Exploring off the beaten path is one of the joys of adventure biking, but riding in remote areas does have its dangers. This is particularly true when Mother Nature flexes her muscles, something the two bikers in the video below learned the hard way.
The pair were motorcycling in Colombia when they arrived at a torrent of mud and rock gushing down a cliffside and across the unpaved road they were on. Initially, they film themselves deliberating about crossing the landslide, until it suddenly seems to surge in power and threatens to swamp the road around them.
A few terrifying seconds unfold as they desperately try to manoeuvre their bikes to avoid being swept down a steep cliff side, but they struggle to move around in the fast-flowing sludge. One of the bikers tries to yank his bike backwards while the other attempts to turn around in the river of mud and rock.
Thankfully they recognised the danger early enough and were able to slip and slide their bikes to a safe place where they are visibly relieved to have survived their close call. The video was posted by tour company Motolombia on its YouTube channel.
The adventure bikers were riding the road between Popayán and Inza in the south west of Colombia, a steep and twisting mountain highway that reaches heights of more than 3,000m. It’s a beautiful part of the world but watching the video below emphasises the need to be respectful of the power of Mother Nature.
We’re big fans of REV’IT! adventure gear here at ABR thanks to its winning combination of style, performance and value for money.
We’ve ridden in it for thousands of miles at home and abroad and it has always proved comfortable and durable, whatever the conditions.
So, it was with much excitement that we learned the Dutch manufacturer was launching a new collection of adventure motorcycle clothing for spring and summer 2019.
Here we take a look at the range to see what you can expect from REV’IT!’s latest adventure offerings.
Expedition H2O adventure boot
Expedition H2O adventure boot
Perhaps most exciting of all is the launch of the Expedition H2O adventure boot which has been developed over the past three years. In fact, REV’IT! says the new boot underwent 80,000 miles of testing on and off road in five different continents and took 27 prototypes to perfect.
The result is an adventure boot that’s been designed to combine the flexibility and comfort of a touring boot with the high levels of protection usually found in stiffer off-road footwear. It comes equipped with the BOA closure system which uses a dial and stainless steel laces to provide a close fit.
The Expedition H2O also features REV’IT!’s hydratex Sphere breathable waterproof membrane which is laminated to the outer shell of the boot to keep you dry.
We’ve just received a pair of these adventure boots to test and we’re looking forward to putting some big miles on them. However, we’ve already been impressed by the build quality, comfort and styling the boot offers.
Offtrack jacket and trousers
REV’IT! Offtrack jacket
REV’IT! has also revealed a new jacket and trousers combo for its spring and summer 2019 collection. Called the Offtrack, it has been designed for adventure riders who spend plenty of time off road.
The jacket comes equipped with 3D mesh panels on the upper body and upper back which should provide ample ventilation, making it ideal for warm weather riding when you’re working the bike hard off-road. We also imagine it will be a great jacket to wear while riding on the road in warmer climates.
REV’IT! Offtrack jacket
If the weather takes a turn of the worse, the Offtrack jacket features a waterproof detachable hydratex G-liner to keep you protected from the rain and wind, plus a removable thermal liner.
The jacket and pants also come with REV’IT’s SEEFLEX and SEESMART armour which manages to be lightweight, flexible and protective.
When it comes to looks, the Offtrack jacket combines rugged functionality with a stylish simplicity that has become synonymous with REV’IT! clothing.
REV’IT! adventure in the Outback 3
REV’IT! Outback 3 adventure jacket
For spring and summer 2019, REV’IT! has also launched the versatile and affordable Outback 3 adventure outfit. At £259.99, it looks to offer great value for money for riders who don’t want to splash out on more expensive kit. It features detachable waterproof and thermal liners, plenty of ventilation, and SEEFLEX CE-level 2 protection at the shoulders and elbows.
We also like the look of the four pockets on the front of the Outback 3 jacket which should offer plenty of storage space on tour.
REV’IT! Voltiac 2 jacket
Riders looking for a slicker, less technical style should take a look at the Voltiac 2 jacket and Factor 4 trousers in the spring and summer 2019 range. This affordable all-weather gear has a waterproof and breathable liner and features a combination of SEESMART and SEEFLEX armour.
REV’IT! has also made its popular Cayenne Pro adventure suit available in new colours for 2019. The rugged, warm weather adventure jacket and trousers can now be bought in green/black and light grey/green.
New summer gloves
REV’IT! Sand 3 ladies gloves
The manufacturer has also added to its line-up of riding gloves by launching a new men’s Dirt 3 glove and a Sand 3 ladies glove. We’ve covered swathes of Europe wearing the men’s version of the Sand 3 glove and it proved extremely comfortable and well ventilated. We can’t recommend it enough for warm weather riding.
REV’IT! adventure this spring and summer
REV'IT! Spring/Summer 2019 Adventure Collection - Designed for Adventure - YouTube
As well as testing the Expedition H20 boot, we’ll be getting our hands on as much of REV’IT!’s new adventure range as possible to let you know how it performs. Our first impression is that REV’IT! has produced yet more strong-performing and stylish motorcycle clothing to wear on our adventures in 2019.
Planning a motorcycle trip may be the most fun you can have off two wheels. There’s nothing quite like pouring over a map to research routes and destinations, while imagining the sights, sounds and smells awaiting you behind exotic place names.
For some, this is as far as planning a motorcycle trip goes. All they need is a direction of travel, a tent and a credit card before hitting the road. For others, the devil is in the detail. Meticulous planning ahead of time allows them to relax and enjoy the ride, safe in the knowledge things like food, accommodation and fuel are all in hand.
Here at ABR, we tend to walk the line between the two approaches when we’re riding routes for the magazine. Some planning is needed because we have a brief to work to and deadlines to meet. But experience has shown the unexpected often leads to adventure, and it’s the discoveries that we make on the road we get most excited about sharing with you.
Because we all approach motorcycle trips in different ways, we’ve pooled our knowledge with that of travel experts Brittany Ferries to highlight the information we all should know before travelling to three of Europe’s most popular motorcycle touring destinations – France, Spain and Portugal.
We promise to only mention the word once, but with Brexit around the corner, the UK Government has advised UK passport holders to ensure they have at least six months left on their passport before they travel.
If you’re planning a trip away this year, it’s worth checking now to see when your passport expires.
Taking the ferry
There’s nothing quite the like the feeling of riding up the ramp onto a ferry, strapping your bike down and sailing off to sea at the start of a motorbike adventure. There are a couple of tips to keep in mind before your journey.
Book in advance – ferries are very popular during the peak summer holiday periods so ensure you book a ticket well in advance of your trip. The further ahead you book, the more likely you are to get a better price.
Book a cabin – this is essential for me on an overnight journey, but I also try and book a cabin on long day cruises. Being able to relax, get some sleep and have somewhere to leave my gear makes the journey that bit more enjoyable.
Join the mailing list – as a rule I try and limit the number of mailing lists I sign up to, but Brittany Ferries’ emails are well worth receiving in your inbox to ensure you are first to hear about offers and deals on crossings.
Riding in France
France is a wonderful place to ride a motorcycle, offering some of the best roads and Alpine passes in the world. But you’ll notice the joy of riding in this beautiful country as soon as you roll off the ferry.
The French road network has more than 9,000 miles of autoroutes which are generally well-maintained and quieter than roads here in the UK. However, our favourites are the smaller D (departmental) roads and N (national) routes, that offer up the best riding. You won’t regret choosing these routes over the motorway if time allows.
French toll roads are an excellent way to cover long distances at speed, but beware of the charges which can add up to hundreds of pounds over the duration of a trip depending on how far you travel.
What you need to ride in France
Valid UK driving licence – you’ll need to be over 18 to ride
Proof of ID (UK passport)
Proof of vehicle ownership – this is your vehicle registration document, known as a V5C
Proof of insurance
GB sticker on your bike
A hi-vis vest or jacket – you must wear this in the event of an emergency by the roadside
Spare set of motorcycle bulbs
A road legal vehicle which must be taxed in the UK
Spare pair of glasses (if you wear spectacles)
Breathalyser – while this law does not seem to be enforced, we’d recommend taking one
CE-approved gloves – if you’re caught without them you face a fine
You must also display dipped headlights when moving
General speed limits (unless otherwise indicated)
Be aware, static speed cameras in France aren’t as visible as they are in the UK. They are usually housed in a grey, freestanding box by the side of the road and aren’t particularly easy to spot.
Speed limits can vary depending on whether the weather is dry or wet and if roadworks are taking place.
Motorways – 130 kph (80 mph) reduced to 110 kph (68 mph) in wet weather.
Dual carriageways – 110 kph (68 mph) reduced to 100 kph (62 mph) in wet weather.
Other roads – 80 kph (50 mph) reduced to 70kph (43 mph) in wet weather.
Towns – generally 50 kph (31 mph), although it can drop to 20 kph – 30 kph (12 mph – 18 mph) in certain areas.
Breakdown and accidents
If you breakdown or have an accident, park in the emergency lane if possible and call 112.
If you have a collision with a French vehicle, you’ll be asked to fill in a constat amiable (an amiable declaration) by the driver of the other vehicle.
Be careful if you don’t speak the language and try and call your own insurance company to get the advice of a local French representative before signing anything.
If someone is injured, you must remain at the scene until the police attend.
In the event of an injury, or if the road is blocked, police must be called.
Emergency telephone numbers
112 – European general emergency number
15 – Medical emergency, accidents, ambulance
17 – Police or Gendarmerie (automatically transferred to the nearest station)
18 – Fire brigade (Les sapeurs pompiers)
Low emission zones
The French government has introduced low emission zones that require a colour-coded ‘clean air’ sticker called a Crit’Air vignette. What colour you receive will depend on how heavily polluting your bike is.
Warm weather, superb roads, delicious food and spectacular landscapes, Spain has it all when it comes to motorcycle touring. Whether we follow the coastline or head inland to the mountains, Spain is a country we find ourselves returning to time and time again. Thanks to Brittany Ferries you can travel direct to northern Spain.
Like France, the Spanish motorways and toll roads generally have excellent surfaces and are not as busy as those in the UK. Beyond these, the quality of roads varies greatly and you should be prepared for uneven surfaces, particularly in more remote areas.
We’d recommend avoiding toll roads if you can, as they can prove costly. However, they are an excellent way to cover long distances in a short amount of time, so it’s worth budgeting for toll charges if you are on a tight schedule.
What you need to ride in Spain
Valid UK driving licence – you need to be 18 years old to ride a motorcycle over 75cc
Proof of ID (UK passport)
Proof of vehicle ownership – this is your vehicle registration document, known as a V5C
Proof of insurance
GB sticker on your bike
A hi-vis vest or jacket
A road legal vehicle which must be taxed in the UK
Spare pair of glasses (if you wear spectacles)
General speed limits (unless otherwise indicated)
Motorways and toll roads – 120 kph (75 mph)
Dual carriageways – 110 kph (68 mph)
Other roads – 90 kph (56 mph)
Towns – generally 50 kph (31 mph)
Tips for riding in Spain
All fines must be paid on the spot, with police escorts to a cash machines common for those without cash.
Use of a horn in urban areas is prohibited, except in an emergency. Flash your lights instead.
Spanish riders don’t usually stop at zebra crossings unless they are accompanied by traffic lights.
In the event of an accident, don’t sign any forms if you don’t understand what’s written on them. Call you insurance company and ask to speak to a local representative.
Emergency telephone numbers
112 – European general emergency number
061 – Medical emergency
080 – Fire brigade
091 – Police
Riding in Portugal
Portugal is a real treat for any motorcycle traveller and a place we’d recommend to anyone looking for adventure. While it shares its landscape and climate with Spain, it feels more remote and isolated than its neighbour.
Rich in culture and spectacular scenery, it is a country you can easily lose yourself in, whether you’re exploring the mountainous interior or hugging the stunningly beautiful coastline.
A Brittany Ferries crossing to Santander or Bilbao in Spain, leaves you with a short ride to Portugal and its motorcycling riches.
What you need to ride in Portugal
Valid UK driving licence – you’ll need to be over 18 to ride
Proof of ID (UK passport)
Proof of vehicle ownership – this is your vehicle registration document, known as a V5C.
A hi-vis vest or jacket
A road legal vehicle which must be taxed in the UK.
Spare pair of glasses (if you wear spectacles).
General speed limits (unless otherwise indicated)
Motorways – 120 kph (75 mph)
Open roads including dual carriageways 90 – 100 kph (56 – 62 mph)
Towns – generally 50 kph (31 mph)
Be aware of Via Verde (green lane) toll lanes marked by a big green sign with a slanted V on them. To use these lanes you must buy or rent a prepaid electronic transponder which is debited every time you drive through a toll booth.
Portugal’s road accident fatality rate is higher than the EU average, with drunk driving more common than it should be. Take care and assume drivers may be unpredictable.
If you are involved in a collision in which someone is hurt, you must wait at the scene for the police to arrive.
Police can issue on the spot fines which must be paid in cash in local currency to the arresting officer.
Riding off road on a big adventure bike can be a daunting experience, especially if you own the bike in question and you need to pay for any damage caused by a tumble.
If you’re not sure how to ride in the dirt, it can be difficult to haul 200kg-plus of motorcycle along gravel roads, across water crossings and down steep descents, all with a smile on your face. In these circumstances, it’s all too easy to spend your time worrying about simply staying upright rather than enjoying the experience.
This is a shame because riding off road is arguably some of the most fun you can have on an adventure bike. We ride machines capable of doing amazing things and, with a little instruction, we can be the ones to unleash their potential.
The Sweet Lamb KTM Adventure Bike Experience in Wales is designed to help you do just that, whether you’re a complete beginner venturing off road for the first time or a seasoned dirt rider wanting to take your skills to the next level.
While Sweet Lamb has been operating as an off-road school for some time, I was lucky enough to be among the first riders to visit the school after it partnered up with KTM and opened its doors in April, and I cannot recommend the experience highly enough. I enjoyed it so much so I’ve come up with a list of eight reasons why every adventure biker should make a visit pronto.
One of the joys of the Sweet Lamb KTM Adventure Bike Experience is the fact you get to make all your mistakes off-road on the school’s bikes, keeping your pride and joy safe and damage free. And the motorcycles you’ll ride just happen to be two of the best adventure bikes around – the KTM 790 Adventure R and the KTM 1290 Super Adventure R.
To say these two machines are capable off-road is a massive understatement. I rode the 790 Adventure R during my time at Sweet Lamb and it was sublime. It handles superbly, is weighted perfectly, the centre of gravity is low and the suspension soaks up lumps and bumps with ease. If you’re venturing off-road on an adventure bike for the first time, there is no better choice in my opinion.
Improve your off-road skills
Whether you’re a complete beginner off road or a seasoned green-laner, expert tuition will transform your confidence and riding skill overnight. Sweet Lamb’s team of highly-trained instructors specialise in providing the foundations riders need in order to progress their skills. Even basic hints and tips like correct feet, body and head positioning, peg weighting, and having the opportunity to practise this in front of an expert eye helped improve my riding in the space of a couple of hours.
Become a better road rider
Building the techniques you need to improve and master bike control off road will also make you a better rider on the tarmac. Learning how to properly distribute your weight on tricky terrain will be a blessing next time you’re manoeuvring a heavily loaded adventure bike at slow speeds during your next tour abroad.
Sweet Lamb KTM Adventure Bike Experience is set among 6,600 acres of prime adventure territory. The sheer scale of the place is mind boggling and offers up seemingly endless terrain to hone your skills on. In fact, the trails are so good, the area is home to stages of the Wales Rally GB.
There are 12 different training areas at Sweet Lamb to cater for all levels of off-road rider, ranging from half-a-mile to 20-mile trails. I got to experience a small sample of these on mostly gravel trails and the riding was superb.
The skills park
Mastering good technique and bike handling is key to advancing your off-road riding. This is where the skills park comes in. It’s a playground featuring a host of obstacles, berms, slaloms, a maze and even a seesaw to perfect your bike control. After just an hour of training in this area I found my confidence and enjoyment soar when we went back onto the trails.
If you’ve never visited Mid Wales, you’re in for a treat. Sweet Lamb sits slap bang in the middle of one of the most spectacular landscapes in the UK. Riding a motorbike off road in this remote and beautiful area is an unforgettable experience.
Get ready for your next adventure
Perhaps the worst time to start learning to ride off road is when you’re on an adventure abroad riding a fully-loaded bike in a remote area. You may come across terrain that forces to you to turn back or a lack of experience could lead to a tumble and a damaged bike.
A wiser approach is to build your off-road capabilities beforehand to give you the confidence to tackle anything in your path and venture further off the beaten track than you otherwise would have.
Show off to your mates
Sometimes power sliding around a corner or making a spin turn are the correct techniques to use when riding off-road, they’re not just for showing off. However, they do look impressive when executed correctly and are among the skills you’ll learn at the Sweet Lamb KTM Adventure Bike Experience.
Impress your mates, impress the mrs (or mr), or simply enjoy a sense of self-satisfaction knowing you can nail these techniques like an off-road hero.
Sweet Lamb KTM Adventure Bike Experience
Listed above are just some of the benefits of booking a course at the Sweet Lamb KTM Adventure Bike Experience. You’ll also receive a warm welcome, get use of the onsite facilities including changing rooms and lounge area, as well as access to the bunk house and camping facilities. I enjoyed every second of my visit and I can’t recommend it highly enough.
Non-motorcyclists may be forgiven for thinking a textile jacket is a required part of the adventure biker’s uniform. Whether we’re riding around the world or popping to the shops, we tend to reach for our trusty textiles instead of leather gear. But why is this case?
While leather jackets typically perform excellently from a road safety perspective, offering abrasion resistance over and above textile counterparts, they don’t hold up so well in wet-weather. It’s the performance of textile gear in the wet stuff that makes it so appealing to adventure bikers. That, and the fact it looks rugged and adventurous.
As such, if you’re planning on touring in a leather jacket, you’ll want to make sure you pack a waterproof overcoat to help keep the rain out. There is an alternative, however. A few brands have started producing waterproof leather jackets by adding a waterproof membrane and the results are pretty impressive. This includes a fantastic offering from Halvarssons, the Celtic jacket (pictured above and below).
Halvarssons Celtic leather jacket
Effective ventilation in waterproof leather jacket
I’ve been wearing last year’s model from Halvarssons, the Discovery, for a few months, and I’ve been impressed with its performance in a variety of situations. While my experience has been with the Discovery jacket (which had a retail price of £519), the Celtic is nearly identical, save for the upgraded CE level 2 armour on the elbows and shoulders, AAA CE-certification for the whole jacket and, amazingly, a lower price tag of £499.
Leather jackets have a habit of running warm as it is, so, by whacking a waterproof membrane in, manufacturers run the risk of creating a garment that’s only wearable in colder months. To combat this, effective ventilation needs to be implemented, and on the Discovery and Celtic you’ll find just that, with there being two chest vents, two arm vents, and then large exhaust vents to compliment them.
This is one of the best venting systems I’ve come across on a leather jacket, even though the waterproof Dryway+ membrane sits behind the vents and blocks them to an extent. The Discovery and Celtic jackets also make use of TFL Cool Tec, which is a very smart technology that helps the leather reflect near infrared radiation from the sun, meaning the jackets won’t absorb as much heat in use.
Halvarssons Discovery leather jacket
Developed for NASA
To further prevent overheating, the inner lining of the jacket is made from Outlast, a temperature regulating material that was originally developed for NASA. It utilises phase change materials that absorb, store, and release heat, essentially meaning it will keep you cooler when it’s hot outside, and warmer when the temperature drops. It sounds too good to be true, but I’ve worn Outlast in a multitude of conditions and am always impressed by its performance.
Armour in the Discovery is provided by CE level 1 armour at the shoulders and elbows, and this has been improved in the Celtic by upgrading it to CE level 2 armour. There is the provision to add a back protector if you wish, and the jacket also features a connecting zip so that you can attach it to compatible trousers. From a comfort perspective, the Discovery excels, with the overall cut of the jacket providing a casual fit that sits nicely when you’re in the saddle, and the collar is comfortable next to skin.
If you’re after a leather jacket that’ll offer the sort of weather protection that your textile will, then the Halvarssons Discovery and its updated version, the Celtic, are well worth checking out.
In the third instalment of our Bridgestone Coast to Coast Routes, Bryn Davies details an incredible one-day motorcycle route in Wales, from Golfcliff to Aberystwyth.
We’ve been working with Bridgestone to create a series of coast to coast routes throughout the British and Irish Isles. Our first journey took us across Scotland’s Southern Uplands, taking in some of the most picturesque roads and least-populated areas of the UK. Our second route, which started in Dublin, took us across the heart of Ireland before heading north up the spectacular west coast. For our third act, we decided to head to Wales to create a coast to coast ride that’s got the makings of one of the best one-day rides you can do on our shores.
When I set about designing this route, I initially wanted to start on the south coast of Wales and finish on the north, but we’d be venturing into mileage that would take two days to complete. I purposely wanted to keep this one shorter, offering a show-stopper of a ride that anyone with a spare day can do.
Mid Wales stretching out in front of us.
With that in mind, we kick off in Goldcliff, on Wales’s south coast just a few miles from junction 24 of the M4. From here we ride through the industrial valleys of South Wales before seeking solitude on the incredible mountain roads of the Brecon Beacons and Mid Wales. After 189 miles, you’ll find yourself on the seafront in Aberystwyth, your thirst for adventure quenched and your hunger about to be satisfied by great fish and chips.
Throughout this ride, there are plenty of opportunities to add more miles and green lanes or, if you’re a bit short on time, less miles (head from Manmoel to Ystradgynlais, rather than Manmoel to Brecon). Whatever you do, follow in our tyre tracks to some extent, and you’ll discover just how beautiful Wales can be.
The journey begins
The ride begins at Goldcliff’s sea wall
As mentioned, our journey begins on the south coast of Wales, just a few miles south east of Newport in Goldcliff. Head to the bottom of Sea Wall Road where you’ll be able to park just a few metres from the Severn Estuary, a sea wall between your bike and the water. You’ll also find the Seawall Tearooms here, and I’ve been told it’s a great place for a cuppa before you start your day. Unfortunately, at the time of writing this, the tearooms are currently closed due to bereavement. Hopefully they’ll be back open soon.
From Goldcliff, the route will take you along busy roads until you pass under the imposing Celtic Manor Resort and turn right towards Caerleon. As you rise up the hill your surroundings become more green, and it’s worth stopping for a few minutes at the Roman amphitheatre in Caerleon to admire how well preserved it is. Centuries ago, Caerleon was home to a Roman fortress and baths, and the amphitheatre would have been the centre of entertainment.
Enjoying the gravel of Manmoel Road
South Wales, between the Brecon Beacons and the south coast of the country, is densely populated, so you’ll have to put up a bit of traffic until you reach Manmoel Road, but from here on in, things take a turn for the special. Manmoel Road is, on the face of it, a route of little interest to most people. But for adventure bike riders, it’s a wonderful stretch of tarmac and gravel that follows a ridgeline towards the Brecon Beacons.
It’s a shame that the road is often lined with dumped rubbish, but the views to your left and right are spectacular. If you’ve never ridden gravel before, don’t be put off, this road is doable on all bikes, even with road tyres – just take it easy.
After Manmoel Road, we head into the Brecon Beacons National Park where the roads and the views are beautiful. As I hinted at earlier, if you’re looking pushed for time and want a shorter ride, skip out Brecon and head straight to Ystradgynlais, home to Touratech UK, along the Head of the Valleys Road. It’s got a 50mph average speed for its duration, but that’ll take you straight to Black Mountain Road, where you’ll find stunning scenery and an incredible ride.
Black Mountain Road
Glorious bends of the Black Mountain Road.
If you carried on to Brecon, the rest of this journey is quite simply superb, and it starts off with a wonderful dip south, down the A4067, before we ride the famous Black Mountain Road. Accessing the Black Mountain Road through Brynamman, you’d be forgiven for thinking you’d taken a wrong turn. There’s very little on the approach through the small village that hints at the wonderful stretch of tarmac to come. A 40mph speed limit is in place for the length of Black Mountain Road, but that does little to take away from the enjoyment.
As you crest the summit of the pass, Mid Wales stretches out in front of you in all of its glory, and you dip down to Trecastle on the northern boundary of the Brecon Beacons National Park. Here, there’s the opportunity to ride an old Roman road in the form of a green lane. It takes you over the summit of Trecastle Mountain, where the keen-eyed might be able to make out the remains of two Roman marching camps (reputed to be some of the best-preserved in Wales).
If you’re keen to hit the dirt, hang a left immediately after joining the A40, down a narrow street, and then left again. You then take the first right and follow that road until the tarmac disappears. In terms of difficulty, you’re going to want to be comfortable with some knee-deep puddles and a few steep descents on rock. Our Bridgestone Battlax Adventurecross AX41 tyres were ideal. Eventually, you’ll come out in Llandovery, where you can join the road route again. Those sticking to tarmac will enjoy a flowing section of the A40 to Llandovery.
Wild and remote motorcycle route in Wales
The beautiful Llyn Brianne.
North we go, heading into Mid Wales, and as you ride to Ystradffin, the scenery is lush, green and pretty. Press on and it soon becomes epic as you ascend up a valley wall. The views all around demand your attention and you’ll be more than happy to give it to them. This section of the ride is one of my favourites and it came as a most welcome surprise. As you round bend after bend, the wild and remote shores of Llyn Brianne come into view and the road clings to the side of the flooded valley as it follows the earth’s contours.
I stopped time after time here simply to soak up the magnificence of the scenery we were riding through. Perhaps the best part is that the only traffic we passed was in the form of a few logging vehicles. Once you’ve reached the head of Llyn Brianne, a treat awaits. Round a bend and the Devil’s Staircase, a series of alpine-style switchbacks, sits in front of you while the remote road to Abergwesyn stretches into the distance.
The ride so far has delivered on incredible views and little-travelled roads, but as you turn left out of Beulah and onto the B4358 you’ll hit a rollercoaster of tarmac that allows you to get into a sweeping rhythm. This stretch of B road up to the A470 at Newbridge on Wye is a delight, as is the rest of the ride to Rhayader.
Steep drop offs around Claerwen Reservoir
Steep drop offs along the Claerwen Reservoir.
From Rhayader, our route presents you with two options. If you’re sticking exclusively to tarmac, then we head north to Llanidloes and from here ride the magnificent mountain road to Machynlleth before dropping south to Aberystwyth on the A487. If you’re happy riding dirt and gravel roads, then we head into the Elan Valley, where we seek out the Claerwen Reservoir and the incredible gravel road that skirts its beautiful and wild shores.
For me, this track was one of the highlights of the ride – the huge, open expanse of nothing but uninterrupted Welsh mountain scenery (sometimes known as the Welsh desert) is heartbreakingly beautiful. To access the trail, head to the Claerwen Reservoir upper level car park, as you approach it, you’ll see a dirt track dead ahead of you skirting the right-hand side of the water. This is the road to take. For miles you ride along the shores of the stunning reservoir that supplies Birmingham with its water.
Off the beaten path
River crossing by the Claerwen reservoir.
There’s nothing tricky about this first section of the trail, save for the steep drop-offs into the water at the side of the gravel road. After a few miles you’ll come to a farmhouse, where the legality of riding on is in question. A sign indicates that the trail ahead is private property, but if the farmer’s about, ask his permission to ride it and he’s usually happy to oblige.
If you do get the go-ahead, you enter the ‘legal’ section of the route again just a few hundred metres down the track. If you don’t you’ll have to retrace your tracks back to Rhayader and follow the road route. A frustrating obstruction to such a beautiful journey. After riding the trail along the side of the Claerwen Reservoir, you’re deposited onto the lonely roads of mid-west Wales, where the scenery is barren, deserted and impressive. Red Kites (the birds), disturbed by the sound of your bike, often take to the sky to show off their impressive size, and the ride from here to Aberystwyth is a beautiful and exciting way to end the day.
The tyres we used
Our Battlax Adventurecross AX41 performed superbly off road.
We rode this route on Bridgestone’s new Battlax Adventurecross AX41 tyres. The tyres have been designed to offer a great combination of on and off road performance, and they certainly got their share of both on our Wales Coast to Coast ride. I was pleasantly surprised by just how well the knobblies perform on the tarmac, offering a reassuring amount of grip, and they felt sure-footed on the green lanes as well. We’ve put around 2,000 miles on one set, and they’ve still got a fair amount of life in them! We’ll keep you updated with how well they’ve performed, along with how many miles we got out of them, in the next issue of Adventure Bike Rider.
Your Bridgestone Wales Coast to Coast route
Put the following waypoints into your SatNav to follow as near as dammit, the ABR and Bridgestone Wales Coast to Coast route. NB: This route is also available as a gpx. file so that you can download it and stick it straight in to your device. Head to www.bit.ly/ABRroutesWales and enter the thread titled ‘ABR and Bridgestone Wales Coast to Coast route files’ to download it.
**Green lane option between Trecastle and Llandovery**
**Green lane along Claerwen Reservoir**
If you’ve got no desire or intention to ride off road, that’s fine! With a few deviations you can still have an incredible ride (marked green on the map). Essentially, follow the waypoints in the box to the left to Rhayader, but rather than heading to the Elan Valley, add:
We’ve created these coast to coast routes in order to celebrate the launch of Bridgestone’s new Battlax Adventurecross AX41 tyres, which were revealed earlier this year. Throughout the series, which continues in the next issue of ABR with a coast to coast ride in England, we’ve teamed up with Bridgestone to offer you the chance to get your hands on some truly incredible prizes worth upto £1,500!
After each of our coast to coast routes have been posted, we provide you with the gpx. files so that you can go and ride them yourself. Once you’re riding, make sure you take some pictures, because it is these that will enter you into the competition. Simply send us your best snaps from your Scotland, Ireland, or Wales Coast to Coast ride, and you’ll be in with a chance of winning some excellent prizes. The breakdown of prizes looks like this:
Bridgestone Battlax Adventurecross AX4
With Bridgestone tyres fitted:
1st: Full, head to toe RST kit, including an AGV helmet – approximate value £1,500
2nd: Overnight stay for two at the Lake Vyrnwy Hotel, followed by a day at the Mick Extance Off Road Experience – approximate value £1,000
3rd: AGV adventure helmet – approximate value £500
Without Bridgestone tyres fitted:
1st: AGV adventure helmet – approximate value £500
2nd: A day at the Mick Extance Off Road Experience – approximate value £250
3rd: Pair of RST Adventure Boots – approximate value £125
How to enter:
Get yourself over to the ABR forum to download your gpx. file and get riding. Once you’ve got your pictures of your bike on the route, send them to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line of ‘Bridgestone Coast to Coast competition’. Good luck!
We all know adventure bikes are the best type of motorcycle, right? Whether you’re taking a trip around the world, heading off for a weekend away, or hitting the trails off road, nothing does it all better than an adventure bike.
And now, after watching a video of a Honda Africa Twin absolutely smashing a lap of Germany’s famous Nürburgring, we may have to add track days to the list of things adventure bikes are brilliant at.
Rider Billy Burke rings every last ounce of power out of his standard Africa Twin to lap the 12.8-mile track in a stunning 8 minutes and 38 seconds. This achievement is all the more impressive when you learn the motorcycle lap record currently stands at 7 minutes and 10 seconds, set on a Yamaha YZF-R1.
Cornering at 128mph
While we’re big fans of the Honda Africa Twin on and off road, it’s not the first motorcycle that comes to mind for a track day. In fact, there are other adventure bikes more suited to the demands of the race track such as the Ducati Multistrada 1260 or the KTM 1290 Super Adventure.
However, watching Billy’s lap reveals how well the Africa Twin performs in the hands of a skilled rider. Despite its 232kg weight and 21-inch front wheel, he flings the bike nimby into turns and reaches lean angles that are quite frankly ridiculous.
The speedometer shows Billy reaching a top speed of 224kph (139mph) along a straight, while he takes one bend at 128mph. All this was achieved on one of the most demanding circuits in the world, known for its tricky corners, steep inclines, and perilous crests.
Perhaps most impressive of all are the moments Billy, known as Nürburgring Biker Blog on YouTube and Facebook, scythes through lines of cars also setting hot laps, and out brakes them into corners before accelerating away. The lap was ridden on one of the circuit’s public sessions when anyone can ride or drive the track.
Nurburgring Nordschleife 8.38 BTG Fast Adventure Bike Lap. - YouTube
XLMOTO Easy-Up Race Tent
Here at ABR, we much prefer mountain passes and green lanes to riding around a race track, but after watching this video we’re tempted to give it a go. We reckon the skills we’d learn would serve us well on the twisties of the Furka Pass or the Grossglockner High Alpine Road this summer.
If you fancy heading to the track yourself, Europe’s largest online motorcycle retailer XLMOTO is offering 65% off its Easy-Up Race Tent which now costs just £59.99 (down from £169.99). It takes just four seconds to put up and is an ideal place to park and tinker with your motorcycle before you race, and for storing your gear at the track. The waterproof tent has a footprint of 3m x 3m and an adjustable height of up to 3.2m.
The tent is also a great place to relax and unwind after nailing a hot lap like Billy Burke’s sensational lap of the Nürburgring. Check out the Easy-Up Race Tent in the video below.
What is it? The Cool Covers seat cover provides ‘air conditioning’ for your motorcycle seat (£45 – £75)
I was lucky enough to have a KTM 1290 Super Adventure R as a long term test bike, although I’ve now reluctantly had to give it back. The bike’s great, there’s no doubt about that, but there’s one area than can be a bit of a pain in the arse, literally.
Like the KTM 1190 Adventure, the seat on the 1290 Super Adventure R warms up super quick from the heat of the engine, and that’s before you factor in heat contributed by the air and your body. So, in need of some relief, I fitted a Cool Cover to my saddle after being intrigued by the concept.
Cooling air flow
The main selling point of the Cool Covers seat cover is, as the company describes, that it’s like air conditioning for your motorcycle seat. It’s an easy to install, strong mesh cover that’s 98% air-permeable and it works by allowing cooling air to flow underneath your butt, much like how vents in your helmet cool your head down by allowing air to flow over your noggin. Not only this, but it also helps keep your arse dry when it rains, and the honeycomb raised mesh also makes your bike’s saddle more comfortable and helps reduce fatigue.
Fitting in five minutes
Having had the cover fitted to my bike for a month now (fitting was incredibly easy and took me no longer than five minutes), it’s obvious that the cover does what it’s supposed to. The KTM no longer burns my buns and my lofty perch feels noticeably more comfortable! The Cool Covers seat cover is available for a huge variety of bikes and seat types, and if you can’t find your model on the company’s website, then they’ll custom make one for you.
After biking from the bottom of the planet to the top, motorcycling Alaska stole Lisa Morris’ heart. Here’s how…
Skirting northeasterly around Denali National Park, I was hit with countless chevrons of snow-capped, glacial studded mountains in the Alaskan interior, my hunger for wild lands was going to be well nourished here. It was a sweet spot that seemed to me the very best of Alaskan wilderness allure. For us, it was the beginning of the end of a two-and-a-half-year road trip from the bottom of the planet to the top, the last frontier.
Along the way, the fortuitous power of social media connected us with the Fishhook Fatties, a gregarious biking group from south-central Alaska whose ethos is ‘work hard, play hard’, at least during the summer months where daylight hours are in high demand. The Dust to Dawson (D2D) motorcycle event was just around the corner, so we jumped at the chance of joining them in June upon invitation. It was perfect timing before the final push up to Prudhoe Bay, the northernmost reaches by navigable road in the US.
Into the unknown
As day ones go on any motorcycle jaunt, my expectations comprised of no more than finding my stride in the saddle. Little did I know what lay in store, an Alaskan’s Alaska astride two wheels. When the clouds are not obscuring her (sometimes it’s completely out of view), Denali National Park’s centerpiece will do anything but disappoint from the George Parks Highway. As North America’s highest peak, Mount Denali towers above all at 6,190m and is otherwise known as The Great One. Settling into the dirt biking bliss that is the Denali Highway, all the way from Cantwell to Paxson, rapture flowed out of my body going headlong across the tundra.
Out of the captivity that can be felt in cities, a necessary evil that ensued for a quick resupply in Fairbanks, we all but raced northwest up the Elliott Highway, our starting point for the 156-mile jaunt to Manley Hot Springs via an old gold-rush route, bestowing us with views of the vast Minto Flats that made us earn every sloppy mile.
Having fallen out of favour with Lady Luck, dark clouds raced through. I looked up and gave the sky a slit-eyed appraisal. Dark and tortured, it hammered down on us the entire way to Manley Hot Springs. Like riding on snot over marbles, we trudged our way through the calcium chloride with some artful slides thrown in for good measure. On high alert with the backside muscles poised for a long cardio workout, and my lips set to pursed.
What was I expecting on Pearl, my hefty F650GS laden with luggage at 240kg? I scrabbled, lost control and watched as my wheels flung manes of spray everywhere. I should’ve embraced light and tight long ago, as size always matters off-road. Ho hum.
Having located a drier section, I shelved the dampened spirits and smiled like the sun was coming out. It wasn’t, but I went for it with a handful of throttle. I admit, I was amped. Failing to realise when we’d reunited with the viscous malevolence, I scared myself silly at 60mph as I squirmed in a mire mid-corner. “What the..!” I cussed, careening horribly toward a ditch, my brain unable to gauge the speed at which enthusiasm outweighed skill.
Language went away and for a split second I prayed in a soft high-pitched lament any human listener would’ve termed a dizzy yelp. “Oh my G-a-w-d, I forgot who I was!” Taking a moment to stop my heart’s wild tattoo, thank goodness for adrenaline, I thought.
To all yearnings, the sloppy passage ceased and, having prevailed, we struck gold. Kicking the side stands down, we observed a charming Post-It note village on the banks of the Tanana River. Just outside Manley Roadhouse, we pegged the Dome Sweet Dome in the campground to a regiment of twin-engine skeeters, rushing to meet and greet us at full tempo.
Having ditched the riding gear, our newly exposed skin must have looked ripe for the feasting. Jumping straight into the spring-fed baths, we kept the winged assailants at bay and our muscles set to soaking. A heavenly antidote to the tough journey to get there.
A sea of bikers
The next dawn brought an unexpected win in the road surface lottery, and a pleasant morning accompanied by lovely swaths of afternoon where we rode the same route on dry satin all the way back to Fairbanks. Then, around 180 paved miles on the connecting Richardson Highway leading onto the Alaska Highway deposited us in a sea of bikers, courtesy of Thompson’s Eagle’s Claw Campground at Tok.
It’s a favorable choice for riders of any discipline, but particularly popular for bikers en route to D2D. While the place is a forest of intimate snuggeries, the day rapidly became an amphitheater of motorcycle noise filled with the unmistakable biking camaraderie that springs from the fellowship of the road.
Cordial relations established with my stomach from a Fast Eddies breakfast of reindeer sausage the following morning, and with no snot on marbles in sight, the day saw us make our way out of Tok just down the road to Tetlin Junction. With favourable conditions on our side, the Taylor Highway saw us ride 60 beautifully paved miles before it turned to a good dirt road the remaining way to the border.
Magnificently, riding the Top of the World Highway in such a direction will bestow a further 115-miles of partially paved, but mostly reconstructed, chip seal and sometimes challenging gravelly roads connecting us with Dawson in the Yukon.
Dust 2 Dawson
If you haven’t heard about D2D, you’re in for a treat. Just trace a line on the map to Dawson, hop on your motorcycle in June and start riding. If you can, try not to rush at getting there, for a ride both rewarding and nurturing is likely to unfold. Rock up to Dawson but just don’t call it a rally. Despite such a disclaimer, you’ll be in the thick of an atmosphere abuzz with the boundless joy that is D2D.
The backstory starts with three unassuming fellows: John ‘Cash’ Register, Jim Coleman and Mike ‘Fighter’ Stein. Dating back to 1992, D2D was concocted over a few pints in Dawson’s Midnight Sun, a hotel bar where the trio first met. As Fighter recounts, a 500-mile road trip between the amigos up the Dempster Highway to Inuvik was set in motion, during which Coleman and Cash deviated to Eagle, Alaska. Awed by the place, a pact was made that when one of them died, the other would return to the North Country with the ashes of the departed.
Devastatingly when Coleman was hit on his R1200GS by a Suburban in 1994, Cash reenacted their road trip a year later. Mile for mile, he dismounted at the same pit stops, refueled at the same cafes and drank another cold one at The Midnight Sun, while carrying Coleman in the tank bag. The dusty route to Dawson gained momentum, magnetising many to pay their respects, come together and celebrate.
D2D’s 24th anniversary saw riders sign in from 20 U.S. states and six countries. Hosted by ‘Dawson Dick’ and his wife, the 400-strong motorcycle event comprised three days of biker festivities, local charity fundraising and on-the-fly poker playing. After perhaps the liveliest, non-rallies I’ve experienced, the return road to Tok beat backward under us. Peeling reluctantly away from the Fishhook Fatties, I arose the next day muddy-eyed, having burnt the candle down to a nub. Winding out of Tok, we rode into a peevish wind via Fairbanks towards the Dalton. The last leg north until we ran out of road.
I’d somehow carried favour with Lady Luck again, as an uncharacteristically dry Dalton Highway guided us for a glorious 248-miles. Gliding along a good dirt road from Fairbanks to Wiseman, just 12-miles from Coldfoot—the last place to gas up and the halfway point to Prudhoe Bay.
The landscape took on a raw, peculiar beauty with a bleak Wuthering Heights quality. The only feature vying for our attention being the pipeline that followed us all the way from Fairbanks to the top. That, and Atigun Pass in the Brooks Range, where the Dalton crosses the Continental Divide, which holds a strong resemblance to the prominent peaks of Patagonia, Scotland or New Zealand. Take your pick, it’s impressive.
Jason did let it slip he felt a little cheated by Alaska’s bluebird skies and the perfect riding conditions that are usually pretty unstable. “Really?” I said, my eyes rolling to the top of my head. Blissfully happy myself, I carried on watching out for Dall sheep grazing on the upper slope, a herd of caribou crossing our path and bald eagles overhead. It was a treat to see a family of musk ox in the grasses to boot.
It’s true what they say, Alaska has two seasons: winter and construction. Inching closer towards Prudhoe Bay, gifted me to a white-knuckle ride on a loose section of road under construction. If I’m going to cruise beneath warm sunny skies to this point, I’ve at least got to earn my spurs on the last smidgeon of it. A stratagem came to me, like a god thundering in my head: just keep riding.
We made it
I’ve surmised that after 47,550 miles, my journey on Pearl was set to continue as a great enterprise of balance: she imparts to the gravel a generosity of spirit and while urging me to relax and let go, frequently saves me from myself. Aided on the Dalton’s loose stuff by bumping into Lyndon Poskitt, a Brit that races the bike on which he travels, instilled a ‘cock of the walk’ hubris in me that I didn’t know I possessed.
Hurray! We’d made it. Damn I felt good!
Where there’s pinnacle pleasure, there’s Prudhoe Bay. Just like the road to get there, your memories of Alaska will calcify and you won’t experience it without feeling you’ve blossomed many friendships, forged some intoxicating new ones and deposited heavily in the good times bank. Summer days I’ll remember as cloudless, the air gold and pumped with the excitement.
An undeniable sense that having made it this far, I may have touched the vanishing point, but it mattered little and less. It was just part of the way astride two wheels to something else, a gold-encrusted elation. If ecstasy means the intrusion of the wonderful into the ordinary, then it had just happened to me.
Lisa and Jason regularly blog about their two-wheeled adventures as they’re riding around the world, and if you want to read more head to their website Two Wheeled Nomad.
Warmer days call for cooler clothing, so Bryn Davies puts eight pairs of summer riding gloves to the test
In the years that I’ve been testing gear for Adventure Bike Rider, I’ve come to notice something about motorcycle clothing. It seems as though hours and hours are spent researching the best motorcycle jacket, pair of trousers, helmet, or boots in an effort to make our riding experience that bit more comfortable.
We spend hundreds upon hundreds of pounds on insulated linings and Gore-Tex jackets only to put a smidgen of that thought into the gloves that we wear.
While a good jacket, helmet, or pair of boots will certainly have a huge impact on your enjoyment once you’re in the saddle, it’s amazing how much difference a decent pair of summer gloves can make to your riding experience in the warmer months.
A good summer glove should do all of the following: keep your hands cool, comfortable, and protected. How it will do this varies from manufacturer to manufacturer, but we like to see good ventilation options, a nice, soft inner lining, and armour in places that need protecting if you take a tumble.
Typically, you’ll see a combination of all of these in various ratios, as more armour will typically mean less comfort and a warmer glove.
With this in mind, we’ve compiled a list of the eight of the best summer gloves you can buy to help your hands feel comfortable and stay safe in the saddle.
Klim has a rich heritage of manufacturing top quality riding kit that’s designed to perform well for adventure motorcyclists, and the Badlands Aero Pro gloves look set to live up to the company’s reputation. According to Klim, these gloves have been built to meet the demands of the intercontinental adventurer and are designed to be your “go-to glove for the majority of riding conditions”. I don’t know about the majority of riding conditions part, but for summer weather, these are one of the best pairs of gloves around.
This is down to the effective combination of excellent ventilation, sufficient protection, and top-level comfort that the Badlands Aero Pro gloves provide. They’re very light weight and tactile, offering a fit that allows you to feel your bike controls with accuracy, and the leather outer is premium and attractive.
If you’re riding in warm conditions, these are the gloves you want. The leather is perforated throughout, and my hands were kept cool when riding in the recent heatwave we’ve had. I wouldn’t want to wear these when the temperature drops, though that’s not when they’re intended to be used. Protection is provided by a hard knuckle protector, which feels sturdy and reassuring, some padding on the fingers and thumb, and a reinforced and padded palm. The fingertips are also touch screen friendly.
They’re expensive, but there’s no doubt that they’re an excellent pair of summer riding gloves.
When a pair of gloves cost as much as some jackets do, they better offer something special to be deemed anything other than a rip off. Fortunately, the Cayenne Pro gloves are pretty amazing, and like most other Rev’it! kit that I’ve tested, they do a good job of justifying the humongous price tag. Upon handling the gloves, the quality of construction is instantly noticeable, along with the premium materials that are used. The outer is 100% leather, with ours coming in a very attractive brown and black colourway.
Protection on the Cayenne Pro gloves is quite simply outstanding. The knuckle protector is the most solid I’ve felt, while the fingers all get protectors, the thumb gets a substantial hard armour insert, the palm is reinforced, and a hand slider is nicely positioned. Amazingly, despite all of this armour, the Cayenne Pros are both lightweight and tactile, allowing a good feel of the bike’s controls in your hands.
Comfort wise, these excel. The inner is delightfully soft, there’s padding where the armour is placed, so that it doesn’t cause discomfort, and the ergonomic shaping is spot on. I did have a bit of a niggle with something digging in to my little finger, though this ceased after the gloves were broken in (which took about an hour of use). The wrist strap is one of the best I’ve seen on any gloves before as well, bringing the cuff securely and snugly around the wrist in a very easy-to-use motion.
Ventilation is superb, with perforations throughout allowing for a good in-flow of cooling air.
Richa is a brand that consistently produces very good quality kit, and the company’s textile suits are excellent if you’re in the market for one. We’ve been testing the Stealth gloves, which are just one of Richa’s 70-strong lineup of riding gloves. The Stealth gloves features a goat leather outer, aramid reinforced seams, an aggressive styling, and at £64.99 they sit comfortably in the middle of the price range.
The gloves are nice and light, and the leather is perforated throughout to allow for a good amount of ventilation, making these suitable for road-based adventures in warmer climes. Comfort is good from the off, with no seams digging in, though the sizing does seem to be slightly off, with my L coming in a bit small, so I would recommend trying these on before buying. The cuff is short and features a Velcro adjuster, and for added comfort there’s foam padding.
In terms of protection, the Stealth gloves come fairly well equipped and are CE-approved. The goat leather and aramid reinforced stitching provide a good amount of abrasion resistance, while a hard knuckle protector and rubber finger reinforcements will help protect your hands from impacts. The palm of the gloves also features reinforcements, and extra padding for comfort and impact absorption.
All in all, if you can get the right fit in these gloves, then you won’t be unhappy with them. They provide a good amount of comfort, they perform well in warm weather, and there’s a decent amount of protection on offer.
As we approach the £80 mark in this group test the gloves take a bit of a turn in terms of the quality on offer, and there’s a noticeable difference in the overall feel of them. The Highlands gloves that we have here are Alpinestars’ entry for review, and they’re a short-cuffed, leather glove which are surprisingly well featured.
Right from the off it’s immediately apparent that a lot of thought and effort has gone into the design and creation of the Highlands gloves. It seems as though every aspect, from protection to comfort to style has been thought of, and everything comes together to create an exceptional pair of summer riding gloves. Comfort is fantastic from the off, with the ergonomic fit moulding to the natural curve of your hands, there are no irritating seams and the armour is well placed and moulded to sit comfortably on the hand.
Speaking of armour, and you get a lot of it on the Highlands gloves. The knuckles are reinforced with a substantial guard, the fingers and backhand feature sliders for impact and abrasion resistance, there’s EVA foam padding on the thumb and aramid reinforcements on high wear areas. All of this, along with the quality goatskin leather used throughout and strategically placed reflective panels, means that protection is more than an afterthought here, and it’s great to see.
One thing to beware of, however, is the fit. Like most Alpinestars products, the sizing is on the small side, so you’ll want to try these on before you buy, and you’ll probably see yourself go up a size.
In a line: An excellent pair of summer gloves that cover all bases.
Difi is a motorcycle clothing brand that’s relatively new to the UK, though it has been plying its trade over on the mainland for a number of years now. The company’s entry to this review is the Spike gloves, a pair of summer riding gloves that have a short cuff, a full goatskin leather outer and a number of protective features to make them suitable for motorcycling.
The leather that’s used here is luxuriously soft and makes for a supremely comfortable wearing experience, even straight off the shelves, when combined with the ergonomically curved fingers. The leather is perforated on the backhand to help keep you cool, but the best inclusion for warm days is the three vent holes under the knuckle armour, which do a fantastic job of allowing cooling air to flow into the gloves.
Protection is provided by a very substantial feeling knuckle guard, padded fingers, double leather reinforcements on hard wearing areas and the inclusion of the highly rated Knox Scaphoid Protection system on the palm, which is a great addition. Safe to say, for such a light and airy pair of summer motorcycle gloves, the Spikes come surprisingly well-equipped from a protection point of view.
In terms of the fit of the gloves, I went a size larger than usual and they were then spot on, and the ergonomic shaping of the gloves went a long way to increasing comfort. The short cuff is Velcro adjustable, is lined with a soft material, and it features extra padding for protection. Unfortunately, the gloves aren’t touchscreen friendly.
Knox has an excellent range of motorcycling gloves, and in the past we’ve been very happy to wear the Zero 2, one of the company’s winter glove offerings. With the temperatures rising, we’ve been testing out the Orsa gloves, a pair of lightweight, mostly goat leather, short-cuff summer riding gloves, which retail at a reasonable £89.99. As with all things Knox, the Orsa gloves are very well made and designed, with a few features that make summer riding even more enjoyable.
Protection is provided by a floating hard knuckle protector, which is backed by memory foam for extra comfort, abrasion resistant sliders on the fingers, and a low profile Scaphoid Protection System on the palm, which will help you avoid injuries caused by your palm hitting the tarmac. The goat leather also provides a high level of abrasion resistance, and it’s perforated in places to provide ventilation, making these gloves ideal for warm days.
One of the best things about these gloves is the BOA wrist closure system, a micro-adjustable dial which allows you to tighten the cuff with ease. It’s a system I’ve used on my snowboard boots and running shoes before, and it allows you to get an accurate, snug and comfortable fit effortlessly and quickly. At first, it can be a bit of a fiddle, but once you’re used to it, you’ll be wondering why all gloves don’t come with a BOA closing system.
In a line: Top quality summer riding gloves with excellent features and comfort
At just a penny shy of £100, the Wolf Kangaroo GT-S Sport gloves sit themselves towards the higher end of the price range, but for your money you get a very well-featured pair of gloves, that have just about everything you’d want a summer riding glove to have. They’re made with a full leather outer, while the inner is a soft polyester lining for added comfort.
The Kangaroo GT-S gloves are perhaps the most well-featured gloves in this test from an armour perspective. You get a carbon knuckle protector, extra knuckle padding on the fingers, a palm slider, extra padding on the scaphoid, and an armour insert on the thumbs. Amazingly, all of this is included while also allowing exceptional levels of comfort and dexterity, though you may find the thumb armour slightly annoying in use, as it’s allowed to flop around, being attached only towards its upper end.
Ventilation points along the fingers, as well as perforated patches of leather, allow cooling air to enter, which is welcome in warm weather, while the inner lining helps to keep your hands comfortable in use. Unfortunately, the fingertips aren’t touch screen friendly, though I’d be willing to overlook the omission based on how well the gloves perform in other areas.
Stylistically, the gloves have an aggressive look to them, and they wouldn’t look out of place on a Mad Max set.
In a line: Great looking, fully-featured summer riding gloves.
To give you an idea of just how little these gloves affect dexterity, I’ve decided to write this review while wearing them! The Sprints are a pair of leather summer riding gloves from Racer, and at £94.99, we’re getting very close to that £100 mark, where you’d expect gloves to be exceptional. For the most part, these are very good gloves, providing comfort, protection, and dexterity to very high levels.
These gloves come well equipped for summer road riding, with the leather being perforated for about half of its coverage, allowing a lot of cooling air to be drawn in. The hard knuckle protector is sturdy and well-placed, while knuckle sliders and a padded palm reinforcement help provide further impact and abrasion resistance. This amount of armour helps the gloves to provide a reassuring, snug fit while still retaining dexterity.
Comfort-wise, the gloves excel, thanks to the well-placed armour, the lightweight leather and the soft inner lining, and I’d be more than happy to wear these on long days in the saddle.
If touch screen compatibility is a must for you, then you’ll be disappointed to learn that these don’t offer it. If you’re happy to overlook this, however, then the Racer Sprint gloves are an excellent, lightweight pair of summer riding gloves.
In a line: Comfort for days with little impact on dexterity.