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Gear Review: 55 Collection Hard Jacket

Product: 55 Collection Hard Jacket Made in: Barcelona Cost: €480 (US $510)
It’s likely you’ve never heard of 55 Collection; the Barcelona-based leather goods company is relatively small and has only been on the scene for a few years. So, allow me to introduce you to a company that’s making some of the best-looking and unique motorcycle jackets out there at the moment.

Adopting the “non serviam” nonconformist attitude that seems to run through a lot of Spain’s motorcycling culture (check out the crazy/beautiful custom works of El Solitario MC, for example), 55 Collection’s jackets may split opinion because of the company’s willingness to make jackets that are fashionable – that is to say, jackets that have a strong fashion element. The old dudes will decry hipsterism or some such thing. And indeed, I’ll admit that when company founder Aitor Gonzalez offered me a chance to try out one of his jackets I naturally defaulted to the most conservative of his offeri…

'2-Wheel Conveyances Embracing Alternative Fuel Sources' -- A guest post

The following is a guest post, provided to me by a digital PR company that is trying to sell you something in a clever way. As this blog has grown more popular (thank you!) I have found myself receiving an increasing number of offers of this sort: "Hey, Chris, we've got a great product that we think will really suit the interests of your readers" and so on. My standard reply to such offers is a polite "No thank you."

But in this particular case, I find the content of the article interesting -- alternative energy. Remember that not too long ago I wrote a post about electric motorcycles. And I'm a card-carrying member of the National Trust and the Sierra Club. Plus, as you read this I am still in Scotland and not really able to blog. (Expect several posts related to that trip when I return)

I am not being paid for posting the following content, nor am I receiving any goods/services in exchange. Genuinely, I just find it a bit interesting.


A 2012 American Community Survey found that 864,883 people commute to work via bicycle, a 10 percent increase from 2011. Another study by Transport and Mobility Leuven in Brussels found traffic congestion would be eliminated and carbon emissions substantially reduced if 25 percent of cars on the roads were replaced by motorcycles.

Riding a bike in 2014 is no longer a matter of pedalling to get to your destination, and re-fuelling your motorcycle doesn't necessarily have to take place at Qwik-e-Marts. Alternative fuel sources, along with advances in electric motor technology, have made 2-wheel transportation more versatile and efficient for commuters. Others countries are far ahead of U.S. firms as far as alternative fuels and technology, but riders are taking notice regardless of location.

The Alter Bike

Three French companies, Cycleurope, Pragma Industries and Ventec, came together to develop the first bicycle powered by a hydrogen fuel cell. The Alter Bike uses pedelec (pedal electric cycle) technology, which assists cyclists when traveling in hilly areas that require more leg energy to traverse.

The motor, powered by a combination of a lithium-ion battery and hydrogen fuel cells, balances the power needs so neither source is unnecessarily expended. Gitane, the official brand name of the bike, said the revolutionary fuel source stores the hydrogen in recyclable cans that connect directly to the bike. There is no need to locate a charging station to re-fuel as many electric cars require.

GizMag reports the official launch of Gitane's Alter Bike will be sometime in 2015 for companies, and 2016 for regular consumers.

Compressed Natural Gas

Motorcycles in Buenos Aires, Argentina have been powered by compressed natural gas (CNG) since 2006. It is not only one of the cleanest fossil fuels in existence, but also one of the more efficient. Argentinian bike-maker Zanella, along with Honda, teamed up on the project to produce a special gas tank to hold the fuel.

The technology is compatible with virtually all makes and models of motorcycle. Some new bike accessories might be necessary to make a successful conversion from gasoline to CNG. says the cost of the tank and install is only $300, but additional engine modifications are necessary.

ECOP Rosario, another Argentinian company, started making motorcycles pre-equipped with a CNG tanks in 2009. The company claims a six-fold fuel cost reduction and increased engine life. ECOP Rosario is also considering exporting its technology to other countries.

Toilet Bike Neo

One thing humans will always be able to produce is waste. Japanese plumbing company Toto put this fact to practical use when it developed the Toilet Bike Neo. The 250 cc engine runs on bio-gas, which can be derived from feces, urine, and other organic matter.

Despite its gross-out description, the Neo is environmentally-friendly and even speaks to the rider and plays songs. Toto took the Neo on a 620 mile (1000 km) tour of the country to promote it in 2012.


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