The Wonderful World Of Widgets

A rundown of some of the new product highlights and lowlights worth sharing.

We get a lot of new product press releases at Ride Texas Magazine. Manufacturers are looking for a published review of their latest and greatest, new and exciting fill-in-the-blank. If we come across a product that looks useful or interesting and can be used in the course of a motorcycle road trip, we’ll request a test sample. But most new product press releases that roll in are just not news. I’ve lost count of how many versions there are of things like the "Throttle Rocker" concept, wicking T-shirts and those little plastic circles to put under your kickstand. Here’s a rundown of some of the new product highlights and lowlights worth sharing.

Creepiest Widgets

Sneaky Leaker: It’s exactly what the name implies. Same idea as a diaper, but less clean-up (for the rider, anyway). Once "installed" (I don’t want to think about it too much), it allows the rider to urinate via a tube that is routed inside the pant leg and out the end, near the boot. Word of advice: Do not ride behind anyone with a tube hanging out of his/her pant leg. I can hear the theme song now (with apologies to Steppenwolf):

Get your motor runnin’ — heading down the highway.
Not looking for a bathroom — ’cause I’m peeing down my damn leg.
Yeah, darlin’ gonna make it happen — hit the world with a urine spray …

I could go on, but you get the idea.

Vibe Rider: For those who think sitting on a seat two inches from a running internal combustion engine isn’t enough vibration, you have the Vibe Rider. The man who buys this for his girlfriend admits too much about his own, err … inadequacies, "If I can’t make you happy, perhaps my Road King can?" Yikes!

Funniest Widgets

Harley soap-on-a-rope: Quite literally, little cruiser motorcycle soaps on ropes. Not an officially licensed product from The Motor Company, and I doubt if it’s still available, but you have to admire the originality of the idea. Smells like motor oil when wet? Okay, not really, but that would be cool.

Anti-Monkey Butt Powder: Nobody wants a case of monkey butt. Could it simply be repackaged Gold Bond medicated powder or plain old corn starch? Sure, but who cares? The creators get credit for coming up with a novel name that sticks in your head. People spend a lot of time and money on expensive advertising agencies to come up with a name that’s "sticky." "Anti-Monkey Butt Powder" is indeed sticky.

Coolest Widgets

Security Mesh: I’d seen "pacsafe" security mesh backpacks and bags for hikers in the outdoor sports equipment stores. I thought, "What a great idea." I was surprised to then get a product press release about the company’s new line of motorcycle mesh security gear. They now offer a locking helmet bag, tank bag and tail bag — all with integrated steel mesh. This is in addition to their cool "exomesh", back pack, duffle bag and myriad of other travel security products. I would think these would sell well in urban markets where theft of helmets and other small items from motorcycles is common. For more information about pacsafe, visit them online at www.pac-safe.com or call (800)873-9415.

Locking Carabiner: Carabiners are quickly becoming the workhorse widget of motorcycle travelers. They clip almost anywhere and some are rated to withstand hundreds of pounds of force. They’re handy for clipping this to that — like your helmet to your frame. Their major flaw has been that they’re not secure, and anyone can come unclip what you’ve clipped. But where there is a problem, there is always a solution — how about a carabiner with a combination lock? Problem solved. Great idea. Bison Designs in Colorado sells a model called Gear Lock that retails for $8. Hope you’re stocking carabiners as an impulse item at your checkout and/or parts counter. For more information about Bison’s full line of carabiners, visit www.bisondesigns.com or call (303) 678-9911.

Portable Weather Radio: On the road, sometimes you lose track of the real world. That’s part of the joy of a motorcycle trip. But if you live in a region of the country that’s prone to volatile weather, like everywhere in the U.S., a weather radio is a no-frills, just-the-facts way to get the weather forecast direct from robotic voices at NOAA. My portable weather radio is the WEATHERONE brand, but there are quite a few brands available at different price points. It’s a good item to stock in your travel accessories section — you do have a travel section in your store, don’t you? Weather widgets are cool … now where did I leave my pocket barometer?

First-Aid Kits: The folks at Rider Wearhouse have created motorcycle-specific first-aid kits that are compact, yet filled with useful emergency items. All riders should be encouraged to carry at least a minimal first aid kit, and it’s essential for traveling riders to do so. To see what Rider Wearhouse has put together, check out their first aid kits online at www.riderwearhouse.com.

More power to all of the entrepreneurs and small business visionaries who are out there trying something new and even not-so-new. Success often comes hard and only after many missteps and failures. To those who have the persistence to get up, brush themselves off and try again, success will come.

Today’s Monkey Butt is tomorrow’s Every rider has to have one idea and we’ll all wonder how we survived without it.

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