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Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Gear Review to Help You Stay Warm

I figured this week instead of telling you what new bike I'm lusting after now. No new ones by the way. Still debating on getting a CRF250L to go with the Strom, or going for a BMW Sertao. That's an ongoing debate for later.

Over the past year I have added some new gear to my collection,  Alpinstar Scout waterproof boots, and Oxford heated grips, and most recently a FirstGear heated jacket. Since the cooler weather is upon us, I thought it was fitting to write about those things that keep us warm and extend our riding season.

The Alpinstar Scout boots were a replacement for my 7 year old Joe Rocket Meteor boots. I really like the Meteor, above the ankle length, waterproof and easy to put on, and wear with jeans. However on my trip to Labrador last year the waterproofness (not sure that's a word) went away, especially the left boot.

For Christmas my lovely wife gave me the Scouts, and I have had a chance to put a season of riding on them. Most notably the Fundy Adventure Rally where they were given a good test.

My impressions so far....very comfortable. Easy to walk around in compared to a motocross boot. Great sole, with lots of grip, which is important when pushing a bike around, or helping pull an overturned KLR out of the ditch. The boot is warm, which is a good thing in the northeast, however even on 25C day my feet were never hot. Yes, they are waterproof, I spent enough time in the mud puddles at the rally and have ridden in the rain to work in them. They also have adequate protection for the rigors ADV riding.

The downside, I can't wear them under jeans, and they are not as easy to slip on and off as my previous boot. Not a big deal. I have found that a couple of buckles have become difficult to close. Not sure if they need a slight cleaning and adjustment or not.

Overall, a great, comfortable, warm, waterproof boot, which is perfect for the ADV rider, at a reasonable price. $269.00 from Canada's Motorcycle online store.

Next up Oxford Heated Grips. Heated grips are must have in our neck of the woods, I even use them in summer time for my arthritic hands. Personally I think every bike sold in Canada should come standard with them.

I installed these early in the spring, and really wished I'd had them last year in Labrador. I purchased them through Avicious Cycle in Ontario, and for $89.00, I consider them a bargain. Installation was fairly easy, peel off the old grips, install the new ones. The throttle side required some modification, the ridges on the throttle sleeve need to be filed down to allow the new grip to slide on. I ran the wires under the tank back to the battery. It comes with a fuse, and a battery protector. If you accidentally leave the heat on, they will shut off automatically to prevent battery depletion.

The controller has five settings 30% to 100%. I find I usually run them at 40-50%. I mounted the controller on the left handlebar, allowing me easy access.

They come in a variety of styles, cruiser, sport and adventure. Guess what I got? The grips have a wider diameter than the stock, which I really like. People with small hands may not like that.

For years I have avoided buying heated clothes. I figured I have ridden in some damn cold weather and never needed them, just throw on some extra layers. Well, I have since changed my tune. Keith McKenney, who I met at the FAR rally convinced me. He's a very smart man, Ph.D, works in the field of genetics. He related being warm to a safety issue, and I agree.

I have in the past come home from rides mildly hypothermic. Probably not a good thing. Now that I am running ultra marathons, my body fat content is on the low side, I'm down 20lbs from this time last year, and I am cold a lot of the time. Even on a 20C day I have my rainliner zipped into my Olympia X-Moto jacket to stay warm.

So on the advice of the good Dr. McKinney I purchased a FirstGear 65W heated jacket. I pondered getting the vest only, but now I am glad I paid the extra for the jacket after my first ride. The jacket comes with plugs at the sleeves to add heated gloves, and a y-splitter to add heated pants.

I ordered everything from Canada's Motorcycle online store, I like to keep my money in Canada and the prices are not a whole lot different than the U.S.

The jacket itself is $215.00, and then you have to add a controller, I decided to go with Gerbings single controller $75.99, and a BMW coax power adapter $16.95, to plug it all into my powerlet on the bike.

I went out yesterday morning for a two hour ride, it was 8C when I left, with cool fog hanging in the valleys. I, however was toasty warm, almost too warm at times. It was awesome. I, for the life of me, cannot understand why I never had a heated jacket before. I really don't see a downside to it, other than having to plug and unplug from your bike when getting off and on. The controller has quite a lot of heat adjustment and it is easy to find a comfortable temp. I do need to find a way to mount the controller near my tank bag. Maybe adding a clip to it. I'm hoping Santa brings me heated pants this year.

The only drawback.....which was my fault. I should have ordered a tall size. I wish there was an extra inch of length in the body. I found at times there was a slight draft. But that is no fault of the jacket.

So that's it for this week. Reminder for all of you in the Saint John area, the Freeze Your Nuts Off Ride is coming up on the weekend of November 1st, with a rain/snow date of the 2nd. Stay tuned for more details.

Also work on the Fundy Adventure Rally promo video is well underway, and should be completed within the next week. Hopefully editor 'Arris will be coming down in the next couple of days to give his blessing on what I have done so far.

Beautiful weekend coming up.....get out and ride.

1 comment:

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