Finally! Start saving your pennies for the $800 price tag.
Finally! Start saving your pennies for the $800 price tag.
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!
Sometime 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.
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:
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.
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 »
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.