XT660R Heaven

XT660R Heaven
Life on the road is fab...

Friday, 14 March 2014

Clothing & Equipment

OK so here are some of the bits of gear we're taking on the trip...

Starting at the head & working down...

Helmets - We both bought the Wulfsport Prima 2 lids. They fit pretty well, have a full face visor & an internal sun visor which after using goggles in the cold weather over here we decided against very quickly, plus they are better for the road bits of the trip. These lids were £50 & £9 postage off good ole Ebay, we put them straight on & just rode... easy as that!

We add to them a set of blue tooth intercoms that were recommended by my brother in law, Mark.
They're pretty good for the short distance chat about directions, pee stops etc. Their downside is you can't turn off the humming sound Geoff makes as he rides along or my mad giggle every now & then, they work on line of sight, so if you go round a corner or there is a big truck in the way, the signal can be blocked. We found they worked upto 50mph, then the wind noise in these helmets became too much for them. That said the earpieces need to be better sited inside the lids as currently they crush your ears a bit. But for the price they are pretty good & should do us well for the trip. We can recharge them via the USB charger on the bikes so very little in the way of wires & no batteries to change. They cost us £60 for the two & took about 10 mins to fit & about 1 hour to charge.

Next comes the Jacket & Trouser combo... I've had an old Spada Jacket for a few years now, its nice & comfortable so I'm taking that, for trousers I normally wear leather jeans, but they would be way to hot for this so opted for some fabric ones instead, I had an old pair of Akito trousers in the loft that I've never worn, they do suit this type of riding really well though! So there is some cash saved for fuel instead!. - Update on the trousers, I broke the zip & they leaked around the crotch area in heavy rain so will have to go shopping I guess!! Bugger... I've actually decided to upgrade both the jacket & trousers now as I found a couple of really good deals on Ebay... so I bought a Spada touring jacket for £30 & some Goretex pants for £20, the jacket fits much better than my old one & is just a better quality garment. The Goretex in the trousers should be a better quality waterproofing, but we'll see, (In my experience Goretex leaks as fast as any other 'waterproof' membrane it just cost a lot more when you buy it new.).
Warning: Geeky moment - There are two types of waterproofing used in motorcycle clothing, membranes & coatings, the coatings are like a thin film of paint sprayed onto the inside face of any fabric, then the item is manufactured & any seams are taped with a special tape applied most of the time under heat. Membranes are like a very fine plastic bag, they are often bonded to the inside face fabric of any garment & again the seams are taped over similar to the coatings. 
Both have pros & cons as to their effectiveness under certain conditions, both are 'breathable', often the coating is more breathable as there are no layers of bonding glue to hold it to the fabric & so it can be lighter too, the membranes are generally more 'waterproof' (ie they have a higher hydrostatic head measurement that the coatings - look this up on Google, it's a very sciency way of measuring waterproofness). Old membranes last much longer than the newer versions, but were less breathable & heavier than the current crop of 'modern' stuff. In general you pay more for membranes as they are more expensive to manufacture & they have huge investment costs in development.

Gloves will come in 3 different ones, leather winter ones from Bikers Paradise in Coventry, they make them in the UK & they are a lovely old couple to boot, I've had three pairs now, all excellent. They are the Stealth Winter Glove, I also want a light weight set of armoured gloved for those warm days, so I'm going to look at their Cruiser summer glove, that looks good... I'll also take my motocross gloves as these are really lightweight & dexterous...

Boots were the Forma Adventure boot, these are waterproof, lightweight & very comfortable from the moment I put them on. The sole has really good traction in mud & on rock & they easy to change gear with... they're well tested now!!

I bought these from a local shop in Kenilworth  whilst I was down visiting family, the guy was cool in the shop but then massively overcharged me on the boots, needless to say I haven't been back since, especially as I found out he'd done the same thing to 2 of my friends on multiple occasions!! sheister.com I reckon...

Forma Adventure Boots

For the Pannier Set Up we opted for soft panniers for this trip..

Geoff has a pair of Oxford Panniers that he likes well & a 70 litre dry bag that he bought off Ebay & is very proud of, it's a good piece of kit & should keep his gear nice n dry through those river crossings in Tennessee!

Geoff's Oxford Panniers
I have a pair I designed & had made a few years ago for an old RRW Fireblade I used to own. I did around 60 thousand miles on that bike, mostly with a set of these panniers on it, they worked excellently & Aiguille Equipment in Stavely who actually stitched them together for me did a great job.

At the time I had 10 sets made, sold about 7 to friends etc & kept the rest for my use. I have 2 sets left now & one of them is going on this trip along with my little top bag made by Mountain Equipment. It's a duffle bag of around 40 litres in pack size, it sheds rain really well & takes a fair bit of abuse from the various straps & bits I attach to it. I can also use it as a day bag getting onto the plane etc. Very versatile little bag this!

Panniers & Top Bag set up
The one thing that both of us are struggling to find is a decent little tank bag for the XT. The tank is quite an awkward shape for a bag to sit on it, so it needs to be small with a piece of clear vinyl that we can pop a map behind but at the same time big enough to take a phone, wallet etc... we want to also pop little things in there to charge as we ride, not found anything as yet, so keep looking, if we can't find anything I may well just try to make something, watch this space!!