Sunday, September 25, 2011

Sport-touring gear set up: A complicated yet fun endeavor.

With only one tour under my helmet, I’m still a Sport-touring neophyte, and am still trying to figure out what gear combination will work best while on the tarmac. There is one thing that I have figured out rather quickly and that is: less is more. Less gear reduces worries about loosing it or having someone borrow it indefinitely, however, a dilemma remains as to exactly what gear to bring along.

The following pictures include some of the gear that I have taken with me on trips. I will also include a few words as to how this gear has performed. I hope that you will find this useful and maybe even aid you in deciding what to include in your set up.

These are the basics and some miscellaneous. I bring three pairs of gloves: one is waterproof/heated (Firstgear), one is a regular leather with carbon fiber inserts, and one is leather with fabric. I bought the last pair at a hardware store, after getting tired of my leather gloves soaking up water and being damp. These dry fast, provide almost no protection, but I figure if am Tarmac Surfing in the interstate at 65 mph/ 104 kph in the rain, I have bigger things to worry about.

The small piece of wood is for the bike stand for those times when parking the bike on soft surfaces along with a Kryptonite disc lock for security.  There is also the mandatory O-ring safe chain lube to keep her running smoothly, spare set of keys attached to an oversize carabiner (idiot proofing), lodging paper directories and paper maps. I admit paper sounds antiquated, until the idiot phone breaks or disappears, and since I don't carry a regular GPS (personal preference) paper serves as a back up. Finally, lots of bungee cords and my moto-journal.

The intended set up with the three season 0 degree sleeping bag stored in a Seattle sports dry bag, a three season one person free standing tent and sleeping pad on top.

The actual set up. Almost the same as above except the tent is now inside the saddle bag, the bag is now covered with a reflective vest for added visibility, and secured with a net that proved to be invaluable.

The preferred set up. This time without camping gear and only the essentials; although I like to camp, the gear is bulky and takes lots of space, as you can see from the almost bursting saddlebags. I prefer to load these lightly for safety purposes obviously, and because it saves room for souvenirs (moto-shirts, Micro-brews, etc.) along the way.

The tankbag and saddlebags are First Gear Silverstone. So far I have no complaints, these are practical holding more than enough gear and look decent on the bike. These are not waterproof so I resorted to stashing my gear inside large heavy duty waste bags and small size ziploc bags, and thus far kept my gear dry.

I carry a 3 Liter Camel Back reservoir in my tank bag; so far I only had a need for 1.5 liters. If you look closely you will see the cable that runs from under the seat to the tank bag. That’s my power source, a Tender female connector that links to the phone's cigarette lighter cable, and voila! The phone (or iPod) is fully charge by the time I reached my destination.

Under the seat I carry a Slime moto spare that consists of an air pump and a tube of slime to seal a puncture. These two items fit perfectly under the seat, although I placed them in zip lock plastic bags, since water WILL reach under the seat when riding in the rain.

I bought these items based on favorable online reviews and fortunately I have not needed it thus far. As you can see from the picture, the battery tender cable can be plug to either the heat troller (regulator) for the gloves, to the air pump, or the Tender female power adapter (only one item at time). I have not had a chance to fully test the heated gloves on the field, but the power connection works wells and the gloves heat up nicely.

Rider's gear. I currently wear a Scorpion exo 1000 helmet. It's proven to be really comfortable and quiet. The only issue I had is that after six months the anti fog coating has worn off. I found this out on a cloudy rainy morning while on the Interstate.
The jacket is the transition 2 and the pants are Caliber both from Tourmaster. They are supposed to be waterproof, however, the jacket does not have a hood so I have to wear a Gore-Tex parka over it. Otherwise water leaks from under the helmet. The jacket is most likely waterproof, but the outer fabric absorbs water faster than SpongeBob making it even heavier than original.

The pants have worked well, they have kept me dry, although the fit is not the best the finish is fine and are baggy enough that one can wear street clothes underneath. Both pants and jacket have armor in the crucial areas. At the moment I'm researching other options such as a one-piece suit or a two-piece suit from a different manufacturer. For footwear, I've been wearing a pair of old Gore-Tex lined hiking boots that need to be replaced, as they are not longer waterproof. I found this out on the last trip, bummer. I'm not sure yet as to what I will replace them with.

On the trip I make sure to carry coins and cash for the unlikely toll roads and gas station in small towns where credit cards are seldom accepted. Lastly, for added peace of mind I signed up for AMA road assistance, in addition to my insurance company's, as well as added trip interruption benefits, and comprehensive coverage to my bike.
If you have any suggestions about gear/set up alternatives or questions about my gear, etc., feel free to send email. Ride safe and Enjoy the Ride.


  1. Nice write up. I am glad that you are wearing high viz gear, its really mandatory for riding in the rain. I would think a one piece rain suit would be an ideal addition to your gear repertoire. Though I haven't used it, I am eyeing the Rev'it Pacific H2O rain suit (in High Viz ofcourse). Seems to pack really small as well from the video review I saw at revzilla.

  2. Thanks. The Hi-Viz jacket is working out alright but I still have not found a good rain jacket alternative, let me know if the H2O or something else works out for you. Enjoy the ride.