Rider Protection

The worst thing to happen to a pair of gloves

. . . is to lose one of them, especially when they are your favorite.

A few months ago, I lost the right hand of my favorite motorcycle gloves: the “Sambia” by HELD. They were a splurge buy after my motorcycle trip to South America. The flimsy pair of Fox gloves I had taken with me (a bargain at $20 a pair) had served me well during the trip, and I was impressed they had lasted the entire 6 months.

Testing Held, Rev'it!, and Klim summer gloves

I used to balk at gloves that cost more than $100, and before buying the Helds I had never owned a pair of motorcycle gloves that cost that much. The Held gloves came in at $120 USD, but they were worth every penny. I have long fingers and the Sambias comfortably accommodate that. They are made of Kangaroo leather on the palm, breathable nylon on the back—sewn together with the seams on the outside of the fingertips—with hard plastic, ventilated protection over the knuckles. I had never put on a glove that fit in all the right places and moved in the right direction until then. Hours on the bike did not deter its comfort factor.

Stitching on the Held Sambia gloves

When I lost one of the gloves, I couldn’t help but be frustrated and sad. I live in Panama where there is no regular mail service to easily order another pair. So I had to find what was in stores here. Luckily mall culture is huge and there are a couple motorcycle apparel stores, although brand selection is limited.

Returning to my self-imposed limit of not spending more than $100, I eventually found two pairs of motorcycle gloves: Rev’it! “Striker,” which retail for $80 USD, and then during a subsequent purchase, Klim’s “Adventure” gloves (non-current version) for $60 USD.

"Connect" fingertips on the Rev'it! Striker gloves

Why did I buy two pairs when I only needed one? Because I made a rookie mistake when I bought the Rev’it! Strikers. At the store I appreciated the basic features of the gloves: the goatskin leather palm with breathable nylon on the back (this time seams on the inside) and a plastic knuckle protector that wasn’t as bulky as Helds. One feature I really liked was the additional contact fabric on the first finger and thumb, which makes using smartphones with gloves on that much easier. I had fitted them in an air-conditioned store and they felt great. When I took a weekend trip during humid 37ºC (98ºF) weather, I realized I bought a size too small. The circulation in my hands was cut off. I tried them a second time during another long ride to see if the humidity had helped the leather stretch at all . . . Nada.

I went back to the store to buy a second pair in a bigger size, but as with many lessons learned in Panama, you buy it when you see it because if you go back to get it, chances are it won’t be there. And they weren’t. More Rev’it! gloves would not be in stock for another couple of months.

So I bought a pair of Klim gloves at another store. The Klim gloves are all right and they work just fine, but I can feel the downgrade in materials. The padding is decent, but the leather on the palm is thin. They breathe well, which is nice in the heat, but my biggest gripe is that the cuff is too short. I don’t want to worry about getting sun burned on my wrist when I ride. To compare Klim to Rev’it you can notice the differences, but to compare Klim to Held is not fair. For twice the price you definitely get twice the glove. The biggest lesson I learned is to be more careful with my favorite gloves because, as far as I know, a “lost and found” for single motorcycle gloves does not exist.

After spending some time riding with these three pairs of gloves, which would I buy again? The Rev’it Strikers (of course in a correct size). For the price you get a lot of glove, and the smart-phone friendly fingertips sealed the deal.

Motorcyle gloves are not created equal

Finally, I will impart this piece of advice, which I wish I had known before buying: What to look for in sizing a shorter style, warm-weather adventure glove?

·       With the glove on, stretch your fingers out as wide as possible and see if it pulls uncomfortably on any points of your hand. Look at the seams… can you see thread pulling away from the fabric? If so, it may be too tight. Check the palm for excess fabric. If you can pull more than a fingernail’s worth of fabric, it’s too loose and you need a size smaller. How do your fingertips feel? Is the space maxed out or do you have wiggle room? While you don’t want to have a lot space between you and the fabric, it should be snug enough to accommodate the natural expansion and contraction of your hands during different weather.

·       Clench your fingers into a tight ball and feel if the protection on the top of the hand or on the fingers digs in anywhere. Open and close your hand several times to see if there is any rubbing on your hands. This can cause sore spots or calluses. Try to minimize this.

·       The grip test (the emulate the grip on the handlebar): hold up your first two fingers like you are making a peace sign. With the opposite hand make a “c” shape. Place your peace finger hands on the leather of the “c” hand between the thumb and forefinger and push down at the curve. This is how your hands will feel for hours while riding. How do your fingertips feel now? If there is too much pressure in the fingertips or too much wiggle room try a different size or another style / brand.

 

For more information on the gloves mentioned, check out the following websites: Rev'it! Striker,  
Klim Adventure (current version) and Held Sambia. 

You can find more reviews and travel stories at: AlisonsWanderland.com

Are motocross boots overkill for your adventure?

The short answer is, yes. The long answer is, opinions may vary.

Chances are if you disagree with me, you are a more hard-core rider than I am. I ride big-bore BMWs off-road in rocky terrain, in the mud and sand when I have to, and on forest service roads that get me away from the main highway. But I leave demanding single-track and boulder hopping to the lighter bikes and the skilled riders who can maneuver a heavy, big cc motorcycle in technical terrain like it was an extension of their limbs. It’s just not my style of riding, although I am constantly impressed by those whose it is.

Still, I wanted to give motocross boots a try because of their protection. I see a lot of adventurers wearing hard-core boots, so I wanted to see what it was all about. It was an expensive lesson in what works and what I am comfortable in.

Six months ago I bought a pair of Gaerne SG-10s, based upon great reviews and that claimed “best comfort” for a motocross boot. While the latter proved to be true, more so what I found was that motocross style boots are too bulky for my kind of riding. They’re heavier weight than the “adventure style boots” that have hit the market in the past few years. When comparing 5 pounds per boot to 2.5 pounds per boot, it might not seem like a lot, but after a few hours of wear your feet may beg to differ. Luckily the options for motorcycle footwear are growing and manufacturers are listening to new demands. Every year, new adventure boots hit the market, whether they are original designs or re-vamping old styles with new and lighter materials.

One may argue that the protection is worth the weight. I would not disagree with them unless it hindered performance. For me, it did. More than once I found myself floundering for the gear shifter, or not able to move my feet in time away from a falling bike. When I ride, I like to feel the dexterity of my feet while shifting and have the agility to move out of the way of a 500lb motorcycle plunging toward the ground (which has been known to happen on occasion). Maybe with more time I could learn to work with them, but six months is long enough to decide whether I like it or not.

While the Gaerne’s were comfortable for a motocross style boot, they are a stiff boot and they leave a lot to be desired when walking for any length of distance. If I know I am going to do anything off the bike, then I bring my Sidi On-Roads. Age and use have made the leather of those boots soft and the soles worn down, and thus the most comfortable pair of boots I own. Unfortunately, there is little protection and waning life left in them and would not consider them for long distance or long duration travel.

140615_Panama_4114.jpg

The final deterrent for me considering taking a pair of motocross boots: they are not waterproof. Unless you are solely riding in the Atacama Desert, which receives less than 0.5” of rainfall each year, you are bound to encounter rain or river crossings. Where I live in Central America receives an annual average rainfall of 75” per year, so I must take this into consideration. Riding in wet gear is not nearly as bothersome as riding in wet boots. Soggy socks and clammy feet are so uncomfortable that I tear off my boots and drain my socks as soon as I get to a stopping point. There are alternatives such as Gore-Tex socks, but they don’t help the squish of a wet insole when you step down on it. That and the smell of wet Gore-Tex after a few days of use can get a little strong.

Although motocross boots did not work for me the way I expected, I would still use them for skills practice (I hope to one-day ride a big bike on single track, but that is many lessons away) and day rides when I know I will be on the bike the majority of the time. But if I am going to explore off the bike, I do not even consider taking them. I want a comfortable pair of boots with good protection. Is that too much to ask? It might be so, since I am still on the search for the perfect pair of boots for my motorcycle adventure. 

For more motorcycle reviews and travel stories by Alison, check out: AlisonsWanderland.com

23,000-mile review: Klim Latitude jacket and pants

by Alison DeLapp, www.AlisonsWanderland.com

 Pockets galore! (on the Altiplano in Peru) Pockets galore! (on the Altiplano in Peru)

As a female motorcyclist, choosing a viable suit for long-term riding is met with limited options. Despite the growing industry for women’s gear, what was available in October of 2012 did not equate to the durability and versatility of men’s gear. I looked at comparable manufacturers such as Rev-it and Alpinestars (I rode a KLR, so the BMW brand was not even considered), but neither of those held up to what I wanted out of a suit I was going to live in for six months. So, while preparing for a motorcycle journey from Los Angeles, California to Ushuaia, Tierra del Fuego, I decided on Klim’s Men’s Latitude jacket and pants.

In my initial review after six days of test riding around California before I left, my response was, “Yay! Klim is so great!” But just like any new relationship, I was excited at the potential of what could be, not scrutinizing what I had in front of me. So now, 15-months and more than 23,000 miles later, it’s time to break down the long-term, grime-covered, down and dirty results...

 

Latitude 0 (at the Equator in Ecuador) Latitude 0 (at the Equator in Ecuador)

 Continue reading full article here.

Schuberth C3 helmet: 12 months and 10,000 miles review

by Carla King, CarlaKing.com

My last helmet squeezed my jawbone, giving me a headache after about an hour. The previous one pressed on my left temple. Another rattled, another fell forward over my eyebrows, and yet another let a constant stream of air up the back of my neck. Helmets have made me itchy and sweaty, the visors have popped off, and the air flow controls have never quite worked properly. I've worn half-helmets, full helmets, modular helmets, dual-sport helmets, other people’s helmets, cheap helmets, medium-priced helmets, and expensive helmets. But in Spring of 2012 I started wearing a Schuberth C3, and since then I have stopped to look at a view, to ask directions, to fill up my gas tank, to buy snacks at a convenience store, to make phone calls and to take photos, all with my helmet still strapped on.

WHY MODULAR?

I’ve always liked the idea of a modular helmet. I travel a lot and interact with people on the road, and it’s nice to be able to slide up the chin bar so people can see my face when I’m talking with them, especially when attempting a foreign language. But helmets have always been so uncomfortable that I've removed them every opportunity, sighing "aaahhhh" in relief from pressure-points, itching, and sweating. The Schuberth C3 is the first helmet I've owned that I don’t rip off my head as soon as the wheels stop turning, and that’s saying something, because I have been riding since I was a teenager.

Continue reading the full review here

We will be running more motorcycle and equipment reviews from Carla, a longtime Overland Expo instructor and one of the most accomplished riders we know. Carla's been riding motorcycles since she was 14, and has ridden every kind of bike on most continents.