The London Motorcycle Show set up camp again in the vast barn that is ExCel in the Capitals Docklands area. It’s a smaller show than the annual Motorcycle Live show, but with so many motorcyclists living in and around the South East of the country – not to mention lots with plenty of cash to spend – the show is always well attended. With many of the big manufacturers exhibiting from Husqvarna to Suzuki and a healthy representation from the Adventure sector not to mention accessories, clothing and of course – free stickers
But if there was one trend that was immediately evident in both the stands and the bikes it was a backward -looking trend towards custom builds and retro machines. From the huge classic auction area packed with many bikes that in their day were far from classics to Kawasaki’s revisited Z900 RS and CCM’s stunning Spitfire range to Yamaha’s Yard built projects and even a whole stand of barn finds.
The theme continued with the massive presence from ‘built‘ magazine – lower case letters essential – who were exhibiting an impressive display of hand-crafted machines featuring everything from Harley Davidson to KTM engines wrapped in new clothes. ‘Built’ has becoming so popular that they’ve recently become a monthly magazine, bucking a trend that has seen magazine titles disappearing quicker than African elephants. Good work chaps.
For the beard-stroking, tattooed, lumberjack shirt wearing hipsters – who had caught the Tube from Hoxton as it was cold – it was heaven on earth. For those that were there first-time round, we could only wonder at who would possibly want to buy a Honda CB350 for £2500, let alone a forty year old one …
Anyway enough of that – here are all the bikes that caught our eye at the London Motorcycle Show 2018 – enjoy!
It’s hard to believe, but the Yamaha Tenere was lunched a staggering 35 years ago back in 1983. Copying the styling of the Paris-Dakar bikes, the bikes were an acquired taste restricted fairly well to the off-road aficionados, rather than the mainstream motorcycle market. The big single cylinder engine had its roots back with Yamaha’s seminal XT an TT500s from the 1970s, and against a backdrop of smooth inline four cylinder machines, the Tenere was never going to be the best seller in Yamaha’s catalogue.
THE CHUNKY TENERE HAD IT”S HERITAGE BACK IN THE 1970s
Yet almost against the odds, the dependable Tenere shifted enough units across the globe to keep it in production for an astoundingly long time, far outlasting almost all of the other models from the ’83 range.
Since the first version the bike went through a variety of revisions, facelift’s and relaunches to eventually emerge as the final incarnation of the bike launched in 2008. The modern style Tenere lasted right up until 2016 when those restrictive Euro 4 regulations finally put the nail into the XT660Z’s coffin.
But with Yamaha about to relaunch the Tenere in the form of their rather equisite T7 twin and other manufacturers looking like KTM and BMW looking to mid-sized adventure bikes as the next growth area, is a resurgance in interest in the Tenere on the cards?
Is the last of the original single pot XT660Zs a future classic – maybe the last of the true adventure bikes before adventure bikes swamped the market and became nothing more than tall sports bikes?
WITH CLASSIC SPEED-BLOCK GRAPHICS THE NEW TENERE LOOKED FIT FOR PURPOSE
FACTS AND FIGURES
OK so how does the Tenere stack up on the specifications and dimensions?
Well, firstly, unlike it’s air-cooled predecessors, the motor on the XT660Z is a liquid cooled and arguably far more complex unit. Not that this change has had much affect on the power output – the new Tenere makes a modest 48 bhp, so not a vasy amount up on the original bike’s 45 bhp – so much for progress!
And the same could be said for the rest of the dimensions on the bike, most notably the weight which has positively burgeoned up to around 180kg, almost 50kg up on the 1983 incarnation. But more on this later.
Looking at the chassis, the Tenere is fairly conventional all round. The frame is an unremarkable steel spine frame with incredibly strong subframe out the back, and a black painted aluminium swingarm holdinmg the rear hoop.
Suspension is reletively basic, but given how much riders actually adjust any of the multiple dials on more complex machines, this may be smarter than you think. Both the single shock rear and the 43mm ‘right way up’ front forks are only adjustable for pre-load.
THE TENERE ENGINE IS NOT THE PRETTIEST
If the frame and engine are heavily in the chunky side, then the bodywork is similarly rough and tough. A 23 litre plastic tank stretches from the stepped seat right to beyond the front forks and should be good for some serious mileage. There’s a collection of grey plastic protectors on the lower tank and covering the exhaust and expansion bottle and between the tank and the Praying Mantis style top fairing.
And for more big stats, we have to mention the seat height which at 89,5 cm is pretty damn high – throw on some luggage on the rear and swinging a leg over can be a big stretch.
Yamaha claimed a boisterous 105 mph as the you speed, but this needs to be taken with quite a pinch of salt – any bike with the profile of this bike is not going to be much fun on the other side of the ton.
Bringing the Yam to a halt is a twin 298mm disc set up at the front with twin-pot calipers with a single 245mm disc and single piston at the back end.
REAL WORLD TESTING THE TENERE
OK so if we are thinking that the Yamaha Ten is a future classic, how are we going to prove it? Well the answer is to buy one and use it for real life adventures and see how it stands up. So that’s what we’ve done.
THE 2011 YAMAHA XT660Z TENERE – THE IDEAL ADVENTURE BIKE
Searching the internet, we found a great condition 2011 bike with a pitifully small 9000 miles on the clock at our local dealership. The bike was pretty much stock, but did have a few useful additions.
First off and always welcome in a British winter, a set of Oxford Heated Grips were good to see and promised to keep our mitts warm till the sun returns in around May. What wasn’t so welcome was the fact that they were wired direst to the battery rather than tied into the ignition circuit – it’s only a matter of time before we leave them on and kill the battery.
Another addition. or perhaps replacement, was a lowering link from LUST Racing, taking down the seat height by a handy 25mm. When a rider of just under 6ft needs a lowering link, then you know that she’s a tall one.
HEATED GRIPS – WE LIKE LOWERING LINK TAKES 25MM OFF THE SEAT HEIGHT
At the rear of the bike, the previous owner had invested in both hardwear and semi-soft wear. A large luggage plate sits atop the rear of the bike, seemingly begging for some bags, and there are a set of SW Motech pannier frames in place which hold their rather beautifully rugged DAKAR panniers.
As is traditional, the rear mudguard has been hacked off to reduce the overhang, and so to continue the theme we’ve fitted a replacement numberplate to reduce trail breakages and fitted an LED plate light to replace the one that simply wasn’t there.
Other than that it’s all as it left the factory – it’s even got the haul loop at the front in case we need to drag it up a mountain or suspend it from a helicopter.
WITH JUST 9000 MILES IT’S A CLEAN BIKE STANDARD BACK END BUTCHERY HERE STOCK FRONT END
TARMAC AND TRAFFIC
Before we even took the bike out for the first shakedown, there were two things that needed changing quicksharp.
Top of the list was the shamefully inadequate footrests that Yamaha provided on the bike. If a high school student had made these in a metalwork class, they would have got a D – they are poorly made, too small, pig ugly and not fit for purpose. With half an hour in the garage, we’d adapted a spare pair from a KTM EXC to fit in the stock hangers and instantly upgraded the Tenere’s comfort and purpose when stood on the pegs.
KTM FOOTPEGS SLOTTED INTO PLACE WITH MINIMAL FETTLING
Second up was to swap the enormously long stock Yamaha levers with some shorty versions from eBay. We can see very little point in paying top dollar for levers when there are well-made and perfectly serviceable versions available for under £20 shipped from Asia. We’re running similar on other bikes and they’ve been as good as anything we’ve ever had.
ALLOY SHORTY LEVERS WITH ADJUSTABLE SPAN
So with the hands and feet happy, it was time to see how the bike shapes up on tarmac and trail.
The first impression s that of the height of the bike – it’s tall even with the lowering link, so you do need to commit when swinging your leg over. With the stock rear suspension setting it sinks a considerable amount, but once you stiffen the spring, it stays tall. This is great once riding because it gives you a commanding view on the road, but you do have to bear the height in mind if you have to stop on a camber and you are not able to flat-foot on either side.
The engine is nicely punchy from the off, and will move up through the gears effortlessly as you accelerate. Short shifting is not to be encouraged as the bike does chug a fair bit below 3000 rpm, so this region is best avoided. This fuelling glitch is a well documented fault which apparently can be largely solved by fitting either a Power Commander at around £300 or by heading for what is somewhat oddly called – Kev’s mod which is a bit of electronic trickery made up by an XT660Z specialist, unsurprisingly named Kev. At a fraction of the cost the Power Commander route, it’s a popular modification and one we’ll be looking into.
But let’s not get too hung up on this, it’s not a major issue. The bike is just fun to ride on the road, the high bars and relatively slim profile making filtering in heavy traffic easy, even if that cable operated clutch could be considerably lighter. Having used a hydraulic clutch on the Ride Expeditions KTM EXC250 for many years, we’re not fans of the cable, so we may look to fit a hydraulic conversion kit in the coming months.
The Metzeller Tourance tyres fitted to the bike have a very smooth and road friendly profile and as such are competent and stable on the black top. Corners can be taken at enthusiastic speeds without any worry on kicking out, which as the bike encourages spirited riding is a good thing.
TRAILS AND TYRES
THE YAMAHA POWERS THROUGH THE WATER ON STONY LANE
While the Metzellers might suit a bit of tarmac tomfoolery, their performance when off-road does not inspire much confidence at all.
As a first outing, we didn’t want to throw the bike at anything too extreme, so we headed for the Fosse Way, a legal byway that cuts through South Gloucestershire and provides an ideal soft-road option. And in the initial gravel stages, although the tyres were a tad vague, they were not too bad at keeping bike and rider sunny side up.
But once the speed increased and the tracks got a tad more muddy and wet, the Tourances begun to find their limits fairly quickly. In fairness to Metzeller, the tyres are described as for light off-road use and away from the muddy stuff and when faced with rocks, the bike faired much better. A few days later we took on some rocky lanes just outside Bath and were pleasantly surprised by the way they coped.
But looking beyond the tyres which will be easy to change the tyres, the bike is pretty good when off road. The Tenere is wider than the average trail or enduro bike and also fees taller thanks to the screen and instrument binnacle out in front, but it handles very similarly to a conventional enduro machine. The replacement footpegs help this as they do grip your boots, but had the tyres not lacked grip, then the speeds would have rapidly increased as our confidence on the bike grew.
ON ROCKS THE METZELLER TOURANCE TYRES HANDLED FAR BETTER THAN ON MUD
But what is evident is that we are going to have to make adjustments to riding styles on a bike that is significantly heavier than we’re used to. With an additional 70kg to think about, it’s like we’ve picked up a passenger without noticing.
The Yamaha handles well off-road and we’re confident that it’s going to be a competent adventure bike. But there no getting away from the fact that as with any bike in this category the additional weight is going to be an issue, particularly as the Tenere wears it’s weight quite high compared to other similar bikes.
Many of the reviews and blog sites about the Tenere identify the sispension on the bike as being far too soft and unadjustable and recommend upratinmg the suspension almost immediately. While we can certainly agree that the stock settings are incredibly soft and with only preload being changeable at both front and back then clearly there’s going to be some element of truth in this. But as to whether we need to ditch the stock equipment or just change the springs is difficult to tell with only light trail testing. Suspension tuning is always a good idea, but changing things without identifying the problem is not.
THE PLAN: FINISHING WHAT YAMAHA STARTED
So the basic bike has most of the stuff you need to set off towards the hills and take on proper adventures. It’s got a proven rock solid engine with plenty of grunt, albeit with some fuelling gremlins, it’s got a strong frame that can take the abuse of long distance travel and maybe just as importantly it’s got lots of owners across the globe that have worked on improving the bike before us.
On the downside it’s got more weight than seems entirely necessary, and that weight is held pretty high on an already high bike. How much we can do to change this is limited to a certain extent by budget but also how far we think it’s worth pursuing. We’ve read blogs of people throwing thousands at their Tenere to get it just right, but once you start doing that, you have to wonder whether they might have been better off buying something different to start with…
WE WANT TO ADD THE BITS THAT YAMAHA SHOULD HAVE TO MAKE THE TENERE FIT FOR ADVENTURES
Our plan is to take small steps to upgrade the bits that can be easily and relatively cheaply replaced and improved by your average riders. We’re not going to be making our own triple clamps or swapping the forks for motocross equivalents – that’s not on the wish list.
So lets look at the first stages and what we need.
The current tyres offer little grip away from the tarmac, so we’ll be lookimg to upgrade to something that we can use properly on the off-road sections, yet still have some road manners. It’s a tall order and there’s plenty of web experts out there ready to tell us what we need!
Rather than rely on subjective comparisons, we contacted the chaps at the Yamaha Off-Road Experience and asked them for recommendations, and took their advice. The guys have used the 600 Tenere before it’s demise and also use the bigger brother Super Tenere to know more than most!
ENGINE AND BODYWORK PROTECTION
For a bike that may spend a good amount of it’s life off road, the protection on the standard bike is almost non-existent. There are the strange grey blobs on the side of the tank and just below to cover the expansion tank and exhaust, and the sump is protected by a large ugly plastic sump guard which looks like it’s been recycled from a washing up bowl.
So we’ll be looking to add some proper engine bars that cushion any impacts without adding too much weight or width. We’ll also be looking to add a proper sump guard made from something harder – maybe metal? Now there’s a novel though Mr Yamaha
BARS, BAR PROTECTION AND CONTROLS
The stock bars are OK but it’s not a great bend compared to the swathe of options from aftermartket manufacturers, At present there may be a Renthal pad on there, but it’s on the stock metal and we’d like some genuine bars instead.
Of course to protect the bars and levers from impact, we need some proper wrap around handguards, and if they can come with some level of wind protection, then all good.
We’ve already swapped out the levers, but ideally we’d like to upgrade the cables and hoses to something more man for the job.
The stock suspension is soft – very soft. We’ve wound up the preload at both ends using the tools from the owner’s toolkit, but that has only made a slight difference as you would expect.
We’ll see how the bike performs on a longer off-road / road run before heading towards spring or shock changes, As the problem seems to be more acute at the front rather than the rear, them a change to progressive springs in the forks looks to be the first port of call.
That’s where we’ll leave it for the first stage. We’ll post blogs on the bits we add, how they fit and the difference they make.
Simple really ….
DO YOU HAVE A YAMAHA TENERE? TELL US HOW YOU’VE UPGRADED YOUR BIKE
Welcome to a windswept, cold and rainy February. In the UK the temperature refused to budge from ‘bloody cold’ for almost two months, but elsewhere in the world there are no such issues. Our Cambodian tours are in full swing with Toby leading hordes of eager trail riders across the country in a variety of colours of mud.
They’ve floated down rivers, camped on remote islands, eaten a bewildering range of delicious food and maybe sampled a few of the local beverages. It’s a tough gig but Toby and the riders have struggled through bravely ….
THE RAIN IN CAMBODIA IF FAR BETTER TO RIDE IN
It has been a busy time in our world, with new offices, new staff and new tours in the planning. And of course the blogs have been entertaining the troops across the globe.
So, let’s get on with the news.
SPITI VALLEY IS ON
We’re delighted to say that our brand new Spiti Valley tour is now on sale. After an intrepid band of travellers joined Toby, Julian and the gang for the recce tour back in July, we can now offer the same experience to our customers. If you’ve already ridden our Himalayan Heights tour, this is the ideal follow up ride and if you are new to Ride Expeditions – this is a tour that will truly astound you.
THE SPITI VALLEY IS EPIC, JUST EPIC
Starting out from our Northern Indian base in Manali, the Spiti Valley tour follows a wide anti-clockwise route towards the west of the region, heading over towards Tibet. Stopping in stunning hillside villages like Sarahan or the bustling towns of Kalpa and Kaza to luxury camping in the achingly beautiful and peaceful village of Nako, a green jewel in the heart of the Spit Valley this is one of the ‘must-ride’ routes in this stunning part of the world.
BIG LANDSCAPES AND BIG ADVENTURES – THAT’S WHAT WE DO
As with our Himalayan Heights tours, this is an inclusive tour so the price includes accommodation, meals, bike hire, support team – the whole nine yards. All you have to pay for after that is flights, entry visas, beer and souvenirs – fantastic.
The tour has already featured in magazine articles from the UK to New Zealand – the appetite for this tour is simply massive. You can read the article from Dirt and Trail in South Africa here
Contact our office on email@example.com to book your place – but be quick!
CAPE TOWN OFFICE OPENS
Now having mentioned both the office and South Africa, we can make a seamless segue into our next big news! Man – it’s like we really thought about this …
With Ride Expeditions continuing to grow, the team needed more space, so we’re pleased to announce that we’ve set up a brand-new office in Sunny Cape Town. Toby and Anna have set up camp in the cool suburbs overlooking the sea, and the new office is just a stone’s throw away. And with new premises comes new staff, so we’d like to give welcome to the frighteningly efficient Nawaal who is running the Admin side of things and the slightly more laid-back Devon who’ll be doing all manner of clever stuff with computers and marketing widgets. Glad to have you on board guys!
OUR HELPFUL STAFF ARE READY TO TAKE YOUR CALL
LIGHTS, CAMERA, ACTION
Our tours have not only been getting articles written about them in magazines, we’ve also been featured in full-on all action films – Toby is feeling like a younger if slightly less well-known Ewan McGregor!
OK so we’ve not quite got a full series on Sky or a part in Star Wars, but the stunning film by Eamonn and the guys from Full Moto Films in Australia gives a great sense of the fun and excitement of riding with Ride Cambodia, Ride Expeditions partner company in Cambodia. It’s stylish, atmospheric and beautifully made like a particularly fine craft beer – we like it a lot
RIDE Cambodia - FULL MOTO FILMS - YouTube
BLOGS, BLOGS AND MORE BLOGS
While the Cambodian team are busy pounding the trails, Julian has been bashing away at the keyboard. In fact, his trusty Mac had such a hard time on its trip to Nepal that if finally died and had to be sent to laptop heaven.
JULIAN’S LAPTOP DIED IN NEPAL – IT’S WHAT IT WOULD HAVE WANTED
Armed with a worryingly expensive but identical new model, he’s been busy putting out a host of blogs, from Tips for Group Riding to stop you being ‘that guy’, lists of things that make motorcycle adventures immeasurably better to stunning video compilations on the recent Dakar rally. Add in reviews of an LS2 Helmet, TCX Boots and even a stupidly expensive electric dirt bike and it’s like a full-on magazine in there. Get over to the BLOG section of the website and learn yourself some stuff.
ALL THE INFORMATION YOU NEED IN OUR BLOGS
COMPLETE CAMBODIA TOUR
If you watch the video and think – I need me a piece of that action – then we could have the perfect solution. Our Complete Cambodia Tour heads out on the 14th November and will take in landscape and trails every bit as stunning as the Full Moto film. But this time you can be riding it rather than watching it! There are just five – yes five places left on this exceptional tour which promises to be one of the high points of our year.
STONE TEMPLE PILOTS – THE BOYS GET RELIGIOUS IN CAMBODIA
Click here to find out more and then fire us an email to get booked up. What are you waiting for?
HORSE TOURS ARE GO
So, if your ‘significant other’ is maybe not into bikes quite as much as you, what are you going to do? Well the answer may be our Horse Trek Holidays, running along much the same lines as our excellent motorcycle tours, just with slightly more natural horse-power!
THATS A MARWARI HORSE THAT ANNA IS RIDING
It’s the dream project of Anna, Ride Expeditions co-owner and the first tour will take place in Rajasthan from the 6th November to the 17th. Riding the beautiful and extremely rare Marwari horses with their cute curly ears and promising stunning scenery and excellent riding every day, this is a tour for the true horse lover. Go to the website for more details or email firstname.lastname@example.org and let Anna know you are keen.
DECEMBER NEWSLETTER REDUX
The December Newsletter didn’t reach everyone as intended, so if you didn’t receive our end of year round up, you can catch it here. There’s details of out recce ride to Nepal, updates on the tours, news on the blogs and a picture of a man with a Teddy Bear. What’s not to like there?
NEW TENERE IN THE GARAGE – TIME TO GO PLAY
OK so that’s all. We’ve got a new bike to ride so we’re out ….
Following hot on the tails of the burgeoning Adventure bike market, helmet manufacturers across the world are producing a staggering array of similarly rufty-tufty Adventure style helmets to tempt would-be globe trotters. From top end brands like Arai and Shoei to the budget marques in the internet superstores, the choice is wide. With a new adventure bike in the Ride Expeditions garage it seemed time to get on board, so we decided to try the all new and rather pleasing LS2 Pioneer MX436.
THE LS2 PIONEER MX436 ELEMENT IN ALL ITS GLORY
So ignoring all safety advice regarding choosing bright and highly visible colours, we went for the ELEMENT option, resplendent in matt black and titanium with detail in a very KTM orange. The LS2 Pioneer looks pretty good to start of with, but out of the eight colourways – as the Americans would say – this option buttered our parsnips the most.
The look is of course much like the competition – a combination of motocross helmet visibility and wide aperture married to a big visor. If anything, the look is a tad more MX than some of the others in the showroom, and when it comes to using the helmet, this trait continues. But we’re getting ahead of ourselves, so let’s keep with the appearance.
The visor is adjustable from high to very high, there are vents underneath and exit vents at the back. The chinpiece also has a vent system inside, but given how far away from your face the helmet sits, this may be somewhat superfluous. If we are to be totally OCD about things, the asymmetrical grid on the front does not get our vote – we just want it to be symmetrical!
The liner is a combination of the black and orange used on the outside, mirroring the trend for bright liners in off-road helmets, Again like the grid, we’re not a huge fan of anything but black as light colours show the dirt really quickly, and if you’re riding an off-road bike, then dirt is a strong possibility.
THE STYLING IS AGGRESSIVE AND THE QUALITY IS GOOD
The first caveat to make clear us that despite the Adventure look of the helmet, LS2 state on their website that the Pioneer was “developed for professional off-road use in collaboration with our LS2 riders from the Cross, Enduro and Supermotard Championship Series”. This seems a little odd as few enduro or motocross riders take to the dirt wearing a helmet with a visor, although it is definitely common for dual sport and adventure riders. This may catch out would be buyers …
This established the LS2 Pioneer MX436 has a number of great features that will please most riders away from the track. There’s an integral tinted visor operated from a lever at the base of the left side of the helmet, and the fastening system is an easy to use and fast release ratchet system.
The liner is fully removable and washable, and the cheek pads are quick release to aid removal should you be unlucky enough to have a serious accident.
THE PIONEER LOOKS GOOD FROM ALL ANGLES, BUT THE PEAK IS VERY HIGH
Returning to the visor, the LS2 promises scratch resistance, UV resistance, fog resistance and the ability to fit a Pinlock anti-fog secondary visor.
With three different shell sixes, the LS2 Pioneer MX436 comes in sizes from XXS pinhead right up to 3XL buckethead. The shell is termed a ‘long oval’ which should make putting it on easier.
ON THE TRAILS AND ON THE ROADS
So putting on the helmet for the first time, the fit is snug but not over tight. As the LS2 was brand new the cheek pads push a little bit but these will slacken off over time.
Out on the road the vision from the massive aperture is far beyond the usual Shark road helmet we normally wear. The Pioneer is also a tad lighter at 1300 grams, but nothing near as light as our regular off-road helmet, the Suomy Mr Jump.
The comfort is good and despite the big peak, the helmet does not lift thanks to the firm fit of the lining. The visor lifts using a tab at the front, which is fine when opening, but when closing it goes right up under the peak and it’s far too easy to grab the peak rather than the visor – it needs moving, simple as. As previously mentioned, the inability to close off the upper vents means that this is not a warm helmet to wear in cold weather – if you are deficient in the hair department, you’ll feel the cold air very quickly without a helmet liner / skull cap.
The other drawback for road use is that the wind noise is quite loud. We tend to use ear plugs most of the time which reduces the effect, but without it’s more than a conventional road helmet, but bearing in mind it’s pitched as an off-road model is fair enough. As the side air vents are right in front of your ears, we tried taping over these but it made little difference, and somewhat bizarrely, the wind noise increased with the visor closed.
FOR TRAIL RIDING< WE LIKED THE LS2 WITH GOGGLES
The internal dark visor is a useful addition, but it could do with coming down slightly further to avoid the kind of bi-focal effect when you look down. The mechanism is positive but you do feel it would be prone to getting mud clogged in snotty conditions. Both this and the outer visor benefitted from additional anti-fog spray, despite LS2 stating they were pre-treated – not a particular issue but still a pain if what’s there doesn’t quite do the job it was meant to.
THE VISOR WILL CLOSE OVER A GOGGLE STRAP
Away from the blacktop and out on the trails, the helmet comes into it’s own and many of the road disadvantages of the LS2 Pioneer MX436 become off-road advantages. The increased air-flow allows you to keep cool when you are fighting up the technical stuff, and the visor tucking up under the high peak is good when you are stopped and taking a breather. Motocross style goggles fit in easily and the way that the visor comes down means you can close the outer clear visor over your goggles on the road sections.
Overall we liked the way the Pioneer performed out on the trails, and the ability to shut out the wind as you move between trails is something we’ve never had with a conventional off-road helmet. We can’t see it ever being used for enduro or motocross riders, but as a trail riding helmet it’s pretty damn good.
The LS2 is nicely padded and cradles your head like an affectionate grandmother. The liner is easy to remove and as it’s full washable it will be easy to keep clean and fresh.
You can’t fault LS2 for the price point of this helmet. The Spanish manufacturer has produced a helmet that looks like it costs over £200 and made it cost half that, which is always a nice bonus.
As a helmet around the £100 mark, then to expect Arai levels of longevity is clearly unrealistic, but The LS2 is well made and will put up with all the abuse you give it.
As with the pricing. LS2 have nailed the look of this helmet with a good selection of plain and patterned options from hi-vis yellow to American football helmet style. The Element option works well for image conscious KTM riders!
LS2 PIONEER 436 HELMET RATING
We like the LS2 Pioneer MX436 – it’s a well made, well priced and stylish looking helmet that performs well in the correct environment.
For trail riders that have to cope with the necessary evil of tarmac sections to connect the muddy bits, it’s ideal. And at a smidge over £120 for the Element model that we tested, and less for other colour options, it’s a great addition to the helmet shelf in the garage.
What it’s not is a helmet for adventure riders that do not go off road – if that’s you, then the LS2 will most likely frustrate with it’s off-road bias – buy yourself a road helmet and benefit from reduced wind noise, streamlining and less air around your face. Horses for courses …
IF YOU ARE LOOKING FOR A CHEAP AND VERSATILE TRAIL RIDING HELMET, THE LS2 COULD BE THE ONE
Electric vehicles are becoming an increasingly common sight on our roads, from the self-satisfied hum of a Toyota Prius to the swish of a high-end Tesla. And now if you want to add a dirt bike to that list, you can spend your money on the new CAKE Kalk, a stylish and minimal off-road machine due in the showrooms from summer 2018.
CAKE Kalk – A NEW BREED OF DIRT BIKE?
CLEAN AND PRECISE DESIGN – BUT IS IT REALLY A PRACTICAL OPTION
The confusingly named bike is the brainchild of Swedish entrepeneur Stefan Ytterborn, who was previously the head honcho at POC, a company manufacturing some distinctly styled and effortlessly cool helmets, clothing and sunnies for skiers. snowboarders and cyclists.
Yttereborn’s new company CAKE has developed their all new off road bike as the first offering and the machine fits well with their high-mided mission statement –to contribute to speeding up the transition towards a zero emission society, while enhancing excitement and fun.
OK so one bike’s not going to change the world, but at least they have a clear idea of what they are trying to do, even if achieving it is going to be a long process!
But enough of the eco politics – what’s the bike about? Well, like the ethics it’s all high-end stuff – 6061 alloy frame, carbon fibre bodywork, Ohlins suspension, headset by MTB giant Hope, beautifully crafted components and incredible build quality – even if you never see a Kalk out on the trails, you may see one in a design museum alongside a Starck Lemon squeezer ….
HIGH END COMPONENTS ARE EVERYWHERE
The CAKE Kalk weighs in at a reasonable 68 kilos or 150 pounds, with naturally much of that weight coming from the batteries, however company and stylish they might look.
Performance wise, the bike will top out at an impressive 50 mph, but ride it like that for long and it’s doubtfull how far you will get. Ridden normally at slightly more modest speed and using the tree selectable power modes, the range is said to be around 50 miles or 80km, which is pretty comparable to KTM’s Freeride E.
The comparison to the Austrian bike is inevitable, and although the CAKE bike looks a tad more more stylish and mountain bike like in looks, it’s the price that will be the major sticking point. If you do want to add a Kalk to your collection, you are going to need an eye-watering €14,000 or the same amount in dollars, or just under £12,500.
With the KTM now benefitting from tax advantages in the UK, the price on the Freeride has dropped dramatically from it’s initial price of over £12,000 to a much more affordable £5999 in the dealers in 2018. Without sorting a more attractive tax benefit, then it’s hard to imagine that many Kalks will make it out onto the trails in Great Britain, no matter how eco-friendly the rider….
BEAUTIFUL DETAILING ON THE HEADSTOCK OHLINS TTX SUSPENSION NITRILE COVERED 38mm USD FORKS
Cake Kalk Electric Motorcycle - YouTube
Of course, even if you were keen to buy the Kalk for the trail, the lack of gear like lights, brake lights and the other necessary components to allow a bike to be road legal and registerable would mean that the bikes use would be restricted to private land use only. Buying yourself a convenient forest may push that €14,000 price tag pale into insignificance!
But before we’re too down on the high price tag, CAKE are keen to point out that the Kalk is the first in a range of planned models, that every single component has had to be individually designed and made from scratch.
In terms of riding experience, anyone that has ridden an electric bike will know that the feeling is like nothing else. Electric motors have instant torque and will rocket off into the distance from the moment you twist the throttle – the fact that the only noise is just a high pitched whine just messes with your head. The Kalk has 15kw of power which equates to about 16 bhp, and with only 70 kilos plus rider to move, that is plenty enough to bring a massive grin to any face.
Add in the fantastic suspension that is adjustable for both compression and rebound, four-pot caliper brakes with 220mm rotors and the environmentally sensitive Trail Saver tyres, the Kalk is one sweet yet responsible package.
TINY BUT POWERFUL MOTOR CLEAN DETAILING EVERYWHERE NO ROOM FOR A NUMBERPLATE HERE
Whether we’ll ever get to see the CAKE Kalk in the flesh, let alone take it out on the snotty British trails may be doubtful, but that doesn’t prevent us admiring the engineering and vision of the enterprising Mr Ytterborn. Put €1000 down now and the rest on delivery and you can share his vision …
If you do splash the cash and invest in a Kalk – let us know if it’s as good as it looks!
PREFER PETROL? SO DO WE! and we run EPIC TOURS
From blasting through the Himalayas on a Royal Enfield to slicing along muddy trails in the jungles of Vietnam, RIDE EXPEDITIONS have got it covered.
With Dakar 2018 all done and dusted, here’s a chance to look back at the awesome racing and astounding effort of the riders. From Van Beveren’s early lead and heartbreaking crash to Mattias Walkner’s first win to maintain KTM’s seemingly unassailable dominance of the event.
The video is a truly epic piece of work, summing up just how punishing the race can be. Sit back and enjoy.
Best Of Bike - Dakar 2018 - YouTube
MATTHIAS WALKNER TOOK THE VICTORY FOR KTM. IMAGE – PHOTOSDAKAR.COM
When it comes to off-road boots, there’s an enormous range to tempt the rider’s wallet. From super-soft trials boots and chunky adventure models to stormtrooper style motocross footwear. But picking the right one can be tricky, requiring a real honest analysis of what type of riding you are going to be doing, and what type of rider you are. Shelling out on a set of Alpinestar Tech 10s may not be the best move if you are going to be bimbling along the local lanes on a Honda CRF250L, but similarly, if you are going to riding off-road to Turkmenestan, then a set of low-ankle Hipster boots may not cut the mustard. For this blog, we’re going to be looking at the TCX Comp Evo Michelin so see how it stacks up in the dirt.
OK so lets set out our stall here – we’re big fans of TCX boots at Ride Expeditions. As the boot brand to take place alongside Alpinstars in the garage, we’ve set the bar pretty high. If your going head to head with the leading off-road boot, you better bring your A game.
But they’ve done just that. Our older set of TCX Pro 2.1s have been constant companions on riding expeditions from France to Vietnam, North Wales to South California. They’ve done the job.and for the most part, done it well.
So as the TCX Comp Evo Michelin was offered as the replacement for the companies high-end boot, the upgrade was the obvious choice. We’ve had the boot for a season and a half and if you buy now you’ll get the latest version, the Comp Evo 2 Michelin. There aren’t a whole host of changes, the main differences seem to be the colour options.
So what are the main differences between the TCX Comp 2.1 and the new TCX Comp Pro Michelin ?
Well, we better start with the Michelin bit. TCX have teamed up with the French tyre manufacturer to give the Comp Pro proper grippy soles. Don’t worry, it’s not an old tyre stapled on to the base, but a purpose built and very effective sole which is substantially better than the previous TCX boot, and streets ahead of a usual motocross boot.
And as a change for the more dual-sport, trail and adventure user, this is a great improvement. If you are going to be off the bike and moving it over different terrain, then some decent grip is very welcome.
But alongside the grip, TCX have also been able to build in good wear qualities to the sole, so there has been almost negligible wear to the surface. OK if you fit a set of Raptors then we can’t promise the same but for normal trail use, the compromise between feel and grip is as good as any of Michelin’s tyres.
The second major change is TCX’s decision to abandon the inner boot that was a feature of the previous boot and it’s competitors.
This is maybe not such a welcome change for recreational riders as we liked the ability to remove the bootee, wash it out and dry it properly between rides – important if you’ve had the thing on for 15 hours straight.
Nonetheless, the inner of the boot is very comfortable and feels extremely well padded, while at the same time having plenty of toe room. If you are going to be wearing waterproof socks – which many riders will – then buying a tad larger than your normal size will perhaps make sense, so take the socks along when you are looking to buy.
As with the previous version, the sole is flat rather than profiled, so if you need a bit if additional arch support, you are going to have to add some ‘aftermarket’ insoles. It’s maybe a sensible move if you are going adventuring in these boots as you may end up walking for longer distances than the manufacturer had anticipated!
As regards the outside of the boot, the TCX Comp Pro Michelin is fit for purpose, The buckles – a bug bear on the early TXC boots – are much the same as the previous 2.1s and as such do the job with a satisfying clip and stay put, It’s not quite Alpinestar positivity, more Sidi effectiveness – either way they do up easily and stay done up until you take them off. There are four of them, all fastening to the outside of the boot out of harm’s way, and they are easy to replace if you need to.
Underneath the outer shell and used to secure the inner boot before the buckles, there is double velcro pads, and there is also an elasticaed cuff at the top to keep out the dirt.
There’s adjustment in the calf / shin plate which allows it to be raised up or down if needed. This can be useful if it interferes with your knee pads or braces, but as that hasn’t been the case, we’ve not bothered to touch the plate.
We may not have moved the plate, but in reality it’s the shin plate that has caused us the major issue with these boots.
The problem is the thickness of the plate on the first edition Michelins – when . OK it’s not maybe something that TCX has anticipated, but unless you are a motocross rider or always wear MX pants when riding off-road, the shin plate makes it very difficult to fit trousers over the top of the Comp Pro Michelin boots.
As with the socks – take along your enduro trousers when you try these boots to ensure that your kit works well together. The second version of the boot look to have a reduced sized shin plate, so it’s evident that this was something that TCX have recognised and adjusted.
So to the rest of the boot, there are few niggles and lots of good points. The protection is good around the entire foot, with a wide gear change pad and instep pad to prevent damage but to be really picky, we wish that pad went further down to where your boot sits on the footpeg.
The ankle support is excellent giving instant confidence as soon as you slip the boots on, yet the hinge – or ‘Dual Flex Control System’- allows enough movement when walking of getting physical on the bike.
There’s a large heat pad on the inside of the boot, covering the entire inner calf area and protecting the boot from hot engines and exhausts.
The toe box is a tad tall if you are not used to motocross style footwear, but for the second incarnation of this boot the company has reduced the size. Either way, it may need an adjustment of the height of your gear lever if you’ve been running more road-based boots as the TCX Comp Evo Michelin will be taller.
Another good aspect of the Michelin sole is the support it gives when stood up. Long days on the bike can really test the integrity and performance of any boot, and the TCXs manage the job well. Getting a balance between flex and support is a delicate sceince – go too supportive and firm and the boot will feet like a pair of clogs – go too soft and the pegs will push into your insoles and make standing uncomfortable.
TCX have got the balance just right, and combined with the generous padding on the interior, it makes for a very comfortable boot to wear, no matter how long your journey takes.
From our point of view, it’s hard to fault the comfort of the TCX MIchelins. The padded inner and sturdy outer cushion and protect your feet and lower leg perfectly. We have heard reports from riders with wider feet that the TCXs are not so compatible, but as that’s not us, we didn’t experience the problem.
OK so here the TCX boots let themselves down. If we were focussed on motocross riders, the the price point at just below £400 – £300 for the first editions that are still in dealers – is to be expected and hence unremarkable. However, in the adventure, trail and enduro market this price is expensive and when you can get Sidi Adventure Goretex at around £250, it’s hard to chose the TCXs.
THe TCX Michelins are incredibly well designed and made and are putting up with regular abuse without complaint of much sign of wear. The only damage evident is on the inside of the instep, but as we always do this to boots. it’s probably more to do with our riding style than the boot! The lack of an inner boot makes drying slower than the previous bootee system.
It’s a straight 5 out of 5 in this category, The TCX Michelins look great and elevate the brand yet again towards the gold standard in this category – the Alpinestar Tech 10s. Wit a great selection of garish and bold colours, these boots scream their presence as if you are on the start gate at Anaheim 1. Whether you want that out on the trails is another matter ….
TCX COMP EVO MICHELIN BOOT RATING
If the TCX is to be judged just as the motocross or competition enduro boot it is intended to be, then it would score a straight five across the board. It’s well made, comfortable, appropriately priced and will keep your feet as safe and supported as anything else on the market.
In terms of wider use in the adventure and trail market, the boots have some drawbacks, notably their price when compared to the market leading Sidi. Similarly, although they are not bad at keeping out the water, they cannot hold a candle to a genuine dual sport boot. MX boots are not waterproof.
If, however you are in the market for a top of the range boot that will protect your feet and allow you to take on anything from technical rocks to flat out Dakar style piste, then the TCX Comp Evo Michelins may well be the one.
THE HARDER YOU RIDE, THE MORE THE TCX COMP PRO MICHELIN MAKES SENSE
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It’s the New Year – traditionally a time to throw out the old and bring in the new. But when it comes to your dirt bike, trading in the faithful hack for something brand new and shiny really isn’t necessary, it’s just time for a motorcycle makeover!
IT MIGHT BE A BIT GRUBBY, BUT A BIT OF GARAGE TIME WILL BRING IT BACK
Underneath the muck and corrosion there’s still a great bike, you’ve just got to put in the effort, twist those spanners and splash a bit of cash to find it.
So we thought we’d give you a plan of attack in the form of our New Year Motorcycle Makeover. You might not need or indeed be bothered to do the full twelve on the list, but as every step will improve your scoot, you can only win.
All products listed are included as suggestions and examples, not necessarily recommendations from RIDE EXPEDITIONS, although we have used many of those featured.
Let’s get busy ….
As the only way that the power is getting from you engine to your wheel, the chain and sprockets are a good place to start our motorcycle makeover.
Of course, you all know that changing the sprockets without changing the chain is as dumb as running a new chain on knackered sprockets don’t you? So lets get sensible about this – if we are bothering with a spruce up, lets do a proper job.
WHETHER O RING OR X RING, A NEW CHAIN IS A GOOD INVESTMENT
For everything but the all-out motocross boys, then you will be looking at an O-Ring chain or X-ring. Either way the addition of the ring, whatever shape it might be, increases longevity of the chain by sealing in the lubrication of the internal surfaces, so that’s a good thing.
You can but OEM manufacturers chains, but as most will tend to source their chains from similar manufacturers like DID , there is little advantage except from maybe the fact that it will be the right length to start with. For off-the-shelf chains, you may need to cut to length using either a chain splitter or a grinder if you know what you are doing!
STEEL TEETH AND ALLOY CORE – THE BEST OF BOTH WORLDS
For sprockets you will have options too. As the front, there will be the choice of OEM or pattern, both should be steel but you can vary the number of teeth to alter the gearing. Don’t go mad on this as going up or down just one tooth at the front makes a big difference.
If there is one thing guaranteed to improve the performance of your bike, then it’s the black things that connect it to the ground. And hence it follows that any attempts to improve your bike should include changing worn-out rubber for fresh.
But what to change them for. Bikers tend to be creatures of habit and go for the same brand and type each time as an “it’s not broke” option. But how about experimenting a little? Why not see just how grippy trials or hybrid tyres can be when fitted to an enduro bike? Tyres are not that expensive and the differences between an enduro and more sticky hoop when ridden on rocky or stony terrain can be immense, and if you don’t like it – just wear it out and don’t go back, or if you can’t stand it, pass it on for a mate to try.
MAXXIS TRAILMAXX – AS STICK AS WARM LIQUORICE
And for the adventure bike riders, how about experimenting too? If you never go off-road, why not ditch the dual sports and head for some super-sticky road rubber? You’ll be amazed at how agile your 250 kg monster can be when it’s got more than two square inches on the road!
The same goes for you venturing off-road on stock and slippery OEM dual sport hoops. Why nor invest in something really suited to the job and see how good your bike can be. OK you might be limited by tyre size on some bikes, but most adventure machines off-road performance can be improved with the correct rubber.
So if we are just looking at a New Year motorcycle makeover, then clearly investing in new exhaust parts may be stretching things. But at the very least you can make what’s there as good as it can be. And that means tackling a silencer service
For both the strokers and the thumpers , this can be something that’s too often overlooked, but is in fact a cheap and simple option that will have a beneficial effect on the bike and the environment you ride in.
NEW PACKING IS SO CHEAP, YOU SHOULD DO THIS TWICE A YEAR
For less than £10 you can buy yourself silencer packing from either your local dealer or eBay – we know we’ve just done the can on the KTM EXC250.
With most silencers capable of being unbolted, then replacing the often black and, in the two-stroke case, oil-soaked packing is simple. Remove the old stuff and clean off the central pipe – carefully and in a well-ventilated area if using solvents before reassembly with the new padding. Hold the padding in place by wrapping a wide spiral of cotton around it and tying off, before slipping the whole assembly back into the outside can. Job done
You bike will now sound better and perform better as it now has the correct back pressure from the end can.
GET A GRIP
Another cheap and cheerful option here, but one that makes an instant and very noticeable effect. As the attachment point between us and the bike then the grips are essential but often overlooked. Yet considering they cost less than a ten spot, this seems a bad idea.
Once upon a time, your brakes looked like this. Shiny precision components carefully assembled and capable of bringing your bike to a swift and controlled halt within seconds. Now look at them – rusty and scraped discs are gripped by simlarly rusty and worn pads, fed by a weathered hydraulic pipe filled with murky brown fluid. It’s not good.
So the least we can do is a full caliper service, removing the whole unit, taking out the pistons and giving everything a full clean. If you are really keen you can replace the piston seals and if going mad, the master cylinder seals too before fitting new pins and pads, adding new hoses and bleeding through with fresh DOT4. Perfect.
As for the discs, this is going to take a bit more cash, but if they are on their way out, replacing them can only help your bikes braking efficiency. At around £30 for a pattern part, then both ends should come in well below the £100 mark. Go for something like the mid range MotoMaster discs and you are looking closer to £90 each, and high end BRAKING discs, favoured by top motocross and Supercross teams, are double that.
If you are constantly riding in really muddy conditions, changing from ventilated to solid discs night be an option as this will reduce brake pad wear.
MOTO MASTER DISC BRAKING DISC
OK so if you’ve changed the grips, it might be worth looking at your other main point of contact – the saddle. Most riders put up with the stock seat from initial purchase to eventual sale without ever questioning whether things could be better. So KTM riders put up with rock hard planks while DRZ owners never move from one position, trapped in place by the soft foam engulfing their rear ends.
But there are plenty of other options – KTM and Husky offer tall seats, low seats, gripper seats, humped seats in their Powerparts / Husky Sport catalogues, and all those options can be created on your OEM seat simply buy buying a replacement cover and either buying replacement foam or trusting it to an automotive upholsterer. If you are really hard core, you could try the Acerbis X seat
Changing your saddle won’t cost much and will seriously change your riding experience – trust us.
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From the deepest Cambodian Jungle to the highest road in the world in the Indian Himalayas, the RIDE EXPEDITIONS team are busy running the finest motorcycle tours. Combining Western standards with local hospitality and guides, it’s a winning combination …
Now we are going deep and this phase may involve some technical ability if you intend to do it your self.
The bearings on your bike take a hell of a beating every time we go out, yet most of us are fairly lax at servicing them and even checking them until the MOT test comes round.
Wheel bearings are left unmolested despite the ravages of the regular jet-wash blasting, the head bearings are left until they clunk and as for the swing arm and linkages, they are as unvisited as a lonely pensioner at Christmas.
BEARINGS ARE CHEAP AND RELATIVELY EASY TO FIT, SO DON”T WAIT FOR THEM TO FAIL
So at the very least you should be looking to stripping down the components to check and regrease if all is OK. At worst. you may need to replace the bearings that are dry, notched or on their way out. None of those listed are difficult to do, but you do need enough knowledge before you start, and sometimes it’s a good idea to spend some time watching suitable You Tube instructional videos.
YOUR SHOCKS TAKE A LOT OF ABUSE – SHOW THEM SOME LOVE
After a year of keeping the best of the landscape from bashing you and the rest of the bike to pieces, your suspension deserves some TLC. This is probably one thing that we’d suggest you leave to a qualified professional unless you are really on your game on the mechanics front.
Changing oil and seals in the forks is eminently acheivable with a relatively basic knowledge, as is replacing the front springs. But for anything beyond this, and especially when it comes to servicing the rear shock or shocks, we’d firmly suggest you pay the money.
As our blog on suspension tells you, setting up your suspension correctly is the single most cost-effective performance upgrade you can make to your bike. So keeping it working correctly once set up should be a no-brianer …
DOES YOUR GARAGE LOOK LIKE THIS? THEN MAYBE LEAVE THE SUSPENSION SERVICE TO EXPERTS
Like the stock seats, most of us just run the stock levers on our bikes without bothering to investigate alternatives. Over the months they get battered, twisted and loose and yet still they remain unloved and unreplaced, So maybe the winter rebuild is the time to change that.
There are some very good replacements out there, from the shiny and fresh OEM items to anoodised bits of bling from the big parts houses like 24MX or Parts Unlimited. These look super cool but really don’t do anything different from the stock alloy items, except maybe span adjustment.
ANODISED REPLACEMENTS MAY NOT BE BETTER THAN OEM, BUT LOOK PRETTY
As an in between option. you could also look at the MME Clever Lever which promise to reduce the pulling force by an incredible 50% over stock and come in about £70 – comparing favourably to the £532 for the Clarke unit!
We’ll be testing the MME controls in the spring so watch this space for a full review.
RENTHAL INTELLILEVER CLARKE ONE LIGHT MME CLEVER LEVER
Changing your oil filters should be part of your regular maintenance, but certainly in the case of air filters, we are all guilty of eeking out the lifespan of a product far beyond the manufacturers intentions. Let’s be clear, an air filter is not for life and it’s sensible to change them regularly if you value your engine.
As with the other components OEM versions will be relatively cheap and often come from big brand names like Twin Air to start with. Pattern filters will be cheaper, but be careful that the fit is correct before trusting your motor to a £5 version.
TWICE THE SURFACE AREA AND LOOKS COOL AS – WINNER
But if you are looking to upgrade, then maybe something like the Funnel Web filter may be an option. These offer an impressive 100% increased surface area over stock and hence longer service intervals according to the website. They look super cool too, but as you’re the only one who will see it, it’s not a deal maker!
OK so unlike of all the points above, uprating the plastics or graphics on your bike will have absolutely no effect on the performance or handling. Throwing away scratched but serviceable mudguards, radiator shrouds and number boards to replace them with new is an entirely pointless waste of time, but man it feels so goood. For a shade under £100 you can make your bike look so much better, and invest the same again in custom graphics and your bike will instantly feel fresher, newer and faster. Ok it’s the same shed underneath, but it’s now a shiny shed!
KILLER GRAPHICS ON THE DERESTRICTED.COM EXC300 BUILD
So if all our advice and recommendations feel like too much effort, the very least you can do for your bike at the start of another year of abuse is treat it to a new plug. Who knows, you might realise you’ve never changed the plug, and commonly, discover you’ve been riding with the wrong plug spanner in your backpack since you bought the bike …
So that’s it. You’ve battled through a full twelve steps and now your bike is better than it left the showroom.
Exploring the world on a motorcycle is, to our minds, one of the best ways to spend your time. Combining your love of riding bikes with experiencing new countries and meeting people from all corners of the globe means that adventure travel knocks a boring beach holiday into a cocked hat as far as we’re concerned. And we are pretty confident that you feel the same – why else would you be on our site?
A MOTORCYCLE AND A BIG SKY, THAT’S ALL WE NEED
But adventure riding can be tough at times. OK so long days in the saddle and sleeping in a different bed every night might be first world problems, but it’s still a degree more challenging than staying in a plush hotel by the seaside. So things that make life instantly and immeasurably better are important adventure essentials. But we’re not talking the big stuff here – things like proper waterproofs of a decent helmet – no that’s taken as read that if you are going for two weeks riding across entire countries you will have those locked down and already packed.
What we are looking at here are the things you don’t realise you’ll need until you notice you don’t have them ….
#1 POWDER PUFF
For those that haven’t experienced the joys of talc since nappy change time as a baby, man – have you been missing out. And even we can’t persuade you to embrace Baby powder as part of your bath time routine at home, taking a pot of the soft stuff on an adventure trip is a bit of luxury that you’ll soon get to love.
From dusting below the waterline after a shower to sprinkling your feet before slipping them into your socks, talc will make life softer and nicer straight away. Riding all day can make things pretty damp and uncomfortable, but talc will keep the dreaded monkey-butt well away – and that’s something you will definitely appreciate ….
#2 FOOT FETISH
So we’re taking a leaf out of the Scout handbook here. After a hard day walking over hills and dales, those woggle-loving chaps lose their sturdy walking boots the moment they hit camp, thus allowing both the boots and their feet to dry out and get a bit of air.
And it’s no different on a bike – keeping your pinkies cooped up is not good news, so reaching for the flip flops or thongs is a smart move, and as they are small to pack, they won’t fill your kit bag as much as a set of brogues.
CRACK OUT THE HAVIANAS
The other use is that you can wear them in the shower, thus avoiding slipping and more importantly, contact with dubious tiling in the seedier hotels you might encounter.
Now some places do provide flip flops in the bathrooms already, but these have been worn by everyone else too. Next stop Verruca Town?
#3 BEDTIME BUDDIES
YOUR BUDGET HOTEL PILLOW MAY NOT LOOK LIKE THIS …..
So while we are on the subject of budget accommodation, then we need to talk about bedding. Once you head off the beaten track, the standard and indeed cleanliness of what’s on the bed can vary enormously from the freshly laundered hand woven Egyptian cotton that you are used to at home.
LIVING LIFE AND LOVING A LINER
So when you are packing for your trip, grabbing yourself a nice clean cotton pillow case and slipping it on the pillow every night ensures that it’s only your face and your drool that’s been there.
For added comfort and peace of mind, a visit to a camping shop to buy a cotton sleeping bag liner does the same for your entire body. OK so you might not be in a sleeping bag, but a cotton liner is always a nicer place to be than ageing sheets. And with both the pillow case and liner being cotton, they are quick and easy to wash and dry – perfect!
#4 LOVE THE LAUNDRY
Having touched on the whole laundry issue, then we best continue. If you’ve packed sensibly, you won’t have bought too many clothes with you. So that means after a while some of it is going to need washing and drying. Washing powder is fairly widely available in most places you may visit, but if travelling to really remote areas you might need to bag up some hand wash powder, just be aware that going through airports with unmarked bags of white powder brings its own risks ….
CUSTOMS OFFICERS LOVE A BAG OF WHITE POWDER
Next up is a washing line so you can dry what you’ve just washed, and if you want to avoid it ending up on the floor within seconds, a handful of pegs will do the trick. Camping shops usually sell travel either pegless lines or washing lines which have the two combined – genius
CLEAN PANTS AHOY
Although you might think that you can just rely on the torch on your phone, on an adventure motorcycle trip, you will soon find the immediate shortcomings of this plan. Not only will you be constantly worrying about how much precious charge the torch is using, you’ll soon find that trying to do anything while holding a phone is pretty impossible.
CAVING AND CLIMBING KIT IS A PRETTY BOMB-PROOF
Some might swear by the trusty Maglite, but in reality it has the same handling issue as the phone, meaning you end up with the thing in your mouth, dribbling slightly as you go.
The answer is of course a head torch, widely available from just a few pounds up to the mid-fifties for a high-end caving and climbing affair. As they all do much the same job, it’s hard to see how you need to spend much more than a twenty for one suitable for a motorcycle adventure.
Armed with a head torch, you can do everything from locating the stubbies in the tent, going to the toilet in the night, mending the bike in failing light – hell you can even use it as an emergency headlight on the bike.
Travel essential right there.
#6 BAG FOR LIFE
SO MANY USES, SO LITTLE TIME
OK so a real low-key option here, but having plastic in your kit bag makes things so much easier. From keeping your IPhone Dry in your jacket pocket, stopping the shower gel from leaking into your clothes or just over your to keeping the dirty socks away from the clean ones, a selection of placcy bags will prove invaluable.
On the bike side, you can use then for waterproofing electrics, transporting water to top up radiators, you can even put them on your feet to keep out the water, the list goes on.
Just be careful how you dispose of them – many remote areas have banned plastic bags because of their threat to the environment, so be a bit responsible out there!
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#7 FRESH & FRAGRANT
DUSTY FACE TO TRAMPS BATH – JOB DONE
Keeping things clean and fresh when out in the wilds of the world can be problematic. The toilet facilities can leave much to be desired, often looking vastly dirtier than anything that might be on your hands, so a pack of wet wipes and a pot of alcogel can keep things hygienic when your environment may be far from that.
A staple of festival going hippies, the humble wet wipes can be also used for the ‘tramp’s bath’ if you happen to find yourself miles away from running water.
And as for the alcogel – it makes a passable fire starter as well as a hygienic hand sanitizer. Double bubble then.
USE SPARINGLY – DON’T GET PARANOID ABOUT GERMS
#8 PLUG IN BABY
Motorcyclists have been using ear plugs while on the bike for years. As a way of protecting your hearing from a droning exhaust and wind noise, it’s a sensible move.
However, ear plugs have a much more handy use off the bike. It’s an unfortunate fact that if you are travelling in a group, a good proportion of them will snore when they sleep. It’s not something they will be able to stop, but if you are sharing with them it can be beyond annoying, rendering your attempts at sleep largely ineffective.
BUY THE ONES ON A CORD AND YOU WON’T LOSE THEM AT NIGHT
So slipping a few sets of industrial strength ear plugs into your bag before you leave for foreign shores can be a lesson in protecting your sanity, your sleep and in extreme cases, the life of the unfortunate snorer that you are bedded down next to …
#9 DRY HUMP
We’re back to the bedroom again, and this time it’s all about the towels. If the places you are staying are on the budget side, then chances are that the baby-soft towels you are used to may not be provided. Some don’t provide anything at all, and in that case showering can prove an issue.
Again we head for advice from the Scouts and this time it’s a travel towel
FANCY A GOOD RUB DOWN?
OK they feel a bit like your using a chamois on a car but it will dry you quickly and effectively and then usually dry out completely in your room overnight.
And don’t think you have to spend a lot on them – under a tenner, it rolls up small in your bag and your good to go.
#10 CRACK ADDICT
Now this might be a bit prosaic, but travelling vast distances over difficult terrain on a motorcycle can lead to a build-up of heat, sweat and dirt in the pant region. In that situation, getting a bad case of sweat rash or ‘Monkey Butt’ can result.
In this unfortunate, you will be beyond pleased that you packed some Vaseline to take the sting out of the situation. That’s all we need to say, except keep it away from your mates, especially the one who has bought Tabasco Sauce as his travel essential ….
CURE THE FLAMING CREASE
#11 HOTTIE PATOTTIE
A HOTTIE YOU CAN SLEEP WITH WITHOUT GUILT
This one is reserved for those going to cold areas, but having just returned from the Upper Mustang Valley and having had to resort to a Coke bottle filled with hot water, we can firmly get behind this one.
Keeping warm at night can be difficult enough in cold weather, and sometimes just wearing all available clothes is not enough. In that instance, a nice old-fashioned hot water bottle in a cover can be a better bed fellow than anything else in the world. It will raise your core temperature almost instantly to get you to sleep in comfort, and what’s more, it will stay hot most of the night.
You can even ride with it down your jacket the next day if it’s still cold!
#12 MACK THE KNIFE
IT’S MORE USE THAN A CUCKOO CLOCK
Clearly you are going to have to put this in your hold luggage to avoid confiscation at the first airport, but travelling with the best hardware from the Geneva Light Infantry will have a multitude of uses. Some may say that a good Leatherman will do the same, but does a Leatherman have a corkscrew for a cheeky bottle of red? Does it have a tiny pair of scissors to trim back that ridiculously painful ingrowing toenail? Does it have a tiny pair of tweezers to take that thorn out of your pinkie?
We think not – Go Switzerland!
RIDING INTO THE DISTANCE IN COMFORT
That’s all we’ve got for the moment. None of these take up much space, but all of them will make your time away from home so much better – we guarantee.
In among the massive stands of the global manufacturers, a stand showing off hand-made motorcycles from Bolton should not have got a look in. Yet at last year’s show when the original concept was launched and again at the 2017 incarnation of Motorcycle Live, the CCM Spitfire was garnering more interest than anything from Honda, KTM or Ducati.
The bosses in the tiny Northern factory can hardly have dreamt just how popular this bike was going to prove. Although perhaps accidentally, CCM had managed to capture the zeitgeist of a great swathe of the motorcycle buying public, offering a plain, simple and beautiful hand-made bike rather than the technology driven mass-produced models on virtually every other stand. This is a bike where you can see the welds, feel the engineering, sense the love and heritage with which these bikes have been built.
The original Spitfire, originally launched in 2016 as a limited edition of just 150 now has three other stable-mates in the Scrambler, Cafe Racer and Flat tracker. Although few have actually been seen out on the roads, all are proving equally popular and the CCM order books are so full, they are taking on new staff and moving to a bigger factory. And with Euro 4 regulations effectively killing their excellent GP450 Adventure machine, this success couldn’t have happened at a better time
In an industry dominated by corporate lions, CCM is yet again proving to be a mouse that can roar.
IN A MARKET OF ADVENTURE CLONES, THE CCM SPITFIRE IS TRULY INDIVIDUAL
We’re going to be testing the exquisite Spitfire in the New year, but in the meantime, here’s our images from Motorcycle Live. This bike is dripping with bespoke goodness, so here are the bits that made us happy to be alive ….
CRISP AND INDIVIDUAL LIGHTING SETS OFF THE FRONT END
WHILE STYLISH CANS FINISH OFF THE REAR
THE ENGINE IS DERIVED FROM A BMW ERA HUSQVARNA AND LOOKS GORGEOUS
NO FRILLS HERE, JUST FINE BRITISH ENGINEERING
BILLET AND STEEL IN EQUAL MEASURE
FRAME COMES BARE WITH THE WELDS PROUDLY ON SHOW
HAND STITCHED SEAT WITH ROUNDEL DETAIL – NICE
BREMBOS AND COOKIE CUTTER DISCS HANDLE THE STOPPING DUTIES
KILL OR FIRE – YOU DECIDE. ONLY CCM WOULD DO A DASHBOARD LIKE THIS …