Product Report / Testing, Testing, Testing

TWO BROTHERS TITANIUM M2 EXHAUST SYSTEM

APPLICATION: All four-strokes (tested here on 2005 Suzuki RM-Z450)

PRICE: $699.98

RATING: 9

// WHAT IT IS: Two Brothers is recognized as one of the leaders in sport bike high-performance exhaust systems, as well as one of the predominant players in the wildly popular mini market. With the introduction of the all-new M2 titanium systems for full-sized motocross bikes, however, Two Bros. is making an aggressive run at the more established players.

// HITS: The polished titanium header pipe has a unique look in the box and on the shelf, and once it is run on the bike and gets heated up, it turns a beautiful shade of blue that is distinctively different than other titanium systems available. The construction of the unit is second to none, as beautiful welds and high-quality billet parts abound. Our system for the RM-Z450 weighed in at the claimed 4.9 lb. on the dot, and bolted on perfectly in mere minutes. The proprietary V.A.L.E. ring design that fastens the muffler to the mid-pipe allows you to achieve a precision fit on your bike, as it is snugged down into a permanent position only after the rest of the system is mounted up. This allows the system to adapt to bent subframes or production tolerance variations between bikes. One of the things we admire most about the system is its billet aluminum inlet cap, which can be installed or removed from the muffler’s magnesium end cap, depending on the sound restrictions and/or style of power desired. With the inlet cap installed, the bike has a quieter, claimed 101.5 db rating, as well as a smoother, longer-pulling powerband. On hard-packed, slippery courses, we preferred this setting, as it made the bike extra tractable and easy to control. On loamy or tacky surfaces, however, removing the inlet cap allowed the bike to really bark off the bottom and hit much harder than stock. In most racing conditions, we found ourselves leaving the inlet cap out. In this configuration, the throttle response is snappy and immediate, making the RM-Z much feistier than it is in stock form. Power hits hard and pulls long, and signs off at about the same point as it does with the stock system installed. Riders who like to rev their bikes out further in each gear might prefer to have the inlet cap installed, as the bike pulls much further than stock in each gear with it in.

// MISSES: As is the case with any aftermarket four-stroke exhaust system, we don’t really love the extra noise that comes with a freer-breathing pipe and muffler. With the inlet cap out, Two Brothers claims a 104 db rating. Though not nearly as offensive as some systems we’ve tried, we do wish that someone would produce a system with stock-like sound levels.

// THE VERDICT: This is one of the best-built and most versatile four-stroke exhaust systems we’ve tested. Furthermore, unlike some titanium systems we’ve had experience with, the Two Bros. M2 exhaust feels sturdy and bulletproof. A definite winner in our books.

Call 800/211-2767 or visit www.twobros.com

THOR FORCE HELMET

COLORS: Red (shown), blue, alloy, black, white, chrome and Reed replica

PRICE: $269.95 (standard colors); $279.95 (black); $299.95 (chrome and Reed replica)

RATING: 7

// WHAT IT IS: Two years in the making, the Force is Thor’s latest entrant into the motocross helmet arena. Utilizing thick fiberglass, Spectra and Kevlar construction, some of the Force’s key features include the molded air channels in the shell and visor, top and rear exhaust vents, extended rubber roost guard, and the rolled, inward curving eyeport gasket. The helmet exceeds all DOT and Snell standards, and comes with a chrome mouthpiece and attachable stabilizer fin. Thor topped things off with a vented polypropylene visor and a stylish paint job.

// HITS: Right out of the box, we were happy to see that the Thor helmet comes with a solid paint scheme, chrome mouthpiece and optional stabilizer finThe first thing we noticed when riding with the Force is that it does a great job venting air, and was much cooler than several other lids that we have tried. The setup of the foam and liner allow for a lot of cool air to enter the top, which is always a good thing for long motos. The rubber roost guard had us laughing at first, but we have to admit that it does do a great job of stopping stone spray! Another plus of the Force is the style and length of the visor, which allowed for much better visibility and roost protection than some other helmets out there. During one of the last motos of a testing day, one of our riders managed to actually test the Force, taking a shot to the dome from a huge sand whoop. Thor’s helmet held up with flying colors, and the paint job showed a lot of durability, as well.

// MISSES: At first glance, the Force looks more like it belongs to a Power Ranger than a motocrosser. While it is nice to see a company avoiding the Shoei-clone look, Thor probably could have made the helmet a bit sleeker. While the Force does vent air really well, some testers felt that the comfort of the helmet was sacrificed for better airflow. The lid tended to sit rather high on our heads, and this gave some the feeling that it was not seated all the way. The cut of the liner and foam was pretty uncomfortable in spots, and several testers complained that the liner pinched their ears and cheeks too much. Another complaint was that the Force’s big, red rubber roost guard was very difficult to get used to, as it seems to be right in the rider’s line of sight. One of our testers got frustrated and removed the roost guard after a moto, but doing so made the mouthpiece rattle louder than one of Luis’s maracas. We also found that getting certain brands of goggles to fit flush on the Force was rather difficult, as the eyeport did not accommodate large frames very well, and the easy-adjust visor screws stuck out far enough to catch our strap every time we put goggles on.

// THE VERDICT: Overall, the Force is a decent helmet. While the appearance may be an incitement to parody, the uniqueness of the lid can be appreciated. We would recommend that anyone considering buying a Force first try one on, and make sure that your goggles fit comfortably. But if you have a sweaty head, get roosted a lot, or just happen to be the red Power Ranger and are looking for a new helmet, then the Force is for you.

Call 800/369-1000 or visit www.thormx.com

DMC MOTO-TRAINER II LAP TIMER

APPLICATION: All bikes

PRICE: $99.95

RATING: 9

// WHAT IT IS: The Moto-Trainer II Lap Timer is a tool that helps you keep track of your lap times and overall moto length. It straps to your bike’s crossbar pad and is controlled by a single handlebar-mounted button.

// HITS: Unlike other timers we’ve tested, the new Moto-Trainer II is controlled by a single handlebar-mounted button. Different systems had required you to push either a separate button mounted on the timer itself, or to use two handlebar-mounted buttons to start, stop and split the times. It takes only a couple minutes to mount the Moto-Trainer II, and only a quick glance through the instructions to figure out how to use it. Up to 50 lap times can be stored at a time (we don’t know about you, but logging 50 laps to us seems like an impossibility), and the unit can quickly and accurately calculate your average lap time, as well as display your fastest and slowest times within each moto. All you have to do is choose a section of the track in which you are comfortable enough to push a thumb-activated button, which is mounted on the left side of the bars. Then, push it each time that you pass that section of the course. We chose to activate the button in the air, as it is harder to consistently push the button in acceleration bumps.

// MISSES:

Though the Moto-Trainer II lap timer is much more water-resistant than its predecessor, lazy guys like us wish they would create a 100% waterproof unit that can be left on during power-washings.

// THE VERDICT: We use the Moto-Trainer II lap timer to evaluate bikes in shootout comparisons to see if aftermarket parts really make a lap time difference, and to help figure out which lines and jump combinations are the quickest on the track. For testing and practicing, this is an invaluable tool for the serious racer.

Call 661/618-2644 or visit www.diverse-mfg.com

PRO TAPER CONTOUR HANDLEBAR

APPLICATION: All bikes

PRICE: $69.95

RATING: 7.5

// WHAT IT IS: The Contour bar by Pro Taper is an oversized 1 1/8″ handlebar that utilizes Pro Taper’s patented taper wall design, but at a more affordable $69.95 price. The Contour features aerospace 2014 aluminum construction and a shot-peened finish-the same familiar look as the much-loved original Pro Taper by Easton.

// HITS: Though it does not have the same on-track feel as the original Pro Taper by Easton, the Contour bar does yield a ride that is comparable to other oversized handlebars on the market with good flex and vibration absorption. We love the knurled left side of the bar, which makes for secure grip installation, and the 1/4″ cut guide marks make it easy to customize the width of the bars for personal preference. Best of all, however, is the sub-$70 price tag. We’ve crashed several times on our Contour bars (thanks, Swap!) and have found them to be as strong as-if not stronger-and more crash-damage resistant than the Easton originals. We love the new molded crossbar pad that is included with the bars, and the plastic end plugs are a nice touch that help keep dirt out in the event of a crash.

// MISSES: As noted above, the Contour does not have that plush feel that we have come to love Easton Pro Tapers for, and it was easy to tell the difference between the original Pro Taper and Contour bar in back-to-back on-track comparisons. The ride of the Contour can best be compared to that of a Tag Metals T2 or Renthal Fatbar.

// THE VERDICT: For the price, the Contour bar by Pro Taper is a great value and an affordable option for those looking for a great oversized handlebar. If we had our druthers, however, we’d spend the extra coin for the original Pro Taper by Easton, as it is the best handlebar available today.

Call 951/736-5369 or visit www.protaper.com

OAKLEY CROWBAR MX GOGGLES

COLORS: Lemon peel, orange peel, anti freeze, white, jet black, black iridium, matte black

PRICE: $60

RATING: 8.5

// WHAT IT IS: The new Oakley Crowbar goggles are the latest weapon in the war against stone spray. Sporting a new lightweight, flexible O Matter chassis, triple-layer face foam and innovative strap connectors, each Crowbar comes with a removable nose guard, seven tear-offs and a cleaning bag.

// HITS: Compared to most goggles on the market, the Crowbars are extremely well built. Quality parts and construction make this an extremely durable piece of eyewear, from the rigid frame design to the scratchproof lens. We gave our test goggles a thorough thrashing, and they came out looking as good as new. As far as comfort goes, the Crowbars fit securely against your face, and the foam is soft and comfortable. Appearance-wise, we think that Oakley did a great job of making the goggles look stylish and unique, without going too far over the top (get it…over the top?)

// MISSES: We found that the Crowbars fit much better on larger-faced riders, as the frame tended to pull away at the sides on our more petite-featured testers. Also, the nose guard did protect well, but the plastic sides of it worked as a perfect channel to flow dust up to the inside of the frame. We took the guard off after a few motos.

// THE VERDICT: This is a solid pair of goggles. While the price may seem high and the nose guard could be better, the durability, style and comfort are all right on target. If you are a large-faced lad looking for a stout piece of eyewreate a 100% waterproof unit that can be left on during power-washings.

// THE VERDICT: We use the Moto-Trainer II lap timer to evaluate bikes in shootout comparisons to see if aftermarket parts really make a lap time difference, and to help figure out which lines and jump combinations are the quickest on the track. For testing and practicing, this is an invaluable tool for the serious racer.

Call 661/618-2644 or visit www.diverse-mfg.com

PRO TAPER CONTOUR HANDLEBAR

APPLICATION: All bikes

PRICE: $69.95

RATING: 7.5

// WHAT IT IS: The Contour bar by Pro Taper is an oversized 1 1/8″ handlebar that utilizes Pro Taper’s patented taper wall design, but at a more affordable $69.95 price. The Contour features aerospace 2014 aluminum construction and a shot-peened finish-the same familiar look as the much-loved original Pro Taper by Easton.

// HITS: Though it does not have the same on-track feel as the original Pro Taper by Easton, the Contour bar does yield a ride that is comparable to other oversized handlebars on the market with good flex and vibration absorption. We love the knurled left side of the bar, which makes for secure grip installation, and the 1/4″ cut guide marks make it easy to customize the width of the bars for personal preference. Best of all, however, is the sub-$70 price tag. We’ve crashed several times on our Contour bars (thanks, Swap!) and have found them to be as strong as-if not stronger-and more crash-damage resistant than the Easton originals. We love the new molded crossbar pad that is included with the bars, and the plastic end plugs are a nice touch that help keep dirt out in the event of a crash.

// MISSES: As noted above, the Contour does not have that plush feel that we have come to love Easton Pro Tapers for, and it was easy to tell the difference between the original Pro Taper and Contour bar in back-to-back on-track comparisons. The ride of the Contour can best be compared to that of a Tag Metals T2 or Renthal Fatbar.

// THE VERDICT: For the price, the Contour bar by Pro Taper is a great value and an affordable option for those looking for a great oversized handlebar. If we had our druthers, however, we’d spend the extra coin for the original Pro Taper by Easton, as it is the best handlebar available today.

Call 951/736-5369 or visit www.protaper.com

OAKLEY CROWBAR MX GOGGLES

COLORS: Lemon peel, orange peel, anti freeze, white, jet black, black iridium, matte black

PRICE: $60

RATING: 8.5

// WHAT IT IS: The new Oakley Crowbar goggles are the latest weapon in the war against stone spray. Sporting a new lightweight, flexible O Matter chassis, triple-layer face foam and innovative strap connectors, each Crowbar comes with a removable nose guard, seven tear-offs and a cleaning bag.

// HITS: Compared to most goggles on the market, the Crowbars are extremely well built. Quality parts and construction make this an extremely durable piece of eyewear, from the rigid frame design to the scratchproof lens. We gave our test goggles a thorough thrashing, and they came out looking as good as new. As far as comfort goes, the Crowbars fit securely against your face, and the foam is soft and comfortable. Appearance-wise, we think that Oakley did a great job of making the goggles look stylish and unique, without going too far over the top (get it…over the top?)

// MISSES: We found that the Crowbars fit much better on larger-faced riders, as the frame tended to pull away at the sides on our more petite-featured testers. Also, the nose guard did protect well, but the plastic sides of it worked as a perfect channel to flow dust up to the inside of the frame. We took the guard off after a few motos.

// THE VERDICT: This is a solid pair of goggles. While the price may seem high and the nose guard could be better, the durability, style and comfort are all right on target. If you are a large-faced lad looking for a stout piece of eyewear, the Oakley Crowbars are definitely worth a shot.

Call 949/ 951-0091 or visit www.oakley.com

MX VS. ATV UNLEASHED

APPLICATION: PlayStation 2, Xbox

PRICE: $49.95

RATING: 9

// WHAT IT IS: MX vs. ATV Unleashed is THQ’s fresh new moto game. Combining two of their most popular racing titles, MX vs. ATV allows players to race bikes against quads in a wide variety of gaming venues. The game features brand-new tracks and innovative challenges, as well as a slew of new machines and events to ride. Online gameplay is also available, for game weenies lacking social skills.

// HITS: Much like THQ’s previous racing titles, MX vs. ATV is a killer all-around game. As fans of both the quads and bikes, we liked being able to switch between the two. The graphics are solid, the controls are easy and smooth, and the wide variety of tracks and events kept the TransWorld office lit up for hours. The music in MX vs. ATV is much more tolerable than in previous games, and the online feature is a huge hit with serious gamers.

// MISSES: If anything, THQ went over the top with MX vs. ATV! Even though there are dozens of different venues, we always kept coming back to the same fun Supercross tracks. The huge selection of events was almost overwhelming, and the different machines (helicopters, golf carts, etc.) were only good for a quick laugh. And while we found the dirt bike vs. quad action to be cool, racing the two against each other was slightly annoying, due to the hard-to-pass quads and easier-to-crash bikes.

// THE VERDICT: If you are a fan of either MX Unleashed or ATV Fury, you will love this game. With so many options to choose from, MX vs. ATV will keep your thumbs fluttering for quite a while, and is definitely a worthy addition to any moto fan’s collection. Just don’t forget to go ride the real bike every now and again!

See your local gaming retailer or visit www.mxvsatv.com

eyewear, the Oakley Crowbars are definitely worth a shot.

Call 949/ 951-0091 or visit www.oakley.com

MX VS. ATV UNLEASHED

APPLICATION: PlayStation 2, Xbox

PRICE: $49.95

RATING: 9

// WHAT IT IS: MX vs. ATV Unleashed is THQ’s fresh new moto game. Combining two of their most popular racing titles, MX vs. ATV allows players to race bikes against quads in a wide variety of gaming venues. The game features brand-new tracks and innovative challenges, as well as a slew of new machines and events to ride. Online gameplay is also available, for game weenies lacking social skills.

// HITS: Much like THQ’s previous racing titles, MX vs. ATV is a killer all-around game. As fans of both the quads and bikes, we liked being able to switch between the two. The graphics are solid, the controls are easy and smooth, and the wide variety of tracks and events kept the TransWorld office lit up for hours. The music in MX vs. ATV is much more tolerable than in previous games, and the online feature is a huge hit with serious gamers.

// MISSES: If anything, THQ went over the top with MX vs. ATV! Even though there are dozens of different venues, we always kept coming back to the same fun Supercross tracks. The huge selection of events was almost overwhelming, and the different machines (helicopters, golf carts, etc.) were only good for a quick laugh. And while we found the dirt bike vs. quad action to be cool, racing the two against each other was slightly annoying, due to the hard-to-pass quads and easier-to-crash bikes.

// THE VERDICT: If you are a fan of either MX Unleashed or ATV Fury, you will love this game. With so many options to choose from, MX vs. ATV will keep your thumbs fluttering for quite a while, and is definitely a worthy addition to any moto fan’s collection. Just don’t forget to go ride the real bike every now and again!

See your local gaming retailer or visit www.mxvsatv.com