deep. The back plate is hard plastic while the rest of it is leather. It has two exterior buckles that are more for show as the main storage compartment has a zipper, too, to ensure your tools don’t go tumbling down the road when you hit the bumpy stuff. Overall the storage compartment is fairly small, so make sure you grab the sockets you use most frequently because there’s only enough room for the essentials. The maximum recommended load is five pounds.

While the kit came with an assortment of hardware so it can be mounted on Dynas and XLs, all we needed for installation on the 2004 Sportster XL1200C were four bolts, two nuts, and two mounting brackets. A drill is required though to punch holes in the back of the bag to run the bolts through. At first we wondered why it didn’t come pre-drilled from the factory but then realized it mounts up differently depending on whether it’s a Dyna or Sportster and whether or not the motorcycle has engine guards.

Harley Downtube Bag for Sportsters and Dynas

The backplate of the Downtube bag has to be drilled out to run the bolts through the mounting bracket because it fits both Dynas and XLs. Luckily, the hole locations are already marked.

Of course, the drill bits Harley suggested using are off-sizes, 13/32 and 9/32. Those bits cost $10 a-piece at our local hardware store, so we used the 3/8 and 5/16 bits we already had in our toolbox instead and manually made the hole’s circumference a little bigger so the bolts would fit. With the holes drilled, we lined up the first mounting bracket on the exterior of the back of the bag and inserted two button head bolts. Then we opened up the bag and inserted the second mounting bracket, lining it up with the two button head bolts that were already in place. Those two bolts were secured into place from the inside with two locking nuts tightened down to 60 in-lb. Next we pushed two hex head bolts through the upper holes of the inner mounting bracket so the ends were sticking out the back. One of the holes didn’t line up perfectly even though we drilled exactly on the pre-designated spot, so we had to widen it just a touch. We added a couple drops of Loctite to the bolts then screwed them in to holes in the lower frame crossmember, tightening them down to the recommended 25 – 35 lb-ft. Done in less than 15 minutes.

Harley Downtube-Bag-Max-Load-5-Lbs

The maximum recommended load for the Harley Downtube Bag is five pounds.

We like that the downtube bag sits low and is indiscreet. Sitting right behind the front tire, it’s going to get filthy. Luckily, Harley included a little leather conditioner in the kit. Having a handful of tools and a roll of duct tape at our disposal when we ride definitely adds a little peace of mind.

Harley-Davidson Downtube Bag for XL/Dynas $149.95

Harley-Davidson Downtube Bag for XL/Dynas $149.95

Harbor Freight Pittsburgh Motorcycle Lift

Pittsburgh-motorcycle-liftPRODUCT REVIEW by Matt Kopec
Tired of kneeling every time you perform routine maintenance, or have a bike project that’s sitting so low you’d rather put it off than spend another day lying on that cold cement floor? Lucky for us, Harbor Freight has an economical solution for the home do-it-yourselfer, the Pittsburgh 1,000-pound capacity motorcycle lift (#68892/$429).

This lift consists of a diamond plate steel platform and all-steel frame. It operates via a hydraulic foot pump, so no air compressor or power source is required. You can raise your ride to a max height of 29-1/2″ or use the integrated leg lock to safely adjust the height at various levels in between. Casters on all four corners allow you to move the lift easily even when your bike’s strapped onto it. Retract the front casters and the lift stays put. A removable diamond plate steel ramp provides easy access to the work platform. Just make sure the front casters are retracted before you roll your bike on.

A 7″-wide tire stop keeps your bike from rolling off the lift and an adjustable tire chock keeps the bike in place.

U-hooks on both sides of the work platform, front and back, allow straps (not included) to be attached. Use them!

Overall this Pittsburgh Motorcycle Lift works great. It’s a solid, economical way to get your bike projects off the garage floor. Unless, of course, you prefer to work harder not smarter. If so, I recommend a good pair of knee pads and some strong painkillers. AIM

Sources, Harbor Freight, HarborFreight.com

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New Harley Rider: Smart Gear Tips From American Iron Magazine

When you first start riding a motorcycle many new riders are not sure where to turn for advice on the best gear to buy and use, especially on a Harley. The editors of American Iron Magazine, the world’s best selling Harley magazine, and Motorcycle Bagger, have a simple list of best riding gear for new riders of Harley motorcycles.

Motorcycle Helmet.

    We are not going to go into the discussion of helmet laws, but rather focus on what is available and the pros and cons of your motorcycle helmet choices. The first rule on motorcycle helmets is buy a new one. No matter what the quality when new, a motorcycle helmet has a limited life and then the become less effective in the case of impact or other serious accident. Also make sure you buy a DOT approved helmet and not a cheaper, less protective “novelty” helmet. Helmets come in full, 3/4 and half helmet designs. The full helmet will be the most expensive and heaviest option, but it will offer the best protection from the weather, road debris and impact.

    Motorcycle Boots.

      Yes, you can wear any kind of over the ankle boot for protection when riding your Harley motorcycle. The American Iron Magazine Harley editors recommend wearing a high quality over-the-ankle boot that is comfortable to wear and has a strong rubber sole that will not slip on wet road surfaces.

      Motorcycle Jacket.

    Once again, you have many choices in a good motorcycle riding jacket. These include traditional leather or lighter, high-tech fabric. And colors are a personal choice. Whatever you chose make sure it is comfortable and covers you arms all the way past the wrists, and is long enough to protect your waist (front and back). The choice or protective body armor is up to you. In some motorcycle jackets this is available at the elbows, shoulders and spine.

    Motorcycle Gloves.

      You can use any kind of full finger gloves (we do not recommend fingerless riding gloves) when riding your Harley. Ideally, you need to make sure they are comfortable, especially when gripping the handlebars. They come in choice of leather or textile, and in short (to the wrist) or gauntlet in light, medium and heavy weights. Many experienced motorcycle riders carry more than one set of gloves on the road so they can swap them out based on thew temperature or weather conditions (wet or dry).

      Motorcycle Raingear.