Riding Gear & Clothing
We are started this trip with relatively new flip front helmets – a Shoei Neo (N) and a Shuberth ‘C3 Pro Woman’ (M). These helmets are much noisier than full face equivalents but have the bonus of integrated tinted visors and the ability to flip the chin piece, useful for taking photographs without removing your helmet and also for exposing your face to strangers. We also noticed that the plastic chin guard does seem to attenuate road noise making it painful to wear ear-plugs. While the Shoei has been very comfortable as expected from this manufacturer, Maggie’s Schuberth sadly began to break and fall apart over the first few months of the trip. The tab on the tinted visor broke first, meaning this had to be raised and lowered by pulling on it inside the helmet. Then the end caps that hold the neck retaining ring started to crack up so the neck ring kept falling out. Finally one of the clear visor release mechanisms fell out and we had to hold the visor open using tape. We contacted Schuberth who honoured the five year warranty and replaced all the defective parts in Singapore so a big thumbs up for some excellent customer service but disappointing that the breakages occurred in the first place.
Communications (Sena S20):
At long last the Autocom Pro-Sport system that we used on the Pan-American has been consigned to the bin. We were really fed up with replacing expensive leads that seem vulnerable to moisture intake; not a good thing on a bike. We asked Autocom to get us a working system based on what we had previously used but this just did not work out (ask me about it some time).
Over the years we have had a number of custom-made and expensive earplugs with built in speakers that plug into the intercom / GPS. Invariably, through use and handing, there comes the day when one of the speaker wires disconnects and you are left with some very expensive ear-plugs. We have found that normal ear-bud type speakers are just as good and a lot cheaper / easier to replace so use some Skull-Candy buds that cost about £20 – 40.
Selection of what to wear whilst riding the bike is one of the biggest and most important choices in preparing for the trip. Given that you can expect to encounter all ranges of climate, even in one day, whatever you wear has to be comfortable, durable whilst offering adequate protection against the elements. We had some excellent kit on the Pan-American trip but as that was over ten years ago most of this has been replaced.
Maggie: Hein Gericke TRG Goretex Suit. Another great piece of kit from HG. Also carrying a Spada mesh jacket for hot climes, which has performed superbly.
Norman: The Hein Gericke Tuareg that I wore on the Pan-American was an utterly superb piece of kit. It remained reasonably waterproof throughout its life and was very comfortable to wear. However age was telling and the liner had become a little frayed and when the zips started to go it was time for a new model in my life… I’d looked at expensive jackets like Rukka and Touratech costing for some models well over £1000 but none of them seemed to warrant that amount of expenditure. Enter the RST Pro Series Adventure 2 Jacket in silver / black, which at just under £300 didn’t exactly break the bank but it did tick all the right boxes. There are 3-layers to the jacket; the outer shell with the armour and then separate waterproof and thermal inners. it has a little ‘bum flap’ strap that joins the rear of the jacket to the front passing in between your legs. The Tuareg had this and I wouldn’t buy a jacket without one; the strap holds the jacket firmly down around your bum and hips, stopping it riding up your torso over time in the saddle and letting the draft in. The RST has a lot of air vents and has been an awesome jacket in the hot Asian climates. Best jacket ever!
Maggie has a pair of TCX Infinity boots and Norman has a pair of snazzy brown Forma Adventure WP boots. Both boot types are very comfortable to wear with Gore-tex lining so should be waterproof. Both types are made in Romania where there seems to be a huge bike boot factory
Although our riding-suits are Gore-Tex and therefore supposedly waterproof we never quite trusted textiles for motorcycling applications, especially on a trip like this of such long duration. Given that the waterproof layer is in the linings of these suits, the clothing material itself gets soaked and that can make you very cold. For this reason we both carried one-piece nylon oversuits that we used on all our previous trips. These are light, small to pack and relatively easy to put on & take off and make an excellent wind/thermal barrier if it suddenly gets cold and you don’t want to pull the bike apart to get at a thermal liner that you haven’t worn for weeks and is buried somewhere in the deep recesses of a pannier.
We both mostly wear lightweight leather gloves using the BMW heated handlebar grips on the 650’s when it gets a little cool. Nothing special here – Norms are Alpinestars lightweight leather gloves and Mags are BMF cheapies. The Alpinestars fell apart in the tropical heat / damp and were replaced in Singapore by some rather snazzy Japanese Komine textile / kevlar / armoured gloves. We retained the Hein Gericke ‘Pathan’ lobster claw waterproof / thermal mitts for bad / cold weather (they were real life-savers in Alaska).
We both use heated vests for riding in cold weather. ‘What wooses!’ you might say but when you are immersed in a very cold climate on a bike you are fighting a losing battle with heat loss, which affects both comfort and concentration. The only way to regain that heat is to stop and seek warm shelter or take on some hot food and drink. With heated vests we found that they replace some of the lost heat
Norman is using an EXO Stormrider which has so far been excellent – see www.exo2.co.uk – and Maggie has a Keis X-30 Ladies Body Warmer – see www.keisapparel.co.uk. Both are powered from the bike and keep us toasty-warm.
Day to Day Clothing
What to wear, what to wear? Our basic wardrobe each consists of:
- 3 t-shirts
- 2 travel shirts
- 1 fleece
- 1 feather lined padded jacket
- 2 pairs of lightweight trousers, one with zip-legs that convert into shorts
- 1 fleecy hat
- 1 set thermal silk undies
- 1 lightweight Gore-Tex hiking jacket
- 1 pair hiking boots
- 1 pair sandals
T-Shirts – wear’em, wash’em, clean-the-bike-with’em and buy the odd new one as you go along! Shirts and trousers come from Mountain Hardware, North Cape etc. A little expensive but durable (last longer so are more economical) and most importantly dry out quickly both when you get wet and when you wash them.