Archive for the ‘Safety’ Category

Offroad Adventure Academy

Posted: July 8, 2015 in Safety
Bike napping problems...

Bike napping problems…

Just bookmarking this so I can find it later – Offroad Adventure Academy.

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300KPH local ride…

Posted: April 17, 2012 in Safety

Apparently local cops aren’t stoked by someone riding their bike at 300KPH. I guess I better slow down!…;-)

The great thing about owning a KLR is that the cops know my bike is not capable of going 300KPH in the first place so I can’t be a suspect.

Dual Sport Riding Techniques DVD…

Posted: October 22, 2011 in ADV Ride, How To..., Safety
Tags:

DVD cover art...

There are lots of folks buying dualsport bikes that are new motorcyclists because it’s an approachable and exciting part of riding world or they are street riders who want to explore some of those dirt roads and trails they pass on the highway. Learning on the job in the dirt can be painful, dangerous and demoralizing – especially if you are an experienced street rider who ends up feeling like they’ve never been on a bike before! One smart option is to learn the basics before you hit the dirt so that you at least understand what is supposed to happen and to take away some of the fear of the unknown.

My KLR dirt riding experience is years old and I feel like I’m starting over so I ordered up this Dual Sport Riding Techiques DVD from DSR. At $29.99 it’s a low cost way to refresh my memory of how not to get killed on my KLR in Baja this winter!

To save me some time here is what DSR says about their DVD:

This DVD isolates each of the skills needed to follow the road less traveled, gives specific pointers and ways to practice, and then puts them all together on the trail.

The DVD covers in detail:

  • Body Position
  • Turns
  • Hill climbs and descents
  • Rocky/ rooty/ rough terrain
  • Sandy/ muddy/ loose terrain
  • Line selection
  • Bike setup

Each section contains specific drills that you can do to improve your riding at your own pace, including ways to tailor the exercises for riders with more or less experience. With practice, these drills cement the correct response for any given situation, and when combined with some great tips on line selection, you’ll find new confidence and enjoyment when riding off-road.

In addition, bonus features include:

  • Suspension Setup
  • Tire Changes
  • Trailriding Footage

Filmed on location in Utah and Colorado.

Total running time: Approx 50 minutes”

 

 

So what did I think?

  • excellent production value
  • simple well illustrated explanations for each point
  • enough actual riding segments to keep me stoked
  • wide enough scope to get you rolling on the trail without trying to cram so much in you get overwhelmed
  • logical breaks between sections so you can easily FFWD to the section you want to review
  • friendly supportive attitude for the dirt newbie
  • great focus on staying safe and respecting the environment
  • bonus features were useful

I was really impressed with this DVD. It’s clear that Ned Suesse [instructor/narrator] has been teaching DS riding for a long time and that he loves riding his bike in the dirt. He comes across like a wise friendly coach who’s always cautious, but let’s you know that if you work hard you’ll be out there rocking and rolling with the rest of the DS riding community. Each section of the DVD builds on the previous one and is broken down into easy to understand steps with clear examples of what happens when you do it right or wrong. One thing I really appreciated was the clips throughout the DVD of experienced guys riding skillfully across the terrain that was just being discussed. That was entertaining and motivating plus it showed how to use the skills you were being taught at real speeds. Without them I might have gotten a bit bored like being in school too long, but with those clips it was really fun to watch the DVD just for the beautiful scenery and the riding action.

Besides the 50mins of main DVD footage there are quite a few useful bonus features: on topics like suspension setup, tire changes and some fun trail riding footage. Just when you thought you’d seen it all if you open the DVD folder on your computer you’ll see a 6 page PDF file with tips for each section that you can print take with you on the trail to refresh your memory when you are out there using the skills you’ve learned. That’s a nice extra value added item that highlights the fact the DSR folks want to see you be successful and that they really care.

How to use this DVD?

Nobody, including the DSR folks, is going to claim that you’ll become an expert DS rider by watching a DVD. Having said that if you are new to dirt/gravel riding you need to start somewhere and this DVD is good place. Taking a course or learning from a more experienced rider is a smart option, but rather than going into a course cold it makes a lot of sense to review the basics on this DVD so you get the most from your time with an instructor.

If you don’t have a DS riding course readily available or a friend who can show you the ropes you can use this DVD to learn the basics – IF YOU ARE CAREFUL. Reread that last bit – it’s important! Pick a safe place to practice. Go with a buddy or at least let someone know wear you are and when you’ll be back. Work on a couple things at a time and stop before you get tired. Of course where all the necessary protective gear and if you aren’t sure what you need ask an expert before you head out.

The Bottom Line

This DVD is educational and entertaining. The production quality is excellent and the topics it covers are all essential skills for the new DS rider. For $29.99 it’s one of the better investments you can make and once you are done with it you can pass it along to a friend to get them excited about DS riding.
Barkbusters VPS plastics and bar end weights installed…

I ordered my Barkbusters with Storm plastic shields which provide a ton of hand protection from cold air & rain [see photo below].

Barkbusters full coverage Storm plastic hand shields…

The Storm plastics work great, but they provide so much protection that they make for hot hands on a warm day.

Smaller VPS plastics and bar end weights…

So I ordered up some of the smaller Barkbuster VPS plastic shields so I’d have some options.

VPS plastics screw on in a minute or two…

You can swap these plastics in a few minutes to go from a winter setup to something a lot less extreme. I’ll be using the VPS plastics most of the time and only swap in the Storm plastics if I have a long road trip with gnarly weather on the menu.

Low profile bar end weights…

When I first installed my Barkbusters I reused the stock KLR bar end weights. They work fine with these handguards, but their shape means that even a slow speed tumble would rip them off and probably leave the rest of the mounting bolt in the end of the handle bar – not good!

Crash worthy!

The Barkbuster low profile bar end weights are shaped to slide in a crash and should survive a bunch of abuse while still helping keep bar vibration to a minimum.

Note the removable black spoilers...

I used Barkbusters handguards on my 1997 KLR650 and they served me well so I expect good things from these ones as well. I will report back with a long term review after the winter.

For those that need some dirt skills...

Update: I found this great write up about a guy’s Rawhyde Adventures training course experience over at ADVrider.com worth a read if you have any interest in these courses to get a feel for what one would be like.

If you’ve recently got yourself a big enduro bike like a KLR or BMW GS and don’t have much in the way of dirt riding skills you should watch this DVD. It won’t make you a superstar, but it will give you a set of drills to practice and some useful information that will make heading off pavement less painful. Rawhyde Adventures runs a BMW Offroad Academy that will teach you all you need to know if you have the time and $$$ for the training.

I can’t afford $1400 for a 2 day course or $2600 for a 5 day catered trip, but I can afford $30 for a DVD I can watch whenever I need a refresher on the basics and I can share it with friends who might be thinking about getting a dualsport bike.

I got my DVD from Touratech USA. I think most BMW motorcycle dealers can get you a copy as well.

Olympia X-Moto Jacket and Pants…

I bought an X-Moto jacket and pants this summer. My primary motivation was the venting. I wanted something that could adapt from cool damp Vancouver Island to hot dry Baja as my travels take me up and down the West Coast.

Olympia X-Moto Jacket – men’s medium…

I haven’t used it yet in the rain so I won’t talk about that aspect much. I’m hoping the waterproof liner will be fine for a light to moderate shower. I don’t expect this type of system to be great for heavy all day rain.

I checked out the BMW RP3 and the Klim gear. Both were nice, but I got my X-Moto jacket & pants for about the price of just the BMW RP3 jacket. I’ve looked at the Touratech Companero system which is $2500! I’m not cheap, but I can’t afford to buy the best of the best and still have money left to travel.

Tons of pockets on this jacket…

The X-Moto page on the Olympia website shows all the features:

http://www.olympiamotosports.com/xmo…motojacket.htm

There is an excellent review in the vendor section of ADVrider.com:

http://www.advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=620565

Several of the pockets are waterproof…

Overall

The quality and detailing of the X-Moto is great.The sewing and materials used all seem high quality and there is a lot of attention to detail. I think there are too many features that add bulk and complexity to the jacket. Some folks will love them and others like me probably won’t use stuff like the zip off shoulder bag built into the jacket. Having said that you’ll appreciate little touches like the soft neoprene used around the collar so it doesn’t chafe your neck. These pieces are robust enough to survive a crash and keep on going.

Map pocket on left sleeve…

Storage

The jacket has a ton of pockets – a bunch of them are waterproof. It also has a 0.5L hydration bladder which is removable and a large rear pocket which is removable. The hydration bladder is too small to be useful [you’ll be filling it non-stop] and you can’t fit in a bigger one as the pocket is sized for the OEM unit. You can pull it off entirely and leave it at home, but then the back of the jacket has two big goofy looking zippers flapping around. I’m not sure what I’ll do. I may pull the bladder and just leave the empty pocket attached to the jacket. The big removable rear pocket is bulky and I question its value. There is no internal harness so all that stuff carried in the jacket will hang from your shoulders which is tiring. If it was up to me I’d ditch the hydration bladder/rear pocket and streamline the front pockets for a lighter jacket that was less bulky. If a rider needs more storage on the body he can get a decent sized hydration bladder/pack and use that. A real hydration pack offers more liquid and a harness/belt system that will carry the cargo weight better than a jacket.

Honey does this make my butt look big?

Fit

I’m 5’11” & 175lbs…wide shoulders skinny waist. I tend to fit European cut clothes best. I fit right between the large and medium X-Moto jacket. I got the medium as I didn’t want it to be baggy and flapping around when I removed the waterproof and insulation liners. On the downside I won’t be able to stuff another warm layer in there on cold days. There is some adjustability in the fit at the waist and elbows.

I got 34″ X-Moto pants which is what I wear in street clothes and just like street clothes they are a bit baggy on my skinny chicken legs. Not terrible though and that lets me have enough room to throw a leg over my bike.

I would say the fit is typical for North American clothing and should work for most people. If you have short legs the pants can be tailored easily.

Handwarmer pocket and adjustment options on each side of jacket…

Style

I got the black/pewter colours which look reasonably understated. The jacket/pants together definitely give you the Paris-Dakar-Lite look. Perfect for an ADV tour, but a little much for a coffee run or a stop at Walmart!… I’ve got a simple black Joe Rocket jacket I use for short trips around town when I don’t want to be mistaken for Ewan or Charlie.

Having looked at the BMW/Klim/Revit stuff The X-Moto is up there for looking decent. It’s not as flashy as some of the other options which will appeal to the Let-my-riding-do-the-talking-crowd.

If it had been available in straight up black I would have bought that.

Velcto cuff and elbow sizing adjustment…

Venting

The reason to buy the X-Moto is the venting. It’s awesome!… You have vents on the jacket chest, under arms and back as well as on the front of the pants. The vents are easy to operate and provide a huge amount of airflow. I started a ride home in the early AM along the coast when it was really chilly/damp out and by 2pm it was dry/hot. The X-Moto was easy to adapt as the day progressed to keep me comfortable while still giving me some protection if I crashed.

Under arm vent open…

Rain

As I noted above I haven’t used my X-Moto in the rain yet. If lots of heavy rain is on your menu I don’t think a system with tons of zippers and an inner waterproof liner is ideal. You’re better off with a Gore-tex shell like the Klim. I have a truck so I don’t ride in heavy rain on purpose. I’m not on a RTW trip where I have to ride whatever the weather. So I need protection that is enough to keep me going when I hit some light to moderate rain for a few hours on a ride. I’m expecting the X-Moto will fit the bill on that.

When I ride down to Baja this winter I’ll use a one piece rain suit on top of my X-Moto and leave it with my friends in LA. I’ll ride Baja with just the X-Moto and pick up the rain suit for the soggy ride north.

Left chest vent open…

When you open a vent the fabric pannel tucks away into the garment out of sight. This is nice so you can’t lose bits of your gear and you can close things up pretty fast if the weather changes.

Hydration bladder straps and drinking hose…

Hydration

The X-Moto jacket has a built in 0.5L hydration bladder. That’s about 1/3rd more than a can of Coke which is way too small to be useful. If you are on a short trip it’s not worth filling up the bladder and on a long ride it would need to be filled so often it would be a pain in the butt. The hydration sleeve has external shoulder straps and can be removed from the jacket. The external straps are supposed to help you carry the weight of the water, but there is so little capacity they are pointless and just clutter up the jacket. I would just pull the whole thing off, but the hydration bladder sleeve has built in armour I would lose if I did and the zippers that hold it on would be flapping in the wind looking goofy. What I’ll likely do on longer trips is just leave the bladder at home and keep the empty sleeve on the jacket. If I want access to a hydration system while riding I’ll just wear a dedicated hydration pack over the jacket. That way I can get a decent amount of liquid and whatever gear I carry can be supported by a proper set of shoulder straps and waist strap.

I think Olympia should offer a zip in armoured pannel that replaces the hydration pack so you can just leave the whole thing at home or increase the capacity to 1.5L-2L so it’s actually useful.

Tiny 0.5L bladder…

I’m going to try simply tucking the straps in under the hydration pocket for now. If I get really annoyed with the hydration sleeve straps I may just cut them all off. It won’t affect the jacket in any meaningful way.

Two waist adjustment options on the side of the jacket…

I like all the sizing adjustment options available. These are useful when you add or remove layers from the jacket.

Rear removable storage pocket…

There is a really large waterproof storage pocket on the back of the jacket that is removable and can be carried like a shoulder bag. I think it just adds bulk and weight to the jacket and would be happier without it. If you wanted removable storage you can carry around you’d be better off with a decent sized hydration pack. This sort of feature looks great on a product spec sheet, but isn’t that useful in practice.

Open rear vent…

You need to take the jacket off to operate the underarm or rear vents. You can open/close the front vent without removing the jacket. That’s not too bad and the ventilation is so effective you won’t mind taking the extra time to operate it.

Waterproof and thermal liners installed…

Liners

The X-Moto deals with cold and/or rainy weather by offering you two liners that zip into the shell jacket. There is a waterproof breathable liner and a thermal liner. They zip to each other as well as to the jacket. This approach to waterproofing is best for light to moderate rain as the outer jacket will get soaked in prolonged heavy rain making you cold and making it hard for the waterproof liner to do its job. The waterproof liner is an unbranded fabric that is not going to work as well as an expensive laminate like Gore-tex. What this system does provide is a reasonable cost option for staying dry, warm or cool in a variety of weather conditions. That’s not a bad thing at all. If you buy the X-Moto for the right reasons and with reasonable expectations the liner system will be very versatile and should make you quite happy.

The waterproof liner and thermal jackets both look decent enough to wear on their own at camp or if you are going for dinner on a trip. They aren’t that nice that I would wear them at home, but you could get by with them in order to travel light.

View of liners unzipped…

Protection

I’m not an expert in this area so take my opinion with a grain of salt. The adjustable padding in the jacket and pants as well as the fabric itself seems to offer a decent amount of protection. I’ve seen better. I’ve seen worse. I feel comfortable riding in Baja with this gear. I’m not a hardcore ADVrider though. If I was going to ride technical offroad stuff I’d opt for more protection, but for touring and easy dirt it seems up to the task. The biggest issue for me is that with baggy pants the knee armour can move around.

Have you seen Charlie or Ewan?

Visibility

All X-Moto gear has some 3-M reflective stripping and small patches. Not enough to be useful in my opinion, but it doesn’t hurt. There is a higher visibility colour option with bright yellow panels on the upper chest/back and arms. There is enough high-viz material to be useful without making you look like a traffic cone. Personally I prefer dark motorcycle gear and I’ll add a high-viz vest or backpack cover when I feel the need.

Olympia X-Moto Pants – size 34…

The X-Moto pants are sized like street pants and come with a removable waterproof liner. They don’t come with any thermal liner.

Left side front panel vent open…

The venting on the pants works the same way as the jacket. There are just two front vents on the pants which open from the belt down to the knee.

Zipped side pocket…

The X-Moto pants have two front zip pockets and two rear pockets. Both are big enough to be useful without being too large.

Leather wear patch…

A leather patch on the inside of each leg protects your pants from your bike.

Pants open easily for large boots…

The side zips on these pants open from top to bottom making putting them on over dualsport boots a snap. The bottom of each leg can be hemmed without the hassle of relocating zippers to accomodate short legs. My 33″ inseam has enough length to leave the pants stock and the pants don’t ride up when knees are bent on the bike.

Knee armour…

The knee armour is CE approved and can be moved vertically to account for different leg lengths. The jeans style fit of the pants means the armour can move around. If I was riding offroad a lot I would add some knee armour directly to my leg. Olympia could improve this area of protection with one or two velcro straps to ensure the knee armour stayed in place – similar to what they use in the elbow of the X-Moto jacket.

Knee armour pocket…
Velcro hems open easily and allow for simple hemming…

The butt and knees are reinforced with heavy duty fabric for wear protection.

Reinforced butt…

You can add some armour to the rear pants pockets if you feel the need and the X-Moto pants will zip into the X-Moto jacket so they stay in place when bent over on a bike. The pants have belt loops.

Velcro tabs on each cuff adjust for different boot sizes…

Would I buy it again?

Yes. For under $700 I haven’t seen anything better. If your riding goes from hot to cool with some rain thrown in the mix you’ll be very happy. If extensive rain riding is going to happen I’d buy something else or be okay with wearing a rain suit on top.

Elastic panels on the sides allow for all you can eat buffet expansion…

Long Term

I’ve only had the X-Moto for a couple months so these are just my first impressions. When I get back from Baja I should have a pretty good idea of how it’s going to hold up in the longer term and I’ll post some thoughts.

Hip armour…

The hip armour pads are very thin and only sewn at the top. I’m not sure how well they would stay in place in a crash.

The waterproof breathable liners are decent quality and easy to install/remove.

Waterproof breathable liners…

Although I see some definite areas for improvement of the X-Moto jacket and pants I can recommend them as quality gear that’s very versatile. I haven’t seen anything that looks better you can buy for under $700. The key for me is the X-Moto’s ability to go from huge venting to cool weather and handle some rain. That means I can go out on tour and no matter what happens that day I can adapt to it well. The expensive Gore-tex shell motorcycle gear is better for extended heavy rain riding, but can’t deal with the heat as well as the X-Moto.

Enjoy some X-Moto video porn…=-)

Respro Hump Backpack Cover

Posted: September 20, 2011 in Gear Reviews, Safety
Tags:

Respro Hump Hi-Viz Backpack Cover...

This is a backpack cover that adds to your visibility when on the road. It attaches to your regular backpack so you can move it around if you use different ones. Never needs batteries plus you can ride around with the word “HUMP” on your back letting the world know exactly where you stand when it comes to gender relations. They are sold in the UK by Respro and the price includes free worldwide shipping – I assume they use the VAT [now at 20%] that non-UKers don’t have to pay to cover shipping costs.

There are many different colour schemes for every taste. I’ve ordered the version shown above and will review it this winter in Victoria. I like the fact I can deploy it when I feel the need for more visibility and then put it away or leave it at home when I don’t feel the need and want to look like a normal human again.

My old HJC MX helmet…

Posted: September 19, 2011 in Gear Reviews, Safety
Tags:

Gotta love the 90's look...

Despite looking a bit goofy with its 90’s Troy Lee decals this old HJC dirt helmet gets lots of use on my KLR. For around town riding I ditch the goggles and just use wide Oakley sunglasses. I like the ventilation and visor for sunny warm days. I don’t need much noise or weather protection for my city riding. For dirt/gravel roads the googles provide excellent dust protection and work well enough on the inevitable highway sections to get anywhere interesting. This helmet was cheap when I bought it 10yrs+ ago and has more than paid for itself with all the use I’ve gotten out of it. Considering its age everything is holding up well – including the interior fabric. Most importantly it fits me well and is comfortable for all day rides and tours.

You don’t need to pay a fortune to get a decent helmet.

Barkbusters aluminum hand guard…

The stock KLR650 hand guards are nice and big to keep the wind/rain off your hands, but they are flimsy and won’t protect your hands or your controls in the event of a crash. I used a set of Barkbusters on my ’97 KLR and liked them so I ordered up another set for my 2010 KLR.

Left side…

I made sure I ordered the correct mounting kit for the KLR650.

Inside mount detail…

I had to grind off a small metal cable loop on the left side of my bars, but other than that the Barkbusters went on super easy. Click here for 2008+ KLR650 installation instructions.

Stock KLR bar end weights…

I kept the stock KLR bar end weights in place, but in the long run I’ll probably replace them with the Barkbuster low profile bar end weights that won’t snag the ground and rip themselves off in a crash.

Barkbusters Storm plastic shields…

I ordered a set of the Storm plastic shields as they offer the most protection in the Barkbuster line up. Not quite as much as the stock guards, but pretty close.

Side view…

I’m glad my KLR is getting more and more dirt worthy. It’s a process and I’m not done yet, but when I put her down in the dirt it will be nice to know I just have to keep myself in one piece and that my bike can fend for itself.

My KLR650…

While I was messing with my bars I installed a set of 30mm bar risers. The new bar position feels more comfortable, but I’ll have to use them for a while to be sure I really like it.

Bar risers…

RAM SPOT Mount…

Posted: August 10, 2011 in Farckles, Safety
Tags:
SPOT mounted on my KLR650…

My buddy Kurt gave me a SPOT satellite beacon that I can use to track my progress on a trip and/or call for help if needed. I wanted to mount it to my KLR650 so I got a RAM mount.

RAM bar mount…

I will eventually mount my SPOT to a dask, the fairing or the windscreen, but until I get everything finalized on my KLR I decided to mount it to the handlebars using a RAM bar mount. This mount is a quick release setup and the part that stays on the bike attaches with zipties.

QR RAM parts…

You then bolt the male end of the QR mount to the bracket that holds the SPOT beacon.

This part comes off the KLR without tools…

The cradle shown above will now pop into the mount attached to the bike without tools.

GPS and SPOT mounted on KLR650…

Other than turning it on/off I don’t need to access the SPOT frequently during the day so the position under the crossbar is fine and keeps it protected.

QR bracket…

I can pull the whole QR mount off the KLR in a couple seconds without tools or I can just pull the SPOT beacon and leave the bracket in place.

When not needed this is all that stays on the KLR…

 If I am not using the SPOT for a while I can remove everything, but the female part of the QR mount shown above.

Skill with a big bike…

Posted: August 9, 2011 in Safety

Blindspot Mirrors…

Posted: August 8, 2011 in Farckles, Safety

$5 worth of blindspot mirrors...

Update: right mirro came apart after one week of easy riding around town leaving just the black plastic mount so I stripped it from the bike. Right mirror still doing fine. I can’t recommend this product.

Stock Kawasaki KLR650 mirror...

One side sticky - one side mirrored...

Blindspot mirror in place...

Icon Interceptor Reflective Vest

Posted: July 19, 2011 in Gear Reviews, Safety
Tags:

Can you see me?

I don’t want to look like a traffic cone 24/7 when I am riding my bike. In fact I generally buy black or other dark colours for my riding gear. Most of the time that works fine for me, but there are situations [fog, dark rainy nights, rush hour traffic, etc..] where having extra visibility is a good idea. So I got an Icon Interceptor vest in high viz green/yellow.

Victoria to Duncan, BC ~100km round trip…

I’m still breaking in my KLR650 and haven’t had a lot of time to go on any big rides so I decided to get out for a trip to Duncan, BC to add 100kms to my Odo and check out how the vest worked at highway speeds.

Definitely not mellow yellow!

I bought the large-XL size of vest so it wouldn’t be crazy tight when worn over my riding gear. The vest goes on easily over my riding jacket and I can access the bottom front pockets with the vest on which is handy. It didn’t flap or move around at speed which made me happy. Nobody had any trouble seeing me, but I can’t say whether it made any difference on a sunny low traffic day like today.

Front detail…

The vest is made up of a double layer of mesh fabric that’s eye searingly bright. This type of nylon will fade pretty fast wen exposed to UV which makes a vest a smart choice. You can replace it when it’s not as visible any more without feeling bad about the cost. It’s not crazy hot where I live so I can’t tell you how this will be in super hot climates. It should breathe okay, but it won’t let the venting on your riding jacket work as well as if you didn’t have it on.

Back detail…

The quality of construction throughout seems excellent.

The sides adjust…

You can adjust both sides to fit different gear via a shock cord and toggle.

Reflective material…

There are reflective sections of material front and back.

ID holder…

The ID holder on the front is velcro backed and comes off. I’ll just slide a business card in there in case someone needs to ID me or finds my vest if I leave it behind. Over all it seems like a decent product and I’ll be happy to put it on when I feel like I need to be seen better without having to wear day glo yellow all the time.