O’Neal Element Boots

My new boots! I bought these O’Neal Elements for my birthday. They are so comfortable and I really like the way they look. The rating was pretty good for these, which are not as hardcore as MX boots, but better suited to an ADV/Enduro type bike, which sounds good to me! They are quite a bit stiffer than my Gaerne boots and I had to adjust my shift pedal up a notch but it’s not too difficult to get through the gears.

Wear Eye Protection

I was driving my Odyssey to work this morning when a rock (one that presumably fell off a trailer in the other lane ahead of me) hit the windshield and took out a 1cm chunk of glass. Imagine if that would have hit a motorcyclist’s eye? Even with sunglasses, I’m sure that would have done quite a bit of damage. Which is another reason I wear a helmet with face shield. Be safe!

New Summer Gloves

I bought a pair of summer gloves to replace my old Motoboss gloves. Motoboss is (was?) the CycleGear house brand, and it seemed fitting to replace them with the new house brand, BILT. Turns out that the Women’s Blazer gloves fit so nicely, looked pretty good, and were the right price ($14.99) that I bought them without a second thought. The durability is somewhat suspect, but it’s not like I’ve put my old gloves through hell or anything. What I really like about the fit on these is that there is about half an inch of extra space in the fingertips. My Motoboss gloves are pretty snug, and unless my nails are cut really short, the tips of the gloves would press on them and they would be sore by the end of the ride. With these new gloves, I can keep my unkempt nail length and not worry about them. 🙂

Motorcycle Luggage Upgrade

74/366 - North Face Duffel

One of the things I really enjoy about owning a motorcycle is the modifications and farkles you can add on to it and one of the more functional things you can add to the bike is storage. Why would I want storage on the bike? Well, I like to carry some basic tools and spare parts, including inner tubes. It would also be nice to carry the warm gloves (and balaclava/neck scarf), an extra light jacket that I can wear under my riding jacket, and the alternate face-shield in case I am riding when it is getting dark.

For a dual-sport, there are a few popular options including tankbags, top boxes, and saddlebags. The pinnacle seems to be a set of aluminum panniers. These have the advantage of being lockable and waterproof. (They also make nice places to slap stickers onto!) The problem with these panniers is their initial cost. Not only do you need to buy the boxes, but you’ll need a rack to mount them on. I’d say that a decent set would cost $500 at the bottom end, and the sky’s the limit at the top end. For now, there’s no money in the budget for a set of hard panniers. In the meantime, I am going to go the way of upgrading my makeshift Quiksilver backpack that is mounted to the pillion/rack with a larger duffel.

New Duffel

In all honesty, I don’t see myself going on a long moto-camping trip anytime soon where a set of panniers would be key. I do see myself taking a weekend or 3-day trip out somewhere though. When doing some research, it seems like a 50-70 liter duffel would be a good option. This would be way more than enough space to fit what I am stuffing into my backpack-tailbag right now and I could also put in a change of clothes and more camera gear. Plus, in the future I can still use the duffel in addition to any panniers I might get. Since I ride solo, I can run the duffel lengthwise from the pillion seat to the rear rack. There’s about 24 inches of space back there.

The choice of duffel came down to two candidates. First is the Ortleib Duffel. This is a tough, waterproof bag that is hard to beat. It comes in a bright yellow color and has four lash points for securing it to the bike. The second candidate was the popular North Face Base Camp duffel. This one is not 100% waterproof, but has a bunch more lash points to attach other items to the bag itself. It also has straps for using the bag as a backpack, although this would only be useful for short hauls. I decided on the North Face, and chose the 69-liter medium size in yellow. The small size would have probably been ok too, but I saw a video where the traveler recommended getting the bigger size since you can always collapse a soft bag in the case where you don’t completely fill it with gear. The medium is 24 inches long, and 15 inches wide and fits nicely onto the rear seat/tail rack.

New Duffel

We’ll see how the new bag works out over time, but I’m confident that the bag will last for many, many miles!

Winter Gloves

Olympia Voyager Gloves

I finally bought some proper winter gloves, the Olympia Voyagers. These are actually kind of budget-priced, at $39, but seem to be pretty good. They are “windproof” and “waterproof”. They are pretty toasty, and with the liner I got on sale from REI, they will be even more protective from the cold. This is my first bit of Olympia gear, which works out nicely since I pretty much have all sorts of brands. The only matching gear I have is my mesh jacket and pants, both by Revit.

Barkbusters VPS Handguards

One of the fun things about owning a bike, and a dual-sport in particular, is adding farkles to it. If I remember correctly, the word “Farkle” is a combination of “Function” and “Sparkle”. I’ve added a few of them (RAM mount, GPS) but the latest and greatest are some newly installed handgrips. I’ve wanted some for my bike for a while now, maybe they were on my wishlist even before I had my BMW! There are a number of brands to choose from and I settled on a pair of Barkbusters with VPS covers. They have a good reputation and I liked that the installation video looked really simple. It was pretty much bolt-on.

Barkbusters Handguards

The handguards serve two purposes. First and most importantly, they protect the levers from being bent/broken in case the bike goes down. Some handguards are simply plastic covers, but these Barkbusters have a strong metal backbone which is securely connected to the bar-ends and inner handlebar and should offer some really good protection. The second useful feature of the handguards is that they offer wind/rain protection for your hands. Riding in cold weather, my knuckles would get cold really fast because of the constant wind on them. With the handguards, they still get cold, but not nearly as quickly. One final benefit is the “sparkle” part of farkle: the looks. I think they look cool! Barkbusters VPS handguards come in a varietly of colors but I went with the plain black. They were very shiny plastic when I unwrapped them but I prefer a flat-black color so I took some fine sandpaper to them and now they match the flat black of the headlight cowl and mirrors better. The next step is to get some black reflective tape to cover the white logo to complete the stealth look.

Barkbusters Handguards

I think pretty soon I want to do some more light dirt roads around the Hill Country. Should be pretty fun and I’ll have a little bit more insurance with these handguards. But with my luck, I’ll probably brake the clutch lever when I drop the bike next time!

F650 GS Controls

HJC CL-MAX Helmet

CL-MAX

I ordered a new helmet to replace my 5-year old HJC CL-14. I really like the CL-14, but it’s getting old and it’s recommended that you buy a new helmet every 3-5 years because the materials degenerate. Not sure how much of that is true but it’s a good excuse to get some new goodies. For the new helmet, I wanted to get a modular. This kind has a chinbar that flips up. It’s kind of convenient in that you can flip it up to talk to people or go into the gas station without having to take the whole helmet off (and reveal your helmet-hair). I’ve had my eye on the Shoei Multitec but they are pretty expensive. I tried on the Schuberth C3 which and it was so nice — super comfortable and slim-looking. The only problem is that it goes for $699.

So I decided to keep with HJC, which is a decent brand and fits my head well. The CL-MAX came down in price (60% off!) so I decided it was time. I went with a silver color to match my bike. I know white is safer but really liked the look of the silver one. The noise level compared to my old CL-14 is less on the whole, but the main difference is that I don’t hear as much low sound from wind turbulence. Most of the noise is higher-pitched which probably comes from the extra seams in the helmet for the flip-up chinbar. This shifting of the noise frequency is good because earplugs should really remove the highs. The padding inside the helmet seems a whole lot better. The ear-pocket is better protected from wind which means less fatigue when riding at 65mph.

Another plus about the CL-MAX is that it uses the same visor latch size as my CL-14. That means I can use my dark smoke shield on it (and save $25).

BTW, I am a firm believer in ATGATT, which stands for “All The Gear, All The Time”. Motorcycle boots, pants, gloves, jacket, and helmet every time I ride. Besides being safer, it’s also a great excuse to get some nice gear!