Minnesota Adventure Rider’s Smart Phone App

August 15, 2014

As you may know we use the Meetup.com platform for connecting riders with other riders, posting group rides, events, etc.  You can visit that website at MinneADV.org. Click on over and register if you haven’t already.

The Meetup.com folks have released an app for your smart phone that allows you to see our events, photos, and message other riders.  You can download it for Android and iPhone via the links below.  Its a pretty cool app so download it today and invite others to a group ride this weekend!

    

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Product Review: Viaterra Claw tail bag

February 8, 2014

Claw in blackSometime last year I noticed a company in India introduced a new tail bag called “The Claw”.  It had high quality materials (heavy 1680D fabric and 3m reflectors), a great design, competitive price (around $50 USD) and a size that was perfect for a 2-3 day trip. The problem was they didn’t ship to America.  A short time later I happened to have a friend traveling through India that was kind enough to pick one up for me.  Once it was home I was excited to give the product a test run.

The opportunity came on my 3 day trip to Canada last Fall.  It turned out to be a great choice. That ride was rocky and bumpy, but the Claw held up to its name staying mounted just where I put it.  My tent, sleeping mat, food, and cooking supplies all fit neatly inside. Only my cold weather sleeping bag was attached outside the Claw to the rear.  Although the Claw came with a waterproof cover I decided to spray it down with 3M waterproofing instead to save the space the cover took up.  The Claw comes with strapping, but I choose to use Rok Straps attached to the Claw’s d-rings instead.  The front straps went to my rear foot peg mounts and the rear went round my tail rack.  It worked well.  Everything stayed dry even though we experienced a heavy rainfall and frost. I imagine with the myriad of strapping options the bag provides it could be mounted to many different bike models.

The good news is that Viaterra now ships this bag to the US.  I believe, with shipping it can still be had for under $100.  More colors have been added and a “Mini” version as well.  Compared to similar bags from Giant Loop and others this is a steal.  My only nitpicks are that the included plastic strap buckles don’t hold tight enough (swap to rok straps like I did) and the sides of the bag could be a bit deeper (to keep weight lower to the ground).

This product is not well advertised in the states but I recommend you give it a look when considering soft luggage for your next excursion.

Click here to purchase and see more photos and video.

The Claw on a DR650

The Claw and sleeping bag on a DR650

The Claw on an XR650

The Claw on an XR650


Giant Loop adds new Adventure products for 2014

November 6, 2013

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Giant Loop makes some very innovative products for DS and ADV riders.  They have announced even more products for 2014 at the European EICMA show.  Any time they want to send me one sample of each for testing they can!  Drool worthy gear.

Get the full catalog PDF

From their press release:

New for 2014:
 
Possibles Pouch
This pouch adds 2-liter easy access storage capacity to Giant Loop saddlebags and panniers — and any other secure attachment point. It is made in the U.S.A. with 18 oz. vinyl coated polyester Bomb Shell construction, beefy YKK coil zipper protected by 14 oz. vinyl coated polyester storm flap, multiple MOLLE-style webbing lash points and reflective tabs for visibility. The Possibles Pouch is named for the leather pouches carried by frontier explorers to keep critical gear, or “possibles,” in one handy location.
 
Buckin’ Roll Tank Bag
This Buckin’ Roll Tank Bag was completely re-envisioned and redesigned for 2014, it fits virtually any motorcycle and keeps all the essentials handy and out of the way when standing on the footpegs. The Buckin’ Roll Tank Bag consists of three components, which can be used individually or in any combination: harness, center case and pannier pockets. The pannier pockets also can be added to Giant Loop’s 2014 Fandango/Diablo Tank Bags. The 2-liter center case secures to the harness with cam buckle straps. The two 2-liter Pannier Pockets attach to tank, shrouds or engine guards. The Buckin’ Roll Tank Bag is named for saddle pads used by rodeo cowboys.
 
Fandango Tank Bag Pro
Giant Loop’s largest tank bag’s (8 liters) major updates focus on expandability, electronics compatibility and features driven by rider feedback. An electronics pass-through enables on-bike charging and power inside the tank bag and/or the clear vinyl map pocket top. The Fandango’s underside includes a concealed document pocket, and two separate side zippers for easy mounting to harness. Its full length interior lining with hook-and-loop accepting fabric, movable divider with elastic tire pressure gauge holder and slots, exterior mesh pocket and D-ring mounts for new optional Buckin’ Roll pannier pockets (2 liters each side) are key new features. Fuel fills are now easily accessed by simply unzipping either side from the harness, and the concave front allows vent hoses to breath. It fits virtually any motorcycle, including dirt, dual sport, adventure and sport machines with metallic or non-metallic tanks/shrouds.
 
Diablo Tank Bag Pro
The Diablo Tank Bag (4 liters) updates are similar to its larger cousin, the Fandango Tank Bag, while remaining true to its minimalist, slim, trim design. An electronics pass-through enables on-bike charging and power inside the tank bag and/or the clear vinyl map pocket top. Its full interior lining with hook-and-loop accepting fabric, movable divider with elastic tire pressure gauge holder, exterior mesh pocket and D-ring mounts for new optional Buckin’ Roll pannier pockets (2 liters each side) are key new features. Fuel fills are now easily accessed by simply unzipping either side from the harness, and the concave front allows vent hoses to breath. The Diablo Tank Bag Pro fits virtually any motorcycle, including dirt, dual sport, adventure and sport machines with metallic or non-metallic tanks/shrouds.

Why you should consider a Helmet Radio

July 29, 2013

While there are a million articles and blog posts on how to choose the right tire, chain, or jacket for the ADV market, I have found that it is more rare that you find authors recommending helmet radios.  For many these have a stigma of belonging to the Goldwing crowd only.  Adventure / Dual Sport riders seem to question the usefullness of this technology, and maybe rightfully so since they can get quite expensive.

Here is my take.  There are two reasons to invest in a helmet radio:

1. If you group ride with a common set of people.
2. You need to sync audio with a GPS or phone into your helmet.

If you group ride then you will find the ability to talk to other people while riding a feature that heightens the experience greatly.  I can warn riders of an obstacle, I can tell them I am lost, hurt, down, or just talk about the passing scenery.  Its a whole new ride when you can share it all with your mates as you go.  Radios are often not compatible with each other though.  So that is why I say a “common” set of people.  If you ride together a lot you can all decide on one brand/model to buy.

The other reason to invest in a helmet radio is to sync with your smart phone or GPS.  Many GPS units have bluetooth audio now.  So if you need turn by turn audio directions you can now get them right in your helmet by synching the radio with your GPS unit.  The same goes for your smart phone.  You can listen to tunes or take a phone call while riding as well.  Now, the question of safety comes into play with this feature, so please use it responsibly.  Personally, a quick call from the wife to tell me to pick up something at the grocery store isn’t distracting, its just really really handy.

Today’s bluetooth helmet radios are a far cry from the units on the market just ten years ago.  Distances can get up to almost a half mile.  Synching to devices takes only seconds.  Noise reduction technology is so awesome that most people can’t even tell I am riding my motorcycle when they call.  Speakers are getting smaller and louder. And then there is new technology like voice commands, group full duplex (many riders can all talk at the same time), and multi-hop (each unit passes the signal onto riders around them to increase coverage).  They have really become a piece of technology that does not distract from the ride but enhances it.

Prices range from $50 for a chinese no-name import to $500.  Below is a video review from Revzilla on a new unit from U-CLEAR that is feature packed but falls in the medium price range.

Do the research and I am sure you will find that a helmet radio should be near the top of your farkling list.


Product Review: Goal Zero – Goal 10 Portable Solar Panel

June 18, 2013

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What?  A solar panel review on a motorcycle blog?  Yes, you have read correctly.  Whether you realize it or not, your bike runs on fuel, air, and spark.  Take one away and your fun is over.  So electricity is pretty important to having two-wheeled adventure.  So what will you do one day 100 miles from town when your battery goes kaput?  Most modern touring bikes do not have kick starters anymore, so good luck making that electric start turn that crank over.  You are either going to need a jump ( you did ride with a buddy and you did bring jumper cables right?) or you are going to have to find an alternate power source.   That is where portable solar power comes in. Read the rest of this entry »


Reading Material: Overland Journal

May 27, 2013

If you have never had the pleasure of paging through a copy of Overland Journal I encourage you to do so.  Each issue is packed full of epic travel journals, detailed gear reviews, and some of the best photography I have seen in any magazine on the market.  Even better it seems there is at least one article in every issue dealing with overland travel by motorcycle.  This month’s issue is no exception and includes a nice comparison of dual sport tires.  I know that reading old fashioned ink and paper is very old school these days, but set down that fancy tablet for a minute and just absorb an issue.  You’ll thank me later.  The only bad part…there are only 5 issues a year.

Courtesy Overland Journal Blog


Product Review: Zenni Optical Prescription Motorcycle Sunglasses/Goggles

May 2, 2013

For those of us who have less than perfect vision and also ride, we face some interesting obstacles.  Glasses often don’t often do a good job of protecting your eyes from the sun, wind, or dirt.  Contacts often don’t fair any better, and can often be worse in the dirt.  Face shields keep out the wind and dirt but are often too hot in the summer.  There are manufacturers like Oakley that make OTG (over the glasses) goggles but not all helmets are compatible with them and they can limit peripheral vision.  So what is a visually impaired moto-enthusiast to do?
You may want to check out the option of prescription wind glasses.  These glasses look like normal sunglasses but have three differences; they have a foam or rubber surround that keep the wind out of your eyes, they have tinted UV protective lenses (optional), and have a second set of lenses behind the first matched to your prescription.  There are many styles available and generally have thick strong frames that hold up to the abuse of bugs, dirt, and repetitively pulling and pushing them in and out of your helmet. Read the rest of this entry »