We all love biking, but the one down part about urban motorcycling is the exposure to the elements. Pollution to be exact. We have all been behind a fume spewing bus or truck, or worse still, stuck behind either while waiting for a light to change. We have been there, we know.
And if you are Malaysian or Singaporean, there is the devilish annual haze fest. Millions of acres of forest is annually burnt down in Indonesia, and all that smoke, spills over to us. It does not only make breathing difficult, but simply stepping out is dangerous. Let alone riding a bike.
There are ways around it though.
Meet Respro, a British company that develops masks for almost all uses; anti-pollution and reflective safety gear or race support products. These guys have been in the business since 1993 and lay claim to the title of ‘the original and the best’. And we believe them.
We were shipped three models of Respro masks towards the end of last year, which has given us enough time to test them out. And yes, they work. Though it does take some getting used to, but once all is nice and tight, it just makes sense to wear one while riding.
We were given three models – the ‘bandit’ (our favourite), the ‘City’ and the Foggy anti-fog, breath guard.
Unfortunately there is no dealer for any of these products in Malaysia as yet, but you can buy them online by visiting: www.respro.com
The City anti-pollution mask is arguably one of the meaner looking masks in this trio. It is made of hypo-allergenic Neoprene and is “wrapped” around your head and is held in place by a contoured design.
It may look like just another hardcore looking mask, but it is actually quite intelligent. It features an activated charcoal filter with particle filter liner, a particular matter rating of PM10 and two Techno exhalation valves. The inner filter is replaceable.
It was designed for cyclists, motorcyclists, walking and for those who spend a lot of time outside in polluted areas.
It takes some time to get used to it but once the stretch gets comfortable and the material loosens up, you won’t even notice that it is there.
Price: GBP 26.99 (RM147)
The Bandit Scarf is our personal favourite. It looks great and unlike the City, it does not look very intimidating. You should see the faces of some drivers who suddenly see you next to them in a City mask.
But the Bandit does have its drawbacks. Because it’s a scarf, it requires you to really tie it up tight, or risk the chance of it loosening while riding. It however, works a charm too.
Utilising strategically placed filters, the Bandit scarf screens against nuisance dusts and odours. And because it is made of cotton, it is perfectly comfortable too. There is a drawstring that you can tighten around your chin area to give it a perfect fit.
Unlike the City, the Bandit will eventually expire. According to Respro, the Bandit has been made to last for at least six months, while the filter is fully washable.
Truly one of the better face masks in the market today.
Price: GBP 19.99 (RM108.48)
The Foggy Mask is unique, but we never truly got to test this mask properly. Reason being that it is mostly suited for cold weather riding. Breathing out of it in our humid Malaysian weather was difficult and ultimately tiring.
The Foggy mask works to prevent your visor from fogging up, which can be a major problem for a lot of us. It works first by strapping one end to the inner side of the cheek pad of your helmet, and the other to other inner side of your helmet. According to major reviews and user comments on this product, it is supposed to work excellently. Even ResPro says that it is 99.9% effective.
Sadly it was just too hot to use here, but if you are looking to ride in a cold weather country then this could just be the product for you. It does not require any gel, film and is easy to strap on.
It works for most major helmets like Shoei, Arai, Shark, AGV, Bell, HJC and others.
Price: GBP 19.99 (RM108.48)